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Boot PowerPC Macs via USB 2.0 drives
Authored by: johnsawyercjs on Mar 18, '07 01:01:43AM
Best I can tell, from my experience and that of people posting to the similar hint at

• USB 1.1 and 2.0 ports/drives have always booted OS 9, on any Mac that can boot into OS 9.

• Macs up through the Powerbook G4 1.33 GHz, and at least some desktops up to and including the same vintage, and maybe a few later pre-Intel PPC Macs (not sure why not all the pre-Intel PPC Macs), will boot SOME USB drives from USB 1.1 and 2.0 ports/drives into OS 10.4.x (at least 10.4.6 and above--I didn't try earlier versions)--NOT OS 10.3.9 or earlier. Older Macs may need their firmware updated to the last version available for that Mac model, and not all USB drives might boot. Some USB drives will appear in Startup Manager (what you get when you hold down the Option key at startup), and others won't; when they don't, reset the Mac's PRAM, NVRAM, and Open Firmware (see my steps in the other Macfixit post I cite above), and that may allow some of them to appear in Startup Manager.

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Boot PowerPC Macs via USB 2.0 drives
Authored by: johnsawyercjs on Apr 16, '08 07:45:53PM

Further refinement I just came across in my notes, on the system requirements to boot from Macintosh USB ports: OS 8.6 through 9.2.2, and OS 10.4.3 and later. OS 8.6 - 9.2.2 might need the last of whichever versions of the USB extensions that each of these System versions supports (for OS 9.1 through 9.2.2, USB 1.5.6 is the preferred version; OS 9.1 and later don't need the extension "USB Mass Storage Support", especially since it sometimes freezes Macs running OS 9.1 - 9.2.2 that are trying to boot from USB), though other details as to the proper combination and versions of USB extensions under OS 8.6 - 9.2.2 is screwy, and too lengthy to post here, especially since we're dealing with OS X anyway.

The first Macs to support USB booting, are the first slot-loading iMacs (including the 350 MHz model with no Firewire ports), and the Firewire Powerbook G3. I've even booted OS 10.4.11, from a USB 2.0 flash drive, on a Mirrored Drive Doors G4, from a USB 2.0 PCI slot card, with no special tricks, Open Firmware modifications, etc.

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