I am trying to install Ubuntu 12.04 (Precise Pangolin) on a mid 2009 Macbook Pro. I am attempting to follow the instructions here: https://help.ubuntu.com/community/MactelSupportTeam/AppleIntelInstallation (1)

I am using the PC (Intel x86) desktop CD iso which I burned to a flash drive using the instructions here: https://help.ubuntu.com/community/How%20to%20install%20Ubuntu%20on%20MacBook%20using%20USB%20Stick (2)

I then proceeded to restart my mac, boot from the USB, start up Ubuntu, partitioned the drive using Gparted and install Ubuntu on my computer. I am confident the installation was complete. Afterwards, I was not able to restart the computer and was forced to do a hard reset.

The instructions say to restart your computer and fix a partitioning bug using rEFIt (which I have installed) As expected from (1), rEFIt gives me the error message "GPT partition of type 'Unknown' found, will not touch this disk" when I try to run the partitioning tool. I see that I need to install gptsync_0.13-10 but now when I try to boot from the USB, Ubuntu stalls for at least 20 mins at a blank screen with only a small white cursor in the upper left hand corner. I tried formatting my USB and re-burning the image to it, but have not been able to boot from the USB since.

Any suggestions or tips? Is my best bet just formatting everything and trying to reinstall again?


rEFIt is no longer maintained. It is a better idea to use rEFInd instead. Also, why don't you try to install Ubuntu 14.04? It is also an LTS release and has many kernel improvements.

There are two ways of installing Ubuntu on a Mac.

  1. Legacy Boot - Use the Mac variant of Ubuntu which you can download from here.

Install rEFInd before you install Ubuntu. Now, create a partition for Ubuntu using either Disk Utility or GParted and install normally. When you reboot after the installation finishes, rEFInd will load and give you an option to select either OS X or Ubuntu.

This is the easier method and is convenient if you are dual booting.

  1. EFI Boot - Use the normal variant of Ubuntu.

This method is slightly tough because you will have to delete the grub partition created by the Ubuntu installer (on a FAT partition) and install grub on an HFS partition, failing which your mac will not boot. However, this method works better if you want to completely replace OS X with Ubuntu.

Refer to this post for steps to the EFI Boot method.

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  • I only wanted to use 12.04 because it seemed like that was the latest version that was fully compatible with my computer. (MacBook Pro 5,5) I'm not exactly familiar with the whole Linux environment so I just wanted to get something up and running. I'd like to try installing with rEFInd, but the documentation states that there is a glitch caused by the Ubuntu installer during installation that causes the partition to be unusable unless I am able to install grub. Does it make sense that this situation probably isn't fixed by remediable using rEFInd? – wyverniv Nov 18 '14 at 20:37
  • Regardless, I'll probably try option 1 and if that fails, I'll try installing Ubuntu 14.04. Sorry for double posting, ran out of the character limit. – wyverniv Nov 18 '14 at 20:39

As the guy who boots ALL of his computers to external flash media, I'd like to point out that making external media boot a mac is significantly easier than installing Ubuntu to the mac, and significantly less risky. This is not to say that I will never aspire to have three or even four operating systems on a mac, if only for geek points, but when it comes to safety, it's generally a bad idea to put all of your eggs in one basket.

That said, the last time I booted my mac to Ubuntu flash media I used a refind cd and the time before that I used refit. It has been on my todo list for some time now to install refind to a clone stick to see if it works with the mac and if it interferes with booting other computers.

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  • I'm a little bit confused by your statement. Do you mean that every time you run your computer, you are booting it using an external flash drive? If I'm not mistaken, that would unnecessarily limit your start-up time and processing speed, no? I'll try rEFInd and see if I have better luck. Thanks. – wyverniv Nov 18 '14 at 20:43
  • You wouldn't be mistaken had you been correct in your assumption that my USB-3 digital storage device was a typical slow thumbdrive sold alongside candy in convenience stores. My SSD is this 6gb/second module of the type used in the lastest tablet devices. tinyurl.com/msata6gbsec It is housed in this compact USB-3 interface carrier. The performance of my external drive is greater than most consumer hard drives. tinyurl.com/msata2usb3 The arrangement outline above knocks the socks off everyone who sees it, including gamers. I've run VMware on this as well as STEAM. – gyropyge Nov 19 '14 at 5:59

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