Breaking The Rules With Booting

With my new find about booting from USB, I imaged my titanium USB stick with Lubuntu and hoped for the best. You have to be a little careful with USB sticks and their drawing power. Some work on any USB port and some need slightly higher powered ones.

So, the business of booting from USB on a PowerPC Mac… I always thought it was a case of Firewire only, but it turns out (to coin a phrase) that’s not always the case. Just for giggles, I popped in my pen drive into the iBook and held ‘ALT’ when powering up for the boot manager. As expected, the screen showed the internal drive, but nothing else.

According to Shaun Corey, there are a few steps in Open Firmware in order to achieve USB booting.

  1. 1.  Worth doing a PRAM reset (holding CMD ALT P & R keys on startup until you hear two chimes – this resets any startup disk settings
  2. 2.  Then boot to Open Firmware by holding CMD ALT O & F keys after the chime – the screen goes to a grey background and black text
  3. 3.  Determine the USB drive to boot from by typing dev / ls and noting the USB port with the drive attached
  4. 4.  Then find the alias for the USB port by typing devalias
  5. 5.  Then finally boot from USB by using a command a bit like this : boot usb1/disk@1:2,yaboot

All the full details are on Corey’s page, which was really helpful.

I tried this and, wait for it, it didn’t work. I wasn’t sure why, until I checked the LED on the pen drive itself – it wasn’t illuminated. It worked fine on my Mac mini and it was fine on the iBook too, but not in Open Firmware. It could be down to the power issue as I mentioned before or could be that the USB ports activate later in the boot sequence. I also wasn’t completely convinced I’d got the imaging nailed either.

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