It seems that there are several problems releated to incompatibilities between Apple-EFI and UEFI that do prevent Apple users from easily using USB drives to install or even run other operating systems.

I am planning to make this a quick guide, so others will not loose precious time encountering the same problems as me.

It seems that the latest ISO of Ubuntu that has the UEFI removed in order to be able to boot on Macs is 12.04.3

What I did so far:

  • Tryed YUMI with mac blend of the ISO and it produces a disc that is recognized by rEFInd but that gives "Missing Operating System" when trying to load it..
  • unetbootin tool works on OS X, Linux or Windows BUT it will not create USB disks that will work on Macs.
  • Tried penguintosh.com with both Ubuntu ISOs and none of them works, it does run and creates the USB disc but it's not recognized by Mac EFI or rEFInd.

So, how can I create an USB disk that will install Ubuntu on Mac, preferably latest version Ubuntu.

Note: Assume that I do not want to keep anything on the Mac, the USB has to be bootable and any use of DVD drive is excluded.

  • The steps are detailed on ubuntu's site - ubuntu.com/download/desktop/create-a-usb-stick-on-mac-osx - what step isn't working for you? What error message do you see? (Basically what problem are you looking to solve...) if you are just asking a jeopardy question - flag this for reopening once you have that ready to post...
    – bmike
    Commented Nov 19, 2013 at 15:19
  • @SorinSbarnea See my answer to this question also apple.stackexchange.com/questions/86287/…
    – Simon
    Commented Nov 19, 2013 at 15:37
  • @mike I updated the question, it seems that all documented ways to do this are not working. That's kinda strange as I do remember being able to do this, still this Mac Mini from 2010 doesn't want to be converted to Ubuntu.
    – sorin
    Commented Nov 19, 2013 at 16:54

3 Answers 3


When first posted in 2013, this question never received an answer, because there is no answer. In other words, Intel Macs can not BIOS boot from flash drives. I make the BIOS boot assumption based the the following phase from the OP's question:

"UEFI removed in order to be able to boot on Macs"

If the OP assumes the UEFI boot method has been removed, then the only remaining boot method must be by using a BIOS. Let me explain this further.

When Apple started building Intel Macs with 64 bit processors, most (if not all) models contained firmware with 32 bit EFIs. This prevented the EFI booting of 64 bit operation systems (including OS X). However, these models could BIOS boot 64 bit operating systems. This led to the creation of special Ubuntu installation ISO files designed to install a BIOS booting GRUB. These files can be identified by names ending with the sequence -amd64+mac.iso. The correct procedure was to burn the ISO file to a DVD and use the DVD to install a 64 bit Ubuntu on an Intel Mac. Eventually, some users are still installing Ubuntu this way. For example, see the question Booting 64-bit Ubuntu Images on a First-Generation Mac Pro 1,1.

Unfortunately, you can not transfer these types of ISO files to USB flash drives and successfully boot using an Intel Mac. Basically, you can not BIOS boot Intel Macs from a USB port. However, you can install a BIOS booting Ubuntu as a dual OS X/Ubuntu boot. This can be accomplished without using a DVD or USB flash drive. For a example, see the question Installing Ubuntu without DVD or Flash Drive.

Both bmike (in a comment) and kenorb (in a answer) have correctly pointed out that Ubuntu can be installed using a USB flash drive. In both cases, the flash drive is used to install Ubuntu for a EFI boot. As I stated earlier, I do not believe the OP wanted an EFI install of Ubuntu.


Check Ubuntu's tutorial how to create a bootable USB stick on macOS, where it is suggested to use Etcher app (open source) which can help to flash OS image to SD cards & USB drives.

However, if the official ISO file downloaded from releases.ubuntu.com doesn't work (for Ubuntu), you can try to customize/respun it by using isorespin.sh script (check GitHub mirror; on macOS, you can try to run it using Docker) which should make your ISO compatible with UEFI. Alternatively, use ready-made Ian Morrison’s ISO disk images.

GitHub project page: resin-io/etcher.

Etcher, open source, Ubuntu, USB flash

  • What does "doesn't work" mean? Does this mean you can not boot from the flash drive? Or, does it mean you can not boot Ubuntu once installed on the internal drive? Which ISO file did you download? What is the model/year of your Mac? Are you trying to install as a standalone operating system or a dual boot with macOS? If dual boot, then what version of macOS? Commented May 14, 2018 at 11:14
  • Official Ubuntu's ISO aren't UEFI compatible. Normally they just don't boot. In other words, bootable device isn't recognized by BIOS. I've tested it on the Intel Atom-based device and I needed to use customized ISOs, otherwise original ISO didn't work.
    – kenorb
    Commented May 14, 2018 at 11:37
  • Can I assume you are not trying to install Ubuntu on a Mac? Also, the UEFI boot method is completely different from the BIOS boot method. It seems confusing for you to refer to UEFI and BIOS in the same sentence. Commented May 14, 2018 at 12:02
  • UEFI was mentioned in the question as per 'latest ISO of Ubuntu that has the UEFI removed', so the script makes ISO UEFI-compatible again. I've tested ISOs on the Atom device (you need to customize ISO, otherwise official Ubuntu ISO files won't work). I haven't tested on Mac device, but most likely, could work in same thing. By UEFI and BIOS, I mean UEFI-compatible flash drive which is recognized by BIOS. See this image as example.
    – kenorb
    Commented May 14, 2018 at 14:28
  • The answer basically assumes the problem of booting is related to removal of UEFI from the latest Ubuntu ISOs, where the scripts is adding UEFI back (which is my understanding), but I haven't tried the solution. If this is incorrect, I can remove it.
    – kenorb
    Commented May 14, 2018 at 14:39

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IQIaDO9nR6Y&t=639s I have used the process shown in this video for booting/installing Ubuntu on Mac several times. Easy Install


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