Booting from an external USB CD-ROM

Discussion in 'Macintosh Computers' started by Mala, Nov 19, 2003.

  1. Mala macrumors 6502

    Nov 19, 2003
    Hello - my first post, so please be indulgent.

    I have a G3 Pismo PowerBook, running Mac OS 9.2.2. The CD-ROM/DVD never worked very well, and eventually it gave up the ghost completely a couple of months back.

    (In case anyone knows how to revive it, it was making mrr mrr noises and apparently just spinning the CDs, and the system would freeze when I put a CD into it. Many, many restarts.)

    I also have an external CD-RW, an Iomega Predator, connected by USB.

    Someone told me yesterday that it's actually possible to use this as a boot device, if I find the keyboard shortcut for "Target Disk".

    I can't seem to find this, and wonder if he were right. Does anyone know if it is possible to boot from an external USB drive, and if so, how?

    This is particularly important to me because I'm going to be selling the PowerBook and the external CD-RW, and would be a lot happier if the buyer were going to be able to reboot, run system software and run doctoring software, if the machine runs into any trouble.
  2. K12MacTech macrumors member

    Jul 29, 2003
    I don't know if you can boot from an external USB device or not. You can try this - with the mac up and running, go to the Startup Disk control panel and see if the USB drive is an option as a startup device. If so, select it and restart with a bootable CD (such as the System CD) in the external drive.

    Another way is to boot with the Option key held down - may not work on a model as early as yours, but it might. This brings up something called the Startup Manager, and shows you all available boot volumes.

    Target disk probably won't help you. It runs over firewire, and boots your mac as an external drive to another mac. I don't think your Pismo has firewire, but if it did you can connect it to another mac with a firewire cable, startup the other mac, then startup the Pismo with the "T" key held down. You should get a firewire logo on the screen and the Pismo's hard drive will show up on the other mac as another hard drive. You could then install software from that mac onto the Pismo's hard drive.
  3. Mala thread starter macrumors 6502

    Nov 19, 2003
    My Pismo has Firewire (never had occasion to use it), but my CD-RW is USB.

    I asked a Mac consultant friend about booting methods; she tried the Option key method on her own Mac and caused a massive system crash that took her an hour to recover her machine from. Nope.

    I think the simplest thing is if I try to buy a new or used CD-ROM for the Powerbook Pismo. Any idea where I'd get one without breaking the bank?
  4. K12MacTech macrumors member

    Jul 29, 2003
    Does it show as a bootable device in the startup disk control panel? You could still try seeing if you can use it to boot. And the option key is quite safe. I use it on a daily basis support hundreds of macs. Never had a problem like you describe. But if you can't see the USB drive in Startup Disk, you won't see it using the option key either.

    Not sure where to look for replacement. Try eBay and google.
  5. Mala thread starter macrumors 6502

    Nov 19, 2003
    I can *see* it in Startup Disk, but it's greyed-out, and it won't select.

    I tried ebay and google for a replacement CD already, but only found one; the seller (on ebay) seemed nice but said no foreigners.

    I emailed him, and he explained that he'd sold things outside the US and they'd arrived broken.

    Now, this has never actually happened to me when friends have sent me stuff, but maybe he doesn't pack it well or something; I didn't want to risk it.

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