2006 Intel MacMini HD Clone story

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by 50BMG, Oct 31, 2013.

  1. 50BMG macrumors member

    Nov 13, 2011
    I'm posting this to help others who may need to try the same thing, and run into some of the issues I did. Primarily my purpose is to share solutions but also observations and recommendations.

    To begin - My MacMini was shipped as a 1,1 with 60GB HD, intel 1.5ghz Core Solo CPU, 1GB RAM, OSX 10.4 Tiger. Thanks to help from this forum, I debugged and upgraded it to 2GB RAM, a 2.33GHz T7600 Core2 Duo CPU, and flashed it to a 2,1 personality.

    So that's how it is today, and how it was when I upgraded the HD to a 500GB Western Digital 5400rpm "blue" drive. The "migration" was accomplished by using the OS's Disk Utility to "Restore" the internal HD to the new drive, plugged into a USB 2.0 HD Docking Station. [ a Thermaltake BlacX ]

    The drive had to be partitioned before the system would use it, and I decided to zero it too. I also chose a smaller partition than the whole drive for the system, to leave space for another system (more on this later)

    A few comments at this point -
    • The Zeroing process was surprising slow. It took almost 3hrs to do a 120GB partition.
    • I checked and the drive was indeed recognized as being connected via USB 2.0, but it's speed was nowhere near 480Mbits per second. It was more like 12MBytes per sec (96Mbits) - about 1/4 of what I expected.
    • This same speed (or lack of it) was encountered during the "Cloning" too.
    • The cloning process took a while, but I'm not sure how long.

    I performed a "Verify" on the drive to assure the copy was faithful and that it was worth testing.

    The system was rebooted, holding down the "Option" key and started from the 500GB drive while still USB connected. The system came up normally, and operated correctly from what I could see. The desktop showed both the new, and old system drives.

    After a normal shutdown, the mini was disassembled, cleaned, and the old internal drive swapped out for the new one. I transferred the foam cooling air baffle to the new drive, and reassembled the system. The unit was powered up with a PRAM reset (Command-Option-P-R) and then Option.

    The system indicated a single hard drive ( the new one ) as my only choice. When selected, it started normally - the only clue something had changed was the settings reset in the PRAM and the empty extra partition now showing as a new drive on my desktop.

    About now, you might be asking - "So What? It's just another success story... why is that so surprising, and why the thread?"

    That's fair. If you didn't know that I tried this unsuccessfully once before using a different USB adapter and HD while the Mini's firmware was still at 1,1 - you wouldn't think it was anything unusual.

    I've researched it a little since then, and some others report having problems with this upgrade path too. To be specific - last time I tried this, the Mini would not recognize there was a valid system on the cloned HD when installed "internally". (it looked empty) However, I was able to boot it and use it when installed on USB.

    Furthermore, I was able to do a clean install of OSX 10.4 from the original DVD to that drive when installed internally. So I know the drive was both compatible and good. Note this "Re-install" path is no longer open to me as the original DVD now thinks it's trying to be installed on a Mini 2,1 - which it was not shipped with. I've been unable to get hold of a Mini 2,1 Tiger disk or a retail Leopard disk. An "HD Clone" is my only upgrade path.

    I expected more problems this time, but it all went without a hitch. Thing is - I'm not sure exactly why. Hence the thread to report the facts.

    So what's different?
    • The Mini's firmware is 2,1 now (was 1,1)
    • The clone was created using a different USB adapter (docking station)
    • The Drive itself is a different one, and of different manufacture
    • A PRAM reset was performed (I may have done this before too - I can't recall)

    Interested parties will need to decide which of these did the trick. I can only say - it is possible and has now worked. (A drive Cloned via USB and then installed internally)

    Were I to do this again [or alot] I'd probably invest in the version of the docking station that has ALL the convenient interface types: eSATA, USB2.0, USB3.0, Firewire 400, Firewire 800 and use Firewire to attach to the Mini.

    Lastly, I may eventually resort to a Mini-to-Mini "Target Mode" clone session if I'm unable to obtain a suitable Leopard DVD.
  2. 50BMG thread starter macrumors member

    Nov 13, 2011
    Everything is remarkably stable. The new drive seems fine and it's settings good. It appears to be at least as fast as the original. The OS is much happier having 50% free space. :apple:

    Now the question is... "When do I call it "Good" and stop treating it like a test?"

    Up to this point I could revert to the original and not lose any emails or other saved content. But at some point going forward, I'll be relying on local copies as I did with the previous drive.

    I'd be interested hearing opinions from those of you who've crossed this rubicon yourselves.
  3. Schnort macrumors regular

    Oct 24, 2013
    out of curiosity, this 2006 mini with a core2duo can't upgrade to mavericks, can it?
  4. mdgm macrumors 6502a

    Nov 2, 2010
    No. You need an Early 2009 Mini or later to run Mavericks.
  5. Schnort macrumors regular

    Oct 24, 2013
    Well, i know that's the stated "requirement", but I wasn't sure if it was because it needed a 64 bit processor (which the core2duo is) or if there was something else about a 2009 mini that made the difference.
  6. 50BMG, Oct 31, 2013
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2013

    50BMG thread starter macrumors member

    Nov 13, 2011
    My unverified suspicion is that legitimate compatibility with this mini stops at Lion (10.7).

    I recall some claims that it could be made to "run", but can't be installed without hacking the installer. (Apparently it knows it's a 2006 model by S/N and reportedly ignores the flashed 2,1 hardware compatibility)

    It has an Intel GMA 950 Graphics Chipset which causes problems with later OSX that require more.

    I think a 2009 MacMini 3,1 (1066FSB) is the minimum required for Mavericks, even though by spec it might seem to be compatible since I have the x64 Core 2 CPU.

    As for me, I run some PPC apps that were never offered in Universal or Intel, and need to retain compatibility so Snow Leopard (10.6) is the last I could consider. I'd really like to get genuine install disks for both 10.4 and 10.5. Not sure why they're so very difficult to come by, especially those shipped with Mini2,1 systems.

    Some have told me I'd be happier with SL (10.6) because of it's better use of hardware, improved performance and smaller memory footprint. Anyone have opinions on that to share?
  7. mdgm macrumors 6502a

    Nov 2, 2010
    Give Apple a call and see if they can help you.
    If the Mac is supported by 10.6 then yes that is a better choice than 10.4 or 10.5. 10.6 still has a large user base (support for PPC apps being a major reason) and has much newer security updates etc. The latest versions of a lot of software now won't run on anything older than Snow Leopard.

    Put a SSD and at least 2GB RAM in a Mac running 10.6 and you should find it very fast and provided the hardware doesn't fail it should be good for quite a while yet.

    Once the initial bugs with Mavericks are sorted out Mavericks will be a better choice than 10.7 or 10.8 for hardware that is supported by Mavericks. Mavericks has some nice features to help get the most out of a Mac.
  8. 50BMG thread starter macrumors member

    Nov 13, 2011
    Thanks for the replies...

    I'm most interested in your preference for an SSD. Can you elaborate please on your reasons? Out of curiosity, I bought one recently but planned to return it. It's not big enough (120GB) to experiment with some of the other OS choices I'd like to explore plus run my existing system. The 500GB is big enough and performance is very acceptable - even a little better than the original 60GB unit.

    Fact is, except for compatibility with newer software that I'd like to run and growing incompatibility of the stuff I do, 10.4 performs well. It's always been a "snappy" performer, even not bad with the original CPU and memory. With the Core 2 Duo CPU, it can keep up with fullscreen HD video and everything else it does simultaneously. Really amazing for a 7 year old product.

    So when you say Snow Leopard might be my "sweet spot", it makes me sit up and take notice.

    At the store recently, I was looking at the newer products. A very nice mid-level i7 Mini, the new MacBook Pros, and Retina iPad mini. Were I to go in any of these directions - Mavericks would be essential. As it is now, not so much - even if my hardware supported it. (doesn't)

    Now on a Hackintosh - that might be another matter. But I like Apple products so much, it doesn't seem worth the trouble except to rescue money wasted on PCs.
  9. 50BMG thread starter macrumors member

    Nov 13, 2011
    Western Digital Drive

    Ok, so here's something I'm noticing that's a little irksome... and familiar.

    I think the drive is going to some sort of "sleep" mode after about 20 seconds of no activity. [I timed it] It takes about a second to come out of it. Really annoying.

    It's not the OS. I seem to recall this "Feature" in WD drives a few years ago. There are WD Drive Utilities to turn this behavior off (I think) or set it less aggressively, but of course they require 10.6 as a minimum.

    Guess I'll have to remove it and transport it to a windows system for that.

  10. Intell macrumors P6


    Jan 24, 2010
    I highly recommend getting a retail 10.6 disc from Apple and upgrading to that. Using Intell 10.4 and 10.5 is not a good idea unless you really, really need. USB 2.0's max speed is about 33 megabytes per second. You may have been limited by the internal drive's speed, but that should be at least 50 megabytes per second. If you do clone again, may I suggest Carbon Copy Cloner? It's less fussy than Disk Utility and a good bit quicker.
  11. mdgm macrumors 6502a

    Nov 2, 2010
    SSDs are much faster than mechanical hard drives. For many tasks putting a SSD in an old machine can be as effective as moving to a new machine with no SSD. The disk speed is often the bottleneck rather than the CPU or RAM
  12. 50BMG, Nov 2, 2013
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2013

    50BMG thread starter macrumors member

    Nov 13, 2011
    I've just now decided to try SL (10.6) based on your recommendations. I'll look in my stache and if I don't already have a retail disk, it will be Monday. (correction - ordered it from Apple, it's not on my retailer's website any more. Delivery expected Thurs 11/7)

    My plan is to install it to a second partition on the WD drive. Even if I end up abandoning it, the WD Utilities should run on it and allow me to disable the head parking feature (in drive firmware) that seems to be the cause of these delays.

    I had to disable it after upgrading a PATA windows laptop a few years back - I just forgot it was such an issue.​

    During the search for the correct solution, I also noticed someone had come up with a daemon for Linux that keeps the WD head parking feature from acting by writing to the drive every 7 seconds or so when there's no other disk activity. Looking at the source code, I don't think it should be too difficult to adapt it to OSX. If the WD Utilities can't do the job, I'll consider this approach.

    I'm still on the fence about returning the 128GB SSD I bought. It was costly enough that I ought to if it's not going into this project. (~$80 tax inc.) Yeah... wa wa wa. Can you convince me to keep it and try it? It's a Crucial M4 CT128M4SSD2 6Gb/s SATA Marvell Controller - so you can critique it.

    Thing is - returning it puts me 1/10th the way to a new i7 Mini or 1/5th toward an unlocked iPhone 4s. (in it's last days I think) Decisions, decisions...
  13. 50BMG thread starter macrumors member

    Nov 13, 2011
    A few new wrinkles...

    Picked up the SL disk today. Took a few attempts [dirty DVD drive?] but it's installed on the second partition.

    It does seem a little faster for some things, but HD video streaming isn't one of them. Still, I haven't tuned it all up yet.

    Going through this as a "clean install" rather than an upgrade from Tiger has brought me face to face with all the customizations I've made over the last year. It's a lot to re-do, but it's the cleanest way. (not all my old apps and enhancements will be compatible with this system)

    Be that as it may, one of my reasons for trying this was to set the WD drive so it doesn't park the heads automatically. This was to be accomplished by running WDDriveUtility_For_Web_Mac, which does indeed run on this version of OSX. Unfortunately, it's not expecting the drive to be installed internally, so it doesn't look there. :(

    Seems I'll have to try another route.

    Playing with SL a little, I see the 64-bit Kernel is not running, despite having a 64-bit CPU. Checking into it - this is because the EFI BIOS is only 32-bit. However, all the apps and utilities appear to be 64-bit. I'm told this is the best of both worlds, since I don't have enough memory to justify the 64-bit kernel anyway.

    I'm not sure what features I've lost as a result, but it's no issue so far.

    Still haven't returned the SSD. Been thinking about those new "Combo" drives anyway.

    BTW- This post was made from the SL side.
  14. 50BMG thread starter macrumors member

    Nov 13, 2011
    Two rounds of Software Updates, a new Safari (5.1.10) and Flash Player (11.9) later... looks pretty good.

    HD Video is visibly clearer, audio sync more exact and no video stuttering. Refresh rate may be a little off though. More later.

    At this point, SL 10.6.8 is visibly faster than Tiger on the same hardware.
  15. Schnort macrumors regular

    Oct 24, 2013
    I just got my $20 T7200 core2duo 2.0GHz chip, and will try to breathe a little new life into my 2006 1.6 Ghz core solo mini this weekend.
  16. 50BMG thread starter macrumors member

    Nov 13, 2011
    Best of luck with that. You planning to flash it to a 2,1?

    Remember you won't be able to re-install your Mini's original OS if you do.

    How much RAM does it have?
  17. Schnort macrumors regular

    Oct 24, 2013
    I have 1GB right now, but just ordered 2x1GB sticks.

    I'll probably leave the version alone. I don't think it changes anything, does it?

    EDIT: looking around, it looks like it will accept more memory if you change it. Well, I only have 2GB, and it's only going to be used as a web browser at home, so I'm ok not fiddling with it. If I could manage to get it somehow to accept mavericks, then that would be a win.
  18. 50BMG thread starter macrumors member

    Nov 13, 2011
    According to the published compatibility data, that's a "no-go". Let us know how it works out, if you try it anyway.
  19. Schnort macrumors regular

    Oct 24, 2013
    Heh. I forgot that I actually had 2GB and ordered 2GB more :/

    Anyways, new processor in, all booted no issues. I might try to force it to load 10.7, but i think i'll just let the wife use it as a bullet proof web surfing platform.
  20. 50BMG thread starter macrumors member

    Nov 13, 2011
    Now is that 2GB sticks, or a mistaken 4-stick order?

    I'm curious - with the same BIOS - what's the description in the System Profiler of the Mini now?
    I.E. -
    Hardware Overview:
      Model Name:			Mac mini
      Model Identifier:		Macmini2,1
      Processor Name:		Intel Core 2 Duo
      Processor Speed:		2.33 GHz
      Number Of Processors:		1
      Total Number Of Cores:	2
      L2 Cache (per processor):	4 MB
      Memory:			2 GB
      Bus Speed:			667 MHz
      Boot ROM Version:		MM21.009A.B00
      SMC Version:			1.3f4
    Like to hear how 10.7 install goes. From what I understand, "running" 10.7 isn't as much of an issue as "Installing" it is. Which OS now?
  21. Intell macrumors P6


    Jan 24, 2010
    Lion checks the logicboard's ID number. That is not changed during the flashing process. You still need to remove or edit the SupportPlatforms.plist file to get Lion to boot and install.
  22. Schnort macrumors regular

    Oct 24, 2013
    When I bought the thing in 2006, I upgraded its memory (it really was piggish at the time). I thought I had only upgraded it to 1GB, but it turns out I had upgraded it to 2x1GB.

    I didn't realize that since I hadn't turned it on for about 6 months before I bought another 2.x1GB (only $20, so no biggie).
      Model Name:	Mac mini
      Model Identifier:	Macmini1,1
      Processor Name:	Intel Core 2 Duo
      Processor Speed:	2 GHz
      Number Of Processors:	1
      Total Number Of Cores:	2
      L2 Cache:	4 MB
      Memory:	2 GB
      Bus Speed:	667 MHz
      Boot ROM Version:	MM11.0055.B08
      SMC Version (system):	1.3f4
    I really just want to run the latest XCODE5 so I can make an iPhone app...I'd love to get this thing able to do that, but I think from what I've read actually getting 10.8.4 (which I think is the minimum for the latest XCODE) leaves the machine in a bit of a funk, and unable to access network drives, etc. even once you get it installed.

    Looks like I'll buy a refurbished 2011 model or something if the haswell one doesn't come out in a few weeks...
  23. 50BMG thread starter macrumors member

    Nov 13, 2011
    Finally got this done.

    I downloaded the ISO for Ultimate Boot CD (UBCD 5.2.7) which happens to have WDidle3 on it. After a little futzing around burning a bad disk - I did one correctly and booted it right on the MacMini. UBCD has a nice little menu system and using the on-disk documentation it was clear exactly where to go.

    Ran WDidle3 /R first to be sure it could correctly read the disk parameters and then ran WDidle3 /D to disable the head parking feature altogether. Seems to have worked.

    One note of warning: - be sure to power off the system after the change. Apparently the drive ends up in a funny state of you simply reboot without a power cycle. (very slow)​

    I heard rumor there may be yet another inactivity timer I need to set. Will keep you posted on that one - but so far so good.


    On Snow Leopard: - 10.6.8 is everything you said it would be. Runs my UT (Cider) better than on a PC for the most part.

    I'm evaluating how to best proceed from here. Since I've begun as clean install, I'd need to re-obtain more current Apps to do it right. I could always take a step back and try an "upgrade" of my 10.4.11. Gonna evaluate things a little more before taking any more steps.

    I'm very pleased overall.

    I consider this Disk upgrade "DONE" for all intents and purposes. My Mini boots either 10.4 or 10.6 and now it's just a matter of deciding if, and when, to let go of 10.4.

    Thanks to everyone who participated.
  24. 50BMG thread starter macrumors member

    Nov 13, 2011
    As luck would have it, this rumor seems to be true. (or the WDilde3 change didn't take)

    The simplest effective workaround is to install Marcel Bresink's Temperature Monitor, and allow it to poll the drive for S.M.A.R.T. status every 5 seconds. This seems to keep the drive sleep feature at bay.

    Note also - I have a WD 200 "Blue" Scorpio drive in another MacMini which does not have this "feature" at all.

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