Earlier this week I walked through my experience of configuring a 5G iPod so that it could boot an Intel Mac. This naturally led to a hail of “but what about other iPods?” questions. Here’s the dope:
Any full-sized iPod that can be synced over FireWire can boot a Mac that supports FireWire booting (and this is just about any Mac after the Power Mac G4 [PCI Graphics]). If you have a PowerPC-based Mac, you can treat the full-sized FireWire iPod just like any other external hard drive. Connect it to your Mac, insert your Mac OS X Install disc, run the installer, and choose the iPod as the destination volume.
If you have an Intel-based Mac, the Mac OS X installer will tell you that the iPod isn’t a valid target. Because it isn’t, you must clone a working startup volume intended to boot an Intel Mac to the iPod using the method I described in my previous entry. (This is important. You can’t boot an Intel Mac with an OS designed for PowerPC Macs and vice versa—each flavor of the Mac OS to its own, please.)
PowerPC Macs won’t boot from an iPod over a USB connection. That means that if you have a PowerPC Mac and a 5G iPod (the only full-sized iPod that doesn’t support FireWire syncing) you can’t boot your Mac from your iPod.
I’ve emphasized “full-sized iPods” for a reason. Flash-based iPods—nanos and shuffles—won’t boot any Mac. Given a configuration of the Mac OS that can fit on it, the iPod mini can boot a PowerPC Mac over FireWire. So far I’ve had no luck installing the Mac OS to an iPod mini from an Intel Mac. The disc-based installer won’t install to it, and the cloning operation I tried didn’t work (though I’m still futzing with other configurations).
Booting an Intel Mac into Windows from an iPod? I admit that I haven’t had the guts (or patience) to try it. Carbon Copy Cloner won’t recognize the Windows volume created with Boot Camp, so that’s out. A few scattered threads around the Web indicate that it’s possible to install Windows from an XP disc to an external drive attached to an Intel Mac (FireWire seems to be the recommended flavor), but I’ve yet to hear a chorus of people claiming they’ve succeeded in their efforts. If you’ve made any headway in this regard, I’d love to hear about it.