I am in the process of creating a multiboot drive with OS X starting from 10.7 up to 10.12 (Lion, Mountain Lion, Mavericks, Yosemite, El Capitan and Sierra). I have bought Kingston DT micro 3.1 64GB and created a separate partition for each OS and their updates. The usb drive is formatted in GUID partition scheme.

When I have completed creating bootable partitions, I decided to test if they will boot on my MBA early 2015. And it turns out that only Sierra and El Capitan will proceed to boot, other partitions will either not be recognised at all or will just show a Prohibitory symbol (meaning it could not find a valid System folder).

I have used the following command to create all the install media:

sudo /Applications/Install\ OS\ X\ Name.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia --volume /Volumes/Partition\ Name --applicationpath /Applications/Install\ OS\ X\ Name.app --nointeraction

For Lion and Mountain Lion I have used the restore disk utility functionality as they do not have createinstallmedia command.

I am doing all of the operations on Sierra 10.12.3.

Here are the guesses what I have:

  • Flash drive could have a certain partitioning limit
  • OS X below 10.11 will not boot on newer hardware
  • Each partition should have a free space buffer - currently each partition has just enough space for the OS with 200-300mb spare space
  • It is solely the USB3.1 issue - I did not have any problems with doing the same thing on USB2.0
  • The usb drive is fake - no idea how to test this

I have also noticed that it takes up to couple of minutes to recognise the drive itself and its partitions in disk utility.

What else should I try to successfully create a multiboot drive?

  • You can test the USB using the Fight Flash Fraud app F3X. – Tetsujin Feb 26 '17 at 8:46
  • Considered using a usb key for each instead? – Thorbjørn Ravn Andersen Feb 26 '17 at 9:53
  • @ThorbjørnRavnAndersen this is what I'm trying to avoid. – alljamin Feb 26 '17 at 11:35
  • Maybe this is a dumb question, but were you wanting the multi-boot drive to actually be capable of booting your early-2015 MacBook Air from all partitions, or were you just using the MBA to test whether each of your partitions were bootable? What I'm getting at is that your Lion, Mountain Lion and Mavericks partitions may be perfectly fine and bootable for devices capable of being booted into those macOS versions. But, if your intention is to be able to boot your MBA into any macOS earlier than 10.10.2, then you're trying to do something your MBA was not designed to do. – Monomeeth Feb 26 '17 at 12:41
  • @Monomeeth The USB key is solely for troubleshooting purposes, meaning in case I need to re-install or fix Mavericks on Mavericks compatible hardware I'd just insert the USB key and boot into it. I'm testing this USB key to find out if it actually works, to avoid the situation when it won't boot for some reason on the compatible hardware. – alljamin Feb 27 '17 at 4:36

The Early 2015 MacBook Air can not boot anything earlier than 10.10.2. So anything earlier than Yosemite definitely don't work on that machine. As to why Yosemite doesn't work you need to make sure you're not installing 10.10 or 10.10.1. Just re-download the Yosemite installer from the App Store it will give you the most recent to version of Yosemite.

  • If I understand you correctly, in order to test the boot of earlier that 10.10.2 OS X I need to have older hardware. Is there absolutely no way around it? – alljamin Feb 26 '17 at 2:37
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    @alljamin yep, there is no way around this, they only work on older hardware. – Tom Shen Feb 26 '17 at 2:39
  • @alljamin There is one thing you could do. For OS X versions 10.7, 10.8 and 10.9 you could use a virtual machine to install and run them. – user205310 Feb 26 '17 at 4:47
  • @Little.Eden I never said that I need to install these OS X versions on my machine. I need to ensure the boot(ability) of these systems from external USB key, so when for example I'd need to troubleshoot one of the systems I'll just use this USB key. Please read the question carefully before providing your suggestion. – alljamin Feb 26 '17 at 5:42
  • If there is no way to boot into the older OS's, should they at least be visible during the boot option screen? Currently I don't see them despite the fact that they are correctly mounted to the USB key. – alljamin Feb 26 '17 at 5:55

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