I would like to install Ubuntu on an older Macbook Pro. The hard drive recently failed so I have a replacement. I'm hoping I can just install Ubuntu and not muck around with MacOS.

The Ubuntu installer (17.10.1) boots without a problem and the install completes successfully. However, upon rebooting I get a folder with a flashing question mark. Holding down the option key to boot does not reveal any bootable devices.

I have seen this answer which led me to this page in which it indicates Ubuntu "requires manual install" on this device, but there don't appear to be links to the necessary manual steps.

Is there any way to get Ubuntu booting on this system (that does not involve installing MacOS)?

  • Booting the installer, installing refind and running refind-install --root /path/to/actual/root didn't seem to impact the problem. – larsks Feb 4 '18 at 19:17
  • Well so far you have done exactly what you were suppose to do. By default, Ubuntu does not normally boot on Macs. You have to manually complete the final steps. These steps can involve using rEFInd if you wish, but rEFInd is not required. The links you provide are 7-8 years old and therefore contain out of date information. Can I assume you can boot to a live version of Ubuntu? – David Anderson Feb 4 '18 at 23:43
  • Yes, that's how I was fiddling with refind: the installer provides a live environment. – larsks Feb 5 '18 at 0:18

Below is the sequence of steps needed to finish installing Ubuntu on a Mac. I assume you installed Ubuntu to use EFI booting.

  1. Boot to Ubuntu live.
  2. From the Desktop, press the control+option+T keys to open a Terminal window.
  3. Enter the command shown below.

    sudo  fdisk  -l  /dev/sda

    Below is the output I saw from entering this command.

    Note: For a better view, click on the image or open the image in a new window.


  4. From the output of the sudo fdisk -l /dev/sda command, determine the device for the EFI System partition. For me, this was /dev/sda1. If you determine a different device, make the appropriate substitutions.

  5. Enter the commands given below to make Ubuntu appear in the Startup Manager.

    sudo  bash
    mkdir  efi
    mount  /dev/sda1  efi
    cd  efi/EFI
    mkdir  BOOT
    cp  ubuntu/grubx64.efi  BOOT/bootx64.efi
    cd  ~
    umount  efi
    rmdir  efi
  6. Shutdown Ubuntu live.

  7. Startup the Mac and immediately hold down the option key until the Startup Manager icons appear.

  8. Click on the hard disk icon labeled "EFI Boot". Next, while holding down the control key, click on the circular arrow below this icon.

You are finished. Your Mac will now automatically boot to Ubuntu on startup and restart.

| improve this answer | |
  • Do you know if there are any issues with installing Ubuntu in EFI mode and the fact that 2012 and earlier Macbooks aren't UEFI compliant? (discussions.apple.com/thread/8080187) – Andreas Sep 12 at 15:17
  • @Andreas: The link you posted refers to installing Windows on Mac computers. Both the MacbookPro9,2 and the Macmini6,1 are 2012 models. Apple officially supports the installation of Windows 10 on these models. The Boot Camp Assistant will install Windows 10 to UEFI boot on all Mac models where Apple officially supports Windows 10. Therefore, there would be no problems with the drivers. The link you posted is wrong. The industry converted to UEFI boot Windows in 2011. Apple converted a year later, starting with the 2012 model year Macs. – David Anderson Sep 12 at 18:52
  • @Andres: FYI, many (if not all) 2012 through the present Macs are not fully UEFI compliant. However, they are compliant enough to install Windows 10. Also, Apple starting eliminating the BIOS from Mac firmware staring in 2015. Of the older Macs with a BIOS, the BIOS was not full compliant with the specification. However, the firmware was compliant enough to install certain versions of Windows to BIOS boot. Usually hardware (driver) issues occur when the wrong Windows Support Software (Boot Camp Support Software) is used to install Windows on a Mac. – David Anderson Sep 12 at 19:06
  • @Andres: Some Macs have one version of the Widows Support Software for BIOS booting installations and another for UEFI booting installations. Also, some Macs have additional versions the Windows Support Software that are obsolete. In some cases, the correct drivers are not installed until after Windows and the Windows Support Software is installed. In these cases, the drivers are downloaded from either Windows Update or Apple Software Update. In many cases, Boot Camp itself is updated through Apple Software Update. This is common with older Macs that can use APFS. – David Anderson Sep 12 at 19:14
  • @Andres: Ubuntu is designed to EFI boot on Intel based Macs. Some of the early Intel based Macs had 64 bit processors, but only 32 bit EFI firmware. In this case, there was an Ubuntu for Macs that could BIOS boot so a 64 bit of Ubuntu could be installed. The current versions of Ubuntu no longer provide an installer to BIOS boot Ubuntu. If necessary, an older BIOS booting Ubuntu can be installed, then upgraded to the current version. – David Anderson Sep 12 at 19:33

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