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Anyone successfully downgraded a 2018 Mac Mini from Big Sur or Catalina to Mojave to run QM2007?

I know this is pretty darn far off Quicken topics, but the folks here seem damn smart so I'll give it a try. I recently bought an open-box 2018 Mac mini in order to run Mojave for as long as I can. (The latest version of Quicken is still essentially useless for me.) I was hoping it would come with Mojave installed, but alas it came with Big Sur. Trying every suggestion I've found, I've been unable to install Mojave on it. Quick summary of what I've tried. Recovery mode could only find Big Sur. Used softwareupdate —fetch etc to get the latest copy of the Mojave installer. used createinstallmedia (with and without —download assets) to create a bootable installer on a USB stick. FYI, that bootable installer worked fine on my 2012 MacBook Pro to install Mojave on an external disk and run from it. The installer doesn't work on the Mac mini — it boots, the apple logo is displayed and the progress bar eventually goes to the end, and just stays there. It never gets to any splash screen of any kind. I used the same process to make a bootable installer for Catalina and was able to boot and install and run that on a spare partition on the mac mini. I tried repeating the Mojave procedure from within Catalina, to no avail. I noticed the createinstallmedia executable inside the Catalina install package is a lot smaller than the one in the Mojave one, so I tried replacing the Mojave one with the Catalina one, but that didn't work (some library was missing.) The one thing I haven't tried is completely wiping the mac mini before booting the installer, but I don't really want to do that unless it's guaranteed to work! (I don't mind losing whatever's on the machine since there's nothing on it except the OS's, but I don't want to brick it!) One thing I did note in trying to create the Mojave bootable installer with —downloadassets is that one or two packages dealing with the BridgeOS couldn't be downloaded. No problem doing that with the Catalina install (downloadassets went through swimmingly there.)

Best Answer

  • tmplee
    tmplee Member ✭✭
    Accepted Answer
    Eureka! I figured out how to do it. Put a copy of the installer app (not the bootable installer) onto another, older machine (I used my 2012 MacBook Pro). Put an external drive with a spare partition (I assume a whole disk would do too) on that machine. Use the installer to install Mojave on that partition. Disconnect that external drive from the older Mac and connect it to the Mac-mini. Use the restore function of Disk utility to copy that partition or volume to an available partition on the Mac mini. Restart the Mac mini with option pressed to put you into the startup selector screen. Select the volume (drive or partition) you just installed Mojave on and boot it. It seems to work just fine -- I'm posting this from my Mac mini running Mojave. The only glitch so far is every now and then (I think when I restart into it or log into an account) a warning notification comes up saying the software is incompatible with the hardware because the disk (the internal one) has features not supported by the version of MacOS being used. I just dismiss the warning and everything seems to work fine.

    I copied QM2007 over from the older Mac-mini that this one will be replacing. I also compressed, copied, and decompressed the quicken data file into a separate small MacOS Extended partition on this Mac-mini. It works like a charm, even saving-on-quit. I didn't take the time to copy over the preferences file(s) (I don't remember how many there are) so it's nagging me to register.

Answers

  • jacobs
    jacobs SuperUser, Mac Beta Beta
    I think you'll do better asking this in Apple forums than here, but I'll take a quick stab at it…

    Anything I've read about downgrading seems to require reformatting the drive. See this article and this one. Because of the way Catalina and Big Sur split the drive into two volumes, one of which is invisible, I think you need to reformat the drive before running the Mojave installer.

    Off-topic to your question, but just curious: what's the reason you find the current Quicken is "useless" to you?
    Quicken Mac Subscription • Quicken user since 1993
  • RickO
    RickO SuperUser, Mac Beta Beta
    This doesn't directly answer your question, but I have Mojave installed in a Parallels Desktop virtual machine on my MacBook Pro running Catalina (soon Big Sur). It runs QM2007 just fine. With Parallels' coherence mode, it's almost like it's running right in your native macOS. 

    You may want to consider this as it's probably cheaper than having purchased a separate machine, not to mention much more convenient.
    Quicken Mac Subscription; Quicken Mac user since the early 90s
  • smayer97
    smayer97 SuperUser, Mac Beta, Canada Beta ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited April 30
    And if you are running Big Sur as the host macOS, you can get VMWare Fusion for FREE, which is VERY comparable, and in some ways superior to Parallels, and run most flavours of macOS versions as a guest OS. Of course, the best part is as of the latest, v12, it is free.
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    (Canadian user since '92, STILL using QM2007)
  • RickO
    RickO SuperUser, Mac Beta Beta
    edited April 30
    smayer97 said:
    you can get VMWare Fusion for FREE,  Of course, the best part is as of the latest, v12, it is free.
    I didn't know this. How are they managing that? Is it ad supported?

    Do you know if Fusion supports the new M1 chips yet?
    Quicken Mac Subscription; Quicken Mac user since the early 90s
  • Chris_QPW
    Chris_QPW Member ✭✭✭✭
    RickO said:
    smayer97 said:
    you can get VMWare Fusion for FREE,  Of course, the best part is as of the latest, v12, it is free.
    I didn't know this. How are they managing that? Is it ad supported?
    A lot of investors wanted to know the same thing when it was first announced.    :)

    Note that it is only free personal use.  To understand this business model you have to understand that first off they get most of their money from companies.  And second this is only one part of much bigger virtual environment for "on demand" use cases.

    I believe the strategy is the same as AT&T used with Unix and universities.  Give it way to universities, and student will be trained on it, and then they would go into the workforce and want to use it.

    Did it work?
    MacOS's kernel is Unix based, not to mention Linux, and all the other variations of Unix.
    Signature:
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  • RickO
    RickO SuperUser, Mac Beta Beta
    I wonder if Parallels will end up doing the same. That would be nice.

    Quicken Mac Subscription; Quicken Mac user since the early 90s
  • smayer97
    smayer97 SuperUser, Mac Beta, Canada Beta ✭✭✭✭✭
    I highly doubt it as VMWare has a HUGE virtual machine product suite that they are able to leverage targeted at big business. That has always been their core business.

    Though Parallels is a well respected product, they have nothing compared to that. The biggest advantage I see that they have in macOS VM space is that they are always first to market with their macOS VM and feature sets.
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    (Canadian user since '92, STILL using QM2007)
  • Chris_QPW
    Chris_QPW Member ✭✭✭✭
    smayer97 said:
    I highly doubt it as VMWare has a HUGE virtual machine product suite that they are able to leverage targeted at big business. That has always been their core business.
    .
    What do you consider HUGE, and do you consider Amazon, Dell, Microsoft, Google "big businesses"?






    The list goes on into networking others.


    Signature:
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  • smayer97
    smayer97 SuperUser, Mac Beta, Canada Beta ✭✭✭✭✭
    Well, Parallels annual revenue is in the $1B range, VMWare is in the $12B range.
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    (Canadian user since '92, STILL using QM2007)
  • tmplee
    tmplee Member ✭✭
    > @jacobs said:
    > I think you'll do better asking this in Apple forums than here, but I'll take a quick stab at it…
    >
    > Anything I've read about downgrading seems to require reformatting the drive. See this article and this one. Because of the way Catalina and Big Sur split the drive into two volumes, one of which is invisible, I think you need to reformat the drive before running the Mojave installer.
    >
    More comments on that tomorrow.
    > Off-topic to your question, but just curious: what's the reason you find the current Quicken is "useless" to you?

    Very quickly, as I recall from a year or two ago, it couldn't do some category reports that are essential to how I manage things. In particular, I want a total for each of a half-dozen investment-related categories for each account for a given period of time, for example, interest, dividends, short and long term cap gains, and cap gain distributions. I couldn't find any way to do it in the "new" quicken. I also quite often want an exportable list of the current holdings in a given account (stock name, number of shares, at least) that can be imported into a spreadsheet. I don't believe I was able to do that. I also believe there weren't any ROI reports. I have over 200 securities in approximately 10 accounts, going back 30 years, so I have a lot "invested" in that data so naturally I'm very reluctant to switch.
  • tmplee
    tmplee Member ✭✭
    > @smayer97 said:
    > And if you are running Big Sur as the host macOS, you can get VMWare Fusion for FREE, which is VERY comparable, and in some ways superior to Parallels, and run most flavours of macOS versions as a guest OS. Of course, the best part is as of the latest, v12, it is free.

    Yes, I'm aware of that. And it was the informed discussion on the topic here that prompted me to post this question here. I do intend to pose it in other forums, although I need to research a bit to find which ones are likely to have a technically-informed response. The general Apple forums, for instance, seem for the most part not to be well-informed and, as we know, Apple doesn't participate in them much (if at all?). Getting Mojave to run "natively" on my new 2018 mac-mini has, I admit, become somewhat of a crusade for me, since in theory it should be doable since that model initially shipped with it!

    More tomorrow.
  • jacobs
    jacobs SuperUser, Mac Beta Beta
    I think if you simply do as I said above -- wipe the drive and run the Mojave installer from an external boot drive -- that will take care of it. If you have anything of value on that Mac, of course back up the data externally first, but since you said you just recently got it and would be okay with wiping the drive, I think that would be your easiest path forward. (And, perhaps, the only way to do it due to the invisible Big Sur partition.) 
    Quicken Mac Subscription • Quicken user since 1993
  • tmplee
    tmplee Member ✭✭
    > @jacobs said:
    > I think if you simply do as I said above -- wipe the drive and run the Mojave installer from an external boot drive -- that will take care of it. If you have anything of value on that Mac, of course back up the data externally first, but since you said you just recently got it and would be okay with wiping the drive, I think that would be your easiest path forward. (And, perhaps, the only way to do it due to the invisible Big Sur partition.) 

    You are probably right, but "I think" isn't good enough. Have you done it or know anybody else who has? How would that succeeding explain why the installer just hangs at the end of the progress bar — no error messages of any kind? All of the examples I've seen of people saying to wipe the drive have you doing so after the installer has booted and given you some options but before you tell it to go ahead.
  • jacobs
    jacobs SuperUser, Mac Beta Beta
    No, as I said, I haven't done it. But I gave you links to two articles which said to do it that way.

    If you're working off an external boot drive or bootable installer drive, then it doesn't matter whether you wipe the internal drive in advance, or do it after booting externally and then wiping the drive -- in either case, you're using Disk Utility to wipe the drive.

    Again, what I'm saying is that I don't know if you can succeed if you're trying to do this and maintain your existing drive volumes. What I've read, and my understanding of what Catalina/Big Sur do to the drive, makes me think you can't. But if you completely wipe the hard drive, I can't see why the installer wouldn't run. I have done that -- booted from external drives, wiped internal drives, and installed a new operating system -- many times, although I've never done it to a drive which has Big Sur installed.
    Quicken Mac Subscription • Quicken user since 1993
  • tmplee
    tmplee Member ✭✭
    > @jacobs said:
    > No, as I said, I haven't done it. But I gave you links to two articles which said to do it that way.
    >
    Thanks for the quick response. I've read those articles and agree that at least one of them seems to apply to my situation. Unfortunately, they don't give me a warm fuzzy that it'll work. If one of them had said something like "your installer on the external drive will hang if you don't erase the internal drive" I'd feel better. I've posted my question on the Apple community discussion forum but not yet received a knowledgeable response. I'm going to tweak the way I pose the question a little and post it on a couple of other Apple forums (stack exchange and OS X daily). Remember, I was able to install Catalina on a separate partition without erasing Big Sur.
  • tmplee
    tmplee Member ✭✭
    Accepted Answer
    Eureka! I figured out how to do it. Put a copy of the installer app (not the bootable installer) onto another, older machine (I used my 2012 MacBook Pro). Put an external drive with a spare partition (I assume a whole disk would do too) on that machine. Use the installer to install Mojave on that partition. Disconnect that external drive from the older Mac and connect it to the Mac-mini. Use the restore function of Disk utility to copy that partition or volume to an available partition on the Mac mini. Restart the Mac mini with option pressed to put you into the startup selector screen. Select the volume (drive or partition) you just installed Mojave on and boot it. It seems to work just fine -- I'm posting this from my Mac mini running Mojave. The only glitch so far is every now and then (I think when I restart into it or log into an account) a warning notification comes up saying the software is incompatible with the hardware because the disk (the internal one) has features not supported by the version of MacOS being used. I just dismiss the warning and everything seems to work fine.

    I copied QM2007 over from the older Mac-mini that this one will be replacing. I also compressed, copied, and decompressed the quicken data file into a separate small MacOS Extended partition on this Mac-mini. It works like a charm, even saving-on-quit. I didn't take the time to copy over the preferences file(s) (I don't remember how many there are) so it's nagging me to register.
  • jacobs
    jacobs SuperUser, Mac Beta Beta
    I'm obviously missing something... What did this accomplish differently than wiping the drive and installing Mojave on it? It sounds like you got it installed; I'm just not understanding why you took the extra steps.

    I'd be somewhat concerned about the warning messages you're seeing, which could be because there's still an invisible partition on the hard drive from a newer operating system, or minor differences in the APFS formatting created by Big Sur and that expected by Mojave. 

    Quicken Mac Subscription • Quicken user since 1993
  • tmplee
    tmplee Member ✭✭
    > @jacobs said:
    > I'm obviously missing something... What did this accomplish differently than wiping the drive and installing Mojave on it?

    Not losing sleep worrying about if I did wipe the drive I'd brick the system. As I've said before, I think, all the scenarios I've read have you wiping the drive after you've started or booted the installer. Remember, I can't get the "bootable installer" to boot — it hangs before getting into a state where you can interact with it. I've used "diskutil list" to see what's on all the drives and they all seem to have the pattern of having an EFI partition for the whole drive and a Recovery partition (amongst other things) in each partition. The Recovery partition obviously doesn't hold a copy of MacOS (they're only maybe 500K). I did notice that the EFI's and Recovery partitions aren't the same because they have different sizes, but I just glanced at the listings and didn't take notes. Presumably that's because the come from different updates. What I don't know is what "erase" (in its various flavors) does to all those extra partitions. I just remembered I have a spare external drive that I've retired because it's failing but I should be able to experiment with it a little.

    As to the warning message, I was going to make a screen shot of it so others could see what it says and hazard a guess as to what's producing it, but all of a sudden it stopped appearing. I'm guessing that's because booting between three different versions of the OS, some even on different drives, gets the NVRAM confused as to what's going on!
  • tmplee
    tmplee Member ✭✭
    OK. The warning has resurfaced. Dunno what I did to make it stop happening. It shows up when I log into an account. I've attached a snapshot of it. It seems almost meaningless -- if the disk has some feature that the software doesn't use, what's the problem? BTW, I wasn't able to experiment to see what wiping a disk did to the various hidden partitions -- the drive I had that I thought was an empty spare turns out to have useful data on it.
  • jacobs
    jacobs SuperUser, Mac Beta Beta
    You might be perfectly fine ignoring the warning and just carrying on. It doesn't seem like anyone here on this forum has experience with your exact situation, so I don't think you're likely to get any definitive help here.

    If it were me, I would not want to take any risk with all my data with the unknown situation of a drive formatted with a newer operating system than installed on the Mac. What if it works fine for a year and then starts throwing errors and can't be fully recovered? I would pursue one of several options:
    • Get an external hard drive, follow proven published instructions to install a bootable Mojave installer drive on it, run the installer to wipe the internal hard drive and install Mojave on the internal drive. Then use the hard drive as a Time Machine backup drive going forward.
    • Get a flash drive, and follow the same process as above to get Mojave installed on the internal drive.
    • Reinstall a fresh copy of Big Sur on the internal drive, install VMWare Fusion or Parallels, and install Mojave in the VM so you can run Quicken 2007.
    • Reinstall Big Sur and move forward with current Quicken*.
    *The last would be the most stable and forward-looking way to go… if it would work for you. You're working hard to install an operating system which Apple will stop supporting later this year, to install an old version of Quicken which is occasionally prone to data corruption. If the current Quicken could meet your needs, it would give you a much more solid road for the future. Some of the things you mentioned earlier in this thread describe Quicken Mac from a few years ago which have changed since then. (ROI for investments: added. Export of holdings in each investment account: can do. Reports: improved, not certain whether it will do what you want.) Whether it will meet your needs is something you'd likely need to try out to determine.

    Just some thoughts. Best of luck whatever you do moving forward. 
    Quicken Mac Subscription • Quicken user since 1993
  • tmplee
    tmplee Member ✭✭
    > @jacobs said:
    > You might be perfectly fine ignoring the warning and just carrying on. It doesn't seem like anyone here on this forum has experience with your exact situation, so I don't think you're likely to get any definitive help here.

    Thanks for the thoughtful comments. I have to give you credit for being right in the first place about needing to wipe the drive.

    Not being one to let little things go, I tracked down what caused that warning message and how to get rid of it. Without too much looking (I googled for the text of the warning) I found several threads in the Apple developer's forums discussing it. My only excuse for not having stumbled on it earlier is that it's not hardware specific, so when I was looking only for stuff pertaining particularly to the 2018 mac mini it didn't show up. The jist of the problem, as I understand it, is that Big Sur does things to an APFS volume that Mojave isn't happy with. Technically, the error warning should say something like "file system" and not "disk" — the latter gives the impression there is something in the disk hardware that is incompatible with the software. It appears the only solution is to completely reformat (erase) the drive and install Mojave on it. So, I'm going to have to wipe it all after all. But at least now I have Mojave on a bootable external drive, so I can run an installer from there, if the installer-on-a-stick doesn't boot for hardware reasons. I haven't tried any of this because a quick skim of the relevant discussions gives me the impression that which version of Disk Utility is used for reformatting is important, as well as that at least someone reported that you needed to format it in HFS+ before reformatting it in APFS. When I have time to study the discussions in more detail I'll give it a try and report back. I don't know what all that says about being able to dual boot into either Mojave or Big Sur, but that's at present not of concern to me.
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