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Old 1st March 2012, 08:34 PM
Belgin Offline
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Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: Romania
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Talking Bootable USB stick from MacBook Air

Greetings, Fedora users!

I would like to create a USB stick to boot a live version of Fedora (no installation) from my mid-2011 MacBook Air. However, all methods that I have tried resulted in a dead end which consists of a screen full of moving white/blue gradients. Here is what I have tried so far:

1. Copying the EFI folder from the ISO image, along with the ISO image itself (as is) onto the USB stick and booting while holding the alt key and selecting the stick to boot.
2. Following the guide from ubuntu.com with dd and preparing the stick this way.

Are there any other methods I could try?
I think the moving gradients suggest it's some sort of video problem, as I have deleted quiet from the kernel line in grub and I could see text scrolling by before the gradients show up. Also, this happens on every distro I have tried (Fedora, Ubuntu, CentOS).

---------- Post added at 07:34 PM ---------- Previous post was at 04:22 PM ----------

OK, I did it. Turns out the only thing I had to do is setting nomodeset in the kernel line in GRUB.
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Old 2nd March 2012, 05:34 AM
kurtdriver Offline
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Re: Bootable USB stick from MacBook Air

There are programs in the Fedora repos that would have done this for you. Unetbootin for instance makes it easy as pie. Glad you got it fixed.
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Old 3rd March 2012, 05:37 PM
chrismurphy Offline
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Posts: 1,058
Re: Bootable USB stick from MacBook Air

Possibly the most reliable way to make a USB boot stick is livecd-tools-17.6-1.fc17 currently in updates-testing. The livecd-iso-to-disk script can make a combo UEFI and BIOS bootable stick.

Most Mac models don't support USB booting when using CSM/BIOS mode boot. There are supposedly a handful of mid/late 2011 models that can CSM/BIOS boot from an SD card, however I haven't tested this myself.

And also, the latest Boot Camp 4.0 instructions indicate it's possible to boot and install Windows 7 from a USB stick on certain newer Apple hardware models, so that would seem to imply CSM/BIOS boot support for USB. But I haven't tested this either.
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Old 2nd May 2012, 03:15 AM
smr54 Online
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Re: Bootable USB stick from MacBook Air

I tend to agree with Chris here. I realize the thread is a couple of months old now, but my wife recently got a Macbook Air and I wondered how Fedora might do.

My own experience, though not thoroughly tested, is that generally, RH based distros do better using livecd-iso-to-disk (and it doesn't have to be a live CD--it works quite well with install CDs or DVDs, netinstall media, generally, anything intended to boot an RH based distribution), and unetbootin works better with Debian (including Ubuntu) based.

Anyway, using livecd-to-usb and the live F17 x86_64 LXDE live CD, I created the usb with livecd-iso-to-disk, specifying
--format --efi (I am not 100 percent sure that's necessary).

Upon booting the Air, holding down the option key, I was giving the choice to boot into the EFI drive. It booted with little problem. Once booted, the touchpad was a bit flakey, reversing left and right, but I was basically just curious to see how it would run. Aside from that, it was a pretty straightforward live boot. I'll have to try again without the --format --efi option and see how that goes---the one time I tried it with something else, it showed the USB as Windows (as opposed to EFI) and wouldn't boot. I also installed that one with unetbootin.

---------- Post added at 10:15 PM ---------- Previous post was at 09:10 PM ----------

To add a bit more, in case someone does this--if one uses the --format --efi option, then before reusing the USB stick, you will probably want to reformat it. Otherwise, fdisk will complain that it's an EFI partition, fdisk can't handle it, please use parted.

So, I just used parted and typed remove 1 to remove the partition. I then typed mklabel msdos which more or less clears the USB stick.


After that I could use fdisk as usual.

Out of curiosity, I did try the same live LXDE F17 Beta CD with Unetbootin and livecd-iso-to-disk without the --format --efi options. In both cases, the Macbook saw a drive which it labled Windows, but wouldn't boot.

Your mileage may vary of course, that was as far as I took this.
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Old 2nd May 2012, 07:30 AM
chrismurphy Offline
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Posts: 1,058
Re: Bootable USB stick from MacBook Air

Just a heads up on this. It's likely we're going to have considerable changes in F17 for Mac booting. There is very active development occurring during final candidate testing, so I can't say for sure yet how the behaviors will change. But tentatively it may turn out that using dd on Mac OS X to image the USB stick will be the best way to make EFI bootable media for most Macs.

There are still some bugs, but I've got, for the first time ever, a completely EFI bootable Macbook Pro 4,1 including nouveau + X graphical startup and desktop. Very cool. And the Macbook Pro 8,2 is very close to success. So it's an exciting time for Fedora on Mac fans.

(Seriously, EFI pisses me off beyond belief, but worse is this whole hybrid MBR and CSM-BIOS b.s. So the sooner we grow out of this phase, the better, as far as I'm concerned.)
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Old 2nd May 2012, 12:54 PM
smr54 Online
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Re: Bootable USB stick from MacBook Air

Thanks for the heads up. If I try again, I'll give that method a shot. (But won't be trying for awhile, I seldom have access to it--see below) .

Note that the Air belongs to my lovely wife, so there will be no installation on it, but it's fun to play with the live USBs.
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air, bootable, macbook, stick, usb

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