Apple has a pretty consistent track record of cutting off OS support to Macs on convenient technological gaps- more than the logical cutoff of PowerPC support to Intel only support when Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard shipped. But the community around Apple has usually stepped in and provided some life to machines Apple has abandoned. Let’s look at a few of these…
MLPostFactor – Bringing Mountain Lion to machines left behind by Apple
Mountain Lion (OS X 10.8) requires a 64-bit EFI to install, and fully 64-bit drivers for all hardware. For this reason, a lot of machines could not boot it and were stuck with Mac OS X 10.7 Lion.
Mac OS X 10.7 (Lion) was a huge change over 10.6 (Snow Leopard). Number one was dropping the Rosetta environment that allowed for PowerPC only applications to run, thus cutting off legacy applications that never got updated. Then when 10.8 (Mountain Lion) came out, it brought improvement to speed and UI design that made using the computer better. The biggest thing (IMO) though was the addition of iMessage sending and receiving to iOS devices and other computers. This one addition made it an attractive upgrade for my father’s original MacBook Air and my 2nd generation Mac Pro, both officially capped at Lion.
Enter MLPostFactor which brings a solution to get Mountain Lion on these machines with ease. Another method, which is more designed for Mac Pros, utilizes “Hackintosh” methods to boot the OS. If I were to upgrade my Mac Pro, I would use that method, detailed here – http://www.jabbawok.net/?p=47
However, MLPostFactor was much simpler on the original 1,1 MBA. I recommend that you completely blow away your Mac before this, zero out your hard drive, run diagnostics, etc before rebuilding to 10.7.5. The only major issue I ran into required some disk maintenance before installation.
I recommend following the videos and guides on the MLPostFactor site, but I can confirm that it works, and it works well enough to enable my father to iMessage me on his original MBA!
Whited00r – Bringing life to old iOS devices
Macs aren’t the only thing that get left behind – each iOS generation brings with it a cut off of devices. The first iPad is stuck on iOS 5, the 3GS is stuck on iOS 6, etc. There are various solutions to get further life out of the devices though- my father’s first generation iPad gets considerable utilization out of being jailbroken via Cydia- especially for DisplayOut to allow for real “video mirroring” via a cable (unsupported on first generation iPads) and RetinaPad for crisper iPhone 2x mode.
However, for even older devices (such as the original iPhone, iPhone 3G, and original 1/2nd generation iPod Touches), an even more interesting solution lies in Whited00r.
In the same logic as the ThinkPad Tablet rooting to get Jellybean, Whited00r uses existing jailbreak methods to totally replace the firmware on these devices, tweaked to deliver more performance, updated UI, and unique features that allow for older devices to survive in the modern world.
Recently Apple allowed apps to be available for older iOS versions from the store, but this is still hit or miss. Whited00r brings an AppTimeMachine that lets you step back in time and grab apps you want even if Apple won’t let you get them. And it works!
I was able to easily get Whited00r on my mother’s iPod Touch 2G and it really has revitalized it’s battery life and usability. If you can follow some onscreen instructions on the correct timing to hold the few buttons on an iOS device it’s very simplified.
I highly suggest trying this out if you have an iPod Touch. I think for iPhones it is smarter to just get a modern 4G/LTE phone, especially if you have the original iPhone!
Pre-Intel Era Apple Device
Have an even older Mac? There are a considerable number of hacks to bring old machines to at least a less-old OS!
XPostFacto was an old solution that brought Mac OS X to many machines that refused to install- some versions required a processor faster than what you may have, or be a certain age or have features, etc. This software through the years matured to cover Mac OS X 10.2 – 10.4 installs for machines that you’d dare to install the software on! Find it at OWC.
OS9Helper got Mac OS 9.2.2 onto machines Apple dropped support for. While the original site has fallen off the net, copies are still around the Internet to get you running on Mac OS 9 – arguably my favorite Mac OS. Find it at OWC.