I have a 15-inch 2.53ghz mid-2009 macbook pro (in some places known as "macbookpro 5.4"). I wanted to dual boot mac os x with ubuntu 14.04 desktop 64-bit, so I set up a secondary partition using disk utility (not bootcamp assistant as it wants a windows 7 disk). I rebooted, booted from the ubuntu dvd I burned (there are two options in the boot menu, the EFI version called "EFI boot" and the BIOS version misleadingly called "windows," I chose the EFI one), and first thing I do is check disk for defects, and there aren't any. So I reboot and start up the installer, but the Ubuntu splash screen comes up garbled and it stays there forever. (I've waited 2 hours, I don't think the live cd is supposed to take that long to start). So I noticed there was something wrong.
One potential solution I found was installing refit on the mac os x partition. So I did. I started up the efi boot loader from the Ubuntu disk using refit instead of holding down option on startup (needed to refresh a couple times for refit to see the dvd), same result. Another solution was booting with nomodeset. This time it didn't get stuck at the splash screen, but a completely black screen (no blinking cursor either) after being at the boot screen for a while. It could be a video driver problem, but how, if I've booted with nomodeset?
I've also tried the "64-bit mac" version that they offer on the download page. That version doesn't have an efi version, only bios, but it boots exactly the same way (either stuck on the boot screen or a black screen).
I don't want to try the 32-bit version as it could be much slower and also won't recognize my full 8gb of ram. (edit: tried it, still boots to a black screen)
4/23 update: After commenting the answers I got, I should mention that on my macbook pro I have downgraded the efi firmware from 1.7 to 1.6 because I replaced the hard drive myself (the original one died), and the 1.7 update makes hard drives you replaced yourself become so slow they're unusable because they're "unsupported". For this reason I also can't install anything newer than mac os x mountain lion 10.8.3 on my mac, even if it would work normally (it would throw looping errors similar to the ones I mentioned in a comment), in fact I'm stuck on lion 10.7.5. The solution I found on the internet about this only works for seagate hard drives, and I have a western digital.
If I upgrade the efi firmware again, I could finally install Ubuntu, but it would be slowed down to a crawl (random hangs every 10 seconds or so), so it's not worth it. I'd rather just buy a new $300 non-apple laptop and put Ubuntu there. Thanks everyone who answered, but I'm open to trying something else to get it to work, if anyone has a potential solution.
2017 update: I bought a newer computer, but I kept this older macbook as a secondary one. To make it faster, I replaced the hard drive again, this time to a SanDisk SSD plus, and despite it still being unsupported by Apple, it works perfectly with the old 1.6 EFI firmware. Not only does Ubuntu work fine, but so do newer Mac OS versions (up to 10.11 El Capitan officially, even 10.12 Sierra if you use dosdude1's patch). The old Apple EFI firmware caps the SATA speed at 1.5 Gbit/s, but with a solid state drive this computer works very quickly, so I won't attempt updating it.