Specs: Apple MacBook Pro 16-Inch Core i7 2.6 2019 - MVVL2LL/A* - MacBookPro16,1 - A2141 - 3347 - SSD Drive

I just got my MBP from service, it just had a software problem preventing it from powering up, they just did a SMC reset.
As the computer was locked with the apple id, they sent it to me to unlock it and finish reinstalling OS Catalina.
I'm not upgrading, the computer came with OS Catalina.

I have to boot in recovery mode, asks for the Wi-fi password, connects, spends several minutes with the revolving globe, which I guess that is downloading the OS installer.
After starting the OS install, I get the message Downloading installer information to the target volume failed.
Can't get past that.

enter image description here

Only once I formatted the drive to HFS+ instead of APFS and didn't get that error message, but instead got a message about not being able to install the OS with that format. (I guess SSD only works with APFS?)

Anyway, I tried to create an installation USB stick, but this Mac won't allow external drive boot without admin privilege, and guess what, there is no admin at all!

enter image description here

It doesn't have a firmware password.
It doesn't have iCloud lock.

Things I tried and didn't work:

  • all types of recovery mode boot: ⌘-R, opt-⌘-R, shift-opt-⌘-R
  • Reset NVRAM
  • SMC reset
  • Erase the disk
  • iCloud erase (find my mac didn't even detect the mac online, even when it does connect to the internet)
  • Checked the date & time where correct
  • Tried to set the DNSs to the google ones
  • Tried two different connections. (All the other devices using those connections have no problems)

For reasons out of the scope of this question, I can't send the computer back to service. *

Any ideas on what else can I try?

Edit: I uploaded the logs of 2 install attempts, full with error messages, maybe that can help?

  • * I will eventually send it to service, but there are too few official retailers in my country and due to the pandemic it's nearly impossible to get a repair appointment. – Petruza Oct 8 '20 at 23:36
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    Do you have a second Mac and can connect them with yours booted to target disk mode? – bmike Oct 10 '20 at 10:47
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    Did you put the "blank" MacBook Pro into target mode (hold T until you see the USB icon) then with them connected boot the good Mac and use it to install macOS onto the blank one. – Allan Oct 10 '20 at 15:16
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    This might (I emphasize might because I've never tried it). Use the good Mac to format the blank Mac's disk as APFS. Then boot the blank Mac into Internet recovery. You should be able to reinstall without T2 getting in your way. – Allan Oct 10 '20 at 15:41
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    Use the good mac to do the full install. As far as the good Mac is concerned, the blank Mac is just another drive. – Allan Oct 10 '20 at 16:51

I am having the exact same problem. Something weird that helped me past the "downloading instaler information...failed" is using different wireless connections, and retrying many times. Some (magical) times it just passes to the next screen. This is very weird, I know, but it helped in my case. When I get passed that error, I find a different one: the installation gets a timeout around 90% of the installation. I have probably the same computer as you, Macbook pro 2019, 16 inches, 8core base model with T2. Please let me know if you find a solution as I am in the same condition as you. I will let you know if I find a solution too. What I will try is continue trying on different wifi connections and let you know. I am 1000 miles away from an Apple store too (at a mountain village in Argentina). God help us, hahaha!

  • Jaja dónde estás? yo estoy en Alta gracia, Córdoba. – Petruza Oct 12 '20 at 22:32
  • Jajajajajajaj que culiao esta vida. En Tafí Del Valle. Qué onda ahí? – alek Oct 14 '20 at 1:00
  • jaja una macbook 2019 en Tafí del valle es algo digno de verse. Escribime: ernestoborio (at) gmail – Petruza Oct 14 '20 at 20:00

This is what solved the issue for me.

You will need another Apple computer running Catalina.

  1. Make time machine backup of the working computer.
  2. Boot in recovery mode in the non-working computer.
  3. Recover from that backup.
  4. Continue from there...

Hope this helps, and that you have access to another mac with catalina (in that awful village where you live hahahahah).

  • Yeah, with two Catalina Macs I could just use Apple Configurator and that's it. – Petruza Oct 23 '20 at 14:25

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