CaseStudy:Mac OS X Panther unable to boot from USB


We received a Mac Power PC G4 running Mac OS X Panther (10.3.x) for recycle.

Problem Being Addressed

In an attempt to wipe the drives and test the RAM I was unable to boot UBCD from a CD and USB drive.  The CD isn’t recognized by the system when booting up while holding down the C key, which forces a boot from the CD drive but when it does boot up the cd icon appears on the desktop.

The Approach Taken

I tried using older versions of UBCD while holding down the C key before boot still with no luck.  The next step was to take the drives out and connect them to a bench machine.

Problems Experienced

The problem is that non-Intel based Mac or Macs that were shipped with Mac OS X 10.4.3 and below are unable to boot from USB/LiveCD unless the user tweaks the NVRAM, PRAM, and Open Firmware and UBCD does not work on older non-Intel Macs.

Things We Would Do Differently

Next time an issue similar to this occurs I’d do more research on the operating system and machine and take into account the time they were produced and the technologies and abilities that were available.


  1. Mac OS X Tiger, Wikipedia
  2. Easily boot from USB 2.0 drives on PowerPC Macs

Inactive since January, 2014