System repair utilities are great because they can fix annoying issues that in some cases keep your Mac from booting. If you like to use more than one system repair utility, like DiskWarrior and Drive Genius, you have to reboot your Mac twice - once for each CD. Thatis a problem DasBoot from SubRosaSoft aims to fix, and is does a pretty good job.
DasBoot is an application that has one purpose in life: It creates Mac-bootable drives that contain copies of the system maintenance utilities you own along with system tools that are included with Mac OS X. You can use external hard drives, iPods, and Flash drives, and once DasBoot finishes its installation process, youill have a bootable diagnostic drive with the system maintenance tools you specify.
Create system maintenance drives with DasBoot.
The cool thing is that DasBoot lets you mix and match system maintenance tools. You can have, for example, Disk Utility, Terminal, Console, System Profiler, and commercial utilities like DiskWarrior, Drive Genius, or Tech Tool Pro all on the same disk. Boot once, access all the tools you need.
You canit, however, include applications that arenit part of the DasBoot list. That means if you like to use a custom-built or a shareware maintenance tool, you wonit be able to add it to your bootable maintenance device.
You need to provide the applications and a copy of Mac OS X, DasBoot is the glue that binds them together on a single bootable device. It manages the process of copying a working version of Mac OS X and the apps you specify to the target device, and once it is done, you donit need DasBoot again - unless you want to make additional bootable system maintenance devices.
I tested DasBoot with my 20GB iPod. I chose the old iPod because it has a FireWire connector, making it capable of booting a wider range of Macs. Newer USB-based iPods may not be recognizable as a boot device for some Mac models. I also chose to install Drive Genius 1.5.1 because I had the CD handy, and it is Universal Binary, allowing it to run natively on PowerPC and Intel-based Macs.DasBoot needs a copy of Mac OS X to work with, so I grabbed the installation disc that shipped with my PowerBook G4. DasBoot dutifully copied the appropriate files to my iPod, but what it didnit tell me is that it will copy the installer components from the discs that ship with your Mac. That means when I booted my PowerBook from my iPod, I wasnit able to get past the standard installation screens. All of the applications I wanted on my iPod where there, but just out of my reach. Oops.
My second attempt at turning my iPod into a system maintenance drive worked much better. This time, I told DasBoot to use the Mac OS X installation on my Drive Genius CD. When I was finished, I had an iPod that booted properly to SobRosaSoftis application launcher, and all of the applications I expected to see where present and worked just fine.
One of the default applications DasBoot wants to include on the volumes it creates is Preview. I didnit need that, so I deselected it, yet DasBoot installed it anyhow. It also wanted to include GraphicConverter, but deselecting that prevented it from copying to my iPod. Had I been working with a smaller storage device, the unexpected addition of programs I explicitly marked to be skipped could have caused me to run out of space before the copy process completed.
Also, the target drive you are turning into a bootable maintenance volume needs to be pre-formatted. DasBoot simply copies files to the device, it doesnit handle the formatting process. But if you use an iPod, you can still keep music and videos on it. My 20GB iPod still syncs properly with iTunes, and plays music just as I expect it to.
DasBoot is one of those little applications that Mac consultants everywhere must be rejoicing over. Despite its rough edges, it does a good job of building unified maintenance volumes, which is going to save a lot of rebooting time for consultants that no longer have to restart a Mac just to switch from DiskWarrior to Drive Genius.
The Bottom Line
DasBoot takes what could be a tedious process of creating a bootable system maintenance drive on any type of media your Mac recognizes as a bootable device, and turns it into a simple click-and-go process. Once you select the applications you need via DasBootis easy to use interface, just sit back and let it do its magic.
The downside is that it doesnit warn you that the installer discs that shipped with your Mac create volumes that boot to the Mac OS X installer and there isnit any way to cancel out and access the utilities you really want. It also sometimes copies applications that you told it to skip.
But who am I to complain? DasBoot is free, and in this case you get more than you pay for.