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[Guide] Creating a Multi OS Multiboot USB Install Drive: OSX/Windows/Linux

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This guide will explain how to create a USB drive that can be used to install OSX, Windows, and Linux from a single USB drive. This USB drive can be very helpful in urgent situations such as: fixing broken OSX install (chameleon, kext, etc), installing/repairing Windows, or running Live CD of any Linux OS.


I am not responsible for any consequences to your system by following the guide below. If you do follow this guide, please make sure to attain a valid purchased copy of the OSes you plan on installing. I am not responsible for your actions.

This guide is just my experience and am sharing it with you guys for educational purposes.

This entire guide, including creating OSX installer USB is solely for experimental reasons.



  • USB drive of 16GB or greater is recommended
  • An existing working install of OS X
  • An existing working install of Windows
  • An existing working install or live version of Linux
  • YUMI – Multiboot USB Creator (Download)


  • We will create three partitions on the USB: 1) for OSX installer 2) for Linux and Windows installers 3) for storage. The thrid partition is not required but recommend. 
  • We will use traditional methods to create OSX installer USB but targeted to the first partition.
  • We will use YUMI to load up multiple OSes onto the second partition
  • We will fix the partitions tables and set the OSX install partition to active, so that the USB boots to Chimera/Chameleon


  1. From an existing running OS X, start Disk Utility and create 3 partitions are below:

    -- InstallOSX (Format: Mac OS Extended Journaled) Size: minimum 8GB

    -- Multiboot (Format: MS-DOS FAT) Size: Recommend minimum 8GB or desired amount to fit all OSs (Ubuntu, Windows, Mint, etc)

    -- Storage (Format: MS-DOS FAT) Size: Whatever you desire to have as separate storage
  2. Format the partitions above, and make sure to choose GUID Partition Table scheme!
  3. Use your desired method to create a OSX installer, but make sure to set the destination to InstallOSX partition (first partition) to create the OSX USB installer.
  4. Go to a Windows PC and run YUMI. Load up all the desired ISOs for the Windows/Linux onto the second parititon (Multiboot)
  5. Load up Linux and insert your USB drive. Go to terminal and insert the following commands:
    sudo apt-get update       
    sudo apt-get install gptsync //This will install gptsync 
    sudo fdisk -l //Use this command to determine the name of your USB drive Ex: 'sdb' or 'sdc'
    sudo gptsync /dev/sdb  // Make sure to change the 'sdb' to whatever is the name of your USB drive

    This above commands with sync your partition table to create a hybrid GPT/MBR partition scheme

  6. Boot into an existing running OSX, insert your USB drive, and start the Terminal


  7. Make the InstallOSX partition active by using the following commands:

    sudo diskutil list //Use this command to find out the USB drive's name. Ex: disk1 or disk2
    sudo fdisk -e /dev/rdisk1 // Make sure to change 'rdisk1' to the name of the disk you found from diskutil list 
    p // p will print the partition table of rdisk1. Determine the partition number for your "InstallOSX" partition, it should be 2
    f 2 // This will make partition 2 active. Change '2' to the number that is your "InstallOSX" partition 
    w //This will write to the partition 
    y //Type y to confirm writing 


Your are done! Now you have a multiple OS install USB. Pop in the USB and make sure to set the BIOS to boot from USB first. The Chimera/Chameleon boot loader should show up with all the partitions on the USB and you PC. The first partition will be the InstallOSX and the second will be your Multiboot partition. When you select the Multiboot partition, it should load GRUB with list of all the Linux/Windows isntall options.


Helpful References




Edited by Zythyr
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  • 2 years later...

This is what i wanna do. Thanks for the detail. Still seems complicated to me : So this is firstly a UEFI/GPT formatted drive, right?


Then you want to make it hybrid GPT/MBR. But will the Windows installer ask you to install on a GPT or MBR formatted drive?


Is it a choice or must be so? I may want a GPT Win Installer.. Also, how about partition #3 being another YUMI installer..?

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I'm back from testing. I think you forgot something : windows only see the 1st partition of any usb flash drive.


Here the 1st partition is the UEFI boot. So how do you load your windows & linux on the 2nd since it can't be seen..?

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Found out with bootice (old version, not last one!) i could have windows display the partition i need on the flash drive.


I went ahead and loaded Ubuntu ISO onto it. Then i went to an Ubuntu install and loaded the gpysync command. Result :


gimmy@gimmy-virtual-machine:~$ sudo gptsync /dev/sdb

Current GPT partition table:
 #      Start LBA      End LBA  Type
 1             40       409639  EFI System (FAT)
 2         409640     17634439  Mac OS X HFS+
 3       17896584     52008159  Basic Data
 4       52270304    121044951  Basic Data
Current MBR partition table:
 # A    Start LBA      End LBA  Type
 1 *     17896584     52008159  0b  FAT32 (CHS)
 2         409640     17634439  af  Mac OS X HFS+
 3              1       409639  ee  EFI Protective
 4       52270304    121044951  0b  FAT32 (CHS)
Status: Analysis inconclusive, will not touch this disk.


Not sure this is what i should get..? Anyway, i went back to OSX and when i typed "sudo fdisk -e /dev/rdisk2" (my disk) i got:
"fdisk: could not open MBR file /usr/standalone/i386/boot0: No such file or directory" from there i guess it couldn't go further.
I still entered the other commands. After installing Clover to ESP, i could boot the drive. But selecting multiboot leads nowhere..
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Hello Zythyr, 


Thanks for the guide.


3. Use your desired method to create a OSX installer, but make sure to set the destination to InstallOSX partition (first partition) to create the OSX USB installer.


I used yunibeast as my macOS installer which removed the need for step 7 (diskutil/fdisk)



Go to a Windows PC and run YUMI. Load up all the desired ISOs for the Windows/Linux onto the second parititon (Multiboot)

To get Yumi ( to ‘add’ windows, I had to select ‘unsupported ISO’ and ‘grub’ from the “Select a Distribution” drop down box



5. Load up Linux and insert your USB drive. Go to terminal and insert the following commands:

gptsync is only available on ubuntu up to trusty Tahir.   This is replace by gdisk but I don’t have the steps handy to create the hybrid mbr.  




I now have a 4 partition 128GB USB flash drive:

- macOS installer partition

- macOS Sierra 10.2.4 partition  ( I can boot into this when I mess up my mackintosh)

- multiboot partition - Linux (clearlinux, cents, fedora), Windows (creator’s update)

- expat data sharing partition.







*) Format usb flash drive as GPT


*) Yumi will add all the ‘other’ OS (windows or linux) onto the partition you select when you run Yumi.  The “multiboot” partition must be fat32 which windows/Yumi will see no matter what partition # it is.



*) Later we use gptsync to update the hybrid MBR so that the Yumi "installs" can be booted from.  [ this step caused me lot of grief ] 


*) You can use any partition for any purpose.  I did not follow the layout suggested by Zythyr.



*) You can put more than one windows installer onto the “multiboot” partition according to Yumi.  I have not tried this.

Edited by justvisiting
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Goja: Yes, this would be really useful if it worked.

justvisiting: No, it does not work as written.


Goja is correct in stating that Windows will only recognize the first partition on the external drive.  YUMI thinks that's the 200MB EFI partition and will not install.  No amount of cajoling will make Windows properly letter the MultiBoot partition.

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My experience is different. My 128 gb USB gpt format:


1. Efi partition

2. Hfs yunibeast installer partition

3. Hfs OS X installed. (Runs very slowly tho)

4. Fat32 MULTIBOOT partition. Has Linux ISO. Win 10 ISO

5. Exfat data partition


Don't use beta efi version of yumi.

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justvisiting: If you could lay out your steps a bit more thoroughly that would be helpful.  The instructions from Zythyr seem tantalizingly close, but all of us are ending at the exact same dead end. Maybe using YuniBeast is the key -- that will be my next step.

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Yunibeast does not make a difference.  


If you look at the sources that Zythyr quotes, they all refer to multi-boot _systems_, not external USB drives.  This is the problem.  His steps, especially with regard to Yumi seeing the FAT32 partition regardless of its location on the disk, are simply wrong.  This puts the burden of science on Zythyr and justvisiting to give us some reproducible steps.

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This is not a tv drama, life comes first and therefore there is no burden of proof upon anyone.


1. Detail your specific steps and issues so someone can help


2. My bios is dumb and I have to select a boot device for this to boot the yumi MULTIBOOT partition. Maybe you do too.

I press my bios boot selection key and my USB flash drive MULITBOOT partition shows as

UEFI (Fat) Lexar USB

(Fat) Lexmark USB


If I pick the first I can boot my USB Mac installer or USB live OS X partitions

If I pick second I see yumi boot screen and options


When I have chance I will nuke my USB key and recreate and take some notes. Maybe iwe can solve this or maybe we identify the problem

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[ saturday april 15 ] 

I made this test to show that a multi boot USB key does NOT need to have its first partition be FAT32/NTFS 

*) download GPT fdisk for Windows and/or macOS, whichever you are more comfortable with:



**A ) In MacOS

1) Run Disk Utility

- Erase USB - GUID Partition scheme [ BE CAREFUL, PICK CORRECT DISK ] 
- create 4 partitions named as following:
      - MacFS1
      - MacFS2
      - Multiboot 
      - MacFS3
==> all are MacOS extended Partitions, Journaled, sized to my needs for this test


**B )  in Windows 10, Creators Edition

1) download Yumi Multiboot USB creator.  for this test, the version used was

2)  Computer Management -> Disk Management, find USB key's partition labeled 'multiboot' and quick format as FAT32
- Make note of "Disk Number", my USB key showed up as "DISK 2 Removable"

3) run YUMI
 - Because I made four partitions, the 'step 1' dropdown box shows me 4 drive letters for my USB key: 
    "D:\  FDD"
    "E:\  FDD"
    "F:\  FDD"
    "G:\ Multiboot 7GB FAT32"

- I selected my usb key's "multiboot' labeled partition. 
- I selected "Try Unlisted ISO (GRUB)"
- 'browsed' to my Win10 ISO
- clicked 'create', 
- clicked 'YES' to Yumi's info message about MBR, etc
- wait while Yumi was writing Win10 installer to USB key

- click next && click 'Yes' to add more distributions
- I selected  Fedora distribution from Yumi's "step 2" drobdown box
- browsed to my "Fedora-Workstation" dvd ISO
- clicked "create" and wait while Yumi was writing Fedora installer to USB key
- once writing completed, clicked 'next' then 'no' to adding more ISOs, then 'finish' to exit Yumi

C) GPT fdisk (in windows)
1) Open administrative command prompt, CD to where you downloaded and extracted GPT fdisk
- run gdisk64.exe   ( or .\gdisk64.exe if using powershell) AND THE DISK NUMBER from earlier step B2

e.g.  my case was:  gdisk64.exe 2:     (two followed by colon)

gdisk's partition scan shows MBR was already hybrid so I did nothing

if MBR is NOT hybrid:
   - 'p' -> print partition table, make note of your FAT32 partition (e.g by size).  Mine was partition 4
   - VERIFY your fat partition by 'i' (partition information) then select the partition #
   - i -> 4 (for ME) shows the partition GUID code ending with "Microsoft Basic Data"

   - 'r'  -> recovery/transformation mode
   - 'h' -> make hybrid MBR
   - partition number of your MULTIBOOT partition (mine was 4)
   - 'Y' for placing EFI partition 1st in GRUB (you can experiment for your needs
   - use default MBR hex code (mine was 07)
   - set the bootable flag 'Y' (experiment for your needs)
   - "Unused Partitions found, use one to protect".  I said 'N' ,(you can experiment for your needs)
   - 'w' write table to disk and exit

1) reboot into BIOS firmware
- My BIOS BOOT had CSM entry.  I set that to "auto".  if I set to "enable" i have to be sure other CSM entries load legacy drivers

E) reboot system, select USB boot key from BIOS boot selection

===> Yumi boot loader shows options
--- I can start my Win10 installer
--- I can start my live fedora installer

this process can work, and does work for me.

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justvisiting:  I'm not sure what the "tv drama" comment is about.  I never said you had to drop all your life responsibilities and post something.  I don't expect people to respond in any timely fashion.   That said, I have two comments:


  1) Yes, when someone posts a solution to a OP's question the burden is most definitely on them to prove it's correct.  The more detail the better.  Your initial posting left questions/methods unanswered.


  2) I really appreciate all the time you put into your last post.  That's an amazing amount of detail!  I was working on a multiboot USB for my MacBook this weekend with mixed results, although I was able to have a single USB for OSX and Yumi.  It had some GRUB issues (namely manually turning EDD off), but was mostly successful.


I will try out your steps tonight.  Thanks again!!

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justvisiting: I tried your flow tonight and it did not go well -- we may have to agree to disagree.  I will start by posting comments on each step and then proposing an alternate solution in a few days.


Step 1: You mention that you initially partition all partitions as JHFS+ (extended, journaled).  If, however, the Multiboot partition is initially created this way you will not be able to change it to FAT32 in step 2 using Windows disk manager.  Create the Multiboot partition as MS-DOS or FAT and you can.


Step 2: Windows disk manager will initially _not_ have the correct partition labeled as "Multiboot".  It will label the first partition (the 200MB EFI partition) as "Multiboot" -- as I and other posters continue to repeat, Windows only mounts the first partition on an external drive.  As Goja pointed out, you will need to use BootICE (version, not the most recent) to set the desired FAT32 as accessible.  


Step 3: Yumi won't list the JHFS+ partitions, so you will only see anything formatted FAT32 (our "Multiboot" partition and possibly the EFI partition).  


Step 4 (Yumi): This went fine,   I love Yumi.  


Step 5: (gdisk): When I started gdisk it did _not_ say that the MBR was already hybrid (and why should it?).  In fact, it complained about a corrupt GPT.  I did follow the instructions here to the letter regardless.


Results: The stick only shows up in legacy BIOS, it is not U/EFI capable.  This makes sense as none of the steps include EFI boot code.  Ultimately I'd like to have a bootable drive that didn't require me to change the BIOS to boot (other than secure boot I suppose).


In a couple days I'll post my Yumi (Windows + ISOs) and Mac solution.  I'm guessing it will only be legacy BIOS ready.  EFI's a pain.

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again, I do not know the exact issue you face.  "not going well" is not clear enough about the steps you tried and the result you saw.


Are you using windows 10?

Is your windows 10 HD MBR or GPT?

is your motherboard booting as UEFI or as legacy/BIOS?


I have windows 10 (10.0.15063)

My HD is GPT format (Intel SSD)

my BIOS lets me boot into "UEFI OS on  P1:Intel"  




I format USB in macOS to get the GPT partition table.  I formated as JHFS+ because it is easier for Disk Utility to add+resize JHFS+ partitions and then later reformat one partition as FAT32 in Disk Utility.



Step 2)

In computer management -> Disk management, my Windows system sees ALL the partitions on my USB key (I tested Lexar 128  and I tested Kingston 16GB)


and in Disk Management, I can format any partition to be FAT32.   this is a fundamental feature of windows -- seeing all partitions on a drive.


I am using a USB3 port. I never tested USB2 because it is not conveniently in the front of my PC.

And yes, for now it is extremely painful having to deal with legacy / EFI booting.    Yumi EFI is still in beta and may offer a better but at the time I tested it, I could not add  "unlisted ISO" while the legacy one does and I have to deal with "unlisted" Linux distros.

But all Windows installs should be EFI...




Yes, this is correct, but some Windows 10 installs are not (e.g. legacy in-place upgrades).


having a multi-boot USB key that supports legacy BIOS and UEFI is extremely handy when helping others who have different configurations.


This might be as easy as installing clover onto USB key's ESP (EFI system partition) along with the legacy driver.  I have not had the time to test it yet.


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  • 2 weeks later...

Sorry for the delay in posting.  


OK, I've got something that is a composite of the OP, justvisting, and Goja.  Right now I have a reliable, repeatable (I've done this now with three sticks on multiple versions of OSX and Windows) process for Mac and Windows multiboot.  It's a legacy boot, but as justvisiting states, I don't think the pieces are there yet to make it work well.  Sebus, we'll need to use something like Clover to have more than 3 boot choices (legacy MBR constraint of 4 partitions).


Here are my steps:


1) Use diskutil in your favorite OSX to partition the flash drive.  My last (64GB) stick looked like this:


         diskutil partitionDisk /dev/disk2 GPT FAT32 MULTIBOOT 32G JHFS+ OSX10_11 8G JHFS+ OSX10_12 8G FAT32 STORAGE 4G


     If you plan on including 3 (or more) OSX versions you should make sure to put the FAT32 multiboot first (of course we

     can't do this with a legacy MBR!).  Otherwise it will be the 5th (or later) partition and will not be accessible in Windows.

     After partitioning, eject all and move to Windows (I've used 7 and 10 for this with success).


2) Run BootICE.  You'll need version, which you can find here (the latest versions don't seem to handle this):




    Select your drive and choose "Parts Manage".  Then find your multiboot FAT32 paritition and choose "Set Accessible".

    Without this, Windows will not be able to access your multiboot partition (it will only be able to access the initial EFI FAT32 partition).


3) Get YUMI (not the UEFI version, at least not now) from here:




     Run it, select your now visible multiboot partition, and proceed to download and install your programs.  Some things to consider:


        * As justvisiting noted, install Windows system discs as "Unlisted ISO (Grub)".  If you are creating an ISO from a DVD, use something like UltraISO to extract & inject

          the boot sector, and don't forget to make sure it's UDF.

        * When running some of these distros on a Mac you need to set "edd=off" to avoid lengthy/forever probing.  You can set that by pressing the tab key (at the GRUB menu)

          and then adding that switch.


     Eject your drive and head back to your Mac.


4)  Use U_N_I_Beast to install your desired OSX versions.  You can find it here:




      You may need multiple versions to support all your versions of OSX.   I chose "Legacy Mode" for all my installations and it works fine with option-booting our MacBooks. 

      Eject all partitions again and head back to Windows one last time.


5) Get gdisk from here:




     The goal here is to make sure the boot is "hybrid."  As justvisiting stated, it usually is, but if it isn't follow his steps above (post #14, step C) to get it there.


I have booted into the follow set of distros on both MacBook and Windows boxes:  Windows 7, Windows 10, OSX 10.11, OSX 10.12, Caine, CloneZilla, UBCD, Tails, Kali, ESET Rescue disk, Ubuntu 16.04, Hiren's Boot, and my Reflect and Veeam rescue ISOs.  They all currently reside on the same flash drive.


Thanks so much for everyone's help, and let me know if this helpful at all and if I need to modify or retest it.

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  • 3 months later...
i think ther eis another very easy method to do this,

Make two partition on usb 1st partition FAT32 of your desired size with other utility & windows ,linux installer or etc can be supported by AIO tool,

& another partition(Mac os journal) for mac os installer(6~7gb as per Mac os installer requirements,)

I used Paragon Hard disk manager mac version for making Fat32 & Mac os journal hybrid


Install mac installer to the usb mac parition.


Boot in windows and Install Aio to Fat32 usb(It will install Grub2). it will install all the boot loader including Clover with latest version, rEfind, & many others features include. From the AIo tool menu can choose diffrent kind of installer 

 Boot from usb and you will see all the bootloader inclduing clover select boot Mac Installer usb or Mac Os.


Note:- Fat32 should be 1st partion in disk otherwise rEfind wont shows up in bootloader but clover will work even not 1st partition.

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  • 4 months later...

I tested AIO boot and it works. Dream tool here..! But i'm not really understand how this magic's possible : it's a LEGACY/MBR drive & boot only UEFI..? When plugged into Legacy only unit, it just won't boot. And UEFI only ok but some things (such as android) aren't.. Must get CSM support i guess, some device don't have this.

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