• I am trying to install Kali Linux on an external hard drive. I downloaded the kali-linux-2022.1-live-amd64.iso file and checked with shasum -a 256 kali-linux-2022.1-live-amd64.iso. I am using a 13" 2019 MacBook Pro running on Catalina. Everything works smoothly during the installation process until I get to the Grub Boot loader Installation part.

  • I received the following errors during the installation:

“Executing ‘grub-install dummy’ failed. This is a fatal error.”

I press continue…

“No boot loader has been installed, either because you chose not to or because your specific architecture doesn’t support a boot loader yet. You will need to boot manually with the /vmlinuz kernel on partition /dev/sdd3 and root=/dev/sdd3 quiet passed as a kernel argument."

  • The installation then finishes and boots to Mac OS.

  • Does anyone have a clue what this actually means and what can I do to make it work?

  • Here is the output of diskutil list

enter image description here

For you reference:


  • I have tried installing rEFInd. Here is the output of ./refind-install

enter image description here

  • Which instructions did you follow (add a link if possible)?
    – nohillside
    Feb 22 at 15:39
  • Math4biz: Which one of these instructions did you use? Did you try a grubless boot as the Kali installer suggested? Feb 22 at 16:03
  • @DavidAnderson I used the instructions under "Creating a Bootable Kali USB Drive on macOS/OS X (Etcher)". Etcher seems to be the standard way.
    – math4biz
    Feb 22 at 16:20
  • @DavidAnderson I tried installing rEFInd but got an error. I posted the output above.
    – math4biz
    Feb 22 at 16:30
  • What is the name of the file downloaded from Kali? Feb 22 at 16:53

1 Answer 1


You stated in your question that Grub (Grand Unified Boot Loader) was not installed and the Kali installer suggested to boot manually with the /vmlinuz kernel. This is referred to as a Grubless boot. The boot loader in the Mac firmware can do Grubless boots, if instructed to do so. However, you will need to use a different startup manager. The rEFInd Boot Manager is a popular choice.

Installing rEFInd

Below are the instructions for installing rEFInd version 0.13.2 to the external drive where Kali resides.

Note: You do not have to disable SIP.

  1. Download refind-bin-0.13.2.zip from SourceForge. By default, the download should automatically unzip to create the refind-bin-0.13.2 folder in your Downloads folder.

  2. Enter the commands given below.

    diskutil unmount disk2s1
    ~/Downloads/refind-bin-0.13.2/refind-install --usedefault /dev/disk2s1 
    bless --folder /tmp/refind_install/EFI/BOOT --label rEFInd
    diskutil unmount disk2s1        

    The refind-install script has a bug where a sed command uses options compatible with Linux, but not macOS. Therefore, the script terminates early before making rEFInd the default to boot and unmounting the EFI volume (/dev/disk2s1) on the external drive. This bug goes back many versions of rEFInd and probably will not be fixed any time in the near future.

    Below is sample output from entering the above commands. Your output may differ, since the machine used had High Sierra installed instead of Catalina. The commands were entered in a Z shell.

    dmas-iMac% diskutil unmount disk2s1
    disk2s1 was already unmounted
    dmas-iMac% ~/Downloads/refind-bin-0.13.2/refind-install --usedefault /dev/disk2s1 
    Not running as root; attempting to elevate privileges via sudo....
    ShimSource is none
    Installing rEFInd on macOS....
    Installing rEFInd to the partition mounted at /tmp/refind_install
    Found suspected Linux partition(s); installing ext4fs driver.
    Installing driver for ext4 (ext4_x64.efi)
    Copied rEFInd binary files
    Copying sample configuration file as refind.conf; edit this file to configure
    sed: -i may not be used with stdin
    dmas-iMac% bless --folder /tmp/refind_install/EFI/BOOT --label rEFInd
    dmas-iMac% diskutil unmount disk2s1                                              
    Volume EFI on disk2s1 unmounted

Using rEFInd to Boot Kali

The steps are given below.

  1. Restart the Mac and immediately hold down the option key until the Mac Startup Manager icons appear.

  2. Select to boot from the icon labeled rEFInd.

  3. When the rEFInd screen appears, Select to boot from the Linux icon highlighted below. Since the machine used had High Sierra installed instead of Catalina, your selection of macOS related icons may be different.

    refind screen

  4. When the Kali login screen shown below appears, login to Kali.

    kali login

  • Thank you so much, worked just like you said. Have a good one sir.
    – math4biz
    Feb 23 at 22:12

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