I want to install Linux on my mid 2014 Macbook Pro for educational purposes. However, I don't want this to be permanent. I've tried to partition the hard drive and install both OSs but I have not been successful and I would like to avoid using a virtual machine.

If I install linux onto the main partition that currently contains mac OS X and leave the recovery partition, will it be possible for me reinstall OS X from the recovery partition when I'm done with linux? I don't fully understand the process and therefore I am concerned that installing linux will install a new boot loader or something other software in the booting process that will prevent me from booting into the recovery partition.

Can I still boot into the recovery partition after install linux on a mac?

  • 1
    Wouldn't it be easier to just install Linux in a VM (using Virtualbox)?
    – nohillside
    Nov 27, 2015 at 8:31

2 Answers 2


Short answer:
It will be possible.

More elaborate answer:
If you leave the Recovery HD intact, you can still boot from it later on as the boot process Linux uses (usually GRUB these days) will not touch the ability to use the Alt key to boot from any attached bootable partition.

So, pressing Alt at computer startup will then present you with two options:

  • Windows (even though Linux is installed; some distributions may show their name though)
  • Recovery HD-<version> (<version> is the version of OS X at the time you installed OS X, which created the Recovery partition)

Additional: You have a MacBook Pro (Mid 2014). So, you can always reinstall the original version of OS X (which may be either OS X 10.9 Mavericks or OS X 10.10 Yosemite), which came with your computer as you can use the Internet Recovery even if your internal Recovery HD is gone entirely.

To start the recovery process, hold down Cmd+R at computer startup. If a Recovery HD is found, it will be used. Otherwise, the Internet Recovery is used. To specifically force the Internet Recovery, hold down Cmd+Alt+R at computer startup until you see a spinning (or blinking) globe.

More information can be obtained here: OS X: About OS X Recovery

  • What if I didn't "leave the Recovery HD intact"? now not even Internet recovery will work, do you know any other solution? apple.stackexchange.com/questions/298969/…
    – Petruza
    Sep 21, 2017 at 17:53
  • If you have a Mac which originally came with Mac OS X 10.6 or before and you lost all, including the Recovery HD, you would need to install Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard. Once installed, update to 10.6.8 and then re-download & install the version of OS X you had before you lost the partition from the App Store. Those computers are not retro-fitted with a firmware to allow booting through Internet Recovery directly, which requires this "workaround".
    – Phoenix
    Sep 21, 2017 at 18:05
  • I can't boot with the original 10.6.8 DVD, holding option at startup won't show any drives or partitions, not USB drives, not DVDs, anything. Please read the post I linked to if you have the time, for more details. Thanks!
    – Petruza
    Sep 21, 2017 at 18:24
  • If nothing shows, it may be that a) the incorrect optical disc is inserted, which does not have a boot option, b) the optical medium is damaged and is not properly detected by the optical drive, or c) your optical drive is worn and does no longer properly detect the discs you inserted. The latter is common on older drives where it starts with the most complex (DVD-RW) and finally even gets problems with simple CD-ROMs.
    – Phoenix
    Sep 21, 2017 at 19:21
  • You can try to reset NVRAM using the How to reset NVRAM on your Mac guide. If all fails, I am afraid that something is not working, which can possibly not be cleared up using this site.
    – Phoenix
    Sep 21, 2017 at 19:25

Even when all of the drive is re-purposed, which means that also the recovery partition is overwritten, one can still boot to Recovery if an Internet connection is available. The Cmd-R key press at boot is handled by the on-board UEFI and therefore can do without a recovery partition.

  • I think my UEFI got overwritten by ubuntu, because CMD-R will just boot into ubuntu itself, not recovery mode. Any ideas? apple.stackexchange.com/questions/298969/…
    – Petruza
    Sep 21, 2017 at 18:27
  • 1
    I sincerely doubt that the UEFI has been overwritten by an operating system. It would be the same as stating that an OS overwrote the BIOS of a regular PC. Unless you definitely knew what you were doing and used proper programs to do so, the UEFI will most-likely be untouched.
    – Phoenix
    Sep 21, 2017 at 19:16

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