Boot Mac mini G4 from USB

Don’t know why but my Tiger’s DVD won’t load in my Mac mini PowerPC G4… Hopefully, I can read it from another DVD drive, namely my MacBook Pro’s one. Here’s how I booted the mini from a USB key to reinstall Mac OS X.

Building a Tiger’s bootable USB key

To build a bootable USB stick, you’ll have to copy the DVD’s content onto the USB key:

  • Insert Mac OS X Install disc in the DVD tray ;
  • Plug the USB stick ;
  • Start the Disk Utility ;
  • Select the USB stick and click on the “Partition” button ;
  • Configure a “One partition” map, select the “Apple Partition Map” option, label it “osx” and format using “Extended Mac OS” ;
  • Click “Apply” to create the partition ;
  • Select the USB stick and click on the “Restore” button ;
  • Drag “Mac OS X Install Disc 1 ” to the “source” input box ;
  • Drag the “osx” partition to the “destination” input box ;
  • Click the “Restore” button and wait till it’s done.

When finished, check the partition name (mine is disk2s3) and eject the USB stick.

Booting the USB key

Insert the USB stick in the Mac mini and power it on, holding Command-Option-O-F right after the machine is turned on. This will drop you to OpenFirmware.

When you get the prompt, issue the devalias command and check if you see any ud device. This would be the USB stick device. If so, let’s continue. If not, you’re stuck.

Issue the printenv boot-device command to check the booting configuration. You should see something like hd:,:tbxi. Issue the setenv boot-device ud:3,:tbxi ; the number “3 ” corresponds to the device partition disk2s3. If the command went well, you’ll get a ok. Check to be sure it’s all right issuing printenv boot-device again.
You should now see boot-device ud:3,:tbxi hd:,:tbxi. If so, you can now boot the Mac using mac-boot.

The Mac mini should now boot from the USB stick.
It’ll start the installation process and you’ll be able to install Mac OS X the usual way.

That’s All Folks!

Author: Joel Carnat

@work Technical Architect and SysAdmin ; @home OpenBSD and FOSS, Karate, Kobudō, Jōdō, Bodyweight workout, Photography & Music

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