I own a Macbook Air 2014 model, and have duel-booted OS X and Bootcamped Windows 10. Now I want to be able to install a Linux distribution (most likely my own custom one, but lets use Ubuntu as an example).

From all the examples I found on the web, they were either, "Dual-boot with rEFIt" or, "Pure EFI-boot, with an uninstallation of OS X and re-installation afterwards".

What I want, is something that looks like *this:

*picture grabbed from second link What I want

With my Linux and Mac OS X partitions neatly tucked in there.

The second link does what I want, except OS X is uninstalled, which I don't have the time or external hard-drive reliable enough to not corrupt everything on copy over due to the age and damage.

This process will wipe OS X and any other data you have on the machine. All of it. That’s the whole point. Make backups.

I don't want this. So is there a way (god forbid, there MUST be) that I can get Linux on my Mac, and be able to hold Option/Alt on boot, to select one of the 4? (OS X, Windows, Linux, Recovery)

I don't want GRUB, rEFIt, a command line, nothing. Just ye' olde OS X boot-loader.

  • 1
    you can't do this. the problem isn't refit, command line, whatever - the problem is the way Apple ignores the core functionality of the UEFI spec and doesn't implement standard loaders. so all of that stuff is a way to bring it into conformity so it can work with the rest. I don't believe the disk would have to be erased - that seems a little weird - but the partition table will certainly need to be replaced. Without erasing, it would mean some tricksy binary edits of the head of the raw disk. I don't have a Mac and so can't help you there, but only the head of the disk matters for UEFI boot
    – mikeserv
    Jan 22, 2016 at 12:17
  • @mikeserv Surely there'd be a way. Bootcamp functionally adds Windows to the table, why not the other way around...?
    – nil
    Jan 22, 2016 at 13:36
  • 1
    because it only adds windows. but i just read something that says if you have a 2013+ model it does the bootcamp install in UEFI mode, and so it should be possible without screwing w/ the partition table in that case.
    – mikeserv
    Jan 22, 2016 at 13:57
  • 2
    versions 3.3+ will work for most compilation configurations. and no, it probably isn't the name of your partition. you need to install it in bootcamp. instead of windows install linux in efi mode. and you'll need to bless its boot partition afterward. if your linux of choice tries to sneak in a grub or whatever, you'd do better to uninstall that stuff. the linux kernel is an efi executable. in my opinion you'd do a lot better to remove the sheisty mac efi boot menu and replace it w/ rEFInd, though.
    – mikeserv
    Jan 23, 2016 at 9:58
  • 1
    @mikeserv is correct. Apple's EFI is unlocked during development and can boot to anything (including a raw EFI shell), but when they send the specs to the factory, the firmware is locked, and EFI acknowledges only what they permit. Boot Camp appears to be integrated with this, but all it actually does is set up partition maps and drivers. This is what you have, unless you can somehow get an unlocked EFI image and re-flash the onboard EFI chip. Using rEFIt allows you to boot into an alternate EFI implementation so that you can use EFI as it was meant to be used.
    – Klaatu von Schlacker
    Jan 24, 2016 at 22:58

2 Answers 2


1) Resize your OSX Partition, leave the space created as freespace (i.e don't create any partition)

2) Write the iso to USB and boot it (take the most recent image from http://cdimage.ubuntu.com)

3) Create ext4 for / where the freespace was created, use sda1 (osx: disk1s1) or use another EFI if you have more then 1 drive and you want to use the second for linux only - in short: use the EFI partition as the "bootloader" partition

4) Install Ubuntu (or any other distro) - but watch for the bootloader, if you don't want to use grub (care to elaborate, why?) you need to rebless the volume in os'x to boot through the normal bootscreen where you can hold ALT to fire linux.

I don't know what you want to achieve with that, since having grub is basically the same, and you will be loading grub from that screen anyways since you need to load the kernel somehow - guess there are other options but I never used them, just went with grub.

What I mean is that after you select the other partition with the normal bootscreen by holding ALT, you will load grub - since you must load the kernel, and there is now way to load it directly from that screen other then using MBR which even makes less sense since it's a UEFI system ;-)

note: I strongly advise you to use refit - it's a very good solution and has some extra functionality that will make multi-os setup's boot better.

If you don't like it, just rebless the volume in os x and you get rid of it. bless is a system command- however in the new os x there is:

sudo systemsetup -liststartupdisks

and to setup back any Volume as the sys volume use:

sudo systemsetup -setstartupdisk /Volumes/YOUR_SYS_VOLUME_NAME

to check if it worked:

sudo systemsetup -getstartupdisk

So even if something goes FUBAR with the bootloader, it won't be any problem.

Why would you reinstall os x or anything else to boot linux on a Mac?!? Anyone doing reinstallations to boot linux is just a windows impared user who does not know how unix works, what gpt is and thinks of EFI as fancy bios.


what i did was to make a bootable usb and dvd with the exact same files (copy/paste). first off i got a usb from amazon with already installed linux mint so i could use it with my mac i figured out that mac doesn't boot from usb even formatted to a FAT32/exFAT thats where the dvd comes in im using a 4.7gb dvd (enough to get linux distro on it). and all i did was copy/paste all the files and burn them on to the dvd. then put the dvd AND usb in and hold C key on restart to get boot from a cd/dvd and wait for linux to LIVE BOOT (live boot doesn't save and you will need to install linux on a patition).

sorry for the rushed post and bad spelling im in a hurry, please do research about this i dont want you to break anything :)

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