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tensixturtle

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Sep 30, 2021
304
146
Kepler 22b
Hello,
I was wondering, if I were to get a FireWire 400 hub, can I boot from things connected to it? I am asking because my iBook G4 only has one FireWire port and I wasn't sure if this is a viable solution. FireWire drives are pricey and I know that I can't boot from a drive connected to my USB 3.0 hub on an Intel iMac.
Thanks in advance.
 

joevt

Contributor
Jun 21, 2012
6,763
4,102
I believe if the Mac can boot from FireWire then it can boot from FireWire hub. The FireWire drives that I have all have more than one FireWire port so they're basically FireWire hubs themselves. I've never actually used a FireWire hub that wasn't a FireWire drive.

I don't understand the issue of your iBook G4 having only one FireWire port. Do you mean you want to connect more than one FireWire device? FireWire drives usually have more than one FireWire port so you can chain devices.

I don't understand the concern about FireWire drives being pricey. Are you asking for a less expensive alternative? But aren't you asking for a FireWire hub because you want to boot from a FireWire drive?
 

eyoungren

macrumors Penryn
Aug 31, 2011
28,885
27,023
Hello,
I was wondering, if I were to get a FireWire 400 hub, can I boot from things connected to it? I am asking because my iBook G4 only has one FireWire port and I wasn't sure if this is a viable solution. FireWire drives are pricey and I know that I can't boot from a drive connected to my USB 3.0 hub on an Intel iMac.
Thanks in advance.
The design of Firewire is somewhat similar to SCSI, in that you're able to daisy chain devices. I used to have some external drive cases that had two FW ports. One drive was plugged into the back of another, which was then plugged into the Mac. Most manufacturers do not seem to design things that way anymore for some reason.

So a hub should work.
 

eyoungren

macrumors Penryn
Aug 31, 2011
28,885
27,023
I believe if the Mac can boot from FireWire then it can boot from FireWire hub. The FireWire drives that I have all have more than one FireWire port so they're basically FireWire hubs themselves. I've never actually used a FireWire hub that wasn't a FireWire drive.

I don't understand the issue of your iBook G4 having only one FireWire port. Do you mean you want to connect more than one FireWire device? FireWire drives usually have more than one FireWire port so you can chain devices.

I don't understand the concern about FireWire drives being pricey. Are you asking for a less expensive alternative? But aren't you asking for a FireWire hub because you want to boot from a FireWire drive?
The iBook has a single FW port, so OP wants add a FW hub to give the iBook more FW ports. But, OP only wants to do this if he can also boot from a FW drive connected to the hub - because FW drives are expensive in OP's country.

In other words, OP doesn't want to spend money on this if it's not going to work.
 

Amethyst1

macrumors G3
Oct 28, 2015
9,398
11,546
The design of Firewire is somewhat similar to SCSI, in that you're able to daisy chain devices. I used to have some external drive cases that had two FW ports. One drive was plugged into the back of another, which was then plugged into the Mac. Most manufacturers do not seem to design things that way anymore for some reason.
Thunderbolt devices are designed to be daisy-chained just like that, which is why most of them have two Thunderbolt ports. And we have Target Disk Mode via Thunderbolt so I'd be inclined to say Thunderbolt is the new FireWire. :)

images
 

eyoungren

macrumors Penryn
Aug 31, 2011
28,885
27,023
Thunderbolt devices are designed to be daisy-chained just like that, which is why most of them have two Thunderbolt ports. And we have Target Disk Mode via Thunderbolt so I'd be inclined to say Thunderbolt is the new FireWire. :)

images
PS. If you hook TWO computers up to an external drive with two FW ports, you get one of two things.

One, no drive mounts. Or two, it mounts to only one computer.

Yeah, you can't use 'em as a NAS. :D

Uh, yes…there is a good reason I know this. ;)
 

joevt

Contributor
Jun 21, 2012
6,763
4,102
PS. If you hook TWO computers up to an external drive with two FW ports, you get one of two things.

One, no drive mounts. Or two, it mounts to only one computer.

Yeah, you can't use 'em as a NAS. :D

Uh, yes…there is a good reason I know this. ;)
For FireWire, the two computers can communicate with each other using IP over FireWire (check the Network preferences panel) but only one of them can communicate with a FireWire device.
It's similar to Thunderbolt. The two computers can communicate with each other using IP over Thunderbolt but only one of them can communicate with a Thunderbolt device.

In addition to cross-domain IP over Thunderbolt network communication, Thunderbolt also allows a cross-domain DisplayPort connection (used by old iMacs to do Thunderbolt Target Display Mode) so that one computer can send DisplayPort to another computer's Thunderbolt controller. I don't know if it's possible to do cross-domain PCIe communication.
 

eyoungren

macrumors Penryn
Aug 31, 2011
28,885
27,023
Here's the million-dollar question: Do the two computers see each other so you can get TCP/IP-over-FireWire going? (I'd think they do, since it's, well, daisy-chaining.)
This was probably like 2006-2007 when I tried this and it was solely to see what would happen with the external drive. It wasn't until much later that I realized that FW was an actual interface inside the Network prefs pane.
 

joevt

Contributor
Jun 21, 2012
6,763
4,102
Today, I connected a FireWire drive to two Macs (Mac mini 2018 and Mac Pro 2008). One Mac can see the partitions (the first one that is connected). The other Mac can't. Each Mac can do networking over FireWire to the other Mac (the FireWire network interface for each Mac gets a self-appointed IP address). This worked in Catalina. Big Sur and Monterey don't appear to support FireWire networking.

Sometimes neither Mac will see the partitions. The drive has some bootable partitions and maybe both Macs can see the drive during EFI boot and in the Startup Mananger (hold option key at boot)? I don't think I want to test that too much. It may be that one was booting before the other so they took turns controlling the FireWire drive during boot?

FireWireIPSetupCatalina.png FreWireNetworkCatalina.png
 

eyoungren

macrumors Penryn
Aug 31, 2011
28,885
27,023
Today, I connected a FireWire drive to two Macs (Mac mini 2018 and Mac Pro 2008). One Mac can see the partitions (the first one that is connected). The other Mac can't. Each Mac can do networking over FireWire to the other Mac (the FireWire network interface for each Mac gets a self-appointed IP address). This worked in Catalina. Big Sur and Monterey don't appear to support FireWire networking.

Sometimes neither Mac will see the partitions. The drive has some bootable partitions and maybe both Macs can see the drive during EFI boot and in the Startup Mananger (hold option key at boot)? I don't think I want to test that too much. It may be that one was booting before the other so they took turns controlling the FireWire drive during boot?

View attachment 1983365 View attachment 1983364
I do not see any technical reason as to why both computers should not both be able to see the drive. However, I believe this was made not possible for the very simple reason of 'what if.'

What if BOTH computers are writing files in the same area of the HD? What if BOTH computers are saving changes to the SAME file at the same TIME?

Pretty much that could be a catastrophe - hence allowing only one computer at a time to see the external FW drive.
 
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