Can’t install Mac OS X Lion, because of “no Recovery HD” problem? This might work

I am writing this blog post just to find some meaning in the agony of three frustrating nights trying to install Mac OS X Lion on my kids’ Mac Mini.

The Mac Mini (running Snow Leopard, updated) has a Bootcamp partition on which we have Windows XP installed. This seems to be the source of my troubles. Needless to say I read countless forums and blog post trying to resolve the issue and tried to follow multiple solutions until something worked.

The problem is the so-called “No Recovery HD” issue. Lion tries to create a small recovery partition on your hard disk which can be used to recover your mac if it crashes.

For some reason, Bootcamp partitions confuse the Lion installer. The Installation process starts, your are prompted to restart, then the installation commences, but then stops at minute 29 with an error saying the Recovery HD cannot be created.

I don’t know exactly what worked in the end but here is a list of stuff I did, all of which didn’t work (I will tell you what worked in the end, but all the other stuff I did might have contributed to the solution. Who knows?)

– Fixing permissions of my hard disk using Disk Utility – Freeing up hard disk space – Making the Mac partition slightly smaller then larger using Disk Utility – Installing Lion on an external USB drive and then booting into it (via restart while holding option key) then trying to install Lion on Main HD from there (tried this with copies of the Lion installer on both my main HD and the external drive). – Creating a recovery HD using Apple’s new Lion Recovery Assistant or whatever the hell its called, on a USB thumb drive, which stayed plugged in afterwards.. – And so on..

What worked in the end, after doing all the above and restarting a million times was to simply copy the Lion installer (make sure you make a copy afer you download it from the App store) on the external drive and installing Lion from there. I have no idea if this would have worked right from the start, but it’s worth trying.

Another thing I did just prior to the installation working was booting into Windows and back to MacOS. I did that as I was hoping to update Bootcamp. BTW I couldn’t upgrade to Bootcamp 3.1 from the Apple software update on Windows, as I got an ‘invalid signature error’.

I still have not tried to boot into XP after Lion worked but it’s too late and I need to get some sleep.

I know this blog post isn’t systematic enough. But maybe I might have saved myself hours of futile work and waiting had I just copied the installer to external drive and just installed it on my main HD from there. That’s why I am sharing this as maybe this would help someone out there.

Good luck!


3 Responses to “Can’t install Mac OS X Lion, because of “no Recovery HD” problem? This might work”

  1. Ameen Says:

    Strange issue you had with the installation of Mac OS Lion. I, too, had a BootCamp partition on which WinCrap XP was installed. The Lion installation on my iMac went very smoothly and just as advertised. But I also had plenty of available space on my HDD. Maybe that was the issue after all.

  2. Kais Hassan Says:

    Upgrades are always a hassle. I am thinking about getting the new Mac Mini with lion preinstalled. What is the best place to get one in Amman, or should I get it from elsewhere.

  3. Pétur Guðnason Says:

    Had the same problem, it was enough for me to have a 16 GB USB drive, with a freshly created partition (only one) plugged in. It’s down to 13 mins remaining, so fingers crossed.

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