Booting my Firewire backup disk on another machine

Discussion in 'Apple' started by Kurt L., Mar 8, 2006.

  1. Kurt L.

    Kurt L. Guest

    Recently, I noticed a claim made on Macintouch with regard to booting
    from Firewire disks: supposedly, prior to the Intel Mac series, a
    bootable clone of one OSX install can be booted on any other Mac that
    supports Firewire booting. That is to say, an install of Mac OS X is
    apparently not model-specific. To test this theory, I used Carbon Copy
    Cloner to make an exact copy of my Powerbook Titanium's internal disk
    (10.3.9) onto an external Firewire hard disk. I then plugged the
    Firewire disk into a Powermac desktop (Sawtooth), and booted it... and
    it came up looking like my Powerbook.

    Question: was this a fluke? Or is this really possible? Even if it is
    possible, is it a good idea, or will the fact that the Powerbook image
    expects to manage Powerbook-specific items (like an airport card,
    missing in the Sawtooth) mean that I risk corruption of the original
    image? Are there programs that I should avoid using, like Toast, that
    talk to external hardware? I need to send my Powerbook in for
    service, and it would be oh-so-nice to simply boot the backup disk on
    the Sawtooth until the Powerbook comes back, then re-copy the image
    back to the Powerbook.

    Thanks for your advice,

    Kurt L.
    Kurt L., Mar 8, 2006
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  2. Kurt L.

    Huan Guest

    Funny you should bring this up, because I was wondering about it just a
    few days ago.

    Since I switched to OS X, I have ALWAYS had a clone of the exact same
    installation on my Cube and on my Ti Book. It never occurred to me that it
    wouldn't work, and it always has. The battery and airport-related things
    simply don't show up on the Cube, but when I clone it to the Ti Book,
    they are magically there. If I take my FW drive clone to my parents'
    house, I can boot their lamp-looking iMac from that same clone as the
    Cube and the Ti Book.

    But when this crossed my mind a few days ago, I wondered if it worked
    that way between older and newer Macs (my Macs are both very old) or
    between two new Macs. I also wondered if it had something to do with
    using the stand-alone Panther rather than an installation that came with
    a new computer (my Macs both came with 9).
    Huan, Mar 9, 2006
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  3. There is no simple, categorical answer that covers all the permutations,
    but OS X installations are generally "universal": they'll work on any
    Mac officially supported by the OS version.

    Unlike the pre-X installers, OS X retail ("reference") installers do not
    create systems customized for a particular hardware configuration. All
    components needed by any supported model will be installed. Hardware
    customization of OS X is essentially done at startup, when extensions
    are loaded according to the hardware components detected. (Some
    extensions load "dynamically" as needed later on.) The system does
    create a cache to speed up normal booting; but if it finds itself
    running on different hardware at startup, it goes through the full
    process of selecting the proper extensions and rebuilding the cache.

    There is no guarantee that a system from an OEM installer disc (bundled
    with a Mac) will run correctly on a different model: if you want to
    create a universal boot system, it's best to use one created by a retail
    installer. Consult Mactracker for the range of OS versions that
    particular Mac models can boot.

    FireWire bootability depends on the Mac model and its firmware, the FW
    controller, the FW bridge chip and its firmware, and (occasionally) on
    the drive. Generally, most Macs can boot most versions of OS X from most
    drives (hard or optical) through most bridge chips. The exceptions to
    this rule usually involve incompatible bridge chips or third-party
    FireWire adapters.
    Neill Massello, Mar 9, 2006
  4. Kurt L.

    Ted Lee Guest

    Hmmmm. Just intriguing enough to be worth an experiment. Our mini came
    with the OEM version, sort of. (As I recall, it had Panther installed but
    came with a separate Tiger upgrade.) My PB came with just the OEM. I
    bought a retail version of Tiger and installed it on my G4 tower. If what
    everyone here is saying is right, I ought to be able to put both the tower
    and the mini in firewire mode and boot my PB from them -- or at least try to
    and see what happens!
    Ted Lee, Mar 9, 2006
  5. AFAIK, the Tiger upgrade DVD is a full installer. The only significant
    difference between it and the retail installer is that it requires a
    pre-existing Panther installation on the target machine. A system
    installed by either of your Tiger discs should work on any supported
    Neill Massello, Mar 9, 2006
  6. Kurt L.

    Huan Guest

    Does Combo Update mean the one you download from Apple's website? I have
    only downloaded the regular software that comes from "Software Update...",
    and my two computers (Cube and Ti Book) are still able to run clones of
    the same system. I always download the updates while using the Cube
    though, never tried it the other direction.
    Huan, Mar 10, 2006
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