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I have a 2012 Mac Mini running OS X 10.7.3. On another PC, I have created a USB boot disc with CentOS 6.2 on it. The goal was to install CentOS onto the Mini. The USB drive is MBR partitioned and boots fine on BIOS based PCs. However, not so on the Mac Mini. While holding down the option key, I see the USB drive offered as a "Windows Drive" however selecting it to boot into causes the screen to go completely black and the words "Boot Error" to be displayed with a blinking cursor underneath the words.

I have installed rEFIt as an EFI boot manager onto the Mac Mini. Using the rEFIt boot management screen to select the USB drive to boot from causes no difference. The Mini can boot from a USB drive that I turned into an Apple Recovery Disk.

What could be preventing the Mac Mini from booting off of the USB drive when other BIOS based PCs don't have trouble with it?

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It appears that the Mac Mini version that I purchased cannot, as of the time of this post, accept an alternate operating system. Hacks and workarounds may exist, but they are not apparent.

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The best way to actually install an OS from a USB stick, and to allow it to run on a Mac/PC or anything in between has been with a program that I've used in the past called unetbootin.

This program has over 20 Distros including CentOS.

I have used it in the past, and I will tell you now when I used it, it was a lifesaver. All you need to do is download the ISO and run the program. Follow the simple steps and sit back, enjoy the install show, and then run your OS from the USB without an issue.

Hope this helps you. If you have any questions just ask. I'll help where I can.

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That was one of the tools that I used. I didn't think it made a different to explain what different methods that I've used to create a bootable USB drive because, in the end, it's all the same. I made a bootable USB by hand, by unetbootin and a few other utilities. None of them made a bootable USB drive that the Mac could handle. –  Wesley May 2 '12 at 2:13
    
It does help explaining... because then we know what you tried, and how to solve your issue ;) I do have a question though, have you attempted to use that program on the Mac? It may make the difference. –  Matt Ridge May 2 '12 at 2:29

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