How to create an OSX86 USB installation drive on a PC


About this page

These instructions will show you how to create a USB flash drive with a copy of an OSX86 installation DVD which you can use to install OSX86 (a hacked version of Apple's OS X operating system) onto a computer.

It should take you around an hour to follow these instructions the first time round.

This guide does not cover how to get a particular version of OSX86 working on your computer; it's only here because I couldn't find any clear, reliable guides to create an OSX86 install USB drive (and I have an HP Mini 2140 netbook, which doesn't have a DVD drive, so I couldn't just burn a DVD and pop it into the drive to install OS X).

Naturally, since it's very naughty to do things like download hacked versions of Apple's copyrighted software, this guide is provided purely for academic discussion and shouldn't be followed by anyone :o)

You will need...

  • A computer which can boot from a USB flash drive (pretty much all computers made in the last four years)
  • A USB flash drive, at least as big as the installer image you want to install. Aim for 8GB - this gives you some "wiggle room". Also, get the fastest drive you can afford - if you're trying to get OSX86 to work on new hardware, you may need to install several times. The time difference between installing from a slow USB drive and a fast one can be over an hour.
  • The OSX86 install DVD image of your choice. I'm using iPC as it is reported to have one of the widest ranges of driver kexts of any OSX86 distro, but there are also the better-known iAtkosiDenebKalyway(Google search), Leo4All, and MsiWindOSX (Google search) versions to choose from.
  • A copy of DD for windows (scroll down to "downloads for dd family") - a guide to using DD is also provided at the Intel software website.
  • A computer running Windows (as you need to use diskpart)
  • A couple of hours free, and some patience.

How to...

  • Download the DD for Windows application
  • Download your OSX86 image. If it's zipped up in ZIP or RAR formats, extract it
  • To make your command-line life easier, copy the dd.exe and the OSX86 ISO images into your c:\temp directory (assuming c:\ is the local hard drive you're storing files on). Again, for simplicity you might want to rename the ISO to something simple, like "osx86.iso"
  • Insert your USB flash drive
  • Click "Start", right-click "My computer" and click "Manage". Enter your administrator credentials if prompted
  • In the computer management application, locate the "disk management" option in the left pane
  • WARNING: this process will completely erase your USB flash drive
  • In disk management, locate your USB flash drive. Right-click the drive and select "format". Format the drive as FAT32.
  • Vista/Windows 7: click "Start", type "command" and, when "Command Prompt" appears in the search results, right click and "Run as administrator"
  • Windows XP: click "Start", "Run", type "cmd" and press enter
  • WARNING: dd can seriously break your computer. Follow these instructions carefully and, if you have any doubts, stop what you're doing and get help
  • Select the drive your copy of dd and the OSX86 image are on (in this case C:) by typing "c:" and pressing enter
  • Type "cd \temp" to get to the folder containing dd.exe and the OSX86 image
  • Type "dd --list" to get a list of the drives on your computer
  • Locate your USB drive - it will be listed as "Removeable media", for example:
\\.\Volume{519788if-8c49-11db-a58-00c045000001}\ link to \\?\DeviceHarddisk1DP(1)0-0+7\ removeable media Mounted on \\.\e:
  • Dump the ISO image to your USB drive: the following command assumes the USB drive is at "\\.\e:" and the source ISO image is in the current directory, and called "OSX86.iso":
    • dd if=osx86.iso of=\\.\e:
  • The command can take anything up to an hour to complete, and won't show any progress indicators. Don't assume it has crashed though - if necessary, be prepared to leave it overnight. If your command prompt hasn't moved past the following after six hours, the process may have failed.
C:\temp>dd if=osx86.iso of=\\.\e: rawwrite dd for windows version 0.5. Written by John Newbigin <> This program is covered by the GPL. See copying.txt for details _
  • Once the process completes, you need to change the partition's type marker.
  • Type "diskpart"
  • WARNING: diskpart can seriously break your computer. Use carefully and don't be afraid to ask for help instead of guessing
  • Type "list disk" and find your USB drive (you will usually have to identify it by size)
  • Type "select disk x" where x is the number of your USB drive
  • Type "select partition 1" to select the OSX86 installer partition
  • Type "set id=af" to set the partition ID to the correct type - this is needed to allow the USB drive to boot.
  • Type "exit" and "exit" again to leave the command prompt
  • Reboot your computer and attempt to boot from the USB drive. Good luck!

Related reading

The following pages provided some useful guidance on this subject:

Thanks and credits

None of this article is really my own work; it's all collated from elsewhere on t'internets, and while I've tried to credit as many sources with link-love, some may have been lost in the ether - if you spot something here which hasn't been correctly attributed, drop me a line and I'll do my best to fix it for you.

Also, a particular thanks to Drew for pointing out a mistake in one of my commands which he struggled for fix for 20 minutes - sorry chap!