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 Forum index » Advanced Topics » Hardware
booting Puppy flash drive on MacBook Air
Moderators: Flash, Ian, JohnMurga
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abuian

Joined: 13 Sep 2013
Posts: 27

PostPosted: Wed 12 Mar 2014, 08:50    Post subject:  booting Puppy flash drive on MacBook Air  

I had a hard time finding anything conclusive when I searched this topic myself, so I thought it might be helpful to post what worked and what didn't.

My wife recently switched to a MacBook Air (late 2011 model). This was our first foray into the world of Apple (unless you count the IIe and IIc experience from high school). I've been in the habit of keeping my own Slacko system on a flash drive and swapping between the three (now four) laptops in our house. I didn't really want to set up a dual boot on her new computer, but I did want to see if I could run Puppy off of a flash drive (and hopefully use the same system that I use everywhere else).

I saw the tutorial at http://www.computerbastard.com/usbmac-puppy/ but wanted to see if I could avoid modifying her computer in any way. So I tried the various generic Linux approaches that I saw, for example:

http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/how-to-boot-a-linux-live-usb-stick-on-your-mac/
http://studyblast.wordpress.com/2011/08/14/guide-mac-os-x-lion-how-to-boot-a-linux-live-system-from-a-usb-drive-how-to-update-any-ocz-ssds-firmware/

Nothing seemed to work. Then I went back and tried the approach in the Puppy tutorial, and saw that it wasn't behaving as explained. When I partitioned the flash drive in OS X it created only one FAT32 partition, instead of two. I went ahead and tried it anyway. It wouldn't boot without rEFInd, and it wouldn't boot with. (It showed up as an option in the rEFInd menu, but it failed when I selected it.)

Just for the fun of it, and because I was out of ideas, I tried inserting my usual Slacko flash drive--the one that I had been using on our PC laptops--the one that was formatted for BIOS and MBR. rEFInd recognized the drive, identified it as Linux, and when I selected it, it booted with no problems.

So, my advice is--just do a regular Puppy install to a flash drive (I don't know if it matters, but I use the third boot option in the install menu--the one that says "I've had success with . . . "--just because I had to try something different for our oldest laptop), and if the regular Mac boot manager won't handle it, install rEFInd. The best part is, you can still use the same flash drive to boot on BIOS systems, which is what I wanted anyway.

The one caveat is that it requires modifying the Mac that you're running on. If you can't do that (it's someone else's computer), I don't know of a solution that works. But rEFInd is very easy to install, and if I understand the process correctly, modifying the boot manager under EFI is much less risky than with a BIOS system.

Trevor
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Les Kerf

Joined: 24 Jun 2012
Posts: 206

PostPosted: Wed 12 Mar 2014, 09:42    Post subject:  

I do not have access to a MacBook Air, but have had some success booting Puppy Linux on our Intel iMac.

http://www.murga-linux.com/puppy/viewtopic.php?t=88676
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abuian

Joined: 13 Sep 2013
Posts: 27

PostPosted: Wed 12 Mar 2014, 09:51    Post subject:  

Thanks! I didn't see that discussion, or I would have tried it. Can you boot the same flash drive on a BIOS-based PC?
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abuian

Joined: 13 Sep 2013
Posts: 27

PostPosted: Wed 12 Mar 2014, 14:38    Post subject:  

Hmm . . . it appears that I took the long way around to discovering that I didn't need to do anything special at all. I guess I never just tried plugging in my trusty flash drive, holding down Option, and see what would happen with Mac's own boot manager. Turns out I didn't even need rEFInd.

To complete the circle, I tried Les's method to see if it would work for me, and to test using the same flash drive to boot on a regular PC. It worked in both cases. Then I started pondering whether I really needed Grub4DOS, since that seemed to make the boot process a bit messy. I thought about trying the partition scheme, copying the rEFInd file, but leaving out Grub4DOS. But then for some reason I decided just to try my standard flash drive setup and see what it did. I don't think I was expecting it to work, but thought maybe I would get some useful information about how it behaved.

Lo and behold, the Mac boot manager offered me one USB option, which it called Windows. Maybe I tried it before and that label threw me; or maybe I just assumed from all the discussion I was seeing that I'd have to do something special. Anyway, by this point I'd figured out that it uses "Windows" as code for an MBR system. I selected that option, and it booted Puppy without any difficulty.
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Les Kerf

Joined: 24 Jun 2012
Posts: 206

PostPosted: Wed 12 Mar 2014, 14:53    Post subject:  

abuian wrote:
Thanks! I didn't see that discussion, or I would have tried it. Can you boot the same flash drive on a BIOS-based PC?


Yes, it boots fine on my Acer laptop and a couple of old desktops I have. I would like to try it on a newer PC that uses UEFI booting just to see what happens, but I don't know anyone that owns equipment that new.. Embarassed
Les
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