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Creating the ULTIMATE multi-boot recovery USB Drive
Published by Side.Step.Society
01-08-2011
Lightbulb Creating the ULTIMATE multi-boot recovery USB Drive

Greetings all,

I've got an easy breezy tip for you multi-boot-ers.

Multi-booting on our notebooks can be kind of a fight sometimes. And carrying around different USB drives for different operating systems can become quite cumbersome when you're triple booting and on the go. So, I've come across a method to fit all your favourite OS installers on one USB drive.

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What you should probably get/have:

-One USB stick, preferably 16GB in size, although, depending on your OS choices/requirements, 8GB may work as well.

-Probably going to need a computer, in this guide I'll be using OS X and Windows on my 10v.

-NBI 0.8.5pre. I imagine earlier versions may work as well, however, this is what I used and it works quite well. If I had to guess, I would say any NBI that supports Windows dual boot will work.

- Windows USB/DVD Download Tool

- A DMG of the OS X Install DVD and an ISO of the Windows 7 installer. (Not sure if earlier versions of Windows will work or not.) If you haven't made an ISO of your Windows 7 disc, I suggest a program called "ISODisk". It's the only one that worked for me.

-One stainless steel fork. (You'll understand why later.)

Crack your knuckles and let's begin!

Part A - Formatting the Drive:

In this first step, we'll simply be formatting the drive to prepare it for multi-booting.

1. Boot to OS X, insert your USB drive and open up "Disk Utility".

2. Click on the USB drive and go to the "Partition" tab.

3. This step will vary depending on your needs and the size of your USB drive. If you're triple booting, create three partitions. In my case, I chose 3 partitions:

Partition 1 - Windows 7 Ultimate installer - Roughly 4GB
Partition 2 - Mac OS X Snow Leopard installer - Roughly 9GB
Partition 3 - Storage space - Roughly 4GB

You'll need to resize these partitions to fit each desired installer, of course. I should also note that the third partition (as of now) is only visible in OS X.

4. Click the "Options" button and set it to use Master Boot Record.

5. Click "Apply" and your flash drive will be ready for the next step.

Part B - Copying the Installers:

Now we'll be restoring the installers to the USB drive itself.

1. We're going to start with the Windows installer. This will have to be done in Windows.

2. Install and run the Windows USB/DVD Download Tool.

3. Locate your Windows 7 ISO and plug it into the program, then choose your USB drive. Since Windows can only see the first partition, it will copy the ISO to that partition and it'll be completely bootable. It's quite straight forward.

One down, one to go.

1. Now we'll do the OS X Installer. This is basically the same as creating a drive for your hackintosh with NBM/NBI. The only difference is choosing the correct partition.

2. Open up Disk Utility and restore your OS X DMG to the second partition on your USB stick. Click "Restore".

3. Prepare your fork.

4. Go into the kitchen and stab some food with your fork. Eat said food.

5. Once you're done eating, check on the restore process and see if it's done. It'll take a little while on the mini 10v.

6. When it's done, run NBI 0.8.5pre, make sure you select the "Mac OS X Install DVD" and not your "Macintosh HD".

VOILLA!

That's it! Your multi-boot USB drive is ready to use! No more fighting with multiple USB drives. You can boot to whichever installer you please. And although I have yet to try it, I imagine Linux would go on the third partition quite easily as well.

So now, if you haven't already set up dual booting, prepare your fork for battle, go attack some food, and enjoy the simplicity of one USB drive for all of your operating systems!

-Chris
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