So I have carefully read Josh's answers on question 35108, Upgrade to Snow Leopard Without a CD Drive

But when I am in Disk Utility, it says "This disk contains the startup volume and can't be partitioned".

Does this mean I am doomed to Mac OS X 10.4 if I can't upgrade with a cd drive, usb drive, or external drive? This is super frustrating =(

  • Are you using a MacBook Air? Can't you use the Remote Disk utility (or whatever it's called)? – bpapa Oct 23 '09 at 16:35
  • No, just a regular MacBook that's a couple years old. – Johnny Ray Vega Oct 23 '09 at 16:38
  • Sorry, it's a year old. – Johnny Ray Vega Oct 23 '09 at 16:38

I suggest you ask someone who has an external drive to let you upgrade your mac.

  • but I don't know anyone or I already would have =/ – Johnny Ray Vega Oct 23 '09 at 15:58
  • I want to ask on the answer page that I linked to but I see no Add Comment or Question buttons on there, so I don't know how to ask Mr Josh directly. – Johnny Ray Vega Oct 23 '09 at 16:01

You don't need a hard drive, or optical drive installed on the system... You can use any Macintosh to create a disk image, and restore it to a thumb drive... You'll need at least a 6 Gb thumb drive though.

You don't need to restore it to your 2nd partition... Unless you really have to.

Either way the process would be the same, create a disk image of the DVD, then use Disk Utility to restore the disk image to the drive you want to use as the installer...

  • Right right. I understand all that, and that's why I resulted to the link I referenced in my original question. I have no access to any external hd, no friends who have one that are near by. I have no access to a thumb or sd. I also have no money that I can set aside for any of those resources right now either. I am stuck with having to use the trick of installing from a separate partition. I also don't have the original Os X disk that came with this macbook, and even if I did, the cd drive isn't working to read from it. That is why I am left with only installing from this option. – Johnny Ray Vega Oct 23 '09 at 19:23
  • Without a 10.4, 10.5 or 10.6 bootable media, you are stuck. You can not re-partition the drive that you are booting from.... – Benjamin Schollnick Oct 24 '09 at 2:12

I installed it using an external HDD, because my Superdrive was malfunctioning at the time. However, you'll still need access to a disc drive so that you can rip the original Snow Leopard disc.

Rip the original disc to a disk image, and then partition your external drive. Open Disk Utility and restore one of the partitions using your disk image of Snow Leopard. Boom. Bootable partition.

  • I don't have an external drive, nor do I have access to one. I have the dmg with the install for the OS on my hard drive. The whole reason for needing a separate partition is so I can restore from the install files on the separate partition. – Johnny Ray Vega Oct 23 '09 at 16:05

I upvoted a few answers since the are indeed valid ways to upgrade a mac without an optical drive. However, I'm afraid the answer to your questions is "no you cannot upgrade your mac without some sort of external media".

I'm not trying to be rude, simply stating the answer that no one feels comfortable saying. Every situation has it's limitations. Furthermore, without a backup drive, I wouldn't recommend a reinstall since that's a risky endeavour.

Best of luck with finding a secondary media source.

  • Can't install using osmosis :) – emgee Oct 24 '09 at 5:43
  • Well thanks, but with a little help and suggestion from someone else here, I just did it without an optical drive, or external source. – Johnny Ray Vega Oct 24 '09 at 10:01
  • I apologize, but I sense some irritation in some of your comments which I think is unwarranted. Most people are on this site are genuinely trying to help, including myself. Some problems are tricky and ideas such as "borrowing an external" are good ideas. If you did find a way without any external media that's great! I recommend that you choose that answer and comment on it so others in the future can solve their problem as well. If not then this whole exercise was a waste since no one but you will know the answer. Congrats on solving your problem. – Paulo Oct 24 '09 at 17:03
  • I didn't sense any irritation in his response, but I do have to disagree with your response. You did, after all, say "no you cannot upgrade your mac without some sort of external media", which is grossly inaccurate. – Josh Hunt Jun 15 '10 at 4:57

Live Partitioning (the feature that Josh suggested using) was only introduced within Disk Utility in Leopard (Mac OS X 10.5.x). Since you're using Tiger (10.4.x) your version of Disk Utility doesn't allow you to do this.

Doing this without a backup is at your own risk. If something goes wrong or you choose the wrong partition you can erase your entire hard drive and your files so be sure you're using the command on the correct partition.

However you can still do it from the command line (10.4.6 or newer) or by using Boot Camp (if you still have it installed even though it's not supported).

Command Line Live Partitioning in Tiger:

# Determine the disk ID of your startup volume:
diskutil list

The output should look similar to:

   #:                       TYPE NAME                    SIZE       IDENTIFIER
   0:      GUID_partition_scheme                        *1.0 TB     disk0
   1:                        EFI                         209.7 MB   disk0s1
   2:                  Apple_HFS Myriad                  999.9 GB   disk0s2
   #:                       TYPE NAME                    SIZE       IDENTIFIER
   0:      GUID_partition_scheme                        *300.1 GB   disk1
   1:                        EFI                         209.7 MB   disk1s1
   2:                  Apple_HFS Garamond                299.7 GB   disk1s2

In this case the disk we care about is disk0s2 (my startup volume is called Myriad, my Time Machine backup, Garamond) and that you'll notice disk0s0 say GUID_partition_scheme. If it does not, live resizing will not work.

You can then create a new 8GB partion by running the command:

#sudo diskutil resizeVolume DISK_ID FORMAT NAME SIZE
sudo diskutil resizeVolume disk0s2 JHFS+ SnowyDVD 8G

It's important you have enough free space. It may ask you to restart the computer but you can then continue to follow the instructions to restore the .dmg onto the newly created partition.

To reclaim the space, after the installation you need to use gpt to remove the partition:

#Find the partition (gpt show DISK_ID)
sudo gpt show disk0

Determine which partition number the Snow Leopard DVD image was restored on: the first GPT part is the EFI partition, the second should be your startup drive and 3 should be your Snow Leopard DVD partition. You should be able to tell from the size.

You can remove the partition by running:

sudo gpt remove -i NUMBER disk0

You can then resize your partition back to it's full size:

sudo diskutil resizveVolume disk0s2 SIZE

You can double check your max size by running:

sudo diskutil resziveVolume disk0s2 limits

That said, I'm not sure how making a partition is going to help you if you haven't already imaged your Snow Leopard DVD since you don't have a DVD drive.

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