No-Cost CD-ROM Drivers for Non-Apple Drives

Originally published on 30 November 2000 as a Mac Daniel column for Low End Mac.

Q: I have a third-party CD-ROM drive. Can I use it with my Mac without spending a fortune on drivers? Can I boot from it?

A: Assuming you're running at least System 7.1, you can get the Apple CD-ROM Driver 5.3.1 from the Mac Driver Museum. It is compatible with most third-party CD-ROM drives, both internal and external. If you're running Mac OS 8 or higher, you can use the excellent ResExcellence hack from 1998 to modify your CD/DVD Driver to work with virtually all third-party CD-ROM drives. I've used the driver from Mac OS 8.1 successfully on System 7.5 and up, and it can be extracted from the Tome1 file of the Mac OS 8.1 Update. (Unless you really want to do a 20 MB download for one small file, try to track this down from a friend.)

Most SCSI CD-ROM drives I've used are bootable whether they have Apple ROMs or not, as long as you use the cmd-opt-shift-delete (DOCS) trick to force the Mac to search for a bootable volume on a drive other than the set startup disk. If this doesn't work with your drive, I'd appreciate knowing the make and model of your drive and the Mac you're using it with. Note that this trick is useless for IDE drives, but it won't matter, since any Mac with an IDE interface (beige G3 and later, and a few earlier models) will boot from most IDE CD-ROM drives.

Other options include CD Sunrise (freeware), which lacks support for ISO 9660 and Audio CDs but works with most CD-ROM drives if all you need is Mac data. CD Sunrise supposedly works all the way back to System 6, which is useful if you have a really old Mac. Daystar Digital (or what's left of it) has the OEM version of FWB's CD-ROM Toolkit 2.3.1 on their site. Simply register for Daystar's download site and you can download it there. I wouldn't recommend using it with any Mac OS version over 7.6.1, but if you have an older Mac it might be worth your time. MacUser and Macworld consistently rated the FWB drivers far faster than Apple's drivers in the 7.x versions of the OS.

copyright ©2000-2004 by Chris Lawson