Detect Boot Drive in 10.3

Discussion in 'macOS' started by OliviaM-T, Dec 20, 2013.

  1. OliviaM-T macrumors newbie

    Dec 20, 2013
    Hey there!

    Basically... my dad has a very old and fragile machine running 10.3, the internal hard drive is on its last legs so he wants to boot from an external drive. We've got a bootable external hard drive set up, and we select it in Startup Disk and restart.... is there any way to verify it's actually booted from the external drive? In later OS X the boot drive can be found in "About this Mac" but not so in 10.3 .... so is there anything in terminal that can help?

    Should be an easy answer to this, I just dont know what it is!

    Thank you!!
  2. VictoryHighway, Dec 20, 2013
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2013

    VictoryHighway macrumors member


    Jun 22, 2008
    Hopedale, MA
    Usually, the boot drive's icon is in the upper-right corner of the OSX desktop, if the Finder is configured to display hard drive icons on the desktop.
  3. OliviaM-T thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 20, 2013
    Thanks for the reply! Thats what I thought... in which case its not booting up from the external but from the internal still :S, but no idea why. We select the other drive in Startup Disk and it doesnt throw an error or anything at boot.
  4. Nermal Moderator


    Staff Member

    Dec 7, 2002
    New Zealand
    I think the easiest way to make sure would be to make an obvious difference between them; for example change the desktop background when booted with the internal drive and then see whether you get the old or new one when attempting to boot from the external.
  5. OliviaM-T thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 20, 2013
    O you're so much cleverer than me... thank you!!! Ill definately try that in the morning. Althought it just raises the sticky question of why its not booting from the external when it says its bootable and doesn't even give an error :S
  6. chown33 macrumors 604

    Aug 9, 2009
    on the Western Slopes, with E. A. Poe
    Exactly what machine are you running?

    Exactly what manufacturer and model of external disk?

    Exactly which OS version? 10.3.0 thru 10.3.9 are possible.

    How is the external disk connected (Firewire, USB, SCSI, other)?

    Exactly how did you make the bootable external hard drive? Did you use an app intended for making bootable disks, or did you drag and drop from Finder? A Finder drag-and-drop is inadequate for making a disk bootable. It may seem like it will work, but it won't.

    Did you erase and partition the external HD before copying the internal disk to it? If you did, then did you set the option for the "partition scheme" to the correct one for the type of Mac you have? (This will be Apple Partition Map for PowerPC-based Macs. No Mac can boot from a Master Boot Record partition scheme, which is how most external drives are partitioned by default.)

    Basically, there are a bunch of details missing, any one of which could prevent booting.
  7. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009
    Some thoughts...

    First, what version of 10.3 are you using?
    The final version was 10.3.9, you should be using that one.
    There may still be a "combo update" available that can get you there.

    OK, on to the drive issue.

    I suggest you do this:
    1. If you _think_ you are booted from the external drive, change the desktop pattern to something different than it was set before. The idea is to have a desktop pattern that is distinct and immediately identifiable.
    2. Now, either reboot with the option key held down (to bring up the startup manager) or use the "startup disk" preference pane to specifiy your INTERNAL drive as the boot drive.
    3. Reboot.
    4. The desktop pattern should be different. Is it?
  8. OliviaM-T thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 20, 2013
    Thanks for all the replies guys! The desktop idea was great and it does turn out that we're not booting from the external drive.

    So its 10.3.9 on a PowerPC G4, the external drive is: Western Digital 1.5TB USB 2.0 MyBook Studio External Hard Drive with FireWire 800 which is connected through firewire.

    He made it bootable using Super Duper, and he says he did erase and partition it BUT he cant be sure about the type of partition he used, he would have left it as the default.

    Using diskutil in the terminal it says the partition type is Apple_HFS and file system is Journaled HFS+.

    Also in diskutil it does say Bootable: Is bootable ... but is there anyway to get it to output an error when it startups and reverts to internal drive? Is this a known problem with Startup Disk on 10.3.9?

    Thank you!
  9. chown33 macrumors 604

    Aug 9, 2009
    on the Western Slopes, with E. A. Poe
    The problem may be the capacity (1.5TB) of the external drive.

    As I recall, some older PowerPC Macs can't boot from a disk that's larger than 8 GB. Or that may be a limit on the partition size or location, rather than the physical disk capacity.

    I had this problem with an original Bondi blue iMac that I put a higher-capacity disk into. I had to make two partitions, the first one was 4GB, and only then would it boot.

    You didn't identify the exact Mac model, so I can't say whether your model has this limitation or not. There are many models with a G4:

    You may find that website useful for looking up the details or limitations of your Mac model. Wikipedia is another resource, if you know the model. The lowendmac website may also be useful.

    Some WD externals won't boot a Mac:

    I found that link here:

    As a test, I booted my old dual G4 into OS 10.3.9, and ran Disk Utility. It doesn't offer an option for partition scheme, so if your new disk was formatted, it will be in a bootable partition scheme for PowerPC. The option to create other partition schemes only appeared in 10.4 Tiger.

    The command-line to definitively identify partition scheme is this:
    diskutil list
    Copy and paste the complete output into a post here.
  10. OliviaM-T, Dec 21, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 21, 2013

    OliviaM-T thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 20, 2013
    Great reply! Although if I can believe the site here
    My Book Studio Edition does not boot on PowerPC through USB/firewire :(

    Sorry about the model... it is the Power Mac G4 993 (QS 2002)

    Also the output from terminal is:

    Paul-Watts-G4:~ paulwatts$ diskutil list
        #:                   type name               size      identifier
        0: Apple_partition_scheme                    *57.3 GB  disk0
        1:    Apple_partition_map                    31.5 KB   disk0s1
        2:         Apple_Driver43                    27.0 KB   disk0s2
        3:         Apple_Driver43                    37.0 KB   disk0s3
        4:       Apple_Driver_ATA                    27.0 KB   disk0s4
        5:       Apple_Driver_ATA                    37.0 KB   disk0s5
        6:         Apple_FWDriver                    100.0 KB  disk0s6
        7:     Apple_Driver_IOKit                    256.0 KB  disk0s7
        8:          Apple_Patches                    256.0 KB  disk0s8
        9:              Apple_HFS Macintosh HD       57.3 GB   disk0s9
        #:                   type name               size      identifier
        0: Apple_partition_scheme                    *465.8 GB disk1
        1:    Apple_partition_map                    31.5 KB   disk1s1
        2:              Apple_HFS 500GB FW P17 20-12-07 465.6 GB  disk1s3
        #:                   type name               size      identifier
        0: Apple_partition_scheme                    *1.4 TB   disk2
        1:    Apple_partition_map                    31.5 KB   disk2s1
        2:         Apple_Driver43                    28.0 KB   disk2s2
        3:         Apple_Driver43                    28.0 KB   disk2s3
        4:       Apple_Driver_ATA                    28.0 KB   disk2s4
        5:       Apple_Driver_ATA                    28.0 KB   disk2s5
        6:         Apple_FWDriver                    256.0 KB  disk2s6
        7:     Apple_Driver_IOKit                    256.0 KB  disk2s7
        8:          Apple_Patches                    256.0 KB  disk2s8
        9:              Apple_HFS Paul's G4 Boot Volume Mac O:S 10 100.0 GB  
       10:              Apple_HFS Boot volume 2 O:S 10.4 150.0 GB  disk2s12
       11:              Apple_HFS P22 WD MY Book 1.4TB 23-1-11  1.1 TB    
        #:                   type name               size      identifier
        0: Apple_partition_scheme                    *931.5 GB disk3
        1:    Apple_partition_map                    31.5 KB   disk3s1
        2:         Apple_Driver43                    28.0 KB   disk3s2
        3:         Apple_Driver43                    28.0 KB   disk3s3
        4:       Apple_Driver_ATA                    28.0 KB   disk3s4
        5:       Apple_Driver_ATA                    28.0 KB   disk3s5
        6:         Apple_FWDriver                    256.0 KB  disk3s6
        7:     Apple_Driver_IOKit                    256.0 KB  disk3s7
        8:          Apple_Patches                    256.0 KB  disk3s8
        9:              Apple_HFS 1TB FW P20 7-4-2009 931.4 GB  disk3s10
    Paul-Watts-G4:~ paulwatts$ diskutil info /dev/disk2s10
        Device Node:        /dev/disk2s10
        Device Identifier:  disk2s10
        Mount Point:        /Volumes/Paul's G4 Boot Volume Mac O:S 10.3
        Volume Name:        Paul's G4 Boot Volume Mac O:S 10.3
        File System:        Journaled HFS+
                            Journal size 8192 k at offset 0xafa000
        Permissions:        Enabled
        Partition Type:     Apple_HFS
        Bootable:           Is bootable
        Media Type:         Generic
        Protocol:           FireWire
        Total Size:         100.0 GB
        Free Space:         68.9 GB
        Read Only:          No
        Ejectable:          No
    Maybe it's a silly quesion but is no log or error report generated when it tries to boot from a drive and fails and has to revert to a different drive? Or is it just because its so ooooold haha. Thanks again!
  11. chown33 macrumors 604

    Aug 9, 2009
    on the Western Slopes, with E. A. Poe
    That's correct: as far as I know, no log or error report is generated if it fails to boot from a drive. The startup firmware just tries the next bootable disk it can find. If it finds nothing bootable, it does the blinking question-mark display.

    This all happens before the OS starts running. With no OS, how would it log an error report?

    I suggest trying to find a smaller capacity external drive. Or maybe a different brand that is known to support booting PPC G4 Macs.

    Smaller capacity may be difficult to do for a new drive, and you may have to buy a used drive.

    You could move the physical drive holding "500GB FW P17 20-12-07" to an external enclosure, if it's not already an external drive.

    Your Mac model supports two internal HDs, so if that disk is external, as its name suggests, you could also just add another internal HD. It looks like it's booting right now from an original 60GB HD, so you could probably safely install an ATA drive with up to 256GB capacity and have it work. Finding one might be the difficult part, since that Mac model has a parallel ATA disk interface, not serial AT (SATA), and SATA is by far the most common these days.
  12. OliviaM-T thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 20, 2013
    Well thanks for getting to the bottom of that so quickly guys! Its a pity we cant boot from the drive we bought ha, really didn't know there were hardware restrictions on booting!

    Will look into getting a compatible external drive to save tinkering around inside the old girl.

    Whoops :)

    Thanks for all your help!
  13. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009
    [[ Will look into getting a compatible external drive to save tinkering around inside the old girl. ]]

    You'd probably do better to find a "bare drive" of the right type and capacity, and install it internally.

    This is a PowerMac g4 "Tower" you have, is that correct?

    They're very easy to get into and the cables for connecting a second internal drive may already be "in place".

    Just install the drive (takes a few screws), connect the cables, initialize, and go.

    Do you know anyone who might have an old, spare drive laying around?
    Even taken out of a PC?

Share This Page