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You are here: MacNN Forums > Hardware - Troubleshooting and Discussion > Mac Notebooks > how do I boot from a live Linux USB pen drive?

how do I boot from a live Linux USB pen drive?
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Sep 12, 2008, 05:26 PM
 
I don't know the proper forum for this.

I have a 2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo MBP.

When I boot from a live linux CD while pressing the C key at startup, it works. When I try booting a live USB pen drive with Linux on it, it doesn't work. I've tried using shift-option-Apple command key-delete (starts up from external drive or CD) according to Pogue page 861. I thought I might be able to select it from System Preferences > Start up Disk, but it doesn't give me that option. I have seen it work with my friends' non-Mac laptop after he sets his bios to boot from it.

Any ideas?
     
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Sep 12, 2008, 05:34 PM
 
Hold down just the option key on startup. Does it show up with your OS X partition there?
     
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Sep 12, 2008, 05:50 PM
 
Thanks for your prompt reply seanc.
I tried what you said with my fingers crossed, all I got was a chord and then only a picture of an arrow pointing to a Mac Hard Drive. I clicked it (while still pressing the option key) but only booted into OS X.
     
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Sep 12, 2008, 06:12 PM
 
Perhaps Macs don't support booting Linux from USB drives. Have you tried installing Linux to a USB drive to see if you can boot it then?
     
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Sep 12, 2008, 06:24 PM
 
I will try that. My effort was to have a bootable pen drive with persistence. I guess I didn't want to believe that Apple's Pro machine wouldn't have that feature. Thank you again.
     
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Sep 12, 2008, 06:38 PM
 
It's got nothing to do with any of those things.

Regular PCs use BIOS, and consequently, most Linux is set up for that, too. You need to set up the live Linux drive with an EFI bootloader that your Mac will understand.

(When you set up Boot Camp on a Mac, it also sets up a BIOS compatibility mode, since Windows can't boot from anything else. It's possible that running Boot Camp on your Mac might also prepare it for BIOS-based Linux. But you don't gain EFI's benefits by doing that.)
     
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Sep 12, 2008, 06:40 PM
 
If I recall, Linux has never been good about booting from USB. Is this a special version meant for doing so?
Chuck
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"Instead of either 'multi-talented' or 'multitalented' use 'bisexual'."
     
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Sep 12, 2008, 06:41 PM
 
Excellent point Tooki. I always forget about EFI. I build new PCs constantly as part of my job and they of course still have a BIOS.
     
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Sep 12, 2008, 07:33 PM
 
Thanks Guys. I believe I've just reached my level of incompetence. I'll wait until I buy a Netbook.
     
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Sep 14, 2008, 06:12 PM
 
Originally Posted by imdipped View Post
I don't know the proper forum for this.

I have a 2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo MBP.

When I boot from a live linux CD while pressing the C key at startup, it works. When I try booting a live USB pen drive with Linux on it, it doesn't work. I've tried using shift-option-Apple command key-delete (starts up from external drive or CD) according to Pogue page 861. I thought I might be able to select it from System Preferences > Start up Disk, but it doesn't give me that option. I have seen it work with my friends' non-Mac laptop after he sets his bios to boot from it.

Any ideas?
http://refit.sourceforge.net/

Will solve ALL your booting problems,
     
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Sep 14, 2008, 06:14 PM
 
Originally Posted by Chuckit View Post
If I recall, Linux has never been good about booting from USB. Is this a special version meant for doing so?
Slax is awesome. I use it to fix PC's all the time when people's hard drives conk out or something like that.
     
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Sep 14, 2008, 07:26 PM
 
Calverson,
Slax looks interesting.
     
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Sep 14, 2008, 10:29 PM
 
Chuckit
I apologize for not answering your question and I hope this is not hijacking the board by talking too much about Linux.

I was thinking about getting one of the netbooks to get familiar with Linux. They do not have CD/DVD readers and I didn't want to buy one just for the few times I would load distro's. A lot of other people are getting tired of burning one off iso's and with the larger capacity USB pen drives, a lot of work has recently been going into bypassing the CD and going straight to the pen drive.

As I am a beginner, and had a SanDisk 512 MB pen drive that I didn't care about ruining, I set about creating a bootable version of Puppy Linux 4.0 (88MB) http://puppylinux.com/install.htm which has a universal installer built into their distribution.

SanDisk has a U3 partition that you have to get rid of. They had an uninstaller for 10.4 (Tiger) but weren't going to make one for 10.5 (Leopard). I thought that using:

dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/sdb1 # /dev/sdb showed up as my device

would give me a clean pen drive and that I could format and partition properly. When I checked with fdisk all looked good. I followed the Puppy instructions and thought I was good to go. To make a long story short, it didn't work. I went to my friend who has a Windows machine; he popped in the pen drive and saw the U3 partition. The Mac just doesn't see it. He wiped it and we started over. He booted and was pleasantly surprised with Puppy as a light weight distro. I went home and couldn't boot. It never occurred to me that the Mac (being based on UNIX (FreeBSD) and being able to read FAT wouldn't boot. I'm still learning.
( Last edited by imdipped; Sep 15, 2008 at 12:51 PM. Reason: Reply should have been to Chuckit not Calverson)
     
   
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