I'm about to completely re-pave my Mac Mini but the DVD drive has died on me which means I can't boot from the installation media.

I know I can boot from a USB stick but I don't have one available, what are my options given the following hardware at hand?

  • Netgear ReadyNAS Duo NAS (NIC or USB only, no Firewire)
  • USB HDD (no Firewire)

I've ripped an ISO of the installation disk, can I somehow get the Mini to boot from this image using one of the above?

If I decide not to re-pave but just upgrade, can the Mac be upgraded just using an OSX 10.6 ISO image on its disk?


Using a variation on fideli's theme I grabbed a 16GB USB stick from my local PC World (they were asking a small fortune for external DVD drives that were Mac friendly). I formatted this as a Mac OSX Extended Journaled file system and left it plugged into the Mac Mini.

I then loaded the OSX 10.6 media on my Windows 7 PC and mounted the Windows partition and ran the \DVDCDSharing\DVDCDSharingSetup.exe installer. When it completed I opened the Windows Control Panel applet "DVD or CD Sharing Options" and checked the "Enable DVD or CD Sharing" option and unchecked the "Ask me before allowing others to use my DVD drive"

To allow the Mini to see the shared DVD on the Windows PC I had to open a Terminal window and execute the following commands, then reboot:

defaults write com.apple.NetworkBrowser EnableODiskBrowsing -bool true
defaults write com.apple.NetworkBrowser ODSSupported -bool true

Upon reboot I was able to see the 'Remote Disc' under DEVICES in the Finder. Under this is the name of the PC sharing the OSX installation media. You need to browse all the way into the 'Mac OS X Install DVD' remote disk so that it shows up in Disk Utility.

I then ran Disk Utility and restored the 'Mac OS X Install DVD' from the remote disk onto the USB stick.

Having done all this I then rebooted the Mini whilst holding down the Alt/Option key and I was then able to boot the OSX 10.6 installer from the USB stick.

I was then able to wipe clean the Mini's HDD and start afresh.


Use the USB HDD. Using the ISO that you ripped, simply copy the contents from the OS X DVD to a Mac OS Extended partition on the USB HDD. Plug this drive into the Mac mini before boot up. Then, while booting up, hold down the Alt key and you should be able to select the OS X DVD install volume.

  • Without another Mac I can't mount the OSX partition on the DVD. If I mount the DVD on Windows I noticed though an app called DVDCDSharingSetup.exe. Should this mount the DVD OSX partition and make it visible as a share? – Kev Apr 17 '10 at 18:43
  • When you say "re-pave", does that mean that you can still boot into OS X on the Mac mini and somewhat use it? Or you cannot? If you can, I suggest you do all of this in OS X. If not, then you could use something like MacDrive in Windows or we can think of a better idea of getting a bootable USB Mac OS X Installation volume. – fideli Apr 17 '10 at 19:55
  • I can still boot OSX on the mini but it's in a bit of a mess. I want to just start again. I downloaded MacDrive8 and can now mount the OSX DVD and a Mac Extended partition on a 16GB USB stick in Win 7. Can I just drag all the contents of the OSX disk to the USB stick (including hidden files)? – Kev Apr 17 '10 at 20:10
  • @Kev: I haven't tried it using MacDrive. My concern is that the OS X installation DVD has 2 "modes" (wrong word, I'm sure): one for the Windows Boot Camp Drivers, and one for the OS X installation. I'm not sure that copying the files would transfer the OSX installation. I think that no matter how much of a mess the Mac mini is, if you can load up the ISO and your newly created 16GB USB stick, you should be able to copy the contents over in OS X without risking missing anything. – fideli Apr 17 '10 at 23:42
  • @fideli - MacDrive lets me switch between the Windows and the OSX sessions on the DVD. I was able to copy all the files to a 16GB usb stick formatted as a Mac OS Extended journaled partition (as per this article: maciverse.com/… Annoyingly though the Mac can see the USB as a boot device (EFI), nothing seems to happen when it's selected except an apple logo and spinning cog thing. I did try creating an ISO using Nero and DVD Decrypter but OSX can't mount them. – Kev Apr 17 '10 at 23:51

I suppose this comes too late for the original poster, but maybe somebody else will find this useful.

If you have a network connection between the Mini and the PC try this:

  1. Download dd for Windows from here: http://www.chrysocome.net/dd.

  2. Open a CMD.

  3. Go to where you have dd.exe and use dd --list to get the device for the DVD reader, most probably something like "\\?\Device\CdRom0"

  4. Insert your Mac OS DVD

  5. Create a raw ISO image with dd if=DEVICE of=DRIVE:\PATH\IMAGE.iso bs=1M

  6. Copy the ISO to the Mini

  7. Plug the USB disk to the Mini

  8. Open Disk Utility

  9. Select any volume (it does not matter which, we need it for the tabs to appear)

  10. Click on the "Restore" tab

  11. To the right of "Source", press the "Image..." button and select the ISO

  12. Drag the volume in the USB disk (not the disk itself) to the "Destination" field

  13. Leave "Erase Destination" marked.

  14. Press the "Restore" button.

Mind you, both the ISO creation and the actual copy (steps 5 and 14) take a looong time.

After this, you should have a working USB install disk.

Remote Install/DVD Sharing only works on (client) devices that explicitly support it, which are the ones that do not come with an optical drive, namely the MB Air and the new Mac Mini Server.


If you have access to another mac, you can use the DVD drive in that mac via a FireWire cable.

If you have a PC you may be able to use its drive via an application on the Mac OS disk. I'm not sure if the Mini can boot via network like the Air can.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.