Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Lion Disk Maker - build a bootable USB key from Mac OS X Lion’s Installer


What is Lion Disk Maker?

Lion Disk Maker is a small application programmed with AppleScript that you can use with Mac OS X 10.6 or 10.7 to burn a DVD or build a bootable USB key from Mac OS X Lion’s Installation programm.

Download the application ( ZIP file, 380 KB).

As soon as you launch the application, it checks the presence of Mac OS X Lion Install in the /Applications folder, or tries to find one using Spotlight. Then, it proposes to build a DVD or create a USB bootable install disk.

To burn the DVD, you’ll need a SuperDrive and a writable DVD (single layer, 4,7 GB). To build a bootable disk, you’ll need a 4GB (minimum) USB or Firewire drive or an SD-Card. WARNING! The whole contents of the drive (including every other volume from this drive) will be erased! Please backup any data on another disk if necessary.

If you have any question, or wish to report a bug, please send an e-mail: webmaster AT  gete DOT net.


I am told I have no copy of Mac OS X Lion Install available.

Mac OS X Lion Install is automatically erased after you upgrade from Snow Leopard to Lion. If you need to download it again, open the Mac App Store, open the Purchase page while pressing Option (Alt) key. You’ll be able to download Mac OS X Lion Install again.

The best time to use Lion DiskMaker is when you just finish downloading Lion from the Mac App Store.

I encountered the following message :

The disk could not be created because of an error : An error occured : 1. hdiutil: attach failed – No such file or directory

This happens if you chose the wrong Mac OS X Lion Install application, or if you mounted manually the InstallESD.dmg file first.

The simple answer is: don’t do this :-) Lion DiskMaker is clever enough to detect your copy of Mac OS X Lion Install itself. Then it will mount the DMG file itself.

Yes, that’s cool, but I don’t have the complete Mac OS X Install app and I just kept the InstallESD.dmg file. So do I have to re-download Lion again?

There is a clever trick, courtesy of hardmac.com, which allows to use Lion DiskMaker even if you kept only the DMG file :

1) Create a folder « Install Mac OS X Lion » in /Applications.

2) Add the Contents/SharedSupport folders in it.

3) Add the InstallESD.dmg file in the SharedSupport folder.

4) Now add .app at the end of Install Mac OS X Lion folder. There should be a Forbidden sign on it, but it does not matter.

Now, Launch Lion DiskMaker and it should detect the app automatically. Then choose your USB key, and… GERONIMOOOOOOOOOO!

I just bought a brand new Mac with Lion pre-installed and no boot disk, can I use Lion DiskMaker?

No, sadly, it won’t work. You won’t be able to reinstall Lion from the Mac App Store… You’ll have to use the Recovery disk to reinstall Lion from the Internet, as explained in Apple’s Knowledge Base. Or use Apple’s own Recovery Disk Assistant.

Can I use a FireWire or SD-Card?

Yes, you can, though the USB drive is « universal » and works on any Mac.

My drive was completely erased!

Yup. This is how the software works, and you are warned before choosing the drive. Backup any file on your drive before using the software if necessary. And use a dedicated, small drive (a 4 GB USB key is incredibly cheap these days).

Can I redistribute this software ?

Sure, as long as you mention the author and don’t suppress any comment or change anything in its package.

Booting from the DVD is slooooow as hell…

A DVD will always be slower than a USB key, and it seems Lion’s disk image is not optimized for use with optical disks. If you can avoid it, well… avoid it, and use a USB key.

Lion DiskMaker is donationware

If you found this program useful and wish to make a donation, you can use the Paypal button below (I also accept iTunes Store vouchers ;-) ). However, if you wish to use it without paying, I am totally fine with this. I intend to keep the software free of charge.

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