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At the time it shipped, the System Requirements for the Apple USB SuperDrive said it worked with precisely three models of computer:

  • MacBook Pro with Retina display
  • MacBook Air computer
  • Mac mini computer

The questions and answers linked to from its page are fairly explicit that it only works with Apple hardware that ships without the option to include an internal Superdrive.

My question is what the limitation is (firmware? drivers?) that would preventing it from working with, completely hypothetically, a mid-2007 24" iMac with 2.8GHz Core 2 Duo processor running Lion (because performance slowed down too much when I tried ML on it) that has an unreliable internal Superdrive? Are there drivers, kernel extensions, or hacks to fool the OS as to what machine it's running on that would let it use the external Superdrive?

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You can edit a plist file by following the instructions found here to enable it on your system, however be aware you won't be able to boot from it (such as installing an OS via CD/DVD at boot).

I have no idea why Apple place the limitations on things like this, other than the potential that it makes things difficult for people (such as myself) who want to stray from normal configurations by installing two hard drives rather than a hard drive and optical drive in their systems. By making it difficult for the masses, they create a more stable experience overall as they have more control over the default configurations.

It's a combination of the firmware on the device, and the plist file which tells the OS whether to recognise the device. There's something in the EFI which prevents it working at boot level though which I don't know enough about to provide further information on though.

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Nice link. Even cooler because the author of that article is a member of this site –  Daniel Lawson Aug 8 '12 at 23:20
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I just got off the phone with apple as we had a new 27" iMac built from the ground up. It won't be here until sometime in January. I was worried about it not having a drive for such thing so I went and bought the new USB SuperDrive. I got it from best buy which they currently have it on sale for $69.99, $10 less than retail. After buying it and reading all kinds of things saying the USB SuperDrive isn't compatible with the new iMacs I decided to call apple. I found out that the new USB SuperDrives are compatible with the new iMacs. They have to be the new updated SuperDrive to go along with the new iMacs but they said its 100% compatible! I hope this helps!

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