Lion on unsupported machines

July 20, 2011. A day that will go down in history (or at least Wikipedia and in the brains of many Apple fanboy’s) as the end of the MacBook era. Not only was the MacBook discontinued, but the still powerful 2006 models were lost in support for Lion. All Intel Core Duo and Core Solo Mac’s were now stuck on the aging (but still awesome) Snow Leopard for all eternity. Even MacBook Pro’s from that era with excellent specs (and a lofty price tag) were lost. I saw this moment, looking deeply at my 2006 black MacBook, thinking, “I could make a dent in the universe,” much like what Steve Job’s probably thought while his company created the elegant machine.

Within 3 days I had a working version of the first beta running from an external hard drive on my unsupported MacBook. My success ended there. Updates weren’t supported, and I accidentally updated iTunes to 10.3, making it corrupt. Once the announcement came and past, I thought of making a video on how to do what I managed to do, although the thought escaped me within a few days. Then I received word from a friend about what happened to his MacBook Pro. He managed to spill a glass of water on it in excitement when the download for Lion became available (he pulled an all-nighter). I thought to myself, “If someone with a MacBook Pro hardly faster than mine but several years newer can download Lion, why can’t I? Mine lasted longer anyway!” The problem lies in Apple’s use of 64-bit technology in Lion. No, not quite like the Nintendo 64 you had growing up. The Intel Core Duo processor is nearly identical to the Core 2 Duo, other than the support for use of 4GB or more of RAM in the Core 2 Duo, allowing 64-bit. If you have less than 4GB of RAM, the difference wont be large. Lion supports less than 4GB of RAM, but not 32-bit processors. Only processors technically capable of 64-bit.

With a simple removal of the Platform Support file (whilst the hard drive is in a 64-bit Mac) we were able to enable the Core Duo and Core Solo processors to work perfectly fine on Lion. We decided to package this in a file available to download and install on your pre-64-bit Intel Mac. It will be available within a few days from now, including a step by step guide.

Update #1 – I now have iTunes fully working. But news doesn’t end there, I finished deleting unnecessary (and personal) files, and I am currently compiling it into a disk image. When I release it, you will be able to download the disk image, and put the files on a new partition. I will have a step by step written, and video guide, so don’t worry. Once you finish copying the files, you will be done! Everything will be installed, and you’ll have a fully working 32-bit Mac running Lion.

Known problems (b1)

  • No recovery partition (the partition that replaces the install DVD in Lion)
  • Updates to iTunes corrupts the app
  • Some minor graphical problems with recording/editing video (I should be able to fix this)
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17 responses to “Lion on unsupported machines

  1. Hi, this is a comment.
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  2. Thanks! I’m dying to upgrade. I’ll be looking forward to your release!

    • I know how you feel, Apple’s dumped me 3 times in the past 3 years (PowerPC G5 with Snow Leo, iPhone 2G with iOS 4, and now my Core Duo MacBook with Lion, but luckily there’s a work around). I’m working as hard as I can, and I’m guessing I’ll release it this next week.
      Thanks,
      Tyler Simpson

  3. I also looking forward to your release. But Finder is 64 bit… Will that work with your hack? Thanks!

    • Yes, I have it fully working. I just need to fix a few bugs, get iTunes working, remove my own personal files and emails, and compile it into an installer.

      Thanks,
      Tyler Simpson

  4. Man am I excited to find this post!! Can’t wait to see the results!

  5. Is this OSX Lion GM or the first developer preview? And if it is the GM how did you manage to get the Finder working if it is only a 64 bit app? Looking forward to your release? Thanks!

  6. Thanks for the effort! I’ve upgraded my MBP 2006 core duo 6 months ago with a maxed out RAM and a 128GB SSD. It is faster than ever, and I think it would make a hell of a Lion.

    • I know how you feel, I did the same to m MacBook (which was the most expensive MacBook model at the time) 7 months ago. You’d think Apple would care more about customers that are willing to pay several grand on a laptop. But, I can’t stand to use PC hardware or WinDOS, so I’m doing what Apple says can’t be done.

  7. So when can we expect a link to a downloadable image? I’m super excited about this….

  8. I finish upgrade to Mac os x lion.
    I thank you for that.
    So, I can’t update to 10.7.1 and up never??
    and how about a itunes 10.4.1 and up?

  9. Does anyone know how you can change the launchpad icon? This port worked great but I really don’t like the launchpad icon used in the DP’s and would love to be able to change it to the newest icon. Thanks!

  10. So when can we expect a link to a downloadable image?

  11. Great! Looking forward to upgrading my Core Duo to Lion. Will keep checking back for the downloadable image.

  12. Chris Randall

    Its been a while. Are you still working on it? Does it have any of the system updates?

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