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I'm going to describe my problem in full, and then ask the question for the solution that I think I've come up with. If someone has a better different way to do this, that would be much appreciated as well.

I am installing Ubuntu 13.10 onto a Macbook pro 9.2 I have done this twice before, with the caveat being that, when I did this before, I just set up a dual boot. Now, I am trying to setup Ubuntu exclusively, and also trying to encrypt my hard drive. I tried installing Mac OS first, and then setting up a second partition, and creating a refit partition, and then deleting the first partition, but the Ubuntu installer won't let me encrypt my hard drive if I do it that way.

I can get through the installation process just fine, but when it comes time to reboot, I run into the blank white screen followed by a flashing folder with a question mark on it. Looking into it, I believe what I need, is an EFI that I can set up from my newly created Ubuntu partition. So my question is this, is there an EFI that I can set up from Ubuntu, that will be recognized by a Macbook hardware, and run on startup?

Note: I was able to get back in to Ubuntu, by rebooting, and "trying Ubuntu" from my flash drive, and then logging in to my encrypted hard drive, but I no longer have Mac OS installed on my computer, so solutions that involve having mac os installed, while not impossible, are not easy.

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2 Answers 2

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EFI is a type of firmware. I believe that what you mean when you write "EFI" is EFI System Partition (ESP), which is where EFI boot loaders reside on most EFI-based computers. Macs, although they're (sort of) EFI-based, are weird; Apple's EFI implementation looks first to the Mac's HFS+ root (/) partition for a boot loader.

Generally speaking, the best way to install Linux in a single-boot configuration is to go with a straight-MBR setup and a BIOS-mode boot loader such as GRUB, without using the GUID Partition Table (GPT) or an EFI-mode boot loader or boot manager such as rEFIt or rEFInd. Thus, I recommend you wipe your partition table by using GParted or parted to create a new one. (Both GParted and parted refer to an MBR partition table as an "msdos" partition table.) When you boot the Ubuntu installer in BIOS/CSM/legacy mode, it should then install using MBR partitions and the computer will boot just like a commodity PC.

Although it is possible to install Linux in EFI mode on a Linux-only Mac, doing so is tricky because of Apple's weird EFI, which requires an OS X tool called bless to manage. Although there is a Linux port of bless, it's rather exotic, and AFAIK it doesn't ship with Ubuntu, so you'll have to track it down and learn to use it in order to manage a Linux-only EFI-mode boot. (Alternatively, you could manage the boot process using an OS X CD-R or USB flash drive, but that's a bit awkward.)

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I've had the exact same problem as the submitter. Completely wipes out the hard drive, installs Ubuntu with GRUB, reboots with a single flashing folder. I'm upset that Apple can get away with this behavior, after all, their PC is just that… another PC that's been locked down with ESP, a form of draconian DRM. Here, I choose Ubuntu, but am not allowed to use it because Apple doesn't want me to.

Unfortunately, the solutions recommended above didn't work for me on a Mac Pro 4,1. I'm still getting the flashing folder of DRM.

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