Serving The Planet

Creating a Bootable Mac OS X USB bootstick from within Windows? [SOLVED!]

So … as I was writing earlier today, had a 2007 white MacBook (model a1181) came in for ‘repair’ (more like a reinstall of Lion).

Troubleshooting Mac OSX reinstallation

The built-in recovery (key combination: ⌘ R) didn’t work (due to Apple ID login ‘bug’).

Internet recovery (⌘ Option R) didn’t work either.

Hmm … no problem (yet)!

If I would just have a bootable DVD or USB pendrive, I can still fix the issue in a flash.

Except … I don’t have it.

Creating Mac OS X bootable media

Easy! If you have a spare Mac / Hackintosh laying around. Except I don’t have one (at the moment).

Virtualize OSX on Windows?

I know about running a virtualized OSX within Windows through VMplayer, and then the ability to mount an USB thumbdrive and create the recoverable media. But that takes HOURS! And I don’t have that amount of time right now.

Create bootable OSX USB in Windows?

I keep reading everywhere this is impossible. But is it really? Back in the Mac OSX 10.6 Leopard days, I was able to create a USB thumbdrive using a properly prepared image with ‘dd’ for Windows for my Dell D630 Hackintosh. So why can’t it be done for an actual Macbook?

Create OSX media from within Windows

The challenges are many.

1) Windows vs. Mac OSX filesystem

Mac’s HFS File System, cannot be read, nor written from within Windows.

So we need an extra tool. “dd” (DiskDupe) ain’t very userfriendly.
Instead downloaded (15-day free version) of TransMac.

Features:

  • Open Mac format disk drives, flash drives, CD/DVD/Blu-ray media, dmg, dmgpart, sparsebundle and sparseimage files
  • Copy files to Mac disks and dmg images.
  • Format for Mac and restore disks and flash drives.
  • Create, compress and expand (convert to iso) dmg files.
  • Built in burner functionality to burn ISO and dmg files directly to CD/DVD/Blu-Ray.
  • Read Mac multisession and hybrid CDs.

Exactly what ‘we’  need!

2) Download Mac OSX install image

The system has a license for Mac OSX Lion. Hence I downloaded a factory image with Torrent.

3) Prepping USB bootable media

  • Insert USB stick
  • Start TransMac
  • Select USB stick
  • Right mouse button: choose “restore with disk image”
  • after it’s finished? Right mouse button and choose “eject”

4) Booting the MacBook into Recovery mode

  • Powerup the Macbook and at the tune press C key to boot from install media. If that doesn’t work? And it still boots from the built-in recovery partition? Press the Apple character topleft, when it’s done booting. Choose “Startup disk”, select the USB thumbdrive that shows, and press “restart” button twice.
  • Perform the installations steps (pressing next a bunch of times), and it will start installation.

5) Troubleshooting installation

After 5-8 minutes I get this error:

Can’t download the additional components needed to install Mac OS X.

Okay, restoring diskimage in step3 with “InstallESD.dmg” might not have been the right course of action:

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  • Doing step 3 again, this time with a different retail DMG. After step 4; same error …
  • Reboot with LAN cable attached, instead of WiFi; same error …
  • Repartitioned the entire harddrive with Journaled file system and GUID bootid (just to be on the safe side). And you guessed it! Same error!

*Looking puzzled* Hmm … what could this be?!

  • Internet definitely works because I can access Microsoft.com on it :-p
  • “First Aid” tab in “Disk Utility” says partition map is OK for both HDD as well USB.
  • 3rd Lion image; same problem. So cannot be corrupt image either.
  • Just flashed with a 10.6 SL image … and it cannot boot. So the other images seem to be the right ones.

… a few hours later … (and way passed the deadline / time I scheduled for this)

  • … and yes I already tried the VMware player option as well, only to find out it’s either a version mismatch between the player and the vmdk image, or the image is just corrupt.
  • This particular MacBook also has just 4GB RAM, so that cannot cause the problem either (as I read on a few forums)
  • created a bootable 10.7 Mac OSX Lion DVD with aforementioned tool within Windows; buzzing as we speak!

Woohoo! FIXED! Mission accomplished!

 Seems my USB pendrive was ‘bugged’, but glad a good ol’ disc did the trick!

Over Earnie Rhyker

tech pioneer | intellectual BadAss | ethical lifehacker | WordPress developer & Polyglot | information activist | blogger | added value services provider | multimedia enthusiast | senior linux server administrator | geek | bitcoin investor | laptop entrepreneur | tech support guru | open source contributor | hackintosh fanatic | charity donator | accredited top MLM networker & internet marketer 2014-2016 @ BFH | Growth Hacker

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