I'm using a G4 1.5ghz PPC 32bit Powerbook

I followed the instructions on this site.


But could never get my powerbook to boot up from the usb drive.

I can not use a CD because my DVD drive is busted. Thus the need for USB.

Also most of the usb partitioning and install instructions are for people using linux already. I need to create the disk in mac osx only.

  • Do other live cds boot? Is it only the squeeze disk cited above that didn't? Mar 29, 2011 at 12:58
  • Like I posted above. My DVD drive is broken. Mar 31, 2011 at 4:26
  • I tried installing ubuntu live cd img on my USB and that didn't boot either but I am sure it I'd my fault because I read some crazy instructions somewhere that suggested I make partitions and set up the USB before doing sudo dd if=/ etc. Mar 31, 2011 at 4:28

4 Answers 4


From reading several sources, it appears that earlier PPC Macs could not boot from USB. Fortunately, it appears your Mac is recent enough it likely is capable. I have seen two methods of doing so:

  • Hold the Option (Alt) key while your machine is booting.
  • Plug in your USB stick (while the computer is on). In System Preferences, find the Startup Disk option, and select your USB stick.

You should also double-check that the partition has the bootable flag; I've heard some bootloaders ignore it, but I don't know whether Macs do.


I managed to do it a while back with Debian, here you can download it:


and here is the installation manual.


Notice that some Macs wont boot from an USB device. check your models manual.

Good luck!

  • I very much doubt you have actually used a Mac to create a USB stick that actually booted Linux on the same Mac. I think if you had been able to actually create all the necessary partitions and do all he necessary formatting with a Mac and actually were successfull in the boot up process then you would have posted a little bit more detailed answer Mar 31, 2011 at 4:31
  • How did you make the boot partition using a Mac? And how did you instal yaboot on that partition using a Mac. Those are two things that there is zERO documentation on right now. Did you honestly do that? Mar 31, 2011 at 5:54

Yes, you can boot PowerPC Linux from USB. I do it very often and I can assure you that it works. If you follow the installation instructions for MintPPC, you will see that it works.

  • 1
    Yes, the MintPPC instructions tell you to make a debian squeeze disk - which I did and was able to boot up from a usb stick into debian squeeze installer. But after using the installer to install MintPPC onto another usb stick, the created usb stick would not boot up. Jun 18, 2011 at 8:09
  • I wish someone would write some software that made it a whole lot easier to get usb sticks running on PPC. There is a whole bunch of people like me out there who's macs have become paper weights because Apple only supports their newest machines and drops support so quickly for older ones. This is the whole reason I switched to linux. Jun 18, 2011 at 8:10

To install an ISO install image to a USB stick, the first thing that came to my mind was simply:

# dd if=/path/to/distro.iso of=/dev/sd[x] 

to overwrite the contents and write the image to it. You have to make sure sd[x] is your unmounted USB stick. To identify your device, take look at the output of fdisk -l or look for it in /dev/disk/.

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