Monday, March 5, 2012

Interesting OS X Installer Fumble

Over the weekend I stumbled upon an interesting issue. While attempting to reinstall OS X on my MacBook Pro, the installer constantly threw an error at the last possible moment in the process. After much consideration I decided to attempt something a little strange. I removed on stick of memory and the installation process worked flawlessly.
After a bit more experimenting, it appears that if a Mac has more than 4GB RAM installed, the OS X installer seems to have issues and will error out. My speculation is that the installer (or a sub-process) is a 32-bit application that cannot correctly use any RAM above the 4GB limit.
Without a doubt, as we go forward, Apple is sure to address this situation and we will not have to work around the 4GB limit. But, in the meantime, if anyone out there finds it impossible to get through the OS X installation process and the media seems okay, I would suggest removing RAM down to the 4GB barrier and try again. If your experience is anything like mine, the installation process will work without issue.
After the operating system was installed, I put the remainder of the memory back into the computer (in my case bringing the machine back up to 8GB RAM) and everything works perfectly.

UPDATE: In July 2014, I had the opportunity to install a new hard drive in this very same computer and install the newest OS X 10.9 operating system. The installer issue has been fixed and the OS installs flawlessly without removing memory from the machine.

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