I have a MacBook Pro Late 2011 and the version of MacOS 10.7.2 Lion and I've always been using it no problem, so I didn't update to any of the newer versions of Yosemite, Mavericks, etc. On this Mac, I dual booted (a long time ago... in 2013, I believe) by installing Ubuntu 12.04 using rEFIt as was suggested by the guide (Mactel Dual Boot Guide) I used when dual booting. When I booted up, it would show the rEFIt screen with the choice of booting into Mac or Ubuntu. (I earlier posted this question in the Apple Stack Exchange and they told me it'd be better to post it here at askUbuntu.)

Before I go on, I want to mention that I'm aware that rEFIt is obsolete and no longer maintained, and rEFInd is the more current option. The reason why I used rEFIt is because (a) that's what the guided suggested and (b) I think I did my dual boot before rEFInd came out.

Now, I updated to MacOS X El Capitan, and the rEFIt screen doesn't show up and my computer just boots into Mac. I want the rEFIt/rEFInd screen to come back to allow me to select which OS I'd like to boot into.

I've searched on Google, and found some relevant links: very similar issue to mine with Yosemite and something which seems to resemble my problems and a very insightful post and here. However, I'm not sure what to do, especially because I don't want to have to re-install Linux as suggested by the third link.

So, my questions are:

  1. How can I get the rEFIt/rEFInd installer back to select the OS?
  2. In order to do the above, do I have to uninstall rEFIt? (My understanding from the "Removing rEFIt" page is that I wouldn't as MacOS X is already my startup disk, so I don't have to go through and rename any EFI directories...)
  3. Can I do this without re-installing Ubuntu?

If anyone else has encountered this issue or has any insight, I'd greatly appreciate it! Thanks!


Note: I maintain rEFInd.

Short Answer

Download the rEFInd .zip file from its download page and install it. Note that you're almost certain to run into issues related to System Integrity Protection (SIP), which can be overcome as described in the rEFInd documentation. Installing rEFInd should get you booting again. You may well see a rEFIt entry in rEFInd, which will be rendered redundant. You can remove it by deleting the /EFI/refit directory in OS X; or you can leave it in place, if you like.

Long Answer

Upgrading your OS X version has updated the OS X boot loader, which has taken control of the boot process from rEFIt. The new SIP feature makes it impossible for the rEFIt support tool called rEFItBlesser to do its job, so even if rEFItBlesser is installed, it can't switch the boot back to one that uses rEFIt. In principle, you could disable SIP and then run rEFItBlesser or re-install rEFIt to get things working again; however, there might be other changes made by installing OS X 10.11 that would create further complications. Overall, therefore, it's probably better to switch to rEFInd -- although rEFIt can be made to work, it's becoming necessary to jump through more and more undocumented hoops to do so.

Chances are your Ubuntu installation is just fine, although I can't be 100% certain of that from the information you've provided. Partition table information would be helpful in making that determination; but as I suspect it's all fine, and as installing rEFInd shouldn't create any real problems even if it's not, you might as well go ahead with a rEFInd installation. There's certainly no call to completely re-install Ubuntu unless you have reason to think that the OS X upgrade has damaged the Ubuntu installation.

Note that rEFInd can launch Linux kernels directly, provided it can read them. Once you install rEFInd, you may see two or more ways to launch Ubuntu. One is likely to show up as a generic penguin icon and will launch a BIOS-mode version of GRUB. This option might or might not still work. Another is likely to show up with an Ubuntu icon and have a description that references a file with a name beginning with vmlinuz. This option boots Ubuntu directly via the kernel in EFI mode, and is the preferred way to launch Ubuntu. If this option works, you can eliminate the BIOS-mode option by editing the refind.conf file: Uncomment the scanfor line and ensure that hdbios is not among the listed options.

  • Thanks Rod for a very informative answer. Simply installing rEFInd worked, as you suggested. However, there was one twist. When I booted into recovery mode, it still thought that SIP was enabled, so I did the csrutil disable command and then installed rEFInd (via Recovery Mode as well) and then re-enabled SIP with csrutil enable in Recovery mode. It seems as if everything is working. My Ubuntu partition boots up fine and my Mac seems to work just fine. One last question: though I googled it, I'm unsure of where to find refind.conf to edit it. Where would I find it? Thanks! – pvasudev Mar 20 '16 at 18:19
  • refind.conf is on the EFI System Partition (ESP), probably in the EFI/refind directory. On Macs, the ESP is usually the first partition on the disk (/dev/disk0s1 in OS X or /dev/sda1 in Ubuntu). It's not normally mounted automatically in OS X, but the mountesp script that comes with rEFInd should mount it. In Ubuntu, it will be mounted at /boot/efi if you installed Ubuntu in EFI mode; but if you installed in BIOS mode, it won't be mounted automatically. – Rod Smith Mar 21 '16 at 2:01

A 2007 Mac Mini can't see a 64 bit cd/dvd so I took out the hard drive, cleaned up the inside of the mac, doubled the memory to 4 GB, installed 64 bit os in a USB box on a laptop, put HDD back in, couldn't see linux with refit. Next installed rFind in the Apple OS. Still no luck so moved partition over 10 GB and installed 2010 LTS 32 bit using CD and it was there. Holding down the option key on the boot and rFind comes up.Choose between Apple or Linux. So using 2010 32 bit for a bootloader. Next moved down to the 64 bit for default. It's triple boot, but it works! Trouble is Linux can only see 2.9 GB ram, Apple sees 4 GB. Mike

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