Install Mac OSX 10.7 Lion on Unsupported Processors

Having waited with baited breath over the release of Mac OS X 10.7 Lion, I was disappointed to find out that my particular brand of MacBook Black (Intel Core Duo 2.0GHz from 2006 – EveryMac.com spec here) was officially not supported.

– Processors Apple will officially support Mac OS X 10.7 Lion on are:

  • Any Core 2 Duo processor
  • Any Xeon Dual Core or better processor
  • Any Intel i3, i5 or i7 processor
– Processors Apple will not officially support Mac OS X 10.7 Lion on are:
  • Any PowerPC processor
  • An Intel Mac from the following:
    • iMac 4,1 2006 17″ / 20″
    • iMac 4,2 2006 17″
    • Mac Mini 1,1 Early & Late 2006
    • MacBook 1,1 13″ Mid-2006
    • MacBook Pro 1,1 15″ A1150 2006
    • MacBook Pro 1,2 17″ A1151 2006
    • MacBook Pro 1,1 15″ 2006

The discussion here is actually about supporting 32-bit vs. 64-bit. This solution works, as long as binaries included with the OS include 32-bit. As soon as these are removed (from Software Update and the like), then the solution will falter.

Now, not being one to give up on these things lightly, a little investigation reveals a simple method of getting the installer to run and upgrade this hardware. It seems that the only thing preventing a Lion installation on a 32-bit platform is a hidden (from the system, or available through Terminal) file that can be removed:

/System/Library/CoreServices/PlatformSupport.plist

There is a small gotcha to this, is that you need to install Lion to a supported platform first (such as a Core 2 Duo), then migrate that installation to the unsupported platform. During or immediately after the migration, the file above should be removed, so the migration will live happily on the unsupported hardware.

One suggestion I would make (as with all upgrades) is one of two routes prior to any upgrades:

  1. Install the new OS to a separate partition, so there is always a roll-back or escape lane should (god forbid) anything go awry).
  2. Ensure you have a full backup of your OS before installing / upgrading, using Time Machine to an external drive.
With all this, one thing is for certain – Apple won’t be releasing Lion support for legacy hardware, so if you have older hardware that wants to take advantage of the latest and greatest OS from Apple, solutions like this are looking to be the only way forward.
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About Jeremy Bowman
VMware-certified Solutions Architect, Virtual Systems Designer / Administrator, Mac-Enthusiast.

12 Responses to Install Mac OSX 10.7 Lion on Unsupported Processors

  1. Alex says:

    I read about this earlier before Lion was officially out and tried it but it doesn’t seem to work with the final version. At least not for me. Getting a warning sign during bootup. Apple’s seems to have fixed this in the final version. I am sure there will be another workaround…

    • Hi Alex. Thanks for the comment. I initially got this too, but found that you have to move the .plist file immediately before booting the Lion install, otherwise you get the aforementioned error! To be honest I’ve done a lot of other hacking around with my OS so will have to do some more investigations on clean vs. upgrade install and post back with some more results. Cheers. Jeremy.

  2. Hi Jeremy. Just wanted to report I successfully installed Lion in my Core Solo mini (upgraded with a 2Ghz Core 2 Duo CPU) following your instructions. Good work, man! Keep it up!

  3. Will says:

    The solution doesn’t work with the released version of 10.7 on a MacBook 1.83 GHz Core Duo. I installed Lion on an external notebook drive, using Apple’s Installer DVD from a 64-bit MacBook Pro. I then changed the name of the PlatformSupport.plist file on the new installation, ejected the drive and installed it in my Core Duo machine. It refused to boot. I then re-connected the drive, repaired permissions and scanned for errors. After installing the drive once again in the Core Duo Mac it still wouldn’t boot into 10.7.

  4. Henk Peters says:

    Can you also upgrade to 10.7.2 using this method?

  5. elineberry1 says:

    I bought a MacBook Pro A1150 w 2ghz intel core duo. I bought the 2 g ram upgrade and found an internal hard drive 500g w lion pre installed. The seller said it would work on any intel MacBook2006. I am getting ready to install the new hard drive but after reading many posts online I’ve heard mixed reviews if it will work. What are your thoughts?

  6. This specific blog, “Install Mac OSX 10.7 Lion on Unsupported
    Processors Virtual Blogroll” reveals that you really know
    what you are communicating about! I really absolutely agree
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  7. Cindy says:

    Thanks a ton for utilizing time to post Solar Shades For Windows “Install
    Mac OSX 10.7 Lion on Unsupported Processors | Virtual Blogroll”.
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  8. Vandi says:

    Hi Jeremy.
    So, if i understand correctly, the trick is to:
    1. install Lion on a supported platform
    2. move the Hard Drive to the macbook 2006
    3. start macbook 2006 in single-user mode and delete that “PlatformSupport.plist” file
    4. boot macbook 2006

    Are these steps above correct?

  9. Sebastian says:

    Hi Jeremy
    Do you think there would be a problem if I do the first install in a VM, simulating 64-bit environement? install to a external drive (bridged over host-PC) and then booting up and installing from the external drive?
    Thanks and great Job on this exploit 😉

  10. Pingback: Can I Run OS X Lion If I Upgrade My Core Duo’s CPU? | Low End Mac

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