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My dad installed Ubuntu 12.04 on his Macbook Air as a clean install, and it worked great at first, but I recently began to work on it (upgrading, updating, installing, and fixing some bugs), and eventually had to restart it. That is where I encountered some issues:

When booting, I had to hold the "Option" key to boot Ubuntu, because he deleted the Macintosh HD, and the EFI was attempting to boot that, but couldn't find it. Thus, it gave only a white screen. The problem can be easily solved by holding the "Option" key and selecting the drive, like I mentioned before, but that can be tedious when booting.

Next, there is another problem: sometimes even when booting the BIOS, it gives only a purple screen without allowing to select an OS. So far, the booting process is a tedious string of holing "Option," selecting the drive, holding "Delete" to load the BIOS, and finally selecting Ubuntu. I don't want my dad to have to go through that every time he boots.

My main questions are as follows:

First, is there a way to scrap the EFI and boot directly to BIOS in Ubuntu? Or maybe just set the EFI to automatically boot to BIOS?

Second, can I set BIOS to automatically boot to Ubuntu? If so, could I still be able to load it up by holding Delete when needing to access the recovery disk?

Thank you.

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2 Answers 2

You may want to install rEFInd, which is a boot manager for EFI-based computers. Be sure to install it from Windows, not from Linux. Also, install the driver for the filesystem on which your Linux kernel resides (probably ext4fs), but not other filesystem drivers -- some users have reported that installing extra drivers causes some Mac models to hang at boot time.

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Is there a way to install it from linux at all? The Macbook has only Linux on it; no other OS. –  Ben Ayers Jul 30 '13 at 18:35
    
Try installing it to the ESP as EFI/BOOT/bootx64.efi on the ESP. It's also possible to use the bless utility to do the job "properly" from within Linux, but I don't know the details, and I think you'll need a small HFS+ partition to do this. You could also check out this blog entry for another approach. –  Rod Smith Jul 30 '13 at 23:48

I think the appropriate thing to do is to bless your linux partition using the OS X disk (use e.g. an external CD drive, then launch a terminal and use a command like # bless --folder /efi/grub --file /efi/grub/grub.efi): I did that on my MBA1,1, and there's plenty of guides on the internet recommending to do that for a Linux only install, e.g. the Arch Linux wiki.

Note that rEFInd is not strictly required in this business.

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