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Today I decided to erase OS X and install Ubuntu - unfortunately something went wrong and now I am asking this question on live mode on Ubuntu.

So basically all I did was create a bootable USB stick from OS X, restarted, then held down ⌥ alt/option, choosed the stick, installed Ubuntu and erased OS X.

All was good, and after installion it said "successful installation" and restarted the computer. I did that, and a blinking question mark appeared on the screen. My MBP could not find any bootable partition.

Any idea what can I do to get Ubuntu up and running?

By the way, I want to point out there is no OS X partition left on my drive - I didn't use any kind of program for dual boot, since I wanted to install OS X on another physical drive.

  • of course, a mid 2012 mbp – tsm Sep 29 '13 at 15:12
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You can't simply install Ubuntu on your internal drive, because Apple's EFI and GRUB (the bootloader) don't get along.

You will also need an EFI bootloader, like rEFInd (a fork of rEFIt):

rEFIt is a boot menu and maintenance toolkit for EFI-based machines like the Intel Macs. You can use it to boot multiple operating systems easily, including triple-boot setups with Boot Camp. It also provides an easy way to enter and explore the EFI pre-boot environment. Source: The rEFIt Project

  • I see, but what should I do now? Is this possible from live usb stick on ubuntu? – tsm Sep 29 '13 at 15:19
  • I never tried it, but you can install rEFInd from Ubuntu Live, once you manage to download the package: rodsbooks.com/refind/installing.html – pietrodn Sep 29 '13 at 15:39
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    are you sure? Warning: If you're using a Macintosh, you should run install.sh from Mac OS X rather than from Linux. If run from Linux, rEFInd is unlikely to be fully installed. Worse, it's conceivable that running install.sh from Linux will damage your firmware, requiring that it be re-flashed. The reason is that Apple uses non-standard methods to enable a boot loader, and the Linux functions in install.sh assume standard EFI installation methods. – tsm Sep 29 '13 at 15:48
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You can simply install Ubuntu on a local drive, but you must reformat the drive as an MBR partition, which Apple's EFI can read in some kind of legacy mode.

  • But, as far as I can tell, you can only format a drive as MBR when it's attached to a different system.
  • You may occasionally hit startup hangs/delays of a few minutes. I'm not sure what's happening, I think the lack of bless might mean the firmware is having trouble figuring out how to boot the drive.


Otherwise, if you want to stick with a GPT partition:

  1. Re-install OS X. If your firmware is reasonably recent, you can hold Command+R at startup to download and install a copy of OS X from Apple's servers. This should take 30-60 minutes.
  2. Once OS X is installed again, install rEFInd as your EFI bootloader. (Download it, run ./install.sh --alldrivers.)
  3. Now you can install Ubuntu, and wipe your OS X partition. Keep your first partition intact, as it contains the EFI bootloader. (There's no need to install GRUB, as rEFInd --alldrivers includes a driver that can load a kernel directly.)
  • If I want to make my iMac default as a new one can I use Command+R to download the system and install it restoring the original setup? – Sigur Nov 6 '14 at 1:06

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