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The problem

MacBook hard drive crashed and is ruined. I need to work on a music assignment on a program only available for Mac OS X and Ubuntu, and will not be able to get a new hard drive for the Mac before the assignment is due. I only have non-administrator access to Windows XP and 7 computers.

My question

Can I make a USB drive with Ubuntu on it so I can use my MacBook with this? Can I create this from a Windows computer? Please give detailed steps, if possible, for I am a noob when it comes to computers, and especially Linux.

I have an 8-Gb flash drive available.

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I have an 8-Gb flash drive. –  Patrick May 4 '12 at 16:45
    
Possible duplicate: askubuntu.com/q/28495/43660 –  Chan-Ho Suh May 4 '12 at 17:48

4 Answers 4

Yes - but don't use the native Windows tool. It is buggy. There are several opensource tools for burning a CD iso onto a USB stick - but if you don't have an admin Windows account this could be a problem.

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Could you suggest any specific programs? –  Patrick May 4 '12 at 16:53

According to Apple:

Intel-based Macs support starting from an external USB storage device's volume that:

  • Has been formatted with a GUID partition type
  • Contains an installation of Mac OS X 10.4.5 or later, or Mac OS X 10.5 or later, which is compatible with (or shipped with) the Mac that the USB device is connected to. Note: You should not use a version of Mac OS X that is earlier ("older") than the version your Mac shipped with.

So booting from a Live USB of Ubuntu with a Mac is not officially supported.

You may, however, try the steps described here (no guarantees!), or alternatively, just boot from a Live CD.

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Sorry for not mentioning it, I have a Macbook 1.1 with the original OS. –  Patrick May 4 '12 at 17:06
    
and an intel core 2 duo processor. But the link is for working macbooks, which I don't have. I can't boot OS X. –  Patrick May 4 '12 at 17:07
    
Excellent point! :P Then I would suggest booting from a Live CD; it's much simpler. –  SirCharlo May 4 '12 at 17:13
    
I'll try that this weekend and let you know how it goes. –  Patrick May 4 '12 at 17:17
    
Unfortunately, the instructions for booting off USB on that Ubuntu help page have never been known to work. Ironically, the special workaround described for MacBook Air 3,2 doesn't usually work for that model, but works for others. –  Chan-Ho Suh May 4 '12 at 17:47

I would create a Mac bootable USB from Windows.

So I had a bad day yesterday when my Mac crashed and I didn't have a Mac bootable disk/USB. It took me hours to search and find a 'fool-proof' solution to "Create a Mac Bootable USB from Windows"

All of the references I found were about creating a bootable disk from a Mac system, but none discussed it for a Windows setup.

But I finally found a good explanation here.

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2  
Welcome to Ask Ubuntu! Whilst this may theoretically answer the question, it would be preferable to include the essential parts of the answer here, and provide the link for reference. –  Eliah Kagan Aug 2 '12 at 17:52

There seems to be some confusion about EFI booting and Ubuntu ISOs.

Disclaimer: I don't know much about Macs, because I never happened to own or support one of these machines. But I want to help anyway.

Linux and Windows UEFI booting and Ubuntu Mac ISOs

Using Linux on Windows machines, my understanding is that to boot from external media via EFI you just copy the files from the ISO to a supported filesystem on the USB drive, which is usually FAT. ISOs that support UEFI booting contain a file called /efi/boot/boot{arch}.efi, where {arch} can be x64 for AMD64, ia32 for i386, arm or a64 for ARM and so forth. On (older) Macs this may just be /efi/boot/boot.efi.

Okay, that's that. The strange thing is that the Mac ISOs don't contain such files and instead boot and install in legacy BIOS mode, which was fine in 2006 – when Apple introduced Boot Camp – but isn't since 2012 when the rest of the industry moved to UEFI.

The answers from Chan-Ho Suh and Colin Watson on similar questions don't seem to reflect the current state accurately.

The short answer

I found a blog entry from AstroFloyd dealing with a very similar problem while being aware of the above.

His solution is to put an EFI loader that allows for loopback loading a UEFI-compatible ISO. Ideally you would just have to put two files on the FAT-formatted USB drive and that's it.

For clarity, all that is now on your USB drive is (relative to the root directory of that drive):

  1. /efi/boot/boot.iso
  2. /efi/boot/boot.efi

His instructions are written using Linux tools and dealing with advanced details like setting the partition type, but I guess Windows and off-the-shelf USB drives already provide this configuration by default.

To be clear: Do not use the amd64+mac ISO, use the latest standard one.

Related:

The longer answer and more background information

Rod Smith – who is also around here – has published a very detailed article about EFI-Booting Ubuntu on a Mac on his site. He explains why installing Linux in BIOS mode on a Mac by using a hybrid MBR is at least to say a bad idea and covers a few scenarios of installing Ubuntu on a drive with an existing Mac OS X installation.

He is using his tool rEFInd, but as far as I know gummiboot is also capable of booting OS X and working with Macs (it's probably a bit more difficult to configure).

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