Mac Mini 2012 + OS X 10.8

Got a used Mac Mini 2012 from OWC on 09/19/22 for my retro computing. I was thinking of getting a Black MacBook 2009, but realized that chipping, battery, and keyboard issues will be a headache. Old MacBooks are still pricey.

OWC is a good store. They sell parts like battery, RAM, and storage for Apple devices (up to 2006 models). I bought a battery from them back in 2017 for a MacBook Pro 2011 slowed down to a crawl by its swollen battery. Highly recommended!

Customization was available for this model. Got it with these specs for $313.74:

  • CPU: Intel i7-3615QM (2.3 GHz Quad Core)
  • RAM: 16 GB DDR3 (1600 MHz)
  • HDD: 500GB SSD
  • OS: macOS 10.15 (Catalina)

I wanted to use an older OS X somewhere between 10.6 (Snow Leopard) and 10.8 (Mountain Lion). The 2012 model can run OS X 10.8 up to 10.15 (Catalina). My unit came with 10.15, so I downgraded it to 10.8.5. Macs can only run the versions that originally came with it and the later ones that still support it.

I loved the Aqua and skeuomorph interfaces on OS X 10.5 and 10.8. I even went as far as skinning my WinXP box to look like OS X Leopard.


I prepared a bootable copy of OS X 10.8 using my MacBook Pro. For older OS X, you make the bootable by restoring the InstallESD.dmg image found inside Install OS X Mountain (apps are actually directories).

The installer will error if downgrading from a later OS, so I wiped out the drive first. After the installation, I created my account and set up the network connection.

The setup was pretty much the same as the current versions.


I searched online for Mac apps compatible with 10.8. Some vendors keep an archive of their older software, many don't. I discovered Macintosh Repository and got several good old software (donate to this community, a rare gem nowadays!)

Got the following apps installed:

Utils and runtimes via Mac Ports:

  • Vim 9.0 - main text editor
  • Python 3.10.7 - Python 3 runtime
  • OpenSSL 3.0.5 - updated Open SSL/TLS
  • Git 2.37.3 - source control
  • Node.js 12.22.12 - server-side js
  • Rsync 3.2.6 - remote deployment and file transfer
  • OpenSSH 9.0p1 - SSH/remote access
  • Ranger 1.9.3 - TUI file explorer
  • Neofetch 7.1.0 - system preview
  • Ack 3.6.0 - search util ala grep
  • yt-dlp 2022.09.01 - YouTube downloader
  • jEnv 0.5.5 - Java version manager
  • nvm 0.39.1 - Node version manager
  • wpm 1.51.5 - typing game/util

TLS Issues

Many servers in 2022 reject TLS v1.0, which is used by the old OpenSSL libs included in OS X 10.8. Upgrading OpenSSL, Git, and OpenSSH using Mac Ports resolved TLS issues.

Let's Encrypt Root CA Issues

Many TLS websites weren't accessible due to the expired Root CA on OS X 10.8.

I tried importing the root certificates from my MacBook Pro 2020. However, that didn't fix Safari 6.2. Firefox 45 also had the same problem, but was fixed after setting the ISRG Root X1 on its Preferences page.


Many websites are broken, usually due to reliance on modern JavaScript. Apps with web view contents, like iTunes Store, aren't working because the servers don't exist anymore or were moved.

Many sites load ads (cancer of the modern web) that can crash Firefox. Using an ad blocker will help stop those abomination from loading. I manually installed uBlock Origin for legacy Firefox 1.16.

PIP Binaries

Added Python binaries directory to PATH on .zshrc:

# Python 3
export PATH="/Users/{username}/Library/Python/3.10/bin:$PATH"

Working with Fujifilm X100T RAW

The Fujifilm X100T was relased on 2014, about 2 years after OS X 10.8. This means the OS doesn't know the device.

The camera connected via USB isn't accessible on Finder, but can be seen by Lightroom, Aperture, and Preview. The apps throw an unsupported format error when opening the RAW images. However, they can import the files from the camera.

According to Apperture's support page, OS X 10.10 and Photos can open X100T RAF images.

One trick is to convert these RAF files into some intermediate format, but without needing another computer to do it. I discovered LibRaw and dcraw. dcraw development has stalled, but parts of it are in LibRaw. LibRaw has dcraw_emu command that emulates dcraw.

The best output format using LibRaw is TIFF, which can be read by Aperture and Lightroom. The format is larger than the RAF file (around 10 MB). Not sure if there are other formats available, but this works for now.

I installed LibRaw via Mac Ports then ran the command on the terminal:

# dcraw_emu [OPTION]... [FILE]...
dcraw_emu -T DSCXXXX1.RAF DSCXXXX2.RAF ...

The TIFF file should appear with the same filename (except extension) in the working directory.

The image below was converted from RAF to TIFF, post-processed in Lightroom 3, then exported as JPEG.

More on this topic: Fujifilm X100T RAF Conversion on OS X 10.8