Multi-Booting a Mac

When it comes to playing games or developing software, Macs can be a real pain. Thankfully, Apple offers users the ability to boot both Windows and OSX using Boot Camp, but what about those of us that want to run a third Linux system?

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First of all, this is going to take a while, so make sure you’re willing to spend a few hours without your precious Mac. Here is a list of what you’ll need to multi-boot your computer:

  • A Mac computer
  • A 64-bit Windows OS disk or image
  • (Optional) USB 2 flash drive or DVD
  • At least 55 GB of free space on your hard drive for Windows and additional space for other operating systems.

Installing Windows

First off, you may want to make a backup of your files just in case the process fails. I suggest using Apple’s Time Machine backups, which you can access in the settings.

Grab a copy of a 64-bit Windows ISO. I suggest grabbing Windows 10 from Microsoft’s website: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/software-download/windows10. (NOTE: You will have to have the latest version of Mac OSX installed in order to use Windows 10). It’s up to you to find a valid CD key for Windows, which you will need in order to receive important security updates from Microsoft. Open up Boot Camp Assistant and follow the directions. Once you select how much drive space to give Windows, YOU CANNOT CHANGE IT! For more info, check out Apple’s How-To: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201468.


Getting rEFInd

After all our operating systems are installed, we’re going to need a convenient way to boot into any OS we want. rEFInd is an updated fork of rEFIt and is a boot manager for systems  based on the Extensible Firmware Interface (EFI) and will present users with a nice graphical interface to log into their systems when the computer is booted.

 

rEFInd presents a graphical menu for selecting your boot OS.
http://www.rodsbooks.com/refind/

 

Download the binary zip file: http://www.rodsbooks.com/refind/getting.html and extract the files into your downloads folder. It’s important that you extract the files now, because we will be accessing them in recovery mode later.

Breaking Windows

It really wouldn’t be a Mad Kat tutorial without breaking the nice system you just installed. Here’s the deal, OSX will only allow you to create a boot camp drive from a single partition. That’s no problem, assuming you haven’t used Disk Utility to partition your drive. However, we need another partition to house our Linux system. Anytime you use disk utility to resize your Mac’s partition, you will cause changes in the partition map and “break” Windows, making it impossible to boot into your boot camp.

Fear not! There is a solution!

First off, let’s break Windows. Boot into your Mac OSX and open up disk utility. Select your Mac partition and select “partition.” Make sure you give your Linux system enough drive space for the necessary files and for swap. Just leave the new partition type as the default. Apply the changes to your drive, and you should now have three partitions. Congrats! You can no longer boot into Windows!


Fixing Windows and Installing rEFInd

Let’s fix this mess. Shutdown your computer and boot into recovery (hold down command + R when the machine turns on). You should be presented with a list of options after recovery boots, which we will not be using. In the upper part of the screen, select Utilites>Terminal. We’re going to use the terminal to fix our Windows system and install rEFInd.

To fix Windows, first find the drive using diskutil and then make the Windows partition bootable again. Below, I am assuming that your hard drive is listed as /dev/disk0 and that windows is the 4th partition.

diskutil list             *This will list out your disks*
fdisk -e /dev/disk0       *Now we edit the Master Boot Record*
p                         *List the partitions*
setpid 4                  *Assuming that Windows is the 4th partition*
07
flag 4                  *Marks windows to bootup at start*
p                       *The Windows partition should have an asterisk*
write                   *Writes changes to the MBR*
y                       *Accept the changes*
exit

Windows should now boot. Next, we’re going to install rEFInd. First, we need to navigate to the file location where rEFInd is located and execute the refind-install script.

cd /
ls                  *This will list the files in the root directory*
cd Volumes
cd "Macintosh HD"
cd Users
cd "Your Account Name*
cd Downloads
cd "Refind Folder"
./refind-install       *Will begin installation*

Finishing Up

At this point, you should be able to reboot your computer and see the rEFInd boot manager. Make sure that both your OSX and Windows systems boot and work. If everything is operating, you can now pick you favorite GNU/Linux system to install from a DVD or USB!

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Author: madkatcomputers

When I'm not fixing computers, I'm breaking computers!

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