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Booting a *nix distro from USB on a MBP


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I've google this for a strait hour because i didn't want to post a question that may have such an obvious answer. However, with no fruitful returns here it is:

I'm trying to build a Backtrack 3 beta live usb that i can boot with a MBP 15" 2GHz core duo 2 GB DDR2 SDRAM. I have boot camp loading OS 10.5.2 and Windows Xp Pro. At this point I've prepared the USB to be bootable but the Boot selector that comes with Boot Camp doesn't show the bootable usb as an option. I haven't tried it with another machine, but i've followed the directions to a tee. Any suggestions?


1)using rEFIt to make partition menu.

2) USB shows up as Legacy OS.

3)Using BT3 WINUSB creator to set up USB drive

4)After Choosing USB in rEFIt, Black Screen, then BOOT ERROR message appears.

I have also tried to boot Gentoo and DSL (damn small linux) in the same fashion with no avail. Any takers?

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From http://www.everymac.com/systems/apple/macb...-usb-drive.html :

Can the MacBook Pro boot from an external Firewire or USB drive?

Apple's Support Site simply says "Don't Start Up from an External USB Device" as "under Mac OS X, Apple does not support starting up from USB devices". Apple's Knowledge Base also states that "Mac OS X installation discs that came with a PowerPC processor-based Mac won't work with an Intel processor-based Mac, and vice-versa, even if both Macs came with the same version of Mac OS X."

Likewise, prior to the release of the MacBook Pro, readers of the MacInTouch website wrote that they were told by Apple representatives that the Intel-based Macs can boot from external Firewire "400" hard drives but not from USB 2.0 hard drives.

In particular, a reader by the name of Daniel Fazekas noted that the hard drive "must be reformatted in a new partition format specific to Intel-based Macs called GUID Partition Table (GPT). This is an option you can select in the Disk Utility software [installed on these systems]."

He continues to note that "disks using the Apple Partition Map (APM) scheme could be read. . . on Intel-based Macs, but [cannot be used as boot drives]. Similarly, drives reformatted to use GPT won't boot on PowerPC-based Macs, and will only be readable on Macs running MacOS X 10.4 Tiger."

However, Rentzsch, an author for the respected TidBits publication, has reported that you also can boot from an external USB drive.

In a nutshell, Intel-based systems, like the MacBook Pro, can boot from external Firewire drives, and can boot from external USB drives as well, provided that the drive is formatted appropriately (GPT) and a compatible version of MacOS X is installed. Nevertheless, as Apple does not appear officially to support booting from non-Firewire external drives using MacOS X, it probably is wise to use Firewire.

Not sure if this still applies today though.

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I don't know if it applies on real Macs but I know OSX86 is capable of booting from USB, and since people have booted OSX from USB devices on AppleTVs I would imagine so, since it's basically a mini-Mac Mini running Tiger.

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The problems I have had booting Linux from USB flash memory is boot loaders just don't seem to work propperly on them. Any USB hard drive is fine. May be manurfacturers don't expect you to boot an OS off them, and so 'brake' the boot sector in some fashion by not imlimenting what a normal hard drive does.

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