Tag Archives: how to boot ibook from usb

Booting a vintage iBook G4 from a USB flash drive

I love vintage macs, especially the PPC era macs like the iBook G4, and the Powerbook. For many years I always thought that booting from a USB stick was impossible on these systems, but alas it is very possible and not even that hard! You just have to do things a certain way.

  1. When you’re creating the Mac image on the USB stick, it has to be done in a very specific way. You cannot use a USB 3 stick, nor even a USB 3 port! You must use a USB 2 (or 1) drive and port.
  2. You need to create the USB stick on a Mac, or with Transmac for PC. On a mac use Disk Utility and the restore disk image feature to create the USB drive. In Transmac, open it in administrator mode, then right click the drive you want to put the image on, and select ‘restore from image’. Transmac gives you a 15 day trial, which is plenty long enough to burn Leopard or whatever Mac image you plan on restoring.
  3. Put the usb drive in the iBook, then turn it on and hold down ‘apple key, option, O and F keys right after you hear the mac chime. This will get you to the open firmware screen.
  4. At the command prompt, type: boot ud:,\\:tbxi   If that doesn’t work try boot usb0/disk@1:,\\:tbxi or boot usb1/disk@1:,\\:tbxi
  5. At that stage you should see mac os installation boot starting, if none of those above commands work, you can still try all of the other troubleshooting steps at http://ben-collins.blogspot.com/2010/08/booting-your-ibook-g4-from-usb-stick.html This is the blog post where I got the firmware instructions from to begin with and is probably the best documentation online.

I’m guessing this should also work on later Intel Macbooks in the 2006-2010 era, but don’t have mine anymore to test it, so I’m not 100% sure.

Good luck!