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Installing El Capitan on a stubborn 2008 MacBook in 2024

I have an old, I believe to be a 2008 A1278 MacBook (It has a separate back cover for the battery & HDD). I do not know what OS was last installed on it as the original HDD was clicking and wouldn't load, so I plan to put an SSD or an old HDD as a last resort inside. I have made a bootable USB with El Capitan and Yosemite ready to use.

When I manage to get it to boot into recovery mode, (The new SSD is formatted to Extended Journaled GUID in the disk utility of the 2008) .It stalls for a long time then I get a cannot be installed error.... (It did at one point load the El Capitan setup but failed half way through (45 minutes).... So I re-downloaded the installer from apple and mounted it to a .app using a 2015 MBP (Monterey 12.7.4) and made a fresh USB installer. Yet still it freezes during initial loading setup....

SO, I am thinking to put the new SSD into a 2012 and install EL Capitan on that and then transfer the SSD to the 2008 model.... Will it boot? What if the 2008 had a different OS before, would the boot ROM or EFI get trashed or have some issue as this gets set during installation correct? I have tried connecting via Ethernet but there is no option for internet recovery that I have seen. At an end here..... Any thoughts?

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What is the SSD you are using here make and model?

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I have at hand ADATA SU650 and that old Micron M600 which is currently running in a 2011 Catalina patched MBP). Or should I just use a regular HDD to see if I can get it going? It is painfully slow......


@livfe - The ADATA SU650 is a SATA III (6.0Gbps) drive which is to fast for the older SATA II (3.0Gbps) systems. You need either a fixed speed SATA II (3.0Gbps) or get an auto sense drive like a Samsung 850 EVO


@danj Yeah true, you said this to me before.... OK so it looks like a painfully slow HDD will have to be..... no point to buy a Samsung SSD that is just as expensive as the machine as a whole.... Just wanted to use whats laying around here to get these old units out the door to someone who could use them....


@livfe - drinking from a fire hose is tough too! And if you used a different system to prep the drive it won’t be stable when pushed.


@danj Yes, but at least it 'could get it working, then I could try reinstalling on the 2008 to 'set it right'.... as long as I can get the correct EFI or ROM for the OS in the machine then all should be good.... Just trying to find a way as the usual way ain't giving me any luck at all.....


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livfe será eternamente grato(a).
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