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I'm dual-booting a late-2013 Macbook Pro with Ubuntu 14.04 x64 (vmlinuz-3.13.0-24-generic) and OSX 10.9.2 with Refind. This worked well after I installed Refind's ext4 driver.

I also have the hard-drive from my previous laptop on a USB external drive with copies of Windows and Ubuntu on separate partitions which I'd like to boot on the Mac. I can mount these partitions on OSX or Ubuntu, but as Refind didn't recognise the installations I used Gdisk to change the disk to GPT.

After that, Refind recognised the existence of the external Ubuntu and Windows installations, but doesn't give any information about the kernel and shows a penguin icon for Ubuntu. Trying to boot this leads to a pause then a blank screen with the message:

No bootable device - insert boot disk and press any key

I added a stanza in refind.conf referring to Ubuntu by UUID, and I added a refind_linux.conf to the Boot folder in the Ubuntu 13.04 x64 partition on the external drive, but this made no difference:

"Boot x64 13.04 with standard options" "ro root=31b998f7-0607-40f3-ba7f-67f297d79a2d quiet splash"

Can anyone suggest where I've gone wrong, or how to get it working?

Thanks.

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1 Answer 1

The "no bootable device" error probably indicates that rEFInd was detecting a BIOS-mode boot loader, but that the Mac's firmware was unable to launch it. This can happen with external disks on Macs, and there's not much that rEFInd can do about it -- booting external disks, especially in BIOS mode, is just flaky on some models. There are other ways to get Linux booted, though....

Try hitting the Esc key. Sometimes an EFI is sluggish about registering some filesystems, so they don't appear when rEFInd first starts up, but hitting Esc causes a re-scan and they'll appear. If this works, you can try adding scan_delay 1 to the refind.conf file. This will slow down rEFInd's bringing up its menu, but the options should all appear.

If that fails, then check the filesystem types. You say you've got the ext4fs driver installed, so that should enable rEFInd to scan ext2, ext3, and ext4 filesystems; but if you used something else on the external disk, you'll need to install a suitable filesystem driver (if one exists).

A last-ditch fix is to create a /boot partition for your external-drive installation, but on your internal drive. This can help if the firmware in your Mac is particularly recalcitrant about booting from an external drive, even in EFI mode. A /boot partition can be quite small, so this won't chew up a lot of disk space.

Your Windows installation will be harder to get booted. It will work better with an MBR disk, but you seem to be running into BIOS-mode boot problems with that. There's a very long thread on MacRumors about booting Windows natively in EFI mode on Macs. This is possible for some models, and is easier with Windows 8 than with Windows 7. With Windows 7, it's very difficult to get working.

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