macOS 10.14 on unsupported MacBook Pro

Update 20190524: With the latest/current version of Mojave Patcher I successfully upgraded to 10.14.5. When the upgrade restarts it will eventually hang. So you need to re-patch from your USB Mojave Patcher after installing 10.14.5. All fine!

Update 20190520: Today I innocently let my computer update itself. Not smart. It crashed during update. It didnt start. I tried to re-patch it, still does not start. It obviously tried to install 10.14.5 which I successfully installed later on another supported computer.

Update 20190519: A few Das ago I installed an update from macOS Mojave Patcher that was supposed to fix Random Kernel Panics. That worked fine and the problems that much of this article covers are fixed.

I got custody of a MacBook Pro 6,2 that has seen very little use. It is the first MacBook with an i5 cpu, it has a 320GB replacable hard drive (a long gone feature), 4GB RAM upgradable to 8GB, and nice 15 inch display and a very nice keyboard.

It was running macOS 10.6.8. I realised it supports 10.13 but official Apple support ends there.

So I found out about a project/software called macOS Mojave Patcher that allows you to install mac OS 10.14 Mojave on certain unsupported Macs, including the MacBook Pro 6,2. I gave it a try and I will write about my findings.

Summary

This MacBook Pro 6,2 runs macOS Mojave 10.14 quite perfectly if installed using Mojave Patcher. However, it seems absolutely critical for stable operation to disable Automatic Graphics Switching (System Preferences -> Energy Saver). This may make the computer run warmer, consume more energy and suffer shorter battery time than it would otherwise.

Below follows details of all my findings. If you don’t want the details, you can skip to Is it worth it in the end of this post.

Attempt 1 : Clean install of 10.14

I made a clean install of 10.14 (using a Mojave Patcher USB). That did not start at all. Instead of the familiar Apple and progress bar, I just got a question mark. I think the problem is that some kind of “firmware” upgrade is needed.

Attempt 2: Install 10.12 – upgrade to 10.14

I made a clean standard install of 10.12. I am quite sure it did some kind of firmware update. Then I upgraded to 10.14 (using Mojave Patcher USB). It took very long time (several hours, usually that takes less than an hour). It first appeared to be good – 10.14 started – but it turned out not to be stable. I got kernel panics of different types quite often (after just minutes of use). I also realised the upgrade had not converted HFS+ to APFS as I expected.

Attempt 3: Clean install of 10.14

I made a new clean attempt with 10.14 (on APFS) and this time the system started up as expected. But the kernel panics remain (as I read them, it was about Nvidia some times, Audio one time, Crypto some time, APFS some time).

Back to 10.13

I made a clean install of 10.13 to ensure there isn’t anything wrong with the computer itself. Currently I am writing this blog post while installing Xcode (not from App Store because that is not allowed with 10.13), and the computer has been stable for a few hours.

Attempt 4: Minimal patches

I made a new clean install of 10.14 on APFS. When running the Mojave Patcher, I only selected these two patches:

  • Boot.plist Patch (Disable Platform Check)
  • SIP Disabler Patch

Installation was successful, system came up, I am writing right here right now, and here is a screenshot (installing Xcode).

A notice a few obvious differences from when I had all recommended patches:

  1. Audio does not work (I did not pick Legacy Audio Patch)
  2. GFX uses the NVIDIA GT 330M only. Not the Intel card. This computer has two GPUs, and it is supposed to switch between them depending on load. Now it only uses the more powerful card. Also the display menu (top right) is not aware of resolutions as it used to. But it seems the display is running at 1440×900, so I am happy with that. It may get warmer now, and there are occasional graphics glitches, but not particularly disturbing. (I did not pick Legacy Video Card Patch)
  3. The Install Patch Updater is obviously not installed, since I did not pick it.
  4. Photos (that come with macOS) crashed when I tried to edit the above picture.
  5. It does not go to sleep, neither if you close it or choose Sleep from the Apple menu.

USB seems fine at first glance (despite I did not pick Legacy USB Support Injector). WiFi works (there was no such patch).

Installing Xcode took an eternity… after more than an hour I got impatient, restarted the computer, installed “Software Update Patch”, started the Xcode installation again, and went to bed. Next morning: Xcode installed and computer still running peacefully.

24 hours later

The computer was stable with 10.14 for an entire workday doing programming (mostly Node.js and Safari). So I decided to apply the Audio patch as well, which gives this list of patches installed:

  • Boot.plist Patch (Disable Platform Check)
  • SIP Disabler Patch
  • Legacy Audio Patch
  • Software Update Patch

So far so good: 30 minutes of Audio Play, both locally and streaming over Bluetooth.

48 hours later

After another stable work day I decided to install all patches except the Video patch. That is:

  • Boot.plist Patch (Disable Platform Check)
  • Legacy USB Support Injector
  • SIP Disabler Patch
  • Install Patch Updater
  • Legacy Audio Patch
  • Software Update Patch

When the system started, the Patch Updater wants to install two things (related to Siri and Night mode), and for now I rejected it.

A few hours later

After a few hours I also installed:

  • Night Shift Patch
  • Siri Patch

This is done using Patch Updater, within macOS (no need to boot on Mojave Patcher USB). It appears to cause no trouble.

The only option left

All this leaves me with just the Legacy Video Patch. There is a twist, as this system has two GPUs, and without the patch it is using only the Nvidia GPU (it is not aware of the Intel GPU).

Under System Preferences -> Energy Saver, there is an option Automatic Graphics Switching. With that one set to OFF the computer should only use the Nvidia GPU anyway. Why would I want to do that? Well, there are currently some minor graphics glitches. Those could potentially go away. Also, I have some limited functionality when it comes to video:

  • no screen resolution options (although it runs at best resolution)
  • connecting an external display does not work
  • cannot adjust screen brightness

If I install the Legacy Video Patch I shall get an unstable system, but what if I also disable Automatic Graphics Switching? (to be completely honest, I am not even certain it was ever enabled).

And finally Legacy Video Patch

Its just been a few hours, but I installed Legacy Video Patch (all recommended patches) and disabled Automatic Graphics Switching. The computer seems stable and now sleep, brightness and external display works. Also the occasional graphics glitches seem gone.

Is this worth it?

I suppose, to some people running unsupported 10.14 rather than supported 10.13 makes sense. To me:

  • 10.14 allows latest version of Xcode
  • 10.14 has dark mode
  • 10.13 is still supported (receiving updates) by Apple (as of May 2019), this should change as 10.15 is release (could be end of 2019).

There could be a 10.15 Patcher in the future. And it could work with this computer. Or not. As long as you can run the latest current macOS without too much hazzle, that could be preferred to running an unsupported version of macOS. But today (May 2019) 10.13 is not unsupported. In fact, Apple still seems to release security updates to 10.12.

But I am curious, and I think I want the latest Xcode, so here I am.

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