[How to] Create a bootable USB stick on OS X

A couple of days ago I decided to reinstall my operating system since it was failing. I quickly realized that the only functional system that I had at the time was my MacBook Pro. After a bit of Googling, I came up with a pretty straightforward guide, but they really could have formated it to make it easier to follow.

I’m going to run you through the same steps and you should be able to use this guide to create a bootable USB stick for Windows, Ubuntu, Fedora, etc.

The Guide

  1. Download the disc image that you want to use. (I’ll use Ubuntu in my example, but you can use Windows or whatever you’ve downloaded.)
  2. Open the Terminal (in /Applications/Utilities/ or query Terminal in Spotlight).
  3. Convert the .iso file to .img using the convert option of hdiutil as shown below (replace the paths and image names to suite your needs):

    hdiutil convert -format UDRW -o ~/path/to/target.img ~/path/to/ubuntu.iso

    Note: OS X tends to put the .dmg ending on the output file automatically, creating the file target.img.dmg. I’ve always removed the .dmg extension.

  4. Run diskutil list to get the current list of devices.

    diskutil list

  5. Insert your flash media.
  6. Run diskutil list again and determine the device node assigned to your flash media (e.g. /dev/disk2).

    diskutil list

  7. Run diskutil unmountDisk /dev/diskN (replace N with the disk number from the last command; in the previous example, N would be 2).

    diskutil unmountDisk /dev/diskN

  8. Execute sudo dd if=/path/to/downloaded.img of=/dev/rdiskN bs=1m (replace /path/to/downloaded.img with the path where the image file is located; for example, ./ubuntu.imgor ./ubuntu.dmg).

    sudo dd if=/path/to/downloaded.img of=/dev/rdiskN bs=1m

    Using /dev/rdisk instead of /dev/disk may be faster
    If you see the error dd: Invalid number ‘1m’, you are using GNU dd. Use the same command but replace bs=1m with bs=1M
    If you see the error dd: /dev/diskN: Resource busy, make sure the disk is not in use. Start the ‘Disk Utility.app’ and unmount (don’t eject) the drive.

  9. Run diskutil eject /dev/diskN and remove your flash media when the command completes (replace N with the disk number).

    diskutil eject /dev/diskN

  10. Restart your PC and enter the boot options to choose the USB stick. If you’re installing to your Mac, restart and press alt/option key while the Mac is restarting to choose the USB stick.

If you’ve made it this far, then you should be well on your way to installing a new operating system. Good luck!

Create a Bootable Windows 7 x64 Install Flash Drive from 32-bit Windows

Creating a bootable Windows 7 x64 flash drive from within a 32-bit install of Windows is not as straight forward as it may seem. I recently had to go through this process myself, so I’ll document the steps below.

Things you’ll need

  1. Windows 7 x64 disc image
  2. Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool
  3. 32-bit bootsect.exe

Create the installer

  1. Install the Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool.
  2. Extract the 32-bit bootsect.exe file to the directory that the Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool was installed to. This is usually something like “C:\Users\username\AppData\Local\Apps\Windows 7 USB DVD Download Tool“.
  3. Run the Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool and select your Windows 7 disc image. Follow the remaining steps in this tool and your image should be created successfully!

If you’ve followed these steps and your flash installer was created successfully then your next step is to, of course, install Windows 7! Don’t forget to change your boot options to load from USB!

This information is scattered on the web and slightly detailed on the Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool page, but I was not able to find a guide laid out as simplified as the one I’ve provided above. In most tutorials they suggest that you download the entire 32-bit iso in order to get the 32-bit bootsect.exe application, but I’ve made that step a lot less troublesome. Hopefully this has helped you!

Cr-48: Win, Mac, Lin and CrOS

Google’s new notebook, called Cr-48, is now capable of running any major operating system of your choice!

News came out last month that Cr-48 was able to run not just Googles new Chrome OS, but also Ubuntu!

Now, you can apparently also run Windows 7 or Mac OS X!

Opera 10.5 Pre-Alpha Internal Release

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I’ve just given a leaked release of Opera 10.5 Pre-Alpha a test drive and I must say that I’m very impressed with the changes I’ve noticed thus far!

I look forward to testing the Official Opera 10.5 Pre-Alpha release on Tuesday, December 22. However, until then I’ll be digging through this leaked version.

Note that Opera has officially warned against installing such leaked builds, stating that the official release will be “much better and you don’t risk getting nasty trojans on you pc.” ;)

Here are some screenshots I’ve taken. I don’t cover everything, but just enough to give you a good idea of what we should be expecting. I also won’t be detailing all of these pictures, but a picture is worth a thousand words right? Inspect them and see what you can find!

I did notice a lot of skin changes and a couple of bugs here and there dealing with the skin, but it’s overall very much improved. The internal “opera:*” pages also seem to be using a different style than previous builds, but then again they may have dropped using the Opera logo in the top of the pages.

Notice the border-radius support!

Try this build at your own risk!
http://rapidshare.com/files/323481638/Opera_1050_20192_in.msi
http://depositfiles.com/files/e01z2q5qp

Windows 7 Wallpaper Slideshow

Kyleabaker.com never ceases to amaze me. Yesterday, after fooling around with the default Windows 7 Wallpaper, I decided to find more Dual Monitor backgrounds and remembered that I had previously uploaded several to my site for others to grab (I do not claim any ownership of these) and I realized that I should use them if I spent the time to upload them for others.

So….I downloaded several of them to my Dropbox folder (to sync my background for Ubuntu and Windows 7). After opening the personalization window (for the first time) I quickly realized that you can use more than one image as you desktop background. You can in fact “check” multiple images to cycle through in a sorted order or in shuffle mode.

I threw a few images in a folder and quickly found out that a continuously changing background can be fun! You should try it too.

My next goal….write a program that fetches the hottest photos from Flickr (and the likes).

Trillian 4.1 and Windows 7

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I’m really digging the new ideas for Trillian 4.1 to integrate better with Windows 7. If you haven’t read about it yet then take a look at this..

Trillian-4.1-W7

Trillian 4.1 will take advantage of the new Windows 7 Taskbar in several ways that will be very beneficial. The most beneficial of these in my opinion is the new way of reflecting the total file transfer progress from the Taskbar button itself!

If you look closely (click the image to view a larger version) then you’ll notice that the background color of the Taskbar button for transfers is a progress bar all of its own. This is a very impressive approach to keeping the visual aid simple and clean (something that I have been disappointed with Trillian in the past for).

Trillian 4.1 will also take advantage of Jump Lists. This is the list you get when you right click an icon in the Taskbar. While most of these options are available by default from right clicking the system tray icon, Windows 7 has made the system tray a little less important in this round by hiding most of your icons by default. This is a very welcome change for me. In the past I always found the system tray icons to been too cluttered and wasteful of useful Taskbar space. You could then and you can still now adjust which icons to show and which icons to hide in the extras arrow, but adding this feature to the Jump Lists may be an even better approach.

In the future I can see a “Frequent” list for the buddies that you chat with most often. Not just adjusting your status and a couple other options.

Last, but not least, the Taskbar button will feature higher quality icons that can easily tell you what your current status is at a glance and look elegant doing so.

There are a few other Windows 7 improvements, but these are the ones that stood out the most to me. If you’d like to see more about Trillian becoming more Windows 7 friendly just take a look at their blog post explaining everything.

I’ve been using Trillian for several years now and I even helped with the Trillian Astra alpha builds way back when. When Digsby came around the corner and introduced frequent updates with a quality interface I nearly ditched Trillian completely. Let’s face it, Trillian’s interface can be a bit overly complex for a simple chat client that’s supposed to make your life easier…right?

Two things that I’d love to see Trillian 4.1 accomplish is to overly simplify the interface and bring those common tasks that we all need right there to the interface rather than hiding them in menus and sub-menus. The second thing which is important to me is operating system integration. They already began work on this, but I think all of us Windows Vista/7 users would like to see a little Aero in our clients so they feel like they could have come prepackaged to work with Vista/7.

If Trillian continues to make these types of improvements (simplifying the interface and making it integrate more with Aero) then I’ll highly consider spending the $25 it costs for a Pro account to support their hard work. ;)

Until then I’ll be switching heavily between Digsby and Trillian Basic until one of them wins me over.

Windows 7…

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I’ve been using Windows 7 Professional for a short time now, but I’m already very much impressed.

Not only is Windows 7 faster and more responsive than Windows Vista, it’s also a lot better looking!

Windows Vista had a sorry excuse of an update for the Taskbar, but in Windows 7 the Taskbar has been dramatically improved. The ability to re-arrange programs and icons in the Taskbar freely as well as pinning frequently used icons to the Taskbar is a major enhancement that I now won’t be able to work without!

While many past reviews from others have related and/or compared the new Taskbar to the pre-existing Mac Dock, I beg to differ. While skin deep the Taskbar and Dock appear to have a great number of similarities, they are far from the same.

One of my favorite features of the new Taskbar is the way the application icon appears to be stacked when multiple windows are opened. The thumbnail view of applications and windows is also a very nifty feature, especially when you have several multiple windows open that you can choose from.

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Windows 7 has an awesome new focus feature that basically makes every application that isn’t in question become transparent. In the image below, I’ve hovered over the Taskbar thumbnail for Opera. The effect is that only this window will appear and others will fade away, as seen by the translucent appearance of the Windows Media Player window.

windows-7-professional-02

If you want to view the desktop, there’s still a button to do that. However, the button is no longer just a quick links shortcut and is now a built-in part of the (end of the) Taskbar. Clicking this button will minimize all open windows. Clicking it again will restore those windows to their original state.

The cool new feature, however, is that if you hover this button for a few seconds, the open windows will fade out so you can see through to the desktop and not actually move any windows.

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For some reason with Windows Vista I never found the Desktop Gadgets to be useful. Somehow they always managed to be, or seemed to be, in my way. With Windows 7 the Desktop Gadgets can be very useful and have thus far seemed to be completely out of my way.

There are a great number of other enhancements to Windows 7, but the updated Taskbar is by far the most useful for me. After using Ubuntu for so long and developing a pride in Linux, it’s amazing how quickly Windows 7 has won my support!

The visual effects found in Windows 7 can be implemented fairly completely in Linux using the KDE environment. I’m personally not a big fan of KDE, preferring Gnome much more instead. To me, KDE is a great environment in concept, but the icons and graphics in general seem to be off very poor taste and KDE feels overly complicated for such a shiny interface. This is where Windows 7 has done a great job with a clean and simple interface as well as a nice set of icons and graphics.

One very useful program that I highly recommend is UltraMon. Another alternative application for this is DisplayFusion, though I’ve never tested it. I’ve been using UltraMon for a few years now as a way to extend the Windows Taskbar across multiple monitors for XP, Vista and now Windows 7 (with the latest beta).

I’m still unsure as to why Microsoft refuses to implement the ability to stretch the Taskbar across multiple windows by default. This is very easily accomplished on most other platforms.

I’m sure others have found Windows 7 to be a major improvement. I’d really like to hear some opinions on Windows XP vs Windows 7 since there is still such a large group of Windows XP supporters. I’d especially like to hear some views of XP being better than 7. :D

Free Windows Vista to Windows 7 Upgrades

windows 7 startup boot screen

windows 7 startup boot screenAccording to Tech ARP, Microsoft has been drafting a plan that will allow some Windows Vista users to upgrade to the next version of Windows, Windows 7, for free.

This upgrade plan, which is temporarily named “The Windows 7 Upgrade Program,” is being developed in order to “assist Microsoft’s OEM partners in minimizing the number of end users who may postpone acquiring a new computer because of the impending release of the Windows 7 operating system. This program allows OEMs to offer an upgrade to Windows 7 to end users who qualify.”

While plans and drafts have been developing since December 10, 2008, there is still no official word on the exact eligibility rules. However, according to a draft, eligibility will apply as follows and a requirement must be met before you are eligible.

End users must purchase a new PC that is pre-installed with an eligible Windows Vista Operating System (OS), during the program eligibility window.

The PC must have a valid Certificate of Authenticity (COA) attached.

The only Windows Vista® versions eligible for the program are :

  1. Windows Vista® Home Premium
  2. Windows Vista® Business
  3. Windows Vista® Ultimate

* Microsoft Windows Vista® Home Basic, Windows Vista® Starter Edition, and Windows® XP (all editions) are not qualifying products under the program.

The Program does not support multiple upgrades for medium, large, or enterprise customers. Customers that want to upgrade multiple PCs should use the appropriate Microsoft Volume Licensing program. See www.microsoft.com/licensing for more details.

The following are the only valid upgrade paths under the program :

  1. Windows Vista® Home Premium -> Windows® 7 Home Premium
  2. Windows Vista® Business -> Windows® 7 Professional
  3. Windows Vista® Ultimate -> Windows® 7 Ultimate

For those of us who forked out the cash to buy Windows Vista Ultimate, it looks like we are getting the shaft end of the deal to the extreme. If the program is revised and Vista Ultimate users are allowed an upgrade then I will continue to support Microsoft with future releases. However, if I am forced to purchase Windows 7 after having purchased Vista Ultimate with absolutely no benefits then I plan to simply boycott Microsoft. (Period).

Windows 7 Preview

Today Microsoft gave the first public demonstration of Windows 7. Below is a short gallery of Windows 7 screenshots. For more information about the details of the Windows 7 and what’s changed or new just click on one of these links.

Just to point out a few things that you should pay attention to, I’ve made the following list:

  • The New Windows Taskbar
  • Jump Lists
  • Aero’s New Moves
  • Unified Search
  • Fewer Annoying Pop-ups
  • HomeGroups
  • Device Stage

(Images thanks to LLarsen’s Flickr photostream)