Install Mac OS X 10.9 on unsupported MacBook

I have a MacBook Mid 2007 (more technically named MacBook2,1) that officially can not be upgraded beyond Mac OS X 10.7 (Lion). It is however possible to install Mac OS X 10.9 (Mavericks) on it with quite good success and not too much effort.

System information with Mavericks

System information with Mavericks

I want to first write what does not work:

  1. Sleep mode – not working at all – leave on or shut down
  2. The build-in web camera – “works” but not as it did in 10.7, I think
  3. YouTube-video (etc), works occationally (now worse than in 10.7, my experience)

I suggest you read the user comments to this post. A few helpful readers have shared their experiences.

What you need:

  1. A USB Memory, 8GB or larger
  2. Mac OS X Mavericks (i had the install/upgrade Application that I had myself
    downloaded on another Mac, from App Store, when I upgraded it from 10.8 to
    10.9. I always keep these for possible future use.)
  3. SFOTT: I used version 1.4.4 which is currently the latest stable
  4. Audio/Video-drivers from (not here anymore, se comments below).
    Warning, this is one of these horrible download pages where you don’t know
    where to click to get the right thing, and what gives you spyware. You
    should get the file mac-mini-mavericks.7z. Discard anything else without
    opening. The 7z-file can be opened with StuffitExpander, that already
    comes with Maverick

Making a bootable USB-drive
You first need to use SFOTT to create your bootable USB-drive (it is called “key” in SFOTT). You simply double-click on SFOTT on a Mac where you both have your Mavericks Install App and your USB-drive. SFOTT is a self guiding menu-driven application. It will take some time to make all the settings in SFOTT (it took me perhaps 15 minutes), but it was self-explanatory and not very difficult. Use the autorun mode to create the drive.

Recovery Scenario
When you install a Mac OS upgrade there is a risk your Mavericks system will not boot. When upgrading from 10.9.0 to 10.9.5 like I did, it will not boot. My impression (after reading different sources) is that this recovery is needed when upgrading from 10.9.0 (or 10.9.1 / 10.9.2) but not later. Nobody knows about 10.9.6 of course, because it is not out. Minor upgrades to applications or security upgrades should not cause need to recovery.

When Mavericks fails to start you need to “re-Patch” using SFOTT. I installed Mavericks on a separate partition, side-by-side with Lion, so when Mavericks failed to start my computer automatically started Lion instead and I could run SFOTT in Lion to re-Patch my Mavericks system.

If you can not do side-by-side you can start from your SFOTT-key (which you still have) and instead of installing Maverick you start the Terminal application. Find the SFOTT.app on the key, and find SFOTT.sh inside SFOTT.app. Run SFOTT.sh and you can re-Patch your broken Mavericks system. I did the entire procedure on my working Mavericks just to test it, and it seems fine.

There is if course no true guarantee that a future Apple upgrade will not break everything completely.

Installing Mavericks
Installation of Mavericks from the USB-drive is very standard. To start the computer from the USB-drive, hold down the “alt”-key (not Apple-key, not ctrl-key) while starting the computer. Choose SFOTT and proceed normally. After about an hour you should have a clean 10.9.0 Mavericks with network/wifi working. Video will work, but with problems (try Safari, and you will see), and Audio will not work.

Upgrade Mavericks
I used App Store to upgrade Mavericks to 10.9.5. That works just fine, until Mavericks fails to start (I ended up in my old Lion system on a reboot, if you have no other system installed your computer with probably just not start). This is where you need to recover your system using SFOTT.

Fixing Audio and Video
The 7z-file I referred to above contains Audio and Video drivers. You run the application “Kext Utility” and the you drag the contents of the folder Extensions into the Kext Utility, and it will install the drivers. There is a folder with “optional wifi drivers”, I have not installed those because wifi has been fine all the time for me.

The MacBook2,1 has Intel GMA950 Video, and there are no supported 64-bit-drivers for Mavericks. The drivers I suggest you to install are supposed to be drivers from a public beta of 10.6 (Snow Leopard) that Apple once released. They seem to work quite fine for me though. And not installing them is worse.

I suggest you upgrade to 10.9.5 before fixing Audio and Video. I guess a later Apple-upgrade could break Audio and Video and require you to reinstall drivers.

Problems booting the SFOTT key
I first created the SFOTT key using the SFOTT beta (that is also supposed to work with Yosemite), and I used System Preferences/Startup Disk (in Lion) to start the installion. This failed and my computer just started up in Lion.

I then created the SFOTT key using 1.4.4, AND i restarted the computer holding down the alt-key. This worked. This key also later worked when I used System Preferences/Startup Disk (in Mavericks) to choose startup drive.

Driver Problems
There are open source Audio drivers called VoodooHDA. I installed those ones with success, but audio volume was low. I tried to fix with no success. Later I found the drivers I referred to above and that I recommend.

I found another download for what was supposed to be the same Video Drivers. But the Kext-utility did not work, and I installed the drivers by copying them directly into /System/Library/Extensions and this gave me a broken unbootable system. I don’t know what went wrong, but I recommend the drivers I linked to.

Video/YouTube Performance
Some videos seem to play perfectly, others dont. I had problems with 10.7 too.

Background and about SFOTT
There are several Apple computers that can run 10.7, that have a 64-bit processor, but that can not officially run 10.8 or later. There are a few issues:

  1. Video Drivers – and in the case of my MacBook2,1 the unofficial ones mentioned
    above may be good enough
  2. 32 bit EFI. Even though the computer has a 64 bit processor, the EFI, the
    software that runs before the Installer/Operating system, is 32 bit, and not
    capable of starting a 64-bit system.
  3. Mavericks does not believe it can run on this hardware.

As I understand it SFOTT installs a little program that 32 bit EFI is capable of starting, and that in turn is capable of staring a 64 bit system. Also, SFOTT patches a few files so Mavericks feels comfortable running on the unsupported hardware.

You can do all of this on your own without SFOTT. SFOTT “just” makes this reasonably easy.

There are plenty of forums, tools and information about running Mac OS X on unsupported hardware (also non-Apple-hardware: a Hackintosh). Those forums of course focus a lot on problems people have.

Yosemite
It is supposed to be possible to install Yosemite in a similar way. SFOTT has a beta release for Yosemite. For my purposes going to Mavericks gave me virtually all advantages of an upgrade (supported version of OS X, able to install latest Xcode, etc).

Conclusion
In the beginning of 2015, it is not that hard to install Mavericks on a MacBook Mid 2007, with a quite good result. I have pointed out the tools and downloads you need and that will work.

Leave a comment ?

23 Comments.

  1. Xubuntu on Unsupported MacBook | TechFindings - pingback on 2015/01/25 at 17:32
  2. Hy,
    I’ve made my USB Install Mavericks using Sfott, i’ve already install Yosemite 10.10;; ver fast, but graphics could be better,,whatever,, i’m on MacBook 13″ Early 2008 2,4GHz 4GB RAM 667MHz Intel GMA X3100 144MB,,i got Mavericks installed,, then reboot, then, he simply takes little more time to boot, but want boot on Mavericks partition, chose always Lion,, any suggestion??
    Thanks in advance.

  3. I have just done this on a MacBook2,1 for my son. So far so good!

    • Flies on a machine with 4GB ram & an SSD drive!
    • Brightness does not work (either vai FKeys or “System Preferences”).
    • iMessages won’t register (waiting on call back from Apple Support).

    Thanks for the post!

  4. @ferreira…
    You have Lion and Mavericks side-by-side (just like me)?
    Perhaps you need to re-SFOTT? That happened to me, and you can read about it above. Of course, there is also the “normal” startup disk selector in settings in Mac OS X, where you in Lion may need to choose Mavericks.

  5. eeejjj this work on powermac g5 thank you!!

  6. ok this works on powermac g5?

  7. It is not going to work on PowerMac G5 (because all I wrote is for Intel/x86 cpus).
    As a side note, Debian works quite nicely on my G4. Or have a look at Xubuntu/Lubuntu. If I had a PowerMac G5 I would run Debian/Lubuntu/Xubuntu.

  8. I install 10.9 and install audio/video driver but sound and video not working. Have a solution with this situation?

  9. Macbook 3,1. Brightness and sleep not working 🙁 , but all other fine 😆 .

  10. Any update on the Youtube and sleep issues? The only reason why I’m looking into this install is to continue watching YouTube videos between classes… 🙄

  11. Sorry… My MacBook died a while ago 🙁

  12. Hi I’m trying this at the mo, but the usb stick won’t boot, comes up as a bootable drive but then won’t boot just get the flashing file screen. Any ideas on whats going wrong?

  13. Use VoodooHDA prefPane and set audio volume from there

  14. I’m happy to confirm my old macbook from 2006, 2.16 c2d, 4gb ram and gma 950 it works just fine, just using word, spotify, safari, have some other third party programs on it that works just fine. Only Steam/Games wont go good cause the games fails on opengl(video drivers). Hoping to get better drivers in the future…

  15. hi, I’ve a Macbook 13″ Late 2007 (MacBook3,1) White with Snow Leopard 10.6.8.
    I downloaded from another iMac the Mavericks Installer (I think 10.9.5), I downloaded and installed Sfott and I created Sfott key strictly following the instructions…but I can’t install Mavericks!!! sometimes Sfott key is not recognized at the startup menu when at boot I press Alt-key… Sometimes Sfott key is recognized but, even if I press on it to boot, the boot process proceed to load Snow Leopard… I’m getting crazy…please help (sorry for my bad english)

  16. Hello, same as Rayden… but trying to install Yosemite on macbook 3,1 late 2007 without success… it boot me every time back in Lion 👿
    Any help appreciate! Thanks

  17. Amos Samson

    Hi. I got MacBook 2.1, C2D, 2 GB ram, can I upgrade to mavericks, Please help

  18. Amos Samson: that was exactly what i did and wrote about (Mavericks on MacBook 2.1). My post is more than 2 years old and things may have changed (for better or worse since then). I don’t have this computer anymore so I can not give any current advice.

  19. many thanks for the tutorial, works nicely on
    a macbook 2,1!

  20. HI there, thank you for this. I did exactly what you have said and my Macbook 2,1 (same as yours) is running smoothly except one thing. When I install iWork on it (Pages) the program works fine except I cannot see what I am writing (black color letters on white background). If I export it to .pdf then it is visible. Is there any fix for it? Thx

  21. Dado, annoying! No, sorry, no idea. And my MacBook broke a while ago so I dont have it anymore.

  22. I think you need to know that the mac-mini-mavericks.7z file listed above has been replaced by a file with the same name which is a crappy adware installer, so download it at your peril. It is NOT what we are looking for here

  23. Thank you joebloggs! I will update my article as well.
    This link was removed:
    http://www.file-upload.net/download-8358440/mac-mini-mavericks.7z.html

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