5 Replies Latest reply: Dec 27, 2012 3:17 PM by Philip Keller
Philip Keller Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

I get the infamous OS installation error "Install failed... because a recovery system can't be created" – but in fact, the recovery system already exists, since I'm installing from it, and incidentally, I've previously already used it for an Internet reinstallation. I've tried about a half dozen iterations now.

 

Here's the exact sequence of events:

  1. Reboot on recovery drive.
  2. Select option to reinstall the OS from the network.
  3. License agreement, etc; then select drive -> install -> sign into Apple store.
  4. "Downloading additional components" message. 1st attempt consistently fails at this stage, need to restart at step 2.
  5. Download for roughly 20 minutes, then automatic reboot -> "Installing Mac OS X".
  6. After about 10 minutes: "Install failed. Mac OS X could not be installed on your computer. Mac OS X can't be installed on the disk ..., because a recovery system can't be created. Visit www.apple.com/support/no-recovery to learn more."

 

I've pawed through innumerable posts of people who have gotten the same error message, but haven't found one that reproduces my circumstances. I've reviewed the KB articles "OS X: About OS X Recovery" and "OS X Lion: Installer reports This disk cannot be used to start up your computer", with no luck. Based on a suggestion in the second KB article, I've reduced the primary partition size by roughly a GB and retried - no luck.

 

See this thread if you want to know why I'm reinstalling the OS, even though it's (more or less) functioning and I have Time Machine backups. It would also make me feel a lot better to know that the reinstallation would work in case of real need. Thanks in advance for any help.

-- Phil


iMac, Mac OS X (10.7.5)
  • 1. Re: "Recovery system can't be created" error when reinstalling Lion from recovery system
    baltwo Level 9 Level 9 (60,125 points)

    Contact http://www.apple.com/support/mac/app-store/contact.html?form=account since they're responsible for making this abysmal delivery/recovery system work.

  • 2. Re: "Recovery system can't be created" error when reinstalling Lion from recovery system
    John Galt Level 8 Level 8 (36,430 points)

    Hi Philip,

     

    Clearly something is wrong. I am not sure if you were actually able to reinstall OS X by booting OS X Recovery. Can you? If so it makes me wonder if the "install failed" message is just inaccurate. It ought to at least be more informative.

     

    I have used the recovery system to install OS X even on hard disks that were completely erased, but only with Macs that either shipped with Lion / ML or earlier ones with firmware upgraded to use OS X Recovery.


    What model Mac is reporting this problem?

  • 3. Re: "Recovery system can't be created" error when reinstalling Lion from recovery system
    Philip Keller Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    John,

     

    I think I'm "reinstalling OS X by booting OS X Recovery": I reboot with command-R depressed, or I reboot with Alt depressed and choose the recovery parition, and then I start the installation process from the list of things I can do. Are we talking about the same thing?

     

    Just now I tried downloading the latest version of the "Install Mac OS X Lion" application (4.7 GB) from the Apple Store and copying it onto a thumb drive with Mac OS X Lion (this is a recovery drive for one of my work machines, which has an oddball paritioning scheme that prevented the onboard recovery partition from being created.) I rebooted from the thumb drive and launched the installation application, then it installed/rebooted like in step 5, and step 6 was identical. This verifies that the download from the Apple Store is not the problem, nor the installation of the recovery partition; the hiccup seems to be during the installation of the OS on the primary partition (despite what the message says).

     

    Thanks for the link to machines that need to have firmware upgraded - I didn't know about that. Mine is a 24-inch (late 2006) model iMac, which is not on the list of models that need an upgrade. I also verified from this page that I have the latest firmware release installed (IM61.0093.B07 (EFI 1.2)). Also, I have done an Internet Recovery on this computer once before, so I know it can be done!

     

    Do you have any ideas of what else I should try? (short of wiping the disk and starting over, which, with my Bootcamp partition and all, is a bit too much trouble.) Or is there an installation log somewhere that could provide a better idea of exactly what's going wrong?

    -- Phil

  • 4. Re: "Recovery system can't be created" error when reinstalling Lion from recovery system
    John Galt Level 8 Level 8 (36,430 points)

    Philip Keller wrote:

     

    John,

     

    I think I'm "reinstalling OS X by booting OS X Recovery": I reboot with command-R depressed, or I reboot with Alt depressed and choose the recovery parition, and then I start the installation process from the list of things I can do. Are we talking about the same thing?

     

    Yes, exactly.

     

    I think that OS X Internet Recovery would be necessary only if you were to attempt a Lion installation with a completely empty HD, implying that even a Recovery partition has not been created. Your USB flash drive is the way to cope in that circumstance. If you can install Lion by booting the recovery partition as you described, it seems to me that it is all that is necessary and there is nothing to fix, despite the error message you see.

     

    I'm surprised that Internet Recovery works at all, given that your Mac is not one of those allegedly eligible to use it.

     

    Without a similar 2006 iMac to test, I can only speculate that the "abysmal distribution system" as baltwo describes it just doesn't work well with earlier Macs, and that Apple may not have tested it extensively with them. If I were you I would rely upon that USB installer much more than OS X Recovery or OS X Internet Recovery. I prefer not to rely upon any installation method that can possibly result in "the server is not available at this time" or such nonsense, but that is the direction in which Apple has been going for a long time.

     

    An OS X installation log exists at /var/log/ that you can examine using Console, probably named "install.log". Deciphering it is another challenge.

  • 5. Re: "Recovery system can't be created" error when reinstalling Lion from recovery system
    Philip Keller Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    John,

     

    You're undoubtedly right that I shouldn't rely too much on Internet recovery. Unfortunately my thumb-drive recovery comes up with exactly the same error...

     

    You're also right that there's a log file, /var/log/install.log (actually, /var turns out to be a symbolic link, so it's actually /private/var/log/install.log). Interestingly, it doesn't appear to mention any errors. There is a "Starting installation" message, but its timestamp indicates that it happened AFTER I clicked the "Restart" button under the infamous error message. Call me

    -- Confused as Heck.