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http://cdimage.ubuntu.com/releases/11.04/release/

At that location there is an ISO image which is described as "This image is adjusted to work properly on Mac systems."

What specific problems on the Mac does this image address that the standard images don't? I ask because I need to know which ISO to recommend to Apple Mac users.

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Without actually having tried it: the older alt-install releases were text-mode (ncurses). Macs don't have those legacy text modes - have you ever seen text mode on old PPC Macs? It's pretty awful. –  Broam Apr 29 '11 at 15:10
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why was this downvoted? –  Alaukik May 1 '11 at 14:55
    
Have you managed to install Ubuntu so that it boot from UEFI and not using BIOS emulation? –  user24668 May 12 '12 at 16:11
    
@gentmatt Yes, but I wouldn't recommend it. The nvidia binary video driver doesn't work with EFI mode, so you're limited to nouveau which is okay, but also limited. I ended up getting rid of the Mac for this and other reasons and switched to a Thinkpad which "Just Works" (TM). –  popey May 15 '12 at 9:40
    
@popey Actually, I want to use EFI boot in order to make use of the integrated graphics ;). The battery life with dedicated graphics only is horrible.... But yes, I'm also thinking of getting a proper computer to run Ubuntu. Doing this on a Mac just doesn't seem very reasonable at the moment. If you can't make good use of the expensive hardware, you'd better leave it. –  user24668 May 15 '12 at 10:03
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4 Answers

up vote 95 down vote accepted
+250

In Ubuntu 10.10, we changed the normal amd64 CD images to dual-boot on either BIOS or UEFI systems (UEFI, "Unified Extensible Firmware Interface", is a different kind of firmware found on many newer systems). This was done using a technique known as a "multi-catalog" CD - it contains two boot images, and the specification says that the firmware is supposed to pick the one it can best use.

Unfortunately, even though Macs use a variant of EFI (an earlier version of what's now called UEFI), they apparently can't cope with multi-catalog CDs, and simply refuse to boot them. This left us in rather a quandary: we needed to support UEFI systems, but we didn't want to drop support for Macs either. I therefore created the amd64+mac CD images, which are exactly the same as the amd64 images except that they only support BIOS booting. Macs are happy to boot these in their BIOS emulation mode.

(In fact, the name amd64+mac is a slight misnomer, because it later turned out that some systems other than Macs suffer from a similar problem - but I felt that a more technically accurate naming such as amd64+nouefi would be more likely to confuse than enlighten.)

While I would love to return to shipping just amd64 images rather than both amd64 and amd64+mac, at the moment there is no prospect of reunifying them unless somebody figures out how to make a multi-catalog CD image that Macs can boot. If you're an expert on this, please do contact me by e-mail.

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Is the BIOS emulation mode the reason for why it takes relatively longer to boot Ubuntu on a Mac? First rEFIt and then Grub2. After that there is always a "pause" with a black screen. Then comes the boot splash which is significantly faster than this strange pause with the black screen. Is there an update on using UEFI boot on Macs in order to avoid this? –  user24668 May 8 '12 at 7:28
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If you want to go ahead and use UEFI boot, feel free to try the normal amd64 images and see if they work on your system. –  Colin Watson May 18 '12 at 23:53
    
Are there amd64+mac versions for Ubuntu server anywhere? –  bnjmn Jan 9 '13 at 5:31
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If the problem with multi-catalog CDs is that you can't have both methods on the same CD why did you choose BIOS over EFI? –  Alexandre Jasmin Mar 8 '13 at 7:02
    
On the wild goose chase that i have been put on by the experts here at Ask Ubuntu and at Launchpad found your concise answer more than helpful in the process of elimination on getting to install Ubuntu using EFI mode on a 2011 EFI 2.1 machine (which is not a mac) –  geezanansa Oct 10 '13 at 9:28
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Appears to be very little between them, mostly the beginnings of EFI booting:

$ diff --context=0 ubuntu-11.04-desktop-amd64*list
*** ubuntu-11.04-desktop-amd64+mac.list 2011-04-27 18:06:42.000000000 +0100
--- ubuntu-11.04-desktop-amd64.list 2011-04-27 18:05:44.000000000 +0100
***************
*** 4 ****
--- 5 ----
+ /usb-creator.exe
***************
*** 134,135 ****
- /isolinux/grub/font.pf2
- /isolinux/grub/grub.cfg
--- 134 ----
***************
*** 144 ****
--- 144 ----
+ /efi/boot/bootx64.efi

I've not personally had much luck with the uefi booting, so I'd probably recommend users stick to the regular amd64 releases until uefi is required. (on most models, the regular disks work fine via bootcamp's bios emulation layer)

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Coming from someone who installs Ubuntu on a lot of Macs. There were supposedly some difficulties encountered by some of the people who tried to run Maverick LiveCD's on Mac computers. The EFI loader wasn't friendly with it, so the Natty version with Mac support is meant to interact better with the EFI (Mac version of a BIOS) to solve these problems. Aside from that, there isn't a signifigant difference.

I would advise trying the regular downloads first (if you can spare the bandwidth) because I find them to work great on the Macs that I have used them on. If you encounter problems trying to load up the LiveCD's, then the Mac support version is likely what you are looking for.

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I believe the reason for these +mac CDs is that Macs use EFI, whereas most other computers are using a regular BIOS interface (hardware interface, not GUI). For MAC then, a different CD is needed in order to allow the system to boot.

This is also why there is bootcamp - apart from driver support; windows (at least in older versions I AFAIK) does not use EFI.

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