Project WolverineBroadcasting LIVE from the orbiting command centre

Here’s my challenge. I wanted to install 10.6 on a spare laptop as a test to see how well it would work, before I format my dev machine and install it there.

The problem is that the spare laptop has a broken screen, thanks to a faulty graphics chip that Apple decided they didn’t want to fix (I’ll get over it any day now, I promise).

This laptop also has a broken DVD drive… nothing except some CDs seem to work in it these days. It is however, set up with remote desktop access, so I can still use it via ‘screen sharing’. It’s mostly an iTunes server these days.

Just to add to the fun, my dev machine doesn’t like double layer DVDs. I suspect it also might be faulty.

So the question is “How do I install OS X on a computer with no screen and no DVD drive, using another computer with no DVD drive?


  • The laptop I want to install OS X on is called the ‘destination’ laptop.
  • The laptop I am using as a host is called the ‘source’ laptop.

The answer:

Step 1.

You’ll need access to a computer with a working DVD drive initially. Using the Disk Utility and a 8GB or more USB stick, click on the ‘Restore’ tab and copy the OS X installation DVD onto the USB stick. This will take about 40 minutes.

Step 2:

First of all, you need to restart the broken laptop (the ‘destination’) in ‘target disk mode’. To do this, go to ‘System Preferences’ and click on ‘Startup disk’. Click on ‘Target Disk Mode’.

Step 3:

Connect the destination laptop to the the (mostly) working laptop (the ‘source’) with a Firewire cable.
Now go to ‘System Preferences’ and click on ‘Startup Disk’. The destination laptop should appear as an option in the start up items. Click ‘Restart’, with the destination laptop selected.
NOTE: make sure you have the USB stick with the OS X installation files plugged into the source laptop.

Step 4:

Hold down the ‘option’ key while it’s rebooting. You should be presented with a list of all the possible sources to load from, one of which will be the USB stick. Select that option.


It should take about 40 minutes to install. When it’s done, set up the remote desktop functionality again, and you’re in action!

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