Ask Different is a question and answer site for power users of Apple hardware and software. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I'm quite the newbie at operating systems etc., so forgive me if my question is dumb. Is it possible to install Linux and Windows on a Mac, to run side by side with OS X? I'm about to start a new study, and I would like the new retina MacBook Pro for it, but for my study I'm definetely going to be programming C# and for that I'll prefer Windows. And I've recently started exploring C++, and I really love Linux and would like to make some apps for it, so that's why I'd like to have Linux on there as well.

Question summary: On a new retina MacBook Pro, is it possible to install Windows and Linux next to Mac OS X so I can choose which OS I want on boot?

share|improve this question

migrated from Aug 11 '12 at 14:42

This question came from our site for professional and enthusiast programmers.

It's possible to install them in multiple partitions and multiboot. But the resulting setup will be a little "rigid".

Doing OS X and Windows is easy. Adding Linux to the mix is a little more complicated.

I suggest you do not multiboot and only install OS X as the main OS and then use a virtualization solution, like Parallels Desktop or VMware Fusion. With those you can basically run a whole operating system, like Windows or your favorite Linux distribution, as if they were OS X applications.

share|improve this answer
VirtualBox is another great virtualization solution – ephsmith Aug 11 '12 at 15:49
+1 I've been using Parallels for the past week (only got my iMac a little over a week ago). So far I have not run into anything that doesn't work well in Parallels. A friend of mine runs some Linux distribution from Oracle under Parallels and has had no problems. I was thinking of using BootCamp at first, but it doesn't look like it's going to be necessary. – MetalMikester Aug 11 '12 at 23:13
Would WUBI (Ubuntu coexisting with a Windows partition) work well on a Mac? – Thorbjørn Ravn Andersen Aug 31 '12 at 19:59

I recommend that you check out rEFIt for your Partition boot manager on Mac. It works great for triple booting a mac, with robust documentation.

First install refit, then install Windows via BootCamp Assistant in Mac. You will need to partition your Mac drive again and install Linux (settings depend on the distro). It should work out of the box. If you need more help, post on

share|improve this answer

A fairly easy way to do this is to install Windows through Bootcamp, then Ubuntu Linux using Wubi. This negates the need to install a boot loader. There's a writeup on it at lowendmac.

If you want to get a little more technical, or use a different Linux distro, a little familiarity with boot loaders might help. Here's a good triple boot guide that goes over the process, step by step.

share|improve this answer

Technically, it's possible using Apple's default boot manager utility, Boot Camp. You'll need to make some extra effort to install Linux however, as Boot Camp supports Windows only officially (but, as I said, some people have already done it).

share|improve this answer

There are several methods. The easiest way is to use a program like rEFIt which is a 3rd party boot menu manager. But that is NOT the best option, in my opinion, because during every boot you would need to pass through the new boot menu. I made a tutorial using a slightly more complicated method, but the results are worth it as this method does not require any 3rd party apps. By creating a hybrid Master Boot Record (MBR) for the boot camp partition, you will be able to add Two or more OSs to your bootcamp partition.

To boot into Linux or Windows, you would just need to press alt/option key to access the bootcamp partition, as usual. Otherwise it will boot to Mac OS X.

But before you start be sure you have a good backup. It's a safe method if you are careful, but you never know…

If you have time, and are comfortable using terminal, there is a better way of triple booting your Mac.

share|improve this answer
Answers on Ask Different need to be more than just a link or a reference to a YouTube video. It's okay to include a link, but please summarize or excerpt it in the answer. The idea is to make the answer stand alone. – patrix May 11 '13 at 8:41

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.