Render Farm Build 20

DISCLAIMER: This is a continuing series detailing the painful story of a DIY render farm build.  It is terribly technics and
somewhat frustrating.  Those who are unprepared for such “entertainment” are advised to ignore these posts.

I see no reason not to try the Mavericks hack!  Since upgrading to 10.8 is a bust, trying the 10.9 hack is worthwhile.  If it bombed out and I got nowhere, then no harm would be done, I go back to the 10.7 supported system.  If I could get an unsupported 10.9 to work, however, then there would be many benefits, including operating in an environment most like my system at home.

I am, as of this writing, still on OSX 10.9 Mavericks, even though 10.10 Yosemite has been out for quite some time.  Yosemite offers me absolutely nothing that I want, and promises quite a few things I will have to disable or turn off.  Constant notifications, integration with iPhones… I want none of that junk.  I was disheartened to find the new list of features in 10.10 to be completely bereft of pro features.  Usually an OS upgrade will offer me something.  Going off 10.6.8, which was also stable, provided me with 64bit power on apps that supported it.  And that was nice.  Similar changes to the way the OS handled the heavy lifting and compatibility convinced me to go with it.  But 10.10 offers nothing except distractions and stupid stuff I don’t want.  I’ll stick with 10.9 as long as I can, or until such a thing as 10.11 arrives – and then only if it gives me something I want.

So anyway, it was time to hack…

  1. The USB key was prepared – the hack involves making a custom version of the USB installer.
  2. Booted up on the ESD drive
  3. So far so good, gray screen and Apple logo.
  4. FAIL – the computer did not start up on the USB.


So I restarted by setting the USB as the startup disk from the System Preferences Control Panel.  It saw the USB key as a viable system, so I was hopeful.


But once again, it bombed out.  The USB key was ignored and the computer started up on the Lion (10.7) installation – this machine would give me no quarter!

It also complained it was not connected to the Internet when I tried to click the installer.  So I did connect via ethernet.  The installer phoned home and immediately crapped out!


Maybe the USB key was wrong? Start again!  Wipe it all and make it over!

So I rebuilt the USB key – and took a nap for about 30 minutes while this happened!  Replaced the necessary files to get the hacked install to work.  And it still failed to load!


I dug around, looking for clues.  Manually navigating to the “OS X install” package showed I could not install to the startup drive – ostensibly, because I’m using it. But I also couldn’t start up on the USB key for some reason. That 10.9 hack might not have been such a great choice?  I decided to install a second drive in the Mac Pro, and let the OS X installer see the new drive.  Maybe it would install to that?


The USB install doesn’t recognize itself? Maybe the hack is bad?  After all, the hack required me to to doctor up an original 10.9 file, and maybe I had done it wrong.  I went back to the webpage where the hack was described, but the hacked “OS X installer” files were suddenly gone. There were only the original files and the new kexts.  There was a hacked kext that was supposed to allow my machine to phone home without bombing out, but it does not work.


I had done this how many times so far?

So I tried manually installing OS 10.9 from the individual installer packages – why would this not work? I had a blank drive to install onto.  While using the first drive as a working operating system, I would manually click the included installer packages, slowly and tediously building the hacked OS on the second, blank drive.  Then I would install all the kext changes to the system on the blank drive.

At that point I clicked a package called “Essentials” that reported it would need two hours to install.  ARGH!  I actually did want to leave my office at some point.  Realizing I’d probably have more luck at home with this machine, I powered it all down, slipped the hard drives out, and took them with me, figuring that over the Christmas break I’d have plenty of time to sort this out.

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