Apparently, Macs have trouble booting the standard Ubuntu iso images (see ref).

[Macs] apparently can't cope with multi-catalog CDs, and simply refuse to boot them... [Colin Watson] 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.

I'd like to install Ubuntu Server 12.04.1 LTS but get an error when booting from an install disk. From what I've gathered, it seems like a solution is possible and therefore should be achieved. This is what I would like to do and any assistance in alternative boot methods or creating a 'BIOS boot only server image' would be greatly appreciated.

Update: Installing rEFIt gives hope but no progress. Still boots disk with the same error:


Select CD-ROM Boot Type : _

Update 2: Successfully installed Ubuntu 12.04.1 DESKTOP amd64+mac. Going to attempt to install the server version from within Linux next.


2 Answers 2


(My) Steps to success

To be clear, my goal was to actually dual-boot Mac OSX and Ubuntu Server on my old busted macbook. The following steps my be helpful for anyone trying to install a disagreeable OS on mac hardware.

  1. Install OS X at the beginning of the hdd (50Gbs). I have OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard (w install disk)
    • 50Gbs was my personal choice. This is really up to you
  2. Install rEFIt and test that it works. You should see it after a restart with some boot options.
  3. Install Ubuntu desktop using the amd64+mac iso. rEFIt should let you boot from the disk.
    • I put this at the end of the drive (20Gbs) with the intent of removing it. You may be able to get by using a LiveCD but I had already installed it to explore other options.
  4. Within Ubuntu (select it via rEFIt), create a partition (1Gb) using gparted and then copy the Ubuntu 64-bit Server iso to it. For simplicity, let's say we now have /dev/sda6/ubuntu.iso
  5. Restart and select Ubuntu again, this time before Ubuntu loads access the GRUB2 command line by pressing c when the GRUB menu appears. Type the following:

    loopback loop (hd0,6)/ubuntu.iso
    linux (loop)/install/vmlinuz boot=install iso-scan/filename=/ubuntu.iso quiet splash --
    initrd (loop)/install/initrd.gz
  6. You should now be entered into the Ubuntu Server install process. Success!
    • At one point, it asked for the CD-ROM which I happily provided by inserting it into the disk drive and then continued the installation process flawlessly.
    • I was also able to delete all the unwanted partitions I had created, even the one containing the iso I booted from, without any issue.

I now can boot into either OS (Snow Leopard or Ubunutu Server 12.04.1) via rEFIt.

Also, big thanks / reference to this post about installing ubuntu from iso file using grub2. It was key to my success.


I found it very easy by using the 64-bit Mac (AMD64) server install image here:


  • why would that make a difference? And, would it work with 18.04?
    – Thufir
    Jun 4, 2018 at 15:57
  • See What is different about the Mac ISO image? It seems 18.04 does not have that special build, so perhaps it was included in normal iso. I guess the only way to know is to try it.
    – gsl
    Jun 5, 2018 at 7:02

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