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You are here: MacNN Forums > Software - Troubleshooting and Discussion > macOS > Has anyone had success booting a G5 from a Flash Drive?

Has anyone had success booting a G5 from a Flash Drive?
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Miniryu
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Jan 16, 2012, 04:29 PM
 
Officially, USB booting is not supported in PPC models, but I was able to get an iBook G4 to boot successfully from one. So now I am trying to get my PowerMac G5 (PPC) to boot from the same flash drive.

The background. both machines were built in late 2004. My G5 was the first model on the market, single processor and bare bones (it was all I could afford at the time- I even had a second-hand monitor with it).

Anyway, I won't go into the history of how I prepared the flash drive, since I really don't believe that it is the issue (as it will boot my iBook G4). It has Leopard on it.

What I've tried so far. Using Disk Utlity in the finder, I found that the partition of my flash drive containing a bootable OS was 3 (disk1s3). in Open Firmware, I've studied the Device Tree (using "dev / ls"), and was able to locate my front USB port on my G5 (the path being "/[email protected],f2000000/[email protected]/[email protected]/[email protected]"). However, using "devalias" I was unable to figure out which alias represented the front usb port ([usb0], [usb1], etc.). So I tried using them all. None worked (the led light on the flash drive never flashed to indicate that it was being accessed) and Open Firmware reported that it was unable to find the directory.

The boot command I used was "boot usbx/disk:3,\\:tbxi" (where x represented the various usb port labels).

I then tried the technique described here, first assigning the alias "ud" to the past to my flash drive using the command "devalias ud /path-to-my-drive". When I tried to test this by accessing the drive using "dir ud:3,\" there was no led activity from my flash drive, and Open Firmware reported that it was unable to find that directory.

So now I'm at a loss. I can't see why this technique wouldn't work, unless I've gotten the path wrong? /[email protected],f2000000/[email protected]/[email protected]/[email protected] The very end "[email protected]" changes to "[email protected]" depending on which USB port of the computer that I use.

My plan was to use this technique to install MintPPC onto my G5, and I was hoping to figure this out using Leopard (which I'm familiar with) before erasing the flash drive and putting Linux onto it. It is just the machine? Has anyone else been able to boot from USB on a PPC G5?

"Sing it again, rookie beyach."
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larkost
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Jan 16, 2012, 11:32 PM
 
There were only a couple of models of PPC Macs that ever supported booting from USB, so Apple has basically said it is not ever supported (much easier to communicate that). In all likelyhood the PowerMac G5 was not one of those units.

Why don't you just burn an instal CD?
     
reader50
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Jan 17, 2012, 02:47 AM
 
I'm creating a bootable install on a flash drive to do some testing. The installer is being held back by the slow write speed - it may be faster to install to a spare partition, then image it.

I've got a PCIe G5, not quite the same as yours.
     
Miniryu  (op)
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Jan 17, 2012, 03:38 AM
 
Originally Posted by larkost View Post
There were only a couple of models of PPC Macs that ever supported booting from USB, so Apple has basically said it is not ever supported (much easier to communicate that). In all likelyhood the PowerMac G5 was not one of those units.

Why don't you just burn an instal CD?
My iBook was one of those models that wasn't supported (it was built in October of 2004). In the Open Firmware of the newer unsupported models, a "ub" alias was assigned to the usb ports that can be used to boot the machine. My iBook didn't even have the alias, and yet it STILL was able to boot. I am certain that my G5 does not support it, but that doesn't necessarily mean it can't be done.

As so why I haven't burned a CD? I used a flash drive because Leopard needs 8 gigs of disk space, my iBook doesn't have a DVD drive, and I don't have a DVD burner (my only other computer is a MacBook AIR). Yes, it probably IS time to upgrade, but I'd rather tinker with my old-school toys for as long as I can

and reader50, it took a long time to create my install disk, close to an hour (I think).

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reader50
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Jan 17, 2012, 11:14 PM
 
Success!

It took a few tries to create a bootable install - the first couple tricks didn't work. I finally installed to a small partition, then used SuperDuper! to clone it to a USB flashdrive. Then I used the same instructions you did to find the device path, alias it, confirm via directory listing, and boot.

You're messing up on the device path. You can omit any commas and anything after a comma. Pay attention to all steps that appear in the path - you may have missed a step. My path ended up being this one:

devalias ud /ht/[email protected]/[email protected]/[email protected]/[email protected]

Then I confirmed it by listing the directory. Watch the slashes, they go in reverse when doing directory listings, and when booting.

dir ud:3,\

This listed the root directory of the USB drive.

btw, I used '3' because my install was on partition 3 of the USB drive. This can be a different number. With the flashdrive plugged in, use Apple System Profiler to find it in the USB listing. Then look for the BSD Name of the volume. It'll be something like "disk6s3". The last number is the partition number - ignore the rest. The disk # can change from one boot to another.

Finally, I gave the boot command as written:

boot ud:3,\System\Library\CoreServices\BootX

Initial boot into the unused install took over 10 minutes. I had to get through the Installer and create an account. The USB drive still did not appear in Startup Disk, even when booted from it. So I rebooted into Open Firmware again.

My ud alias was still there, apparently it stays until deleted or OF is reset. So I gave the same boot command again. This time it rebooted in 3 1/2 minutes until the Desktop stabilized. Slow, but it worked perfectly. Calculator took 30 seconds to launch. Relaunching it was instant.

The USB drive still didn't appear in the firmware boot selector, so it requires the OF boot command every time.
( Last edited by reader50; Jan 18, 2012 at 12:17 AM. Reason: typos, extra info)
     
Miniryu  (op)
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Jan 18, 2012, 03:48 AM
 
Originally Posted by reader50 View Post
Success!

It took a few tries to create a bootable install - the first couple tricks didn't work. I finally installed to a small partition, then used SuperDuper! to clone it to a USB flashdrive. Then I used the same instructions you did to find the device path, alias it, confirm via directory listing, and boot.

You're messing up on the device path. You can omit any commas and anything after a comma. Pay attention to all steps that appear in the path - you may have missed a step. My path ended up being this one:

devalias ud /ht/[email protected]/[email protected]/[email protected]/[email protected]

Then I confirmed it by listing the directory. Watch the slashes, they go in reverse when doing directory listings, and when booting.

dir ud:3,\

This listed the root directory of the USB drive.

btw, I used '3' because my install was on partition 3 of the USB drive. This can be a different number. With the flashdrive plugged in, use Apple System Profiler to find it in the USB listing. Then look for the BSD Name of the volume. It'll be something like "disk6s3". The last number is the partition number - ignore the rest. The disk # can change from one boot to another.

Finally, I gave the boot command as written:

boot ud:3,\System\Library\CoreServices\BootX

Initial boot into the unused install took over 10 minutes. I had to get through the Installer and create an account. The USB drive still did not appear in Startup Disk, even when booted from it. So I rebooted into Open Firmware again.

My ud alias was still there, apparently it stays until deleted or OF is reset. So I gave the same boot command again. This time it rebooted in 3 1/2 minutes until the Desktop stabilized. Slow, but it worked perfectly. Calculator took 30 seconds to launch. Relaunching it was instant.

The USB drive still didn't appear in the firmware boot selector, so it requires the OF boot command every time.
This is awesome news!
I'll try tomorrow to find where my path could be messed up- I maybe have missed a "/mac-io" step. Or maybe removing the comma matter. I know for certain that my partition was 3, but it makes total sense that I screwed up the path. I know very little of hardware architecture, so for me going into OF is a bit like walking around in the dark with my hands extended and flailing. Still, it's loads of fun.
Thanks for the help- I'll return tomorrow to post my results.

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Miniryu  (op)
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Jan 19, 2012, 08:02 PM
 
So I was still not able to get my G5 to boot from the flash drive. Just in case I have the incorrect path, I am including a photo I took of the device tree from Open Firmware (I don't know how to take an actual screen shot or printout in OF). Here is a single screen containing the path (as I believe it to be):

I used Photoshop to string together a bunch of shots of the entire tree- only a line or two overlaps between each shot. I'm just going to link to the image, because it's a bit long for a forum.

Again, the path that I have been using is /[email protected]/[email protected]/[email protected]/[email protected]
If that's correct, then I might have to give up.

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Eug
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Jan 19, 2012, 08:09 PM
 
I take you don't have a Firewire drive? Or you can even partition the hard drive either on the G5 or the iBook.
     
Big Mac
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Jan 19, 2012, 08:38 PM
 
I assumed it was more of a challenge that Miniryu was trying to beat.

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Eug
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Jan 19, 2012, 09:52 PM
 
Originally Posted by Big Mac View Post
I assumed it was more of a challenge that Miniryu was trying to beat.
"As so why I haven't burned a CD? I used a flash drive because Leopard needs 8 gigs of disk space, my iBook doesn't have a DVD drive, and I don't have a DVD burner (my only other computer is a MacBook AIR)."
     
reader50
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Jan 19, 2012, 10:15 PM
 
You appear to have 5 USB ports. That gives a few possible paths, but I'm only seeing one disk plugged in. I'd try this path:

devalias ud /ht/[email protected]/[email protected]/[email protected]

I assume the USB flashdrive is plugged in at the time you took the OF shots? Also, can you tell us the flashdrive model you're using? I once had an old USB drive with a security switch on the side. Turns out it counted as a hub, and the drive space could be divided between two volumes after the internal hub - one standard, one encrypted. That drive didn't mount on all systems, and was maybe too much for OF drivers to interpret.
     
Big Mac
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Jan 19, 2012, 11:38 PM
 
Originally Posted by Eug View Post
"As so why I haven't burned a CD? I used a flash drive because Leopard needs 8 gigs of disk space, my iBook doesn't have a DVD drive, and I don't have a DVD burner (my only other computer is a MacBook AIR)."
Oh, I see. Wasn't reading closely. A Firewire drive would do him well.

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Miniryu  (op)
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Jan 21, 2012, 05:58 PM
 
Originally Posted by reader50 View Post
You appear to have 5 USB ports. That gives a few possible paths, but I'm only seeing one disk plugged in. I'd try this path:

devalias ud /ht/[email protected]/[email protected]/[email protected]

I assume the USB flashdrive is plugged in at the time you took the OF shots? Also, can you tell us the flashdrive model you're using? I once had an old USB drive with a security switch on the side. Turns out it counted as a hub, and the drive space could be divided between two volumes after the internal hub - one standard, one encrypted. That drive didn't mount on all systems, and was maybe too much for OF drivers to interpret.
I tried the path you suggested, and it didn't work.
My flashdrive is made by Patriot 8 gig. It's a basic model, with no security or read-only switches. I see a serial number on the end: 101108

There are only 3 external ports on the tower: 1 in the front and 2 the back (upper and lower, let's say). I don't know what ports "[email protected]" and "[email protected]" are for. It's not like a MacBook, where internal usb ports are used for the keyboard and iSight camera.

The flashdrive was plugged into the front port when I took the screen shots. When I plug it into the upper back port (with the keyboard plugged into the lower back port), the pathway changes to:

When the flashdrive is plugged into the lower back port with the keyboard in the upper back:

For the sake of exploration, keyboard in front, flashdrive upper back:

Switched, with keyboard in upper back and flashdrive in front:

I think that's enough to demonstrate the labeling convention. There doesn't seem to be any way to access /[email protected],2 nor /[email protected],1/[email protected] And like I said before, [email protected] and [email protected] don't seem to do anything. I think I'm going to directly look at the hardware inside next.

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Miniryu  (op)
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Jan 21, 2012, 06:06 PM
 
Originally Posted by Eug View Post
I take you don't have a Firewire drive? Or you can even partition the hard drive either on the G5 or the iBook.
Originally Posted by Big Mac View Post
I assumed it was more of a challenge that Miniryu was trying to beat.
You guys are both right. Yes, I'm doing this out of necessity (meaning, I don't have too many options). However, I am absolutely drive by challenges and I don't want to let OF and usb defeat me.
Still, if I need to, I might have to partition one of my external hard drives or find someone with a DVD burner to burn a disc. I would just hate to waste DVD media with the inevitable bad burns I will make, and I have a ton of stuff saved on my external drives that I don't know where to dump while re-partitioning.

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reader50
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Jan 21, 2012, 11:46 PM
 
Your exploration of the labeling was very helpful. Based on the combinations, the Front USB port is lumped in with the Upper Rear. The Lower Rear is handled separately.

Further, devices plugged into the upper rear are always /[email protected] or /[email protected], while lower rear (and front) always start with /[email protected] or /[email protected]

Based on the machine block diagram, [email protected],2 must go to the AGP slot (ADC use). [email protected] and [email protected] are internal, covering the modem and Bluetooth slots.

Based on the new info, here are proposed device paths:

If the drive is plugged into Lower Rear:
devalias ud /ht/[email protected]/[email protected],1/[email protected]

If the drive is plugged into Front:
devalias ud /ht/[email protected]/[email protected]/[email protected]

If the drive is plugged into Upper Rear:
devalias ud /ht/[email protected]/[email protected]/[email protected]

I'd suggest putting the USB drive on Upper Rear, with everything else on Lower rear. Front port empty. That would give the simplest path of:
/ht/[email protected]/[email protected]/[email protected]

Check the device tree to verify what's coming up, then verify the alias with the dir ud:3,\ command.

Since your G5 is seeing the USB drive, I'm sure you can boot from it. Just gotta make the path match a particular physical config.
     
Miniryu  (op)
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Jan 23, 2012, 12:33 AM
 
I've tried again using the path for the rear, upper usb port.

I tried it with /ht/[email protected]/..., /[email protected]/[email protected]/...., [email protected],f2000000/[email protected]/.... but nothing worked.

Unless there's an invisible step in the past (e.g. [email protected]), I don't think the error is in naming the path.
I don't think there's a partition issue with the flash drive, as I used partition three (boot usb2:3,\\:tbxi) to boot my iBook just fine.

There has to be some issue with the Power Mac G5 single core 1.6 ghz architecture. The motherboard says "copyright Apple 2003" on it and OF says the BootROM was built in September of 2004. Maybe this thing is simply too old?

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Big Mac
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Jan 23, 2012, 05:28 AM
 
Hey Miniryu, not to rain on your parade, but why not just buy a cheap Firewire drive? I see a 1 TB Firewire 400 drive for $80-$90 on Google Shopping. Apple never officially supported USB booting for G5s, and I think we're seeing why.

"The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground." TJ
     
reader50
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Jan 23, 2012, 03:12 PM
 
Aww, this is fun. Better than a FW drive we know would work - no challenge there.

Miniryu, there were several G5 firmware updates. While booted into X, check Software Update. See if any firmware updates are offered. It would be best to boot into 10.3.5 or better, because the updates often required that as a minimum OS.
     
Miniryu  (op)
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Jan 29, 2012, 01:43 AM
 
Originally Posted by reader50 View Post
Miniryu, there were several G5 firmware updates. While booted into X, check Software Update. See if any firmware updates are offered. It would be best to boot into 10.3.5 or better, because the updates often required that as a minimum OS.
I did all of the firmware updates when they were released.
I abandoned this project for a while in an attempt to install Ubuntu. It's not going so well, but I learned something from the Linux documentation. You can do alias by alias listings (see step 4, here) to test which are mapped to the usb ports on the computer. Using that technique, I discovered that both

dev usb-2a ls
and
dev usb2 ls
give me the result:
ffa00540: /[email protected]

(I have the flashdrive plugged into the front USB port and the keyboard plugged into the bottom rear USB port). The commands
dev usb-2b ls
and
dev usb3 ls
return:
ff9ff5c0: /[email protected]
ff9ff838: /[email protected]
ff9ffbc8: /[email protected]
ff9ffdb8: /[email protected]
ffa00170: /[email protected]

None of the other aliases that begin with "usb" return a value (i.e. nothing is plugged in). Is this typical? Or could the problem come from more than one alias for the port? Is this helpful at all?
I tried booting with:

boot usb2/disk:3,\\:tbxi
boot usb2/[email protected]:3,\\:tbxi
boot usb-2a/disk:3,\\:tbxi
boot usb-2a/[email protected]:3,\\:tbxi

and none of them work.

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