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The following complete recipe for installing single-boot (this should be simple!) Ubuntu 18.04 on an Early-2011 Macbook 17" has an error.

Install Ubuntu

  • Download Ubuntu ISO. Download Etcher. Use Etcher to prepare a USB flash.
  • Insert flash. Press 'option' before chime. Choose EFI. [Puzzle: Why do two instances of EFI appear, both from the installation flash disk?]
  • Press 'e'. Replace quiet splash with quiet splash nomodeset.
  • Install Ubuntu on Mac's disk.

Booting from the Mac's disk will hang at the splash screen. The nomodeset addition needs to be saved.

The following is from these three recipes.

Introduce nomodeset to the boot script

  • Boot once again from flash (press 'option'; press 'e'; adjust 'nomodeset').
  • This time abort installation ('quit'). Launch the terminal (pressing the nine-dot icon brings up a search bar).
  • Use gparted (How to reveal this on the command line? mount? parted -l? fdisk /dev/sda?) to determine the ext4 partition. Say it's /dev/sda2.
  • sudo mount --bind /dev /mnt/dev &&, sudo mount --bind /dev/pts /mnt/dev/pts &&, sudo mount --bind /proc /mnt/proc &&, sudo mount --bind /sys /mnt/sys. [Something is wrong here. Still working on a complete, self-contained recipe.]
  • sudo chroot /mnt (see here). [Something is wrong here. Still working on a complete, self-contained recipe.]
  • sudo nano /etc/default/grub
  • Add nomodeset to GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT.
  • sudo update-grub.

The output at this last step is:

Sourcing file `/etc/default/grub`
Generating grub configuration file ...
Found linux image: /boot/vmlinuz-5.0.0.23-generic
Found initrd image: /boot/initrd.img-5.0.0-23-generic
grub-probe: error: cannot find a GRUB drive for /dev/sdb1. Check your device.map.
done

How do I tell sudo update-grub to use /dev/sda2?

Would using rEFInd simplify the recipe above? (update)

What is briefer, to use rEFInd or not to use it? I understand that the reason for the existence of rEFInd is to enable a dual-boot linux set up on a Mac. But if just single-boot linux is sought, does introducing rEFInd make the recipe simpler or more complicated?

  • It's not sudo nano update-grub but sudo update-grub. – guillermo chamorro Dec 4 at 0:18
  • If chrooting into an UEFI install, you also must mount ESP. UEFI chroot askubuntu.com/questions/53578/… Many with Mac use rEFInd. Alternative efi boot manager for UEFI limited systems: rodsbooks.com/refind & askubuntu.com/questions/908677/… – oldfred Dec 4 at 0:43
  • @oldfred What is briefer, to use rEFInd or not to use it? I understand that the reason for the existence of rEFInd is to enable a dual-boot linux set up on a Mac. But if just single-boot linux is sought, does introducing rEFInd make the recipe simpler or more complicated? – Calaf Dec 4 at 16:23
  • It is more complicated as you may have to configure rEFInd. But rEFInd is good at finding installs. Some just like the graphical/icon boot options. I only use grub for normal boot and keep a small flash drive with rEFInd for emergency boot. Boot-Repair is often the easiest way to make fixes if not familiar with chroot & grub repair commands. Boot-Repair supports many standard types of installs, but not all. Often best to review report to see what it is doing first. Use ppa version with your live installer not older Boot-Repair ISO: help.ubuntu.com/community/Boot-Repair – oldfred Dec 4 at 16:28

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