2015-05-16

LanceJ's Ultimate Mac Boot Stick

After a few years of fooling around, I decided to make up my own ultimate Mac Boot USB stick.

My goals:  When I administrate computers, I want to have most everything I need on a single boot device so I don't have to fool around downloading, installing, or searching.

My boot stick includes the software that I need most frequently.  It isn't that complicated, but it took a while to actually figure it all out.  Best of all, you can easily make your own!

Required Stuff:

A 32 GB (or larger) USB 3.0 "thumb drive".  These devices are inexpensive, portable, fast, and readily available.  I use something like this PNY USB 3.0 stick.

What not to use:
  • Small thumb drives.  You may be able to get away with a 16 GB device, but anything less than 16 GB will limit your flexibility. 
  • Hard disks or SSDs.  They're more expensive, bulky, and HD's are less reliable
  • SD Cards.  An SD card is an option, but the truth is that a standard USB 3.0 thumb drive is more universal.  They work on just about all Macs produced over the past 10+ years.
Partitions:

I created four partitions to on my Ultimate Mac Boot USB stick:
  1. El Capitan Installer (6.5 GB)
  2. Lion Installer (6.5 GB)  (if you deal with 1st generation Intel-based Macs)
  3. Memtest Partition (50 MB)
  4. Installable Software Partition (Remaining Space)
For very old Macs (like a 2005-vintage PowerBook) , I still lug around a Leopard DVD.  Oh well, old school equipment demands old school procedures!


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