Alternate OS on 2010 Mac Pro?


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Hi, everyone,

Just joined, first post. I was given an old Mac Pro tower, I believe mid-2010 model. I don't need another Mac, but the machine itself would be ideal to create a NAS (network attached storage, file server) using the XigmaNAS operating system (based on FreeBSD). My plan would be to install 5 hard drives as file storage (the 5th being in the unused optical drive bay), and either boot it from a USB flash drive, or a small SSD I have laying around.

My question is this: Is this even possible with this Mac? Can I set a particular USB or SSD as the default boot drive without having any MacOS installed at all? With a PC I could just set the boot drive in the BIOS, but I don't know of a way to do so with a Mac.

Thanks in advance for your help!

~Gooberhead
 
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Can I set a particular USB or SSD as the default boot drive...
Yes, go into "Settings > Startup Disk" to set the default.
...without having any MacOS installed at all?
Not so sure about that bit.

I'd suggest you have a bootable copy of macOS on a drive (USB, SSD etc), plug that in and, holding the "Option" key, start the Mac and select that as the drive to boot from. In "Settings > Startup Disk", then set that as the default (so you can always get back up and running).

Now, restart again holding the Option key and see if it lets you select a drive with a non-Mac OS to boot from and I don't know the answer to that. It's a case of try it and see. :)
 
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Yes, go into "Settings > Startup Disk" to set the default.

Not so sure about that bit.

I'd suggest you have a bootable copy of macOS on a drive (USB, SSD etc), plug that in and, holding the "Option" key, start the Mac and select that as the drive to boot from. In "Settings > Startup Disk", then set that as the default (so you can always get back up and running).

Now, restart again holding the Option key and see if it lets you select a drive with a non-Mac OS to boot from and I don't know the answer to that. It's a case of try it and see. :)
Thanks for the reply - I was beginning to wonder whether anyone would have any ideas. It's not a typical question here, I'm sure.

Your suggestion got me part of the way - I was able to set the MacOS installer drive as the default boot device, but the Linux drive I have was not recognized at all. I found a thread describing a tool to create a Linux boot drive for a Mac here:

How to boot a Linux Live USB drive on a Mac

but my situation is further complicated by my goal, which is to have it boot by default to a FreeBSD-based OS. I'll keep researching, but I'm certainly closer than I was. I'll check the forum for this particular OS again, but the only thread I found the first time was some complications for an even older Mac Pro with different hardware and different complications.

Thanks again!
 

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