Booting From External Drives

So why didn’t the external drive boot up? It was a Firewire interface, it was partitioned with APM and the software on there should have booted, but when turning on the computer and holding the ‘ALT’ or ‘option’ key, the drive didn’t show.

I concluded that perhaps the image didn’t image, so I decided to re-partition the drive again and rather than imaging it, I’d try copying the files across. In theory, the APM partition would make the drive bootable.

Just copying the files out of the .iso image on to the drive may not copy everything as there could be hidden files (found this out the long way around). There are two ways to do this, either have Finder show all files or, better, use Terminal and do it properly. Using the following command, I was able to copy all the files in the image across to the drive.

sudo cp -Rpv

Luckily, you can drag the icons from the Finder to populate the and fields.

All good, until I realised that I’m not an admin user on my computer. The account I normally use is a standard user account. Why do I do this? It’s a security measure, by not having immediate admin access, any programs or code that want to install or make changes, prompts me for a password so it’s first line of defence against malicious software. (you have to read the prompt of course)

So I had to copy the lubuntu package into the ‘Shared’ user folder and log in as Admin, then use Terminal and copy the files and it worked this time.

Restarting the iBook and, so my amazement, the drive mounted and it began to boot from it. I was really pleased. That is until I got this error:

(initramfs) unable to find a live medium containing a live file system

Apparently, when researching, I found that this can mean an inability to read from the source or write to the destination. It can also mean the image or system itself is corrupted. It could be the software, so I downloaded it all again and tried again, same result.

I seemed to remember that I had replaced the hard drive in the iBook shortly before it failed completely. It was a few years ago, but it seemed unlikely that it was the internal drive.

I went back to Disk Utility and checked the drive, the internal was fine. I did have to mount the internal drive over target disk mode on to my Mac to check it as you can’t repair a volume you’re currently using. The internal checked out fine.

I then plugged the external firewire drive and it failed to mount, reporting the disk was unreadable. How this can be, I don’t know, but it then made some mechanical sounds that told me it was definitely the drive. Time for recycling that one then – it was 14 years old and the small capacity didn’t make it that useful. For reference, I didn’t just chuck it out, I took it to Apple and recycled it there. I’m quite environmentally thinking and avoid landfill whenever I can, especially for non degradable things.

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