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Mycatisbigfoot's picture
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Joined: 2009 Sep 7
USB OS 9 Boot. Call Me crazy!

Yes, this has to be a very crazy thing I did, But hell I tryed.
Plus it worked

Before I go on I have to tell you the whole storry.

I got two clam shell Ibooks from my school. They were throwing them out because of "Wont turn on"

Well there were no power cords to be found. (I think thats why)
I got home all excited and found they both had an air port card in them. I Fired one up hooked in to my other Clam charger and fired up the graphite system.
No system Folder.
I reset the P-ram and Boom. OS 9 Booted. Then a log in window asking where the main server was. But then it went to the desktop and had nothing of intrest on it.

Then I fired up the BlueBerry Ibook. Reset the pram and nothing but a missing finder.

I grabed my 9 disk and opend the tray to find.... the lenze assembly is missing.
Crap....
Then I had a crazy plan. I knew might work..

I booted up my power mac g4 and booted off the ibook cd (Yes it does work (wtf)). Installed the Ibook os system to my 8 gig flash drive then coppyed over the system installer crap.

Shut the g4 down. stuck the stick back in the g3, and held Option while it booted and I walked away to get some tea.

When I came back Behold a usb icon in the menu.
Over joyed I clicked and said boot.

Then I went to walk my dog.
Got back and found that it was in the OS9 desktop.
I was over joyed even more. I looked around on the hard drive and found a failed osx install. with an empty apps folder.

So I ran the I-book recover and reformated the drive. Turned the system off. Reset the Pram and There I have one computer working.

Did the same crap with the graphite. and Have 2 working clam shells with out useing a cd.

OSX for a fact will not install off usb because it resets the usb drive while booting from the disk. But it seemed no one ever tryed it with 9.

I would like some people here to help me do testing to see if the other 9 cappable system can do this.

I assume they can but it would be nice to have a big list of what systems can and cant

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ken147's picture
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Joined: 2009 Apr 20

I thought that it was not possible to boot a PPC off a USB flash drive or a an HD.....but since it works with OS 9 I'm going to go make myself a 2 Gb rescue drive for my G4!!!!

thanks for the story, nice score with the iBooks by the way. I'll let you know if it works in my G4 Sawtooth.

rpangrazio's picture
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Joined: 2009 Aug 27

I have done this to boot my Imac g4. It works fine. I ran into a problem with the drive though, I was trying to make an "install" stick by restoring a os 9 install cd image to my usb stick. It would boot but stop and say that the install had to be done by the original media. I bet if I had made the usb stick read only - "locked the disk", it would have worked.

rpangrazio's picture
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Joined: 2009 Aug 27

In case anyone asks, its slower than a CD boot, and much, much slower than an HD boot. But my iMac only has USB 1.1 ports.

Mycatisbigfoot's picture
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Joined: 2009 Sep 7

Well that is a given it is usb 1.1
It works fine on my g4 sawthooth, my g3 imacs "tray and slot"

epicMac's picture
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Joined: 2010 Nov 10

Not go off-topic, but I remember you from YT Mycatisbigfoot. That's just too cool. Laughing out loud

I've never thought to try booting OS 9 off a USB flash drive. To me that's just as crazy as trying to do anything meaningful with a large USB hard drive over USB 1.1. It's just way too slow. And in my experience OS 9 doesn't like copying large files over it's USB ports. Firewire is a much safer option.

Mycatisbigfoot's picture
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Joined: 2009 Sep 7

Yea unfourtnly I no longer have that youtube account, some one hijacked it.
But it is usable to get a system back to a functional state if there is no firewire like on my two new ibooks.
Plus I have a new way to install 9 on them tray loaders I've had sitting around for ages.

themacmeister's picture
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Joined: 2009 Oct 26

That is epic Mycatisbigfoot, I assume you have a large, furry cat as well? ... Smile

I can verify that this DOES NOT WORK on a 1.25GHz USB 2.0 eMac. Sad

Works on Dual USB 600MHz iBook

epicMac's picture
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Joined: 2010 Nov 10

@Mycatisbigfoot: Yeah a hijacked account definitely fits the bill.

@themacmeister: Well that's a bit of a no-brainer don't you think? Everywhere online states the USB 2.0 eMacs can't run anything less than OS X.

... I'm so damn lucky with this eMac I bought. I still can't believe out of a random bunch of eMacs, I got one that could run OS 9 and was still top of the line. Laughing out loud

Mycatisbigfoot's picture
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Joined: 2009 Sep 7

well my cat I named my user name after went missing about 5 weeks ago, I miss him alot, his name was jonsie. he looked like that cat off alien 1 and 2. That cat was also named jonsie. but this cat had 26 toes, (put together)

Balrog's picture
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Joined: 2009 Apr 24

OSX for a fact will not install off usb because it resets the usb drive while booting from the disk. But it seemed no one ever tryed it with 9.

In my experiences, this is false... the reason OS X won't boot off USB is because there isn't Open Firmware support.

bertyboy's picture
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Joined: 2009 Jun 14

2 working clamshell iBooks for nothing but a bit of effort is a lucky day. To make you feel better still, see how much these go for on eBay. In the UK, they're about £100 each, and the orange and white iBooks (a la Legally Blonde 2) hit £160-£180. More than enough to buy a PowerBook G3 or Titanium PowerBook G4. I've been after one for months for my (3yo) son - to get him off my Mac Pro.

Mycatisbigfoot's picture
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Joined: 2009 Sep 7

I think an old g3 Imac would be even better for him, so he can't play "toss" with it.

But yea its something to do with osx or the Open frimware.

I herd it was osx, thats why it will not even install off a usb cd drive.

I herd you could force it to boot some how. But I forget.

SwedeBear's picture
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Joined: 2009 Apr 18

Start with the USB drive (containing something suitable for booting) connected and holding down 'Option'-key. If you see the volume chances are good. If the the booting fails, reset P-RAM and NV-RAM and try again.

Northcott's picture
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Joined: 2009 Aug 15

Yeah. It is pretty neat. When I first got my G4 Cube, the DVD drive was was completely shot and so I booted OS 9 off of my 256MB flash drive for a while. Just reformatted the drive as HFS and dragged my System Folder over. It is true, I think you have to select it with the boot menu, I don't think will automatically find it. It doesn't work on my B&W G3 or my brother's QuickSilver G4 though. OS X is a lot more picky (like Windows) about what kind of disk it will boot from. Of course it's also more picky about RAM, user coolness factor...Smile

Mycatisbigfoot's picture
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Joined: 2009 Sep 7

I know OSX will show up but if you pick it it will stop loading at the apple gear or something like that.

Its just how its made, its quite pickey just like windows.

I have macs that wont turn on for me. but when my teacher does it works fine... I think I lack the cool factor. That is hard to replacate if you are a nerd.

max1zzz's picture
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Joined: 2010 Oct 3

well that is true of 10.0 - 10.3 but 10.4+ can boot from usb i have done it before (but you cannot install to usb you have to clone a existing install

Mycatisbigfoot's picture
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Joined: 2009 Sep 7

Well if you had 10.4 boot from usb it had to of been an intell mac,
no power pc mac can boot osx off a stick

max1zzz's picture
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Joined: 2010 Oct 3

it was ppc it was my old ibook g3 600mhz, anyway it is horribly slow but i find os9 is quite useable when booted from usb

SwedeBear's picture
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Joined: 2009 Apr 18

Smile

OSX2000's picture
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Joined: 2009 Sep 29

I had to do the same kind of thing when I was restoring my digital audio G4, which at the time had two completely wiped hard drives, and a bad optical drive...I installed OS 9 on an internal ATA drive, using a TiBook, then hooked that drive up to the G4 via an ATA-to-USB cable. It was unbearably slow, being USB 1, but it worked, and allowed me to install a working system on the tower.

MadMac's picture
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Joined: 2010 Mar 20

I can´t wait to test this... really cool!!!
i never figure out to make such experiment like this one with the usb...
REALLY, NICE ONE...

sfp1954's picture
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Joined: 2013 Dec 29

Neat. The clamshells were always a pain because of the lack of firewire but you found a way around it.

I would also mention that a lot of the Powerbooks with PCMCIA slots will boot from the card slots using a CF (compact flash) card with a PCMCIA adapter. I buy and restore a lot of G3 Wallstreets and I just set up the internal drives by booting from a 4GB CF card and copying over the files.
Do it yourself solid state drive. So if you need to add storage to something in the PB1400 to Pismo range that's another option.