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Recent Mac owners: we can't reinstall Mountain Lion

updated 06:24 pm EST, Tue February 26, 2013

Permissions glitch appears to be cause of recovery problem

An apparent issue with permissions on the recovery partition of recent Macs -- those that shipped with Mountain Lion pre-installed -- can make it very difficult to reinstall Mountain Lion in the case of system corruption on the boot drive. The problem even affects trying to restore Mountain Lion from a Time Machine backup, and falsely reports that the Mac in question "isn't compatible with Mountain Lion." Thanks to a support forum thread on Apple's website, a workaround has been found: repairing permissions on the recovery partition.

The bug prevents users from re-downloading the OS X Mountain Lion installer from the Mac App Store, or using a pre-existing copy a user may have saved from a previous install. The problem suggests that a "compatibility check" type program is also part of the glitch, however at least repairing permissions on the recovery partition appears to allow restoration from the partition, reports MacTrast. Once the OS X recovery is complete, users can then use Migration Assistant to recover user data from Time Machine backups rather than the now-blocked direct recovery of the system and apps from Time Machine.

This isn't the first time that 2012 Mac owners have had issues with the download-only-based Mountain Lion: Apple was forced to issue an update to those machines to allow them to upgrade to 10.8.2 if they shipped originally with 10.8.0 or higher. It's possible that the new problem is related in some way to the previous one (which involved a bug in Keychain), and also possible that the problem will be resolved in the release of 10.8.3, which has been in testing for four months and achieved an unusual number of betas prior to release.

While the problem itself is perplexing, users can take comfort that the need to completely reinstall Mountain Lion from a un-crashed but corrupted hard drive is still very rare, making it likely that the bug will be resolved long before most users ever need to take advantage of it. In the meantime, a recovery partition-based restore of Mountain Lion that is preceded by a permissions repair of the partition should allow the reinstall to proceed.





by MacNN Staff

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Comments

  1. bobolicious

    Dedicated MacNNer

    Joined: 08-15-02

    software support...

    .... is hitting new lows with apple - I thought it bad enough they won't even support snow on a mac that was designed and shipped with it if it was refurbished with another system - who can run a business on a 1~3 year planned OS obsolescence?

  1. Grendelmon

    Mac Enthusiast

    Joined: 12-26-07

    While the problem itself is perplexing, users can take comfort that the need to completely reinstall Mountain Lion from a un-crashed but corrupted hard drive is still very rare, making it likely that the bug will be resolved long before most users ever need to take advantage of it.

    What a bunch of BS there, MacNN. You playing damage control for Apple now?

  1. And.reg

    Mac Elite

    Joined: 02-22-04

    Originally Posted by boboliciousView Post

    who can run a business on a 1~3 year planned OS obsolescence?



    Nearly all businesses. Our university ran Windows XP through 2011. I still didn't think they needed to upgrade.

  1. bobolicious

    Dedicated MacNNer

    Joined: 08-15-02

    exactly my point

    Originally Posted by AndrejView Post

    Nearly all businesses. Our university ran Windows XP through 2011. I still didn't think they needed to upgrade.



    XP is currently road mapped for official support through 2015 and in virtualization in W7 through 2020... 19 years of support!

  1. Charles Martin

    MacNN Editor

    Joined: 08-04-01

    Originally Posted by GrendelmonView Post

    What a bunch of BS there, MacNN. You playing damage control for Apple now?



    With respect, I don't think the article amounts to "damage control," since its entire purpose is to point out a serious problem and warn users.

    The particular line you're referring to seems true enough to me: it's rare (as in not unheard of but not common) to need to restore Mountain Lion (or any other version of OS X) to a still-functioning original hard drive. The article is not talking about restoring to a new hard drive (which would be a lot more common) at all. How many times have you reinstalled Mountain Lion on the same hard drive? :stick:

    Unless you have a link that shows that restoring ML on the same HD is done a lot more frequently than I and most others would expect, I'd say you're pulling your "damage control" claim out of your backside. Its one sentence that addresses the realistic odds of users facing a problem prior to Apple fixing it; in short, low.

  1. Spheric Harlot

    Clinically Insane

    Joined: 11-07-99

    Originally Posted by boboliciousView Post

    XP is currently road mapped for official support through 2015 and in virtualization in W7 through 2020... 19 years of support!



    That's what happens when you completely and utterly **** up the follow-up release and end up not putting out a successor for nearly ten years.

  1. bobolicious

    Dedicated MacNNer

    Joined: 08-15-02

    ...or maybe...

    Originally Posted by Spheric HarlotView Post

    That's what happens when you completely and utterly **** up the follow-up release and end up not putting out a successor for nearly ten years.



    ...when the scientific community, governments & businesses invest years of expertise, sweat equity and financial resources in technical & vertical market software, workflow, highly educated staff & training that gets specific, complex and long project cycle jobs done, they may be unwilling to abandon such for the sake of effectively (microsoft or apple) corporate business & cost efficiency interests and (leading edge or otherwise) OS redesign that forces a reinvention of existing and effective workflows ?

    One example I might point to (looking 17 years ahead to the 2030 challenge) is the US DOE which is still writing/updating many XP technical applications for public use: Building Energy Software Tools Directory: DOE Sponsored Tools

    The computers needed by such a market tend to be the highest performance machines - top tier pro towers, 17" mbp & now tough to buy imacs, seemingly marginalized or abandoned along with rosetta and legacy OS support that does not even last a hardware product cycle, such as the pro tower, which is only officially supported and serviced on the OS it currently ships with (or can hopefully download), rather than the one it was designed for and shipped with (on dvd) originally ?

  1. Grendelmon

    Mac Enthusiast

    Joined: 12-26-07

    Originally Posted by chas_mView Post

    Unless you have a link that shows that restoring ML on the same HD is done a lot more frequently than I and most others would expect, I'd say you're pulling your "damage control" claim out of your backside. Its one sentence that addresses the realistic odds of users facing a problem prior to Apple fixing it; in short, low.



    You're kidding, right? Did you even read the MacTrast article? Not only does it affect re-installing from the recovery partition, but also restoring from a Time Machine backup. I've been following the posts in Apple's support forums, and it's even affecting people from creating a USB thumb drive. But don't worry, because nobody needs to do any of those functions. We can just wait and let Apple fix the problem before we'll ever use them.

    Do you want me to start pasting URLs from Apple's support forums? No, wait. You're a big boy. Go search them yourself if you want "proof."

  1. mojkarma

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 10-13-11

    comment title

    @Spheric Harlot
    Being a fanboy is a good thing up to a certain level. But your views are sometimes so out of any normal sensing that it hurts me physically to read your nonsense. Obviously, you don't use the Mac for anything more than surfing on the internet, so you don't know the "benefits" of having a new Mac OS every year.

  1. Spheric Harlot

    Clinically Insane

    Joined: 11-07-99

    Originally Posted by mojkarmaView Post

    @Spheric Harlot
    Being a fanboy is a good thing up to a certain level. But your views are sometimes so out of any normal sensing that it hurts me physically to read your nonsense. Obviously, you don't use the Mac for anything more than surfing on the internet, so you don't know the "benefits" of having a new Mac OS every year.



    I have no idea what the crap you just wrote has to do with my assessment that the main reason XP is supported for fifteen years was that the successor completely flopped, and it wasn't until Windows 7 that people even had an OPTION to switch to something newer.

    Wherever you get the notion that Apple releasing a new OS every year means that everybody needs to SWITCH to that new OS, it's certainly nothing I said or even implied.

    Don't let that stop you from attacking me if what I say cuts too deep, though.

    In fact, Apple switching to a yearly cycle will probably mean that I'll be skipping every other OS version. I no longer need to stay current as I rarely do client support anymore, and I can't afford the studio downtime when something breaks due to the upgrade.
    I'm a little leery of the faster cycle because of the same situation I keep seeing with other software: some bugs just aren't ever fixed in a program version, and if you want them fixed, you need to upgrade to the next major version. Pissed me off about Logic 8 (but Logic 9 was so much better, it ended up being well worth it. Still.). Mainly because I had to keep working with Logic 8 until all the studios I share projects with also upgraded.

    Yeah, I'm a fanboy. Suck my floppy.


    PS: this particular situation spells catastrophe unless you've previously created a fully self-contained installer partition on a USB stick (which I always keep around). It is imperative that Apple fix it ASAP. Duh.
    It's sort of like the brain dead situation when the first Lion-pre installed machines were shipped without disks, and the device firmware didn't support network recovery yet in case of a failed hard drive. There was no way for a regular user to get a fresh system onto those machines after a HD upgrade/replacement the first few weeks, until Apple issued a firmware update. :brick:

  1. bobolicious

    Dedicated MacNNer

    Joined: 08-15-02

    Gentlemen PLEASE...

    Originally Posted by Spheric HarlotView Post

    Suck my floppy.


    Would it make sense to offer users choice, rather than limitations of hardware or support forced migrations ? I love some of the leading edge mac innovation (iBooks Author for one) but ironically must many abandon or risk migrating historical content they might bring to this little bit of cupertino genius...? Being left without an OS reinstall or support at a technical level may not cut it for those dependent on things that they thought should 'just work', and designing to a mere sliver of operability window and limiting support for OS tolerance would seem to risk much...?

    Is this a long term problem to address, as those in 2113 might wonder what all the fuss was about in 2013...? For me strategically solving that issue forever more would be 'insanely great..."

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