How to: Install OSx86 using a USB stick (using a mac)

I’m sure a lot of people out there would like to install OSx86 on their non-apple computer, or hackintosh, but do not have a CD drive. I imagine the majority of these people are installing on a netbook, or maybe, like me, you’ve run out of blank DVDs. Lucky for you I’m here to tell you use a USB stick to install OSx86.

First up you need OS X. Since I was putting it on a hackintosh I used the iAtkos version of OSx86, as it is made to work out of the box with all kinds of hardware. You could also use a normal retail version of OS X if you have one, or any other distribution. This method should also work for any version ie 10.4, 10.5, 10.6, 10.7 etc.

We want to put the files for installation on our USB stick, but we only have an image file (.dmg) which we would normally burn onto a disc. There are a couple of ways of putting the files contained in the image file onto the USB in the appropriate structure, for example using disk utility, but the easiest method I found was to use a little app called SuperDuper! as it was quick and simple to use. The app isn’t completely free, but lucky for us there is a 15 day free trial, and since we are only using it for a single purpose we should be fine.

With the USB stick you want to use for OSx86 (should be 8Gb or more) plugged in, fire up SuperDuper!

SuperDuper!

On the left, next to copy you want to click Disk Image… then browse to where your image file is located on your hard drive and select it. Now click the drop down next to “to” and pick your usb stick from the list. If you stick is not formatted with a mac friendly filesystem then you will be prompted to change this using disk utility. When you’re done SuperDuper! should look like this, where derp is the name of my USB stick:

SuperDupter! locked and loaded

Click Copy Now, enter your password, confirm the prompt and away it will go.

SuperDuper! working

Mine takes 15-16 minutes to complete on average. Now sadly this is where I became confused as I thought the little tick next to Made derp bootable in the image above meant that i could just plug it in and it would boot. I was very wrong.

We need to install the chameleon bootloader onto our USB stick before it will be bootable. This is actually pretty easy. Head over to Voodoo Project and download the latest .pkg version (the one with the highest number, in the highest version of XCode (scroll down)). Run the .pkg file when it has been downloaded and continue until the final prompt before install, which should look something like this:

chameleon bootloader installer

Unless you want to install the bootloader onto your hard drive (you don’t) click Change Install Location… and select the USB stick.

chameleon bootloader destination select

Click Continue, Install then enter your password when prompted.

It should finish up and that’s it! You’re done! When you reboot with the USB stick plugged in, assuming your BIOS is set up right, you should be taken straight into the chameleon bootloader and be allowed to choose to boot from the USB or from your local hard drive.

If you have any questions about the process or anything else please feel free to ask. Have fun!

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