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Is it possible to install a Linux distribution on a Macbook Pro partition and do a dual boot, without installing rEFind. Thanks!

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Note: The introduction of Ubuntu 18 has made these instructions obsolete. In other words, the Ubuntu 18 installer will automatically create files in the proper locations for Ubuntu to appear in the Startup Manager.

You can still employ step 7, if you want an Ubuntu icon to appear in the Startup Manager.

Note: These instructions are for Mac models with 64 bit EFI firmware. In other words, if your Mac has Mountain Lion (OS X 10.8) or a newer version OS X (macOS) installed, then you can use these instructions.

Instead of using rEFInd, you can use the Startup Manager to boot most Linux distributions. The Startup Manager is contained in the the firmware that is already installed in your Mac. After installing a Linux distribution, you will need to move a few files around in order for the Startup Manager to recognize and boot the Linux distribution.

Most Linux distributions install grub and other files in the first EFI System partition on a Mac computer. Normally, this is the first partition on a Mac computer. The process of making a Linux distribution appear on the Startup Manager is a fairly trivial. The steps are given below for the Ubuntu Linux distribution. If you wish to install a different Linux distribution, post a command and I will verify if these instructions will work.

  1. Install Ubuntu.
  2. When finished, restart and hold down the option key to invoke the Startup Manager. Select to boot from the OS X (or MacOS) volume.
  3. Open a Terminal application window.

  4. Mount the EFI System partition by entering the command given below.

    diskutil mount disk0s1
    
  5. Create a folder named Boot in the folder /Volumes/EFI/EFI. You can use the Finder application or enter the command given below.

    mkdir /Volumes/EFI/EFI/Boot
    
  6. Copy the file grubx64.efi from the folder /Volumes/EFI/EFI/ubuntu to the folder /Volumes/EFI/EFI/Boot. Next, rename this file bootx64.efi. This step can be accomplished by using the the Finder application or by entering the command given below.

    cp /Volumes/EFI/EFI/ubuntu/grubx64.efi /Volumes/EFI/EFI/Boot/bootx64.efi
    
  7. (Optional) Download a collection of icons from the sourceforge web site Mac icns. Use the Finder application to open the downloaded file mac-icns.dmg, then enter the command below to copy the Ubuntu icon file os_ubuntu.icns to the EFI System partition.

    cp /Volumes/mac-icns/os_ubuntu.icns /Volumes/EFI/.VolumeIcon.icns
    

    This will add the following Ubuntu icon to the Startup Menu.

    os_ubuntu.png

    Note: When finished, you can use the Finder application to eject the mac-icns volume.

  8. Use the Finder application or enter the command below to unmount the EFI System partition labeled EFI.

    diskutil unmount disk0s1
    
  • Thanks, and i can‘t do anything to my main system if I put it on a second partition? – HYC Media Mar 13 '18 at 20:11
  • Usually, you need to add at least 2 new partition when installing Linux. I could better answer if I knew which of Linux distribution you wish to install. I also need to know if you require encryption or a LVM. (a LVM is Linux's version of Apple's APFS.) – David Anderson Mar 13 '18 at 20:24
  • The LVM I don‘t know, but I was thinking about installing Debian, Arch or Fedora. – HYC Media Mar 13 '18 at 20:32
  • If you do not have a lot of experience with Linux, then I would suggest installing a free copy of VirtualBox. You can then download and install Linux distributions in virtual machines. This protects from any possibility of a Linux installation corrupting your computer. When done experimenting, just delete the virtual machine. Once you decide which Linux you want and you have had enough practice installing, you can try a dual boot of macOS and Linux. – David Anderson Mar 13 '18 at 20:56
  • @DavidAnderson I would like to use the startup manager and an encrypted LVM (using Pop_OS which does encrypt by default), do you have a blog post or something on how that would be done? – MemphiZ Oct 20 '18 at 17:10

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