Creating a Recovery USB Drive for OSX86 Snow Leopard

If you are using Snow Leopard which is installed via Empire EFI or various other of methods. You’ll be certainly messing with kexts , dsdt and everything that has to go in making a potion. Yes , brother – I hear ya . But what if something goes wrong and poof all of a sudden your working hackint0sh has turned into a piece of junk. Obviously some of us would restore it via Time Machine , others would simply format and re-install. But what if you want to have something like how Windows System Restore works. It takes a snapshot of your system and bam if anything screws up , you can restore your PC back. Well with my newest method on how to recover your system you should be able to recover your system (as in get it to boot) under these situations/senarios :-

  • After applying system updates (i.e MacOSX 10.6 to MacOSX 10.6.2)
  • Messed up dsdt
  • Installed a problematic kext which causes kernel panic before starting
  • Your pet tiger deleted your entire Extensions folder

This is what exactly my guide is going to teach you on how to build a USB Recovery solution which contains working copy of your Extensions folder and Extras to get your OSX up and running just in case if your Extensions (or kext installation is f****ed up big time or if any Apple update did break something. You can easily revert things back and most importantly it gives you 85% chance of getting back to your working OSX environment without losing your files , and other important data.  Shall we get started.

PLEASE follow the guide , I’ve made it simpler then other complex guides which I’ve written in the past. Its straight forward
Well here are the prerequisites :-

  • A Working Copy of OSX86 10.6.x Installation (This includes your dsdt.aml* , your Extensions folder and your Extra folder)
  • A 1GB USB “Mass Storage Device” (again it can be your iPod , your thumb drive , your external hard disk. As long its bootable by your BIOS , its possible) ( I used a 2GB MP3 player for this tutorial)
  • myHack (Click here to download the latest version) – At this time of writing , myHack 5.0 RC2 was used

Another thing to note I’ll refer MacOSX 10.6 drive as ‘Macintosh HD’ and my USB Stick as USB Mass Storage Device or “RecoveryDisc”
1. Prepare the USB Medium by formating it as Mac OS Extended format (Journaled/Non-Case Sensitive) as shown in Diagram 1.0. In This case I called my 2GB Recovery Solution as “RecoveryDisc”

Screen shot 2010-02-13 at 6.55.19 PM
Diagram 1.0 - Formatting the drive

2. Once that is done , run myHack Installer . now please pay close attention to this. When you’re in the Select Destination screen , hit change Destination and select your USB Media , in this case its “RecoveryDisc”. DO NOT SELECT MACINTOSH HD or your primary HD , its going to mess your main HD. Do check Diagram 1.1 if you are not sure

Screen shot 2010-02-13 at 7.05.10 PM
Diagram 1.1 - Selecting the right destination drive

3. Once you’ve selected the right destination , be sure to hit Customize your myHack selection. Be sure to uncheck all of additional stuff. We wouldn’t be needing this as we will be replacing our own /Extra  folder. We just want myHack to install few essential kexts .
4. Once myHack is done installing , go to your USB “Mass Storage Device” in our case , its “RecoveryDisc”. Now at the same time open a new finder window and navigate to your /System/Library/Extensions folder (That is your Extensions folder of your Macintosh HD) , select all kexts (command +A  ) and then hit Command + C (or copy). Then , go to your USB Drive and navigate to its extensions folder and all you have to do now is hit Command +V
Screen shot 2010-02-13 at 6.56.44 PM
Diagram 1.4 - The copying process (Please do make sure that you're copying the entire extensions folder :p)

5. Once your Extensions folder is copied. Be sure to copy your /Extras folder from your Macintosh HD to your USB Drive. This is important , and please be sure to copy your dsdt.aml as well (if any) and a patched boot file (such as pc_efi) (again if any) to your USB Drive. Do overwrite if it prompts you to do so. Once that is done , be sure to run pfix. pfix can be found in the root of your USB “Mass Storage Device” or root of your Macintosh HD (assuming you have got it up and running with myHack)
6. This is the crucial part . So do take some time and read Its now time for us to test if our recovery solution is indeed working or not. So be sure that the USB “Mass Storage Device” is plugged in and make sure that your BIOS/Motherboard/Laptop/Desktop or whatever that you’re using supports booting from USB. Now depending on your BIOS , the key to trigger which boot device menu could be Delete , F11 , F12 , F10 . Please do consult your manual. Anyhow , you should able to see your USB Mass Storage Device , select it and you should be greeted with Chameleon’s / myHack interface. Now hit Tab once (or twice) and you’ll be greeted with a screen similar of this
Diagram 1.5 - The Dark Side of Chameleon (or myhack)

7. Be sure that your USB Disk is highlighted (for some unknown reason the usb disk did not show up in my picture ) and then type the following commands (without quotes that is P)
rd=diskXsY -v
where (x,y) is the location of where OSX is installed. If you would like to find the location of it , just take a look at your boot loader. For my case Macintosh HD is     . Therefore its rd=disk0s2 -v . If it shows as hd(0,5) Snow Leopard , then its rd=disk0s5 -v


8. If everything goes well , it should load up extensions and stuff from your USB disk instead of your Hard disk. Test it out and check if you’re able to boot to your system via USB.
If everything is working okay , that means you’re set . In fact even if this method did not work , you have a backup of your extensions folder and other eseential kexts , which opens up a lot more methods of fixing things. For instance one may want to use MacDrive on windows to transfer kexts over just incase if something goes wrong , and not to mention you’ve the option of booting to your Snow Leopard DVD and using Terminal to copy files over and to bless things up.

9 thoughts to “Creating a Recovery USB Drive for OSX86 Snow Leopard”

  1. Is there an advantage to using the method you describe instead of using carbon copy cloner (or super duper) and a boot loader to make a copy of your hard drive?

    1. @Steve , well lets say its faster and efficient way. Having the whole drive backuped can take a lot of time and not to mention that you’ll be needing a lot of storage space. Its just a quick way of doing things. It does not backup your files and such , just the essential stuffs to get it up and running

  2. Hey, you do some real awesome work, I bookmark plenty of your stuff 🙂 But I have a question, you said your usb drive didn’t show up, and neither did mine. How did you go about getting it to show? Does it have to be a GUID scheme? I have it set up as a MBR with a partition for the recovery, and the rest as just data that I use to move files around to my ps3/pc and such

  3. Pingback: Kylie Batt

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