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If anyone has suggestions on how one might go about downloading recent macOS releases without going through the Apple Store it would be appreciated.
Just want to add that I am aware of the Python script mentioned previously here on MacInTouch. While this is one option, I am looking at other methods as well.
In researching my above questions I stumbled across a possible solution I had forgotten about from my system administrator days in the use of Reposado and Margarita.
What's Reposado?
Reposado is a set of tools written in Python that replicate the key functionality of Mac OS X Server's Software Update Service.
Margarita
Margarita is a web interface to reposado the Apple Software Update replication and catalog management tool. While the reposado command line administration tools work great for folks who are comfortable in that environment something a little more accesible might be desired.
One advantage to this solution is that it can run both on macOS and Linux platforms. Perhaps a bit overkill for my needs, but for those in the audience who wish for a full service solution without having to run macOS Server to get the Server Update Service, and all the strings it attaches, this may be a solution worth considering. Think of it as the Installinstallmacos.py utility on steroids.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
More on Apple signing certificate issues:
Robert Hammen said:
The Apple Packagepocalypse, 2019 Edition…
Apple uses certificates to digitally sign their installer packages (which are embedded inside their OS installers). A few Mac admins noted that the primary certificate, and the intermediate certificate, used to sign many of their packages, was going to expire on October 24, 2019 (which happens to be today).

In the last couple of weeks, Mac admins have noticed that Apple has been replacing packages with new ones, which are signed with certificates that do not expire until 2029. Anyone still running an Apple Software Update Server, or Reposado, or netSUS, has seen the many gigabytes of newly-updated, but older, packages being published daily....
 



Apple has published a new support article today telling you to redownload all your installers because of the expired certificates. The article also includes links where you can download new macOS installers going back to Yosemite (earlier versions aren't available for download).
It looks like the "createinstallmedia" embedded within the installer pkg is now looking for some other syntax. I have an HFS+ formatted flash drive named "osx" and I use this Terminal command:
Code:
sudo /Applications/Install\ macOS\ Sierra.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia --volume /Volumes/osx --applicationpath /Applications/Install\ macOS\ Sierra.app
However, instead of making the flash drive installer, Terminal provides this error:
Code:
/Volumes/osx is not a valid volume mount point.
I'll note the installer is located in my Applications folder. The older (expired) installer would create the flash drive installer without complaint. Any suggestions? Thanks
 


Code:
sudo /Applications/Install\ macOS\ Sierra.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia --volume /Volumes/osx --applicationpath /Applications/Install\ macOS\ Sierra.app
That looks like the correct syntax. I created a High Sierra USB installer recently with an updated certificate and had no problems. So perhaps there is a difference with Sierra or a problem with the mount point?
 


That looks like the correct syntax. I created a High Sierra USB installer recently with an updated certificate and had no problems. So perhaps there is a difference with Sierra or a problem with the mount point?
It worked with both the High Sierra installer and Mojave installer,so this "/Volumes/osx is not a valid volume mount point" issue seems to be something specific to the newly signed Sierra installer (even though I've been using that name - and I tried others with the same result). Glad I still have the old (now-expired) Sierra installer; I'll just change the date on the Mac and keep it off the Internet until the installation is complete.

I will say that I was a bit surprised that Apple even responded to this certificate issue with any fixes for older OS version (older than High Sierra), but I'm not surprised they fubar'd it.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
I wanted to download macOS Mojave, while I would be doing something else, but not launch the installer.
  1. I can't, for the life of me, find any way to stop the download once it's started in the Mac App Store.
  2. It looks like the installer is launched by
    /System/Library/CoreServices/AppDownloadLauncher.app
  3. ... but Apple won't let you delete that file (e.g. after making a compressed archive of it)
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
1. I can't, for the life of me, find any way to stop the download once it's started in the Mac App Store.
I eventually discovered the extremely unintuitive trick to stopping it:

In App Store.app, click the "Purchased" tab. If a download is currently taking place, you should be able to "Pause" the download – after a delay – and you may or may not then be able to "Cancel" it.
3. ... but Apple won't let you delete that file (e.g. after making a compressed archive of it)
I tried sudo chmod and sudo rm and was blocked by Apple in both cases. (I assume that, at least in macOS Sierra, I should be able to boot from a different drive and remove the file from the non-boot drive, but I haven't tried that.)
 


It worked with both the High Sierra installer and Mojave installer,so this "/Volumes/osx is not a valid volume mount point" issue seems to be something specific to the newly signed Sierra installer (even though I've been using that name - and I tried others with the same result). Glad I still have the old (now-expired) Sierra installer; I'll just change the date on the Mac and keep it off the Internet until the installation is complete.

I will say that I was a bit surprised that Apple even responded to this certificate issue with any fixes for older OS version (older than High Sierra), but I'm not surprised they fubar'd it.
I copied the Sierra installer over to the Applications folder of another Mac running Sierra and then tried using createinstallmedia (the proper syntax for Sierra). Result: Exactly the same problem with the "not a valid mount point". Thanks, Apple.
 



Ric Ford

MacInTouch
Apple has published a new support article today telling you to redownload all your installers because of the expired certificates. The article also includes links where you can download new macOS installers going back to Yosemite (earlier versions aren't available for download).
I downloaded the macOS Sierra installer. The download, InstallOS.dmg, is a disk image. (The same is true for Yosemite and El Capitan installers, but High Sierra and later downloads are forced to the App Store.)

Inside InstallOS.dmg is InstallOS.pkg. Inside that is Install macOS Sierra.app. Deep within that (inside Contents/Resources/) is createinstallmedia with a modification date of 7/15/17.

(I haven't tried doing anything with these files yet.)
 


I downloaded the macOS Sierra installer. The download, InstallOS.dmg, is a disk image. (The same is true for Yosemite and El Capitan installers, but High Sierra and later downloads are forced to the App Store.)
Inside InstallOS.dmg is InstallOS.pkg. Inside that is Install macOS Sierra.app. Deep within that (inside Contents/Resources/) is createinstallmedia with a modification date of 7/15/17.
(I haven't tried doing anything with these files yet.)
The "outside" installers will install the macOS Installer into the Applications folder and will provide it with the proper name (e.g. Install OS X El Capitan.app).

I did use the proper createinstallmedia syntax to make an El Capitan flash drive installer, and that works fine. So it's the Sierra installer that has some code that is different than the old Sierra installer, and now createinstallmedia doesn't work with it.
 


For the moment (until Apple re-issues a fixed Sierra installer), I'm installing Sierra to my "recovery" flash drive (and that's working with a post-Oct. 24th date).

Once that's done, I'll just put the Install macOS Sierra.app installer inside the Applications folder, and I'll be able to boot with that flash drive and install Sierra on any appropriate Mac without having to deal with munging dates.
 


I used Apple's macOS Sierra installer download link, downloaded InstallOS.dmg, mounted that disk image, then opened InstallOS.pkg with Pacifist to extract Install macOS Sierra.app.
...
Install Disk Creator said:
Invalid macOS Installer
The selected item does not appear to be a valid macOS installer.
It is lacking the file "Contents/SharedSupport/InstallESD.dmg"
...
Weird; the "InstallESD.dmg" file is actually there in my copy (which installed to my Applications folder from the downloaded "dmg" file when I ran it).
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
I copied the Sierra installer over to the Applications folder of another Mac running Sierra and then tried using createinstallmedia (the proper syntax for Sierra). Result: Exactly the same problem with the "not a valid mount point". Thanks, Apple.
I downloaded the macOS Sierra installer. The download, InstallOS.dmg, is a disk image. (The same is true for Yosemite and El Capitan installers, but High Sierra and later downloads are forced to the App Store.)
Inside InstallOS.dmg is InstallOS.pkg. Inside that is Install macOS Sierra.app. Deep within that (inside Contents/Resources/) is createinstallmedia with a modification date of 7/15/17.
I used Apple's macOS Sierra installer download link, downloaded InstallOS.dmg, mounted that disk image, then opened InstallOS.pkg with Pacifist to extract Install macOS Sierra.app.

I then opened Install Disk Creator, chose a flash drive and selected Install macOS Sierra.app to build the standalone installer, but it didn't work.
Install Disk Creator said:
Invalid macOS Installer
The selected item does not appear to be a valid macOS installer.
It is lacking the file "Contents/SharedSupport/InstallESD.dmg"
I then opened InstallOS.pkg and ran the installer, which placed Install macOS Sierra.app inside the /Applications folder, and I chose that file in Install Disk Creator, which accepted it, but creating the standalone installer failed, much like it failed for you:
Install Disk Creator said:
Error Encountered
An error occurred.
Try ejecting the destination disk and reinserting it, or rebooting. It probably couldn't be unmounted to erase it.
I tried to eject the disk and got "Error -47". I then physically removed it and reinserted it. The same thing happened again.

I then tried using diskutil unmountdisk but I couldn't even get things working with a major effort there.

Another steaming pile from Apple...

#applequality
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
Weird; the "InstallESD.dmg" file is actually there in my copy (which installed to my Applications folder from the downloaded "dmg" file when I ran it).
Yes, it's there in /Applications/Install macOS Sierra.app after running the installer, but it wasn't there in the app I copied out of the installer package using Pacifist.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
... and I chose that file in Install Disk Creator, which accepted it, but creating the standalone installer failed, much like it failed for you...
So, I tried Install Disk Creator with my older Install macOS Sierra.app. Install Disk Creator had no trouble building the bootable installer from this, but that installer, of course, fails after Oct. 24 with a misleading error message (due to its certificate expiration).
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
So, I tried Install Disk Creator with my older Install macOS Sierra.app. Install Disk Creator had no trouble building the bootable installer from this, but that installer, of course, fails after Oct. 24 with a misleading error message (due to its certificate expiration).
Next I tried copying the new Install macOS Sierra.app over the old one on the bootable flash installer. I then booted from that, but the Mac went into recovery mode after long delays.

Ugh.

The same thing happened on two completely different Macs (2017 MacBook Air and 2017 iMac 5K). From recovery mode, you can apparently install Sierra, but I didn't go through that exercise, having already wasted way too much time on this Apple problem.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
Here are more countermeasures against Apple's incessant, obnoxious update harassment:
Rob Griffiths said:
Remove the macOS Catalina guilt trip from macOS Mojave
I have no plans to move my main iMac to macOS Catalina, at least for the forseeable future. There are two key apps I use—Fujitsu’s ScanSnap scanner software and the Many Tricks’ accounting app—that are both 32-bit. In addition, there are changes in Catalina relative to permissions that make it somewhat Vista like and slow down my interaction with the system. (My MacBook Air is my “production” Catalina Mac, and I have an older retina MacBook Pro that I use for Catalina betas.)

But Apple really wants people to update to Catalina, so they let you know about Catalina…constantly, it seems.

... I decided to tackle this by creating a launchd agent...
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
FYI...
Apple Support said:
Update your iPhone or iPad software to avoid issues with location
Starting just before 12:00 a.m. UTC on November 3, 2019,* some iPhone and iPad models introduced in 2012 and earlier will require an iOS update to maintain accurate GPS location. This is due to the GPS time rollover issue that began affecting GPS-enabled products from other manufacturers on April 6, 2019. Affected Apple devices are not impacted until just before 12:00 a.m. UTC on November 3, 2019.
...
Important information for owners of iPhone 5
For iPhone 5, an update is required to maintain accurate GPS location and to continue to use functions that rely on correct date and time including App Store, iCloud, email, and web browsing.

If the update to iPhone 5 is not completed by November 3, 2019, you will be required to back up and restore using a Mac or PC in order to update because over-the-air software updates and iCloud Backup will not work.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
I did use the proper createinstallmedia syntax to make an El Capitan flash drive installer, and that works fine. So it's the Sierra installer that has some code that is different than the old Sierra installer, and now createinstallmedia doesn't work with it.
... I then opened InstallOS.pkg and ran the installer, which placed Install macOS Sierra.app inside the /Applications folder, and I chose that file in Install Disk Creator, which accepted it, but creating the standalone installer failed, much like it failed for you...
I subsequently downloaded the macOS High Sierra installer from the App Store and used Install Disk Creator to create a bootable flash drive containing that installer, so the High Sierra package isn't broken like the Sierra package.

It takes a long time to boot this flash drive and it boots into the recovery environment (utilities screen), but I can apparently install High Sierra from there. (I didn't actually go through doing an installation.)
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
... I then opened InstallOS.pkg and ran the installer, which placed Install macOS Sierra.app inside the /Applications folder, and I chose that file in Install Disk Creator, which accepted it, but creating the standalone installer failed, much like it failed for you...
This looked to me like a bug in Apple's createinstallmedia program in the updated macOS Sierra installer package

Install macOS Sierra.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia

except that the createinstallmedia program appears to be identical between old and new installers, so I must be missing something somewhere. Maybe it's a bug in InstallAssistant_springboard, which has a modification date of Oct. 22, 2019 in the new package? It's all a really weird mystery to me, as I can't quite figure out what's going on to cause this kind of problem.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
A few more notes about Apple installers:

The Mac App Store (at least in macOS Sierra) retains information about installers it sees, even after quitting the app, which can be very confusing. Here's an example:
  1. Mount a volume containing a previously purchased installer, e.g. for macOS Server.
  2. View "Purchased" items. macOS Server has an "Install" button. You can't re-download it.
  3. Quit Mac App Store and unmount the volume containing the installer.
  4. Open Mac App Store again and choose "Purchased" again. Same thing. It thinks the installer is available, even though it's not. Click "install" and nothing happens.
  5. Reboot but do not mount the volume containing the installer.
  6. Open Mac App Store > Purchased. Now you can download macOS Server.
However, Mac App Store won't let you download software that is not compatible with the Mac you're using, even if you need it for a different Mac. For example, you can't download OS X Mavericks on a 2015 MacBook Pro, even if you previously purchased it and it shows a Download button in Mac App Store > Purchased. "OS X Mavericks cannot be installed on this computer."

Presumably, you could run an older OS X inside a virtual machine on the newer computer and download the older installer within the virtual machine, but I haven't tried this. (It's possible the same virtual machine trick might work to download a newer macOS, e.g. Catalina, on an older Mac that won't run it, but again, I haven't tried that.)
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
I then opened InstallOS.pkg and ran the installer, which placed Install macOS Sierra.app inside the /Applications folder, and I chose that file in Install Disk Creator, which accepted it, but creating the standalone installer failed, much like it failed for you:
I just repeated this test using DropDMG, which failed in the same way with Apple's new macOS Sierra installer app:
/Volumes/TEST is not a valid volume mount point.
But, yet again, DropDMG was able to build an installer disk from the old Sierra installer app - then that old installer subsequently fails to install Sierra, because of Apple's expired signing certificate.

I've now wasted a lot of hours on this, and I haven't even gotten all the new installers downloaded yet. I hope it helps other people avoid some of these problems, and it sure would be nice if Apple could fix this latest time-consuming mess they created.

#applequality
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
More from Howard Oakley on the expired Apple installer mess:
Eclectic Light Co. said:
Time management
... In case you hadn’t noticed it, almost all of Apple’s existing installers and updaters now lie in tatters, their signing certificates expired, because Apple did too little too late. It failed to plan for the progression of time.

... Like many other users, I now have tens of gigabytes of Apple installers and updaters whose certificates have expired. Replacing them isn’t going to be an easy task, as Apple thinks it’s good to hide them away, rather than providing ready access. Even if I can find El Capitan in the App Store, Software Update won’t let me download it, as neither of my current Macs can run it. Others report that they’re unable to obtain a re-signed copy of the El Capitan installer even on Macs which can run it.

As usual, Apple isn’t saying anything, not to users or developers. Its most meaningful communication about this inexcusable failure of support were the 404 errors from download pages. There’s no explanation, no apology, no timescale, no support. Yet again, it seems to hope that if it pretends nothing has happened, we’ll all forget about it. Just like Apple clearly did until someone’s Calendar notified them that crucial certificates expired in a few days time.

That’s corporate planning for you: just pretend the inexcusable never happened. Maybe that’s the MBA approach to time management.

#applequality
 


So today I downloaded the new Mojave installer from the App Store.

I have not been able to upgrade my months-old 2018 Mac Mini at any point, even downloading the installers; there is always an error that the installer can't be verified (application updates, such as iTunes and Safari, install fine). The only way I have been able to install updates (including security updates) is to start up using internet recovery; this process has always worked.

Thinking that with a brand-new installer things might have changed, I ran the installer. After the progress bar was about 1/10 of the way complete, it threw me a dialogue that the installer could not be verified.

Whatever.
 


So today I downloaded the new Mojave installer from the App Store.
I have not been able to upgrade my months-old 2018 Mac Mini at any point, even downloading the installers; there is always an error that the installer can't be verified (application updates, such as iTunes and Safari, install fine). The only way I have been able to install updates (including security updates) is to start up using internet recovery; this process has always worked.

Thinking that with a brand-new installer things might have changed, I ran the installer. After the progress bar was about 1/10 of the way complete, it threw me a dialogue that the installer could not be verified.
Paul, just for a sanity check, have you run TechTool Pro and checked for bad blocks?
 


A few more notes about Apple installers:
The Mac App Store (at least in macOS Sierra) retains information about installers it sees, even after quitting the app, which can be very confusing. Here's an example:
  1. Mount a volume containing a previously purchased installer, e.g. for macOS Server.
  2. View "Purchased" items. macOS Server has an "Install" button. You can't re-download it.
  3. Quit Mac App Store and unmount the volume containing the installer.
  4. Open Mac App Store again and choose "Purchased" again. Same thing. It thinks the installer is available, even though it's not. Click "install" and nothing happens.
  5. Reboot but do not mount the volume containing the installer.
  6. Open Mac App Store > Purchased. Now you can download macOS Server.
However, Mac App Store won't let you download software that is not compatible with the Mac you're using, even if you need it for a different Mac. For example, you can't download OS X Mavericks on a 2015 MacBook Pro, even if you previously purchased it and it shows a Download button in Mac App Store > Purchased. "OS X Mavericks cannot be installed on this computer."

Presumably, you could run an older OS X inside a virtual machine on the newer computer and download the older installer within the virtual machine, but I haven't tried this. (It's possible the same virtual machine trick might work to download a newer macOS, e.g. Catalina, on an older Mac that won't run it, but again, I haven't tried that.)
I encountered the same issues yesterday while trying to download the new installers. I had to move the old installers to another drive and unmount it, quit App Store, and reboot before I could download Sierra and High Sierra from the App Store. I also was able to download Mountain Lion. After each successful download, I started up the app to make certain there were no certificate/date issues. There were none.

But an odd thing happened during all of this. I was no longer able to mount an external FireWire 800 drive with a SuperDuper clone of my boot drive. I ran several tools to try and mount or repair it. None could. TechTool Pro suggested the Partition Map was damaged and could not be repaired. I wonder if it's possible that one of these installers caused that problem? So I erased/formatted the drive and made a new clone of my boot drive. I then ran Smart Utility, Disk Repair, TechTool, DiskWarrior, etc. looking for issues with the drive. None. Checks out fine.

Fun day!

Notes: Mac Pro 5,1 with Metal-capable GPU and boot drives for Snow Leopard, Mountain Lion, Sierra, and High Sierra.
 


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