Snow Leopard Installation Problem

Discussion in 'macOS' started by ryguy2303, Aug 28, 2009.

  1. ryguy2303 macrumors 6502


    Jul 27, 2009
    I was upgrading from Tiger to Snow Leopard (I asked a worker in the Apple store and he assured me it was okay to do so) and about 15 minutes into the installation I got a message saying "Unable to install. Please retry". Then when I retried it says "The contents of this disk can't be changed. Mac OS X couldn't be installed on this disk."

    I have a black MBP and it is Intel based and I fit the system requirements.

    Anyone have any ideas?

  2. uaecasher macrumors 65816


    Jan 29, 2009
    Stillwater, OK
    Hmm did you buy the Box set or upgrade?
  3. ryguy2303 thread starter macrumors 6502


    Jul 27, 2009
    I bought the upgrade because the guy at the Apple store told me that's all I would need.:mad:
  4. messedkid macrumors 6502


    Jul 8, 2007
    Oshawa, ON
    Same thing just happend to me, only I sat through a 50 minutes installation screen (one reboot inbetween), with 3 minutes left displayed, just to have it tell me to try again.

    First impression of Snow Leopard....failed.

    Going to try again now, but if it fails again I'll just install Leopard again and see whats up tomorrow. Still want to go out on this Friday night.:mad:

    Edit: Bought the upgrade disc, as I already own a copy of Leopard.

    2nd Edit: After the 2nd try, installation finished after 32 minutes, without a problem. Just try again.
  5. ryguy2303 thread starter macrumors 6502


    Jul 27, 2009
    So you had to do Tiger --> Leopard --> Snow Leopard?

    Edit: Tried it again and I get the same message. I have important files (not backed up) on there, too. Are my files still there, safe and sound?
  6. lavem macrumors member


    Apr 19, 2005
    I tried to upgrade Leopard to Snow Leopard on my MacPro 1,1 but it fails with the 'Unable to Install message'. I hooked up a spare firewire drive and I blanked it and it installs fine. There must be something wrong with my existing Leopard installation. I'm debating whether I should wipe my main disk and install fresh and then pull my files back in from time machine. What a ball ache!

    Upgrade on my 13" MBP was super smooth and problem free.

    Edit: Booting directly from the install DVD got me through it. Phew!
  7. ryguy2303 thread starter macrumors 6502


    Jul 27, 2009
    I called apple and asked what we or they could do to help the situation. They said I should buy the Mac Box Set and that they would not be able to return my SL because it is opened software (even though it doesn't have a cd key).

    So since an employee was wrong, I am without a computer, I have to buy SL and the Mac Box Set. They offered no sort of help, advice, or compensation for something they did wrong. Thanks Apple!
  8. impulse462 macrumors 68000


    Jun 3, 2009
    The disc that comes with the box set is the exact same disc; you'll get the same problem. If you've already backed your stuff up I'd just clean install
  9. ryguy2303 thread starter macrumors 6502


    Jul 27, 2009
    Right, but sadly, I didn't back my files up because I was reassured by the Apple worker that the installation would be smooth (just as if I was upgrading from Leopard to SL).

    Right now, my computer doesn't start up. I have to turn it on, quickly insert snow leopard, turn it off. Then I have to turn it on and hold control, then I am able to choose Macintosh HD (and when I do that, it ends up turning itself off after about 5 minutes) or OS X Install (it tries to install and gives me the same error message).
  10. impulse462 macrumors 68000


    Jun 3, 2009
    Maybe you could try the tiger archive and install/upgrade option if it has one?

    i'm not familar with the tiger disc
  11. ryguy2303 thread starter macrumors 6502


    Jul 27, 2009
    My computer didn't come with the Tiger discs.
    Anyway, I took it into apple and they referred me to a third party data recovery store. There, they told me it could cost anywhere from $150-450 because the idiot at the apple store "misinterpreted what I asked."
  12. cubedweller macrumors 6502

    Nov 25, 2007
    The fact that you didn't have your data backed up is not Apple's fault. You always backup important files prior to any major system update, this is "Computers 101" -- computers aren't infallible, regardless of what the sales representatives tell you.

    Most computer users have been bitten by failing to backup at least once and the bright side is you'll likely never run into this type of problem again :)
  13. ryguy2303 thread starter macrumors 6502


    Jul 27, 2009
    I understand that, but I wouldn't be in this situation if the so-called "specialist" sold me the right product. In the end, I could be out $600+ with no computer thanks to this guy.
  14. david803sc macrumors member


    Jul 11, 2008
    Lake Wylie, SC
    There is some software on your system incompatible with the Snow Leopard installer, either PGP or even Tech Tools Pro, you have to boot from the upgrade disk (Which is really a full install disk) before you select which drive to install from, run the Disk Utility from the menu bar, you need to delete your partition and recreate it, than close Disk Utility and go back to the installer it will now install.

    As far as your data loose, you should always have a backup, either get a Time Capsule or just a regular external USB/Firewrie drive and use that todo Time Machine backups or get and use MobileMe to backup all your settings and use an iDisk.

  15. ryguy2303 thread starter macrumors 6502


    Jul 27, 2009
    What do you think the chances are of the files still being there if I did this?
  16. ComicStix macrumors member

    Aug 29, 2009
    Boston, Massachusetts
    Try this go to the apple icon then press system prefrences then press startup disk then press the install disk then when it restarts press the CD for Snow Leopard then try the install again. Tell me how this method goes.
  17. ryguy2303 thread starter macrumors 6502


    Jul 27, 2009
    I can click on the items in the menu bar but can't click anything else. So that way doesn't work for me. :(
  18. davidn macrumors newbie

    Aug 29, 2009
    Nova Scotia
    This may help... (requires command-line familiarity)

    I have just gone through the same scenario. The installer would consistently fail because "The contents of this disk can't be changed", after which I was left with an unbootable system. I tried using Disk Utility from the installer... Verify found inode errors, and Repair was unable to fix them. I was worried I may never see my data again... but there was still my last resort plan for this kind of situation: connect to another computer over firewire and boot up in target mode. That will often let me get whatever data I need off the disk. But even that wasn't working.

    I was about ready to consider my data lost forever. The only thing it seemed I could do now was reformat the disk and start from scratch. But my unwilllingness to lose that data had me try one last thing... I booted again from the Snow Leopard disc, and this time I ran Terminal from the Utilities menu. Much to my pleasant surprise, the hard drive was mounted (read-only) in:
    /Volumes/Macintosh HD/

    From there I knew what I could do. I plugged in an external USB hard-drive (which auto-mounted under /Volumes/) and from the terminal command line I copied everything I wanted to keep onto the USB drive. Then I closed Terminal, ran Disk Utility again, and ejected the USB drive (and connected it to another computer just to double check it). Finally, I deleted the Macintosh HD partition and created a new one. ...Then, I tried continuing to install. Again it failed with "The contents of this disk can't be changed", then I went back a few screens and started from the beginning, and that time... it finally worked.

    Hope that helps,
    Dave N
  19. Luis Ortega macrumors 6502a

    May 10, 2007
    Fetcham Surrey UK
    I tried doing an upgrade on my Santa Rosa MBP so I wouldn't have to spend hours reinstalling software like FCS or Adobe Creative suite, but it continues to fail installing. I've tried three times so far.
    Personally, trying to coax an install with so many glitches along the way, the way several posters have described here where they finally get the thing to work after several attempts, doesn't make me confident that I will wind up with a solid install and a stable system if it ever does get through the install process.
    I don't have time to do a full clean install at the moment, so I can't upgrade the MBP to snow leopard.
    There are also a lot of utilities, like Onyx and a few others, that are not compatible with snow leopard. I bought my son a new 13 inch MBP and I did a clean install on that with the drop-in disk that came in his box to wipe out leopard and start fresh with snow leopard, and discovered that some of the utilities that I use with leopard will not install on snow leopard.
    It's a bit like Vista in it's flakiness and incompatibility with some programs and peripheral drivers.
  20. G.T. macrumors 6502a

    Jul 12, 2008
    Sorry but it really is not the apple guys fault. Firstly u should always always backup ur files unless you don't mind losing important things. Secondly you can upgrade from tiger to snow leopard, for some it ran smoothly for others it did not and even people with leopard have had to install a couple times! If the guy just said you can install and never said smoothly would you still have done it, probably. It might sound harsh but i think your looking for someone to blame for your own mistake and that is why it is vital to have backup solutions. Even though you thought it would go smooth and say it did you could drop ur laptop damage hd and loose files that way, with only urself to blame.
  21. julianb macrumors newbie

    Aug 30, 2009
    Dave N - Details Please!

    Dave N:

    I am having similar problems. I am unfamiliar with using the command line. Can you post or email me the commands you used to do this?

  22. APPLENEWBIE macrumors 6502a

    May 8, 2006
    The high desert, USA
    PGP DESKTOP is problem

    I loaded SL on my Rev a MB Air. It has PGP desktop loaded. SL would not load on the drive. Did some research and learned that PGP is not compatible and should be deleted. So, I deleted PGP, sent it to the trash, and emptied the trash. SL still would not load. Some more research showed that I should have decrypted the encrypted drive before trashing PGP. (Apparently PGP screws up the partitions). But I had already done it... Ended up having to do a clean install (wiping the hard drive) from the original MBA leopard discs. Once done, then SL loaded without problem.

    So far, SL seems to be somewhat faster. Safari opens after one or two bounces. Same with Firefox. iTunes opens in about 5 seconds. iCal takes about three bounces.

    I think I also gained about 8gb or so of hard drive space. Nice on this little hard drive!

    Now, if I could just figure out what the H*** I did with my iwork discs...
  23. davidn macrumors newbie

    Aug 29, 2009
    Nova Scotia
    Command line 101

    Sure Julian (and any one else that needs to know)...

    If you get as far as I got and need the command line to rescue your data, here's just enough information to get you going.
    I'm not sure how much people might already know about the command line, so I'm going to write this like you've only first heard of it today, and hopefully I won't insult anyone's intelligence. :)

    Boot from the Snow Leopard disc, and select your language. When the menu comes up at the top go to Utilities and choose Terminal. White little window will come up. Press the green button to make it as big as possible (if the commands we enter are long enough to reach the end of the line, it will get messy and hard to read).

    The command prompt will look like this:
    (some background: you can skip this if you like)
    bash is just the name of the "shell" program, which is basically the software that listens to the commands and then does something with them.
    (The prompt is usually more useful than this, such as showing the directory we're in, but from the installation CD things are pretty bare bones)
    Bash expects commands to be entered as such: the first word is the command, any words following it are parameters given to the command. If a word needs to have a space within it, that word needs quotation marks around it. Since the default name of the hard drive in Mac OS is Macintosh HD, we will be needing to quote a lot of parameters.
    Edit: commands can be picky about letter case, spaces, slashes, and quotes, so be sure to enter things exactly the way I have written them.

    Step 1: Identify what drives are available.
    We're looking at Unix paths here, so forward slashes are used to separate directory(or "folder" if you prefer) names and file names.
    We'll start with the cd and ls commands, which changes the current directory, and lists files and directories respectively. All drives that are avalable to Mac OS X are in the /Volumes directory. To go there and see what it has, type the following commands:
    -bash-3.2# [B]cd /Volumes[/B]
    -bash-3.2# [B]ls[/B]
    Mac OS X Install DVD    Macintosh HD      My USB Drive
    If you renamed your hard drive at any point, it will show up as whatever you changed the name to instead of "Macintosh HD". If you hook up a USB drive to copy your data to, it should also be listed. It's hard to say what its name will be, but I'll use "My USB Drive" for the sake of example.
    If your hard drive isn't listed there, I'm afraid you might be out of luck. :(

    Step 2: Make a directory on the USB drive to copy the files to
    I'm going to start by making a variable dest that contains the path of the copying destination so that we don't have to type it out multiple times. Then I'll make that directory using the mkdir command. (you can skip the mkdir command if the directory already exists)
    -bash-3.2# [B]dest="/Volumes/My USB Drive/beforeSL"[/B]
    -bash-3.2# [B]mkdir "$dest"[/B] 
    Step 3: Copying
    What you do here depends on how much of the drive contents you want to back up. If you want the entire drive, we can do it in one command (but make sure there's enough available space on the destination drive)

    To copy everything in one shot:
    -bash-3.2# [B]cp -Rvp "/Volumes/Macintosh HD" "$dest"[/B]
    cp is the copy command, parameters that start with a - tell the command we want to set a few options, in thise case R, v, and p. R means recursively and you need this when copying directories. v means verbose: it will write out the filename of each file as you copy it. p preserves filesystem attributes like timestamps and permissions. You can omit the p if you don't care about that stuff. Then you give it the source to copy from and the destination to copy to.
    That will probably take a while.

    If you only want to copy a few select things, you'll want to use the cd command to go further into the Macintosh HD directory, ls to find what you're looking for, and cp to copy it out. (You might also have to mkdir $dest/subdirectory if you want to keep things organized on that end and copy things into there)
    Here's some things that will be handy to know if you do this:
    -To set the command prompt to show what directory you're in, type the command:
    [B]PS1="\w: "[/B]  [SIZE="1"](edit: that's a backslash, not a forward slash)[/SIZE]
    -To go back a directory, use:
    [B]cd ..[/B]
    -If you type the first part of a filename you can hit the [B]tab[/B] key and
    bash will try to finish it off for you.  If there are multiple possibilities
    it will only go so far, so hit tab again and it will show all the files that
    match what you've typed so far.
    -To see a list of files with details like size and last modified time, use
    [B]ls -lh[/B]
    File locations you should know about:
    Your personal files will be in /Volumes/Macintosh HD/Users/username (where username is your actual username)
    Your installed applications will be in /Volumes/Macintosh HD/Applications
    Your many applications have extra resources stored in /Volumes/Macintosh HD/Library

    To backup just these things you could run these commands:
    (don't do this if you already copied everything as in the first part of step 3)
    -bash-3.2# [B]PS1="\w: "[/B]
    /Volumes: [B]cd "Macintosh HD"[/B]
    /Volumes/Macintosh HD: [B]cp -Rvp Users "$dest"[/B]
    /Volumes/Macintosh HD: [B]cp -Rvp Applications "$dest"[/B]
    /Volumes/Macintosh HD: [B]cp -Rvp Library "$dest"[/B]
    /Volumes/Macintosh HD: [B]cd "$dest"[/B]  #just to check $dest
    /Volumes/My USB Drive/beforeSL: [B]ls[/B]  #making sure things are there
    Applications     Library    Users
    Step 4: Exit the terminal
    just type exit at the command prompt, and then quit the Terminal program from the Terminal menu at the top.

    Step 5: Unmount and disconnect the USB drive
    You should find yourself back at the installer. Go to the Utilities menu again, run Disk Utility, and it should list your drives. Select your USB drive in the left column (the indented one) and click the unmount button. It should disappear from the list. When that is done it is safe to disconnect that drive. I'd highly recommend hooking it up to another computer to make sure everything you copied is actually there.

    Step 6: Repartition
    Don't do this until you are absolutely satisfied that you've backed up everything you need, because this will wipe your drive clean.
    In Disk Utility, select your Hard Drive in the left column (the non-indented one), and go to the partition tab on the right. Remove the partition that exists now. Then create a new one (make it as big as the whole disk unless you have some reason to use multiple partitions). Then click the Apply button. Quit Disk Utility.

    Step 7: Install Snow Leopard
    Go all the way back to the beginning of the install where it asks you your language. You should be able to do a clean install now. Try again if it doesn't work the first time.

    Ok, hopefully that's enough information and wasn't too daunting.
    Let me know if you have any questions, or trying using google to search for something like bash copy files. You'll probably get a lot of linux related results but the information mostly still applies except for specific file locations like Users, Applications, Library, etc. (well not /etc. ...That's a unix joke. ...ahem, anyway)

    Best of luck,
  24. 5DollaFootlong macrumors 6502


    Apr 26, 2009
    precisely the reason i'm not installing snow leopard till i get my external hard drive back from western digital.
  25. messedkid macrumors 6502


    Jul 8, 2007
    Oshawa, ON

    Sorry to hear about all your problems.

    I upgraded from Tiger to Leopard back when Leopard first came out, so Tiger had nothing to do with it.

    I had Leopard installed, and just bought the upgrade disc.

    I had problems when I did the upgrade install from Tiger to Leopard, so I didn't even bother.
    I backed up all my music, photos, movies and documents, and did a fresh install.

    IMO, there is less that can go wrong if you just backup, and wipe your harddrive. Just because someone who claims to be a specialist or mac genius tells you not to worry about it. I was called an automotive specialist when I worked at Canadian Tire, just because I had completed some online training program they have. Doesn't mean diddly. The apple rep who told you to just buy the Mac Pack to fix your problem is a perfect example.

    Always backup. Archive (upgrade) and install methods are supposed to save time and frustration, but from my experience have always done the opposite.

    Good luck trying to solve your dilemma. :)

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