A series of unpleasant surprises

I planned to make some updates to my home automation setup today. I was adding a new program to read data from our solar energy system and I wanted to test it in a dummy environment, so I set it up to send data to the Mac mini under the TV instead of the production system and did a quick test before rushing off to our trainer; it seemed to be working fine.

When we got home, I resumed my testing…but the program said it couldn’t connect. I thought it was having problems talking to the energy system, but eventually I looked closely at the message and found that it was complaining about the Mac mini.

I was able to log into the mini, but it was incredibly slow. I finally went and looked at its screen and saw all sorts of messages about programs wanting to upgrade to the latest version, which was odd, since I’d updated them all a couple of weeks ago.

Finally, the penny dropped. The mini couldn’t see its internal SSD and had rebooted itself from its backup drive, which hadn’t been updated for a couple of years – hence the requests for upgrading.

I tried a few magic spells to try to get the internal drive back up with no success, so I plugged in an external SSD and rebooted into Recovery Mode. I tried Disk Utility there and still couldn’t see the internal disk.

I was able to boot to Network Recovery Mode, which let me install the version of Mac OS X that came with the computer: Yosemite (Mac OS 10.12, I think). On the external SSD, of course.

I hoped to download the most current version of Mac OS that would boot on the mini (Monterey, 12.7.1), but Yosemite is so old that it doesn’t support current Internet security standards, so I couldn’t download the new version using the old version.

I see a new computer in my future.