Snow Leopard on the latest Lion Mac Mini server


macrumors 6502
Original poster
Sep 5, 2003
If I buy the latest i7 mac mini server with Lion Server installed, will I be able to install Snow Leopard (not the server version) on the second drive which I believe is empty and then choose either as the startup drive in system preferences? Got some software that requires Rosetta.

I have a kosher copy of 10.6.3 just bought from the Apple Store


macrumors P6
Jan 24, 2010
No. If you do get it installed it'll kernel panic and have lots of issues. Plus, a retail disc won't work.


macrumors 6502
Original poster
Sep 5, 2003

Could I install 10.6.3 on an external firewire and boot up the mac mini server from that?

Or could I buy the fastest non-server one and install SL on that?

I know I can buy an earlier mini server with SL server installed, but I figured if I was getting a machine, I might as well get the fastest one to use as an emergency machine if my MacPro dies (before they/ if ever bring out a new PacPro)


macrumors 65816
Apr 5, 2009
Kyoto, Japan
See this thread: lots of info, but in the end, while somewhat ify/a pain, it is possible to install SL, but ... in conclusion: :eek::apple::eek:
The speed goes down by about 60-65%, according to benchmarks.
There are other issues also (see the thread for details).
You have to have the right Install DVDs and most people don't have them.
You will probably be better off getting a 2010 Mac Mini if you absolutely have to run Snow Leopard. :cool:


macrumors 65816
Jul 24, 2011
United States
On the 2011 MacBook Air, I installed Snow Leopard but it was not ideal. I did not get graphics acceleration (i.e. it skipped the intro movie but played the music). If you can get video on the Mini to be accelerated it may work fine. Wireless, audio, Bluetooth all worked. The Air doesn't have internal Ethernet to test so I am unsure on that. I personally have not gotten kernel panics on the Air, which was preloaded with Lion. It was very stable, but as posted above, was somewhat slower, which I attribute to the video drivers.

If you do install it, it will probably be "really" unsupported and unpredictable. But worth a shot if you are up to it and want to play around. You would probably need to install 10.6.8 and not 10.6.3 to get it to install.


macrumors 603
Apr 13, 2010
Howell, New Jersey


macrumors 6502
Nov 5, 2007
You might find that the 10.6.3 restore DVD from the 2010 mini work in the 2011 model - I have a 2010 mini server, and obtained the non-server 10.6.3 restore DVDs (wanted the server model for the 2 HDDs rather than server OS). The reason why I needed this with the 2010 model is the 10.6.3 retail disk didn't have the HDMI and SD card drivers - which also aren't added by a Mac OS X update to 10.6.8

In the event you find a 10.6.3 restore DVD from a 2010 mini - you will definitely have to modify the 10.6.3 installer files to install on mini which identifies itself as being Macmini5,3 rather than Macmini4,1

As the 2010 mini didn't have thunderbolt, you may find you are without Thunderbolt capability in Snow Leopard.

You might also have to install the 10.6.8 update by booting into Lion on the other HDD and applying the update "offline" if you get kernel panics. You might have to use target disk mode if the installer itself causes kernel panics.

Not an exact science - I did the same thing with an early 2011 MBP which shipped with Lion. I used 10.6.6 restore DVD dmg for the early 2011 model. It had very weird behaviour following first boot, keyboard and trackpad drivers were not working correctly - however in this case an update to 10.6.8 fixed all the problems.
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