Using Command + R at boot, I entered recovery mode but the /private/etc/ directory is Read-Only. Is it possible to unmount the disk then mount it again with write permissions?

# sw_vers
ProductName:    Mac OS X
ProductVersion:    10.8.5
BuildVersion:    12F45
  • In recovery mode, you're booted from a virtual disk (contained in a compressed read-only disk image on a hidden partition) not your regular startup volume. Your regular startup volume should be mounted at something like /Volumes/Macintosh HD (or whatever your regular startup volume is named), so try accessing "/Volumes/Macintosh HD/private/etc". – Gordon Davisson May 5 '18 at 19:27
  • Thanks! I changed into the "/Volumes/Mac OS X Base System/etc". That's read-only as well. How can I mount it with write permissions? – user287980 May 5 '18 at 19:32
  • Please add the output of diskutil list and mount (both entered in Terminal) to your question by editing it! Don't post it as comment! – klanomath May 5 '18 at 20:10
  • @klanomath it would be difficult to get the outputs from the macbook in recovery mode to my desktop, sorry! – user287980 May 5 '18 at 20:19
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    Reading and summing up all your questions: you are booting from an old recovery system but your internal drive is formatted to APFS. Your old recovery system (10.8.5) doesn't contain an APFS driver which was introduced years later in the late 10.12 system. You won't be able to mount disk0s2! – klanomath May 5 '18 at 20:38

When started in the Recovery Partition, choose Disk Utility from the list and click Continue. I'm assuming you are using 10.8.5 Mountain Lion.

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Select Macintosh HD in the list of volumes on the left side and click Mount button on the toolbar. The volume will be mounted read-write and you can close Disk Utility, open Terminal and type:

cd /Volumes/Macintosh\ HD/etc

and work on files in that folder as you please.

Note that /private/etc and /etc are the same folders.

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    Hey boris, I'm looking at the Disk Utility window now but "disk1" and the Startup Disk beneath it don't allow me to mount. Most of the buttons (Unmount, Eject, etc) at the top of Disk Utility are unavailable. – user287980 May 5 '18 at 20:08
  • @user287980 Select the volume or disk on the left and use First Aid to check for errors in the file system or partition table. Is this a known good volume/disk? – boris42 May 5 '18 at 20:11
  • First Aid reported "The volume Mac OS X Base System appears to be OK." and I don't have reason to believe there's anything wrong with the volume/disk. Strange. Any ideas? – user287980 May 5 '18 at 20:17
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    @user287980 Volume "Mac OS X Base System" is not your internal system volume as you can tell by the white icon instead of hard disk icon. White icon is for a mounted read-only image on the Recovery Partition. Your disk must have silver hard disk icon. – boris42 May 5 '18 at 20:20

If you select terminal application in the utilities manu when booted to recovery mode, the OS prepares your volume for read and write access.

The benefit of this solution is it works across several versions of macOS where the mount command changes as does HFS and APFS change the underlying mount points.

  • I don't understand the first sentence (e.g many = menu?) – klanomath May 5 '18 at 20:01

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