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I’m running 10.11 on my MacBook Pro and I’m wondering if it is possible to install a PPC OS X to an external HDD using an intel MacBook? Or is there an app that I can use to accomplish this?

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  • What model MacBook Pro? No macOS will run on a machine that wasn't invented when the OS was released.
    – Tetsujin
    Oct 31, 2018 at 10:10
  • Macbook Pro 2009. I understand that, I don’t want to run the os on the macbook, I want to use the macbook to install the os x to an external hdd that will be used in an old powerpc mac G5.
    – Inaloz_H
    Oct 31, 2018 at 10:18
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    What are you trying to do this on a modern Mac instead of just doing the install on the G5 itself? Seems like there's a missing piece to the puzzle here.
    – l008com
    Oct 31, 2018 at 12:01

1 Answer 1

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You may try your luck with Pacifist. This application will take just the installer packages and extract them to where you want them as a destination.

However, the application falls short in a few areas for a really complete installation, as some things were not designed in: pre- and post-install scripts, blessing (making it bootable), ownership and permission will likely be off.

For these problems there is a nice writeup available at How to install a very small version of OS X on an external drive (2007):

STEP 1: Format your drive (HFS+, journaled)
STEP 2: Enable owners

 sudo /usr/sbin/vsdbutil -a /Volumes/CRUZER

STEP 3: Install OS X
Insert disc 1 of your OS X install media (you can close the Finder window that pops up; you don't need it), then open Pacifist and click the "Open Apple Install Packages" button at the bottom. A pop-up window will open that should have an option like, "OS Install - Mac OS X and standard applications (Mac OS X Install Disc 1)":

Selecting an install package to extract from

Highlight it and hit OK. Pacifist will load the relevant files, which will take a little while.Eventually, it will spit out disc 1 and ask for disc 2.

Expand, "Contents of EssentialSystemSoftware", then expand, "EssentialSystemSoftwareGroup" and select both "BaseSystem" and "Essentials":

Selecting the packages to extract

With those two selected, click on File -> Install Files to Other Disk..., select your external drive in the pop-up window and hit OK. In the next pop-up, leave "Use Administrator Privileges" checked and hit "Install", then enter your password to start the process.

During the extraction/copying process, you might see either (or both) of the following warnings:

A file already exists at the following location...

In response to this, check "Don't ask again for this installation", and click, "Leave alone".

The application bundle [path to bundle] already exists...

For this one, check the same box and click "Replace".

Once this process completes you can open up your drive in the Finder and you should be able to see the system folders and files (along with anything else that was already there if you didn't format the partition in step 1):

STEP 4: Copying additional files from your existing installation

Open a Finder window and navigate to /System/Library/CoreServices on your main hard drive. Open a second Finder window to the same place, but on your external drive. Now copy the file SetupAssistant from the former to the latter. (You'll need to enter your password to confirm.)

Similarly, navigate to /Library/Receipts (note: NOT /System/Library/Receipts!) on both drives and copy BaseSystem.pkg and Essentials.pkg from the former to the latter.

STEP 5: Make the drive bootable

Open Terminal and enter:

sudo bless --verbose --folder "/Volumes/CRUZER/System/Library/CoreServices" --bootinfo --bootefi

(Note the double dashes for each argument in this command! Also, if you're using a non-Intel Mac then you don't need the --bootefi flag.)

After being prompted for your password, you should see a verbose output for this command, which should contain a number of indications of success, e.g. "boot.efi created successfully".

STEP 6: Fix permissions

In Disk Utility, select your external partition and click "Repair Permissions". This may take a little while depending on the type of drive you're using.

STEP 7: Boot!

Restart your Mac, holding down the option key until you see the list of devices that can be booted. If all went well, you should see something like this:

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  • Hi, thank you. Can you give me instructions on how to do this? How do I make the external hdd bootable?
    – Inaloz_H
    Oct 31, 2018 at 11:42
  • Thank you so much. I’ve done all steps, so far so good. But, I’m stuck in step 4, under /Library/Receipts there’s a folder named db and file named InstallHistory.plist. Theres no BaseSystem.pkg and Essentials.pkg under /Library/Receipts on my main hdd
    – Inaloz_H
    Oct 31, 2018 at 12:29

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