MacBook Pro 2009 A1278 Help please.

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by Woody213, Jan 19, 2014.

  1. Woody213 macrumors newbie

    Jan 19, 2014
    I am new to the forum and hope you all can help. I build and repair PCs for a living so please don't hold that against me.

    My wife loves Apple and I just got her a 2009 MacBook Pro 13.3 in. It came loaded with OSX 10.6.3 and has the DVD Snow Leopard disk 10.6.3.

    - 2009 A1278
    - 4GB DDR3 RAM
    - 2.4Ghz Intel Core 2 Duo
    - Nvidia 320M 256MB graphics

    I got it home powered it up and it was great. Wife got an update notice for 10.6.8 so she said yes. After the install it rebooted now it locks up at boot screen, every time.

    I had to pull the hard drive, format, re-install and as long as I keep 10.6.3 I am good. That is not going to work when it keeps telling me I have this update.
  2. ecschwarz macrumors 65816


    Jun 28, 2010
    We all have to make a living somehow, and if anything this does give you some context with working with computers in general, so welcome! :)

    I'm not really sure why that particular combination is causing problems. That's actually a quite nice machine (a good friend of mine has the 2.26GHz version - we did the SSD upgrade and it flies). As far as yours go, I'd just avoid the current software setup - reinstall 10.6.3 from the DVD (you can boot to it by holding down "C" while the computer boots, or select it from the boot menu by holding "Option" while the computer boots).

    Then download the 10.6.6 combo update (this will let you skip from 10.6.3 to 10.6.6) - I'm a bit foggy if you need to download any other security updates first, but it should just install right over it. OS X uses disk images (.dmg) files to package a lot of installers, so you'll need to open the disk image by double-clicking it and then it would mount on the desktop:

    The reason for 10.6.6 is that it was the first version to support the Mac App Store. From there, you can download OS X 10.9 (aka Mavericks) which is the current version for free. It will run nicely on this machine and you'll also have all the most recent security and bug fixes.

    While 10.6 is a bit faster on this particular machine, it's also quite old. 10.7/10.8/10.9 all run about the same and there are a few things that actually make 10.9 more efficient on older machines.
  3. simsaladimbamba

    Nov 28, 2010
    Have you tried the Combo Update for 10.6.8 instead of using Software Update?
    Do you also happen to have an external HDD you could use to clone the existing Mac OS X version onto? Thus in the event of another, albeit strange, failure, you can simply restore.

    If that does not work, once Software Update is open, select the update you want to ignore and press the Backspace key.
  4. Altemose macrumors G3


    Mar 26, 2013
    Elkton, Maryland
    When you reimaged the Mac did you use a system restore disk or a retail copy of Snow Leopard?
  5. Woody213 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 19, 2014
    WOW that was fast!!!

    To answer some of the questions.

    - I am using the retail disk that was in the box.

    - I have checked other sites and I have been told the issue could be the Nvidia 320M graphics driver. That graphics chip was only used for part of 2009 and then replaced. The 2 betas on Nvidia's page fail to load saying they are not compatible with 10.6.3.

    - Just finished re-installing 10.6.3 for the 3rd time. Are you saying I can get 10.6.6 from
  6. ecschwarz, Jan 19, 2014
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2014

    ecschwarz macrumors 65816


    Jun 28, 2010
    Yep - that will be an installer that you can put on anything from 10.6.0 through 10.6.5 and upgrade to 10.6.6.

    If you want to try to get to 10.6.8 from 10.6.3 without using Software Update, use this combo update:

    Generally, this shouldn't be as complicated as a process as you're getting, but I think there's a lot of folks who can help - I'm guessing the graphics issues were also resolved in later versions of the OS.

    Also, in regards to your computer, are you sure it's not a 2010 model?

    Everything I've seen is that Apple used the GeForce 9400M on the Late 2008 aluminum MacBook (basically a MacBook Pro like yours in everything but name) and the Mid-2009 13" MacBook Pro. The 320M arrived in the Mid-2010 13" MacBook Pro. The 2011 models used Intel HD 3000 graphics, but I think that was more related to the chipset changes with those machines (Thunderbolt). Also, the 2009 model came with 2.26 GHz and 2.53 GHz CPUs—the 2010 had 2.4 GHz or 2.66 GHz.

    These are the specs, and also looking around makes it look like those originally came with 10.6.3:

    If it is a 2010 model, it may need those firmware updates posted higher in this thread.
  7. Woody213 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 19, 2014
    You are probably correct.

    You are probably correct in that it's early 2010.

    Doesn't matter, Just install 10.6.6, rebooted and it is locked up at boot screen. :(

    Is there a script I can run to just force no more OSX updates from 10.6.3?
  8. DeltaMac macrumors G3


    Jul 30, 2003
    There's nothing that forces you to take updates - although, particularly for system updates, those are always recommended - and should work :D

    Can you tell us what you mean by "locked up at boot screen"?
    What exactly do you see?
    Login window?
    an icon for the drive only?
    a list of various functions such as Disk Utility, or Reinstall OS X? (That would indicate that a more recent OS X version has already been installed, 10.7 or higher)
    Or, a grey apple that doesn't change at all
    Or, a folder icon with a flashing ?
    Or, just a blank gray, or blue screen?
    Or, something else (what?)

    If you see the grey apple, and a spinning gear underneath - you should let that go for at least 15 or 20 minutes, just to see if anything changes?
  9. ecschwarz macrumors 65816


    Jun 28, 2010
    I think the bigger concern as to why it's locking up - 10.6.3 is outdated and it's a bit rough to keep it running that. At what point does it lock up? At the Apple logo? After, but before the login window?

    Behind the nice, clean graphical startup, there is a text mode that will spit out everything that's going on with your machine - start it up while holding Command+V (verbose mode) and you should see a lot of text - let us know where it stops...
  10. Woody213 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 19, 2014
    Thank for the reply.

    After the install of either 10.6.6 or 10.6.8 the system reboots.

    I get the grey screen with the apple in the center. I then get the round gear that spins like it's loading the OS.

    About 20 seconds into the boot the gear stops (doesn't disappear just stops).

    I have let it sit for 20 to 30 minutes and nothing.

    My brother just came over with his Macbook. It's older a MacBook 4,1 as mine is 7,1.

    - 2.4Ghz Intel Core 2 Duo
    - 2GB DDR2 RAM.
    - 800mhz Bus speed
    - Intel GMA X3100 graphics

    It was running 10.5.7. I just wiped it and installed 10.6.3 and upgraded to 10.6.8 and no issues at all.

    I could be wrong but everything keeps pointing to the Nvidia 320M graphhics as my problem.
  11. ecschwarz, Jan 19, 2014
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2014

    ecschwarz macrumors 65816


    Jun 28, 2010
    Try booting into Verbose Mode (Command+V) to see what text is displayed when and if it may also want to try this in case your hard drive is really failing:

    It could be an issue with the 320M, although it seems to be an Apple-specific chip and was also used on the 2010 MacBook Airs. Most of the issues related to driver compatibility were with Windows on Boot Camp. If it were me, I'd try to get a later version of the OS on there and see if that works. Now that he has 10.6.8, you could download OS X Mavericks from the Mac App Store (it will go into the Applications folder on his hard drive), copy the installer over via an 8GB or larger USB flash drive or external hard drive, and then run it from 10.6.3. If it still acts up with that, you may just have to stick with 10.6.3. That does seem a bit odd, as I've seen a lot of the 2010 models and haven't seen an issue like yours.

    Alternatively, you could also download OS X Mavericks to your brother's Mac and make a bootable flash drive - this would bypass fussing with 10.6.x entirely and you could even use it to install to an empty hard drive - Option 2 is what you need to do:

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