Sunday, February 1, 2009

Leopard boot disk for a unibody Macbook

The hard drive if my brand new "Unibody" 13" MacBook (Late 2008/Aluminum) running Leopard 10.5.6 became corrupted last Saturday night before a presentation the next week and through trying to revive it I quickly realized via the web there are no third party resources available to recover it. I also read on the web that it isn't possible to create a boot disk for Leopard to be able to run something like Disk Warrior. The options to recover your drive are:
1) Use Time Machine before the chaos began, which I hadn't set up (doh!) due to tight funds for a big external drive.
2) Run the grey OS X Install DVD and use Disk Utilities to fix up the drive.
3) Pull the drive out of the Macbook and try to mount it with and external USB->SATA adaptor to another computer. About there was when I really missed target mode..... Sob.

Anyway I recovered the drive after a while but wished I'd had a boot disk with something other than disk utility. I'm posting this as a starting point for more useful tools for drive recovery from the DVD drive on the unibody Macbooks. What I have done is make a boot disk for "Unibody" 13" MacBook (Late 2008/Aluminum) that works.

I was able to make a boot disk for my new Apple Macbook from the grey OS X install DVD that came with the Macbook using Coriolis CDMaker version 1.2.2 (17) - the version packaged with iPartition 3. I noticed that if you try to create a boot disk straight from the grey OS X install DVD in your DVD drive you'll get an error message. "Coriolis CDMaker failed to create a template from the intsallation media. Try again or use an alernative source..."

Here's a workaround I stumbled upon.
1. Using Disk Utility in the Utilities folder create a new image of the Mac OS X Install DVD. Change the Image format option from "compressed" to "read/write". Create the disk image.
2. Mount the OS X install DVD disk image.
3. Trash the folder "Optional Installs" - whatever is in this folder prevents CDMaker from creating a boot disk template.
3. Open CDMaker and it will detect the mounted OS X install DVD disk image and create boot disk template from the startup data in the disk image.
4. Follow the instructions and burn your boot disk to DVD.
5. Boot computer from DVD to test. It workerd!

Now making a disk that full of useful recovery software, that's probably another story.