Creating Lion install media for 2011Mac Mini/2011 MacBook Air?

Discussion in 'Mac OS X Lion (10.7)' started by belltree, Aug 8, 2011.

  1. belltree macrumors 6502

    Feb 17, 2008
    Tokyo, Japan
    As we all know the 2011 Mac Mini and Mac Book Air no longer come with any install media as they did in the past for pre-Lion versions of OS X. This will likely be the trend for all future Mac hardware depending on the outcome of this trial.

    Now this leaves Internet Download the only option for OS X reinstalling on the 2011 Mac Mini and Mac Book Air. While many folks are content with this and could care less there are those of us who want the physical media be it optical (DVD) or USB memory. I, personally, feel that paying the $$ we should have the option to get install media if we so choose.

    Apple will be release a USB memory version of Lion this month apparently for ~$69USD. Also, those who have Mac models other than the two I previously mentioned can download Lion from the App store and create install media from it (Lion Disc Maker). This build of Lion apparently lacks the driver support for both the 2011 Mac Mini and Mac Book Air so owners of these models apparently have no other options.

    My question is, has anyone found a way to grab the Internet Download version of Lion on either of these models and manage to create install media?
  2. wdhpgx macrumors newbie

    Aug 11, 2006
    Yes, if you reboot the machine, after it's re-downloaded Lion but before it installs it, you can bring up Terminal and find the DMG on the filesystem, and copy it off, and restore it to a USB stick. I did that on my 2011 mini, and used scp to copy it off to another machine where I restored it to USB stick. But maybe you can even bring up Disk Utility right then and restore it to a USB stick; I haven't tried that.
  3. belltree thread starter macrumors 6502

    Feb 17, 2008
    Tokyo, Japan
    Thanks for your reply. Did you follow a tutorial to achieve this or did you do it on your own? If so, you should post a tutorial for others. It would be a great contribution to the community! ;)
  4. Yuusharo macrumors member

    Oct 24, 2007
    This sounds like a fun project I'd like to take a crack at, actually. I have the 2010 Macbook Air, so it's not quite the same as I already have the App Store image available to me, but the procedure should be similar. I have to reinstall Lion tonight anyway, so I'll give it a shot!

    I do have this feeling that once Apple updates the App Store image to 10.7.1 or above, it will include the necessary drivers for the newer models and thus be a universal solution. However, it will also cost an additional $30 to someone who already buys a Mac with Lion on it, so figuring out a simple method of doing this could be valuable to anyone.
  5. belltree thread starter macrumors 6502

    Feb 17, 2008
    Tokyo, Japan
    Can anyone else confirm that this process works for the 2011 Mac Mini/2011 MacBook Air?
  6. rw3 macrumors 6502a


    May 13, 2008
    DFW, TX
    Working on a solution as we speak...I will let you know what I come up with. Thanks



    Requirements: Another Mac with a FireWire 400/800 Port (In the case it has FireWire 400, you will need a 6pin to 9pin cable as the Mini only has FireWire 800)

    This solution does require you do redownload via Lion Internet Recovery the InstallESD.dmg that has the correct build (in this case Build 11A2061). Once the download is done via Lion Internet Recovery and the Mac Mini begins to restart, you can shut it off.

    Plug in a FireWire 400/800 Cable into the other Mac. Once that is done, power on the Mac Mini and immediately press and hold [T]. This put the Mac Mini into Target Disk mode.

    Once in Target Disk Mode, plug the other end of the FireWire 800 into the Mac Mini and it will mouth as another hard on the Mac that you are using to access it. Here you will see that there are files and also an InstallESD.dmg file. That DMG file is what you need to create a restore disk. You can either choose to use a USB Flash drive or external hard drive to do.

    I will report back on how my install goes with my newly created USB Flash Drive.....
  7. jgould macrumors regular

    Jan 27, 2011
    Columbus Ohio
    I tried to use the "Restore InstallESD.dmg to a thumb drive" trick today and I could not get it to work. I rebooted my 2011 MacBook Pro and held option, selecting my thumb drive. The screen switched to the Apple Logo with the spinning gear, and then changed to a "No" symbol (The circle with the slash though it) and still had the spinning gear. Nothing ever happened. I think that it looks for something else on the disk that is not there...
  8. khorning macrumors newbie

    Aug 17, 2011
    MacBook Air

    Ryan -

    Do you have any suggestions for creating a similar a Lion install USB Flash Drive for the new 2011 MacBook Air since unlike the new Mini the Air does not have any Firewire ports? I guess I'm likely stuck with the new $69 Lion Install for the 2011 MacBook Air from the App Store.

    Thanks for the help on the 2011 Mini "solution" as I have one in transit which should arrive tomorrow. I will follow your directions for it and report back.

  9. Apple Expert macrumors 65816

    Jan 31, 2010
    Wonder if the USB Lion version will work on the 2011 MBA. Also can you do a secure wipe with the USB. If so it might be worth it for the price.
  10. spyderx macrumors member

    Mar 20, 2011
    I did this with my MBA (2011 new model). I'm going to use it as a restore / emergency drive. It is slow, but compact and works fine.

    1. Insert 16gb SDHC card and format it via disk utility
    2. Boot off internal recovery partition
    3. Do a restore and restore to the SD card. Lion downloaded and installed to SD card.
    4. Tested boot off of the SD. Works. The SD also has the recovery partition on it.

    Let it run, took quite some time to finish.

    In a pinch I could simply boot off the SD.
  11. khorning macrumors newbie

    Aug 17, 2011
    I posted just that question at the Apple Store this morning and, as yet, there has been no reply from Apple. I'll post it here when and if I get one.


    Thanks for the suggestion but the 11" MBA doesn't have SDHC slot only your model MBA has one.
  12. Saturn1217 macrumors 6502a

    Apr 28, 2008
    you could also use a 16gb usb drive instead of an sd card right?

    @spyderx That is a really good idea btw - especially since you get the recovery partition on your restore media as well.

    Well that removes one reservation I had about upgrading to mac with lion pre-installed. Thanks!
  13. khorning macrumors newbie

    Aug 17, 2011
    @Saturn1217...I dunno that is what I am unsure of. i.e. whether the USB port(s) behave the same as SDHC ports in a hardware sense when it comes to booting a given piece of hardware. I guess it is worth giving it a try. I'll post with results.
  14. khorning, Aug 18, 2011
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2011

    khorning macrumors newbie

    Aug 17, 2011
    Still have not tried this yet as I am tinkering with the new Mini which arrived this morning.
  15. Saturn1217 macrumors 6502a

    Apr 28, 2008
    I'm pretty sure using a usb flash drive will work. I restored the install dmg of lion to a usb drive and I can boot from this usb drive now. This is how I installed Lion on my computer so I don't see why it shouldn't work for this slightly modified scenario.
  16. khorning macrumors newbie

    Aug 17, 2011
    I did luck. My Air does seem to boot from the Recovery HD partition (using Command-R on startup) but when I open Disc Utilities -> Restore and try the only source it shows (disk1/Mac OX Base System) and then put the USB drive in the Destination field and click restore, it responds "the start-up disc cannot be used as a source". This is frustrating!
  17. wdhpgx macrumors newbie

    Aug 11, 2006
    I think the idea is to use the downloaded InstallESD.dmg as the source. You'll probably have to add it to the list in Disk Utility (drag the InstallESD.dmg icon from the Finder to the sidebar of Disk Utility).
  18. khorning macrumors newbie

    Aug 17, 2011
    When booted from the Recovery HD hidden partition you don't have access to the Finder. Are you saying you have to actually run the Install Mac OSX and re-install" the software on the Air's main Flash drive and then somehow get back to the Finder before the .ESD image disappears which I think happens on Install completion?

    I did that successfully when upgrading to Lion from Snow Leopard 10.6.8 on a MacBook Pro and I did move the install Disc Image before completing the upgrade. But, that Disc Image will not install on the Air which has a different "build".
  19. Sensamic macrumors 68030

    Mar 26, 2010
    I did a Super Duper image of Lion just installed and then every time I want to erase my HD I use the Super Duper image and everything is back to new in just... 8 minutes!!! I did the image adding office 2011, iwork and all the recent updates.

    This is the best solution I have ever found. Just 8 minutes to do a clean install.
  20. wdhpgx macrumors newbie

    Aug 11, 2006
    Not running the install, no, just to copy (using Disk Utility "restore") the contents of the DMG to the flash drive. I'm not familiar enough with the limitations of the Recovery partition environment to say exactly how. Maybe you have to File->"Open Disk Image" or something. When I was in the Recovery environment on mine, I didn't burn it to usb right then, I just brought up Terminal and scp'd the dmg to another machine on the network, and then used that machine to write it to usb drive.
  21. khorning macrumors newbie

    Aug 17, 2011
    Thanks for everyone's attempts to help. I think the problem is the specific "build" of Lion that is required for the 11" MBA as the thumb drive I created for the MBP during its upgrade to Lion does boot the MBP and an Intel Core Duo Mini (early 2010) that (like the MBP) was upgraded from SL 10.6.8 via the App Sore.

    I guess I'll try @Sensamic's process even though that means another $30 for Super Duper. It's either that or purchasing the $69 Lion thumb drive from Apple with no guarantees that it will work with this MBA. No one at the Apple Store can confirm the new Lion install thumb drive will indeed do the job.

    At least @Sensamic's solution will also allow me to have some access to Disc Warrior, which have essentially has been orphaned by the new Lionized Macs without DVD drives.
  22. Sensamic macrumors 68030

    Mar 26, 2010
    Super Duper if free. You only need to pay if you want the extra features, which are not needed to create a single image.
  23. xsu macrumors newbie

    Jul 13, 2010

    Since I do not have a second mac, only another PC, would the following process work:

    1. Us internet recovery to download correct build.
    2. Take the mac HD out and connect it in the PC.
    3. Use some software to allow PC to read a Mac disk, and transfer the build to an external drive.
    4. Put the mac HD back into my Mac to complete the install
    5. Use disk utility to create a USB boot drive using the file on the external drive
  24. nd7 macrumors newbie

    Sep 14, 2011
    USB installer

    Confirmed I can get the InstallESD.dmg "restore" into a USB drive or SD card using disk utility.

    I tried a few times, and got error -206 but the disk actually work and bootable and installable - must be some kind of checksum error. I have installed Lion on USB external disks and also the MacbookAir itself. All work perfectly.

    One issue is that the USB disk must be larger than 4.2GB, like a DVD image. So, the regular 4GB USB stick does not work. I ended up with a 8GB stick, partition it into a 4.2GB installer and the rest for a FAT partition for normal USB file sharing uses.

    Hope this help.

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