FreeBSD on USB drive for a MacBook Pro

Chris Rees utisoft at
Sun May 31 08:07:14 UTC 2009

2009/5/31 John Nielsen <lists at>:
> I'm looking for advice and/or pointers. I have an Intel-based MacBook Pro
> and I would like to use a USB thumb drive to be able to boot FreeBSD on
> it. Some questions:
> 1) Is this even possible? I've read that you _can_ boot Mac OS X from a
> USB hard drive on a new MacBook but I'm not sure if the same goes for
> non-Mac OSen or thumb drives.

Yes. It is possible; as long as you can fit it on. The EFI is quite capable of
handling USB sticks.

> 2) What steps should I take to partition the thing? What boot code should
> I use and where should it live? I'm planning to do a manual installation
> in any event.

Use Disk Utility, and use GPT layout, as long as you don't care about booting
then stick on PCs.

> 3) If I manage to get 1 and 2 sorted out, will I be able to boot the same
> thumb drive on a regular PC? Will any additional steps be necessary?

See above.

> 4) Just to be contrary, I'd also like to use GELI (if possible) for
> everything but /boot. Does needing an extra /boot partition change
> anything?

Doubt it, that shouldn't be a problem. See

> I'll be doing some experimenting, but if some things are already known
> (not) to work I'd like to start with as much info as possible.
> Thanks,
> JN

Good luck.


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