I have a MacBook Pro (2013) running Sierra on the internal SSD. I’ve installed Debian12 onto an SD card. Upon boot (by holding down the Alt key) it doesn’t show an option of EFI Boot. But having flashed rEFIND-cd onto a USB, and once I plug it in, the Debian system on the SD card shows up and I am able to boot into it no problem.

So what I want to do is install rEFInd onto that SD.

Upon selecting to install rEFInd in Synaptic, I get a prompt asking : ” Configuring rEFIND - Automatically install rEFInd to the ESP?”

I'm a bit hesitant on this and having searched the web I haven’t found a concrete answer… This thread sort of answers half of my question, but I'm still not exactly sure… What is the difference between HFS+ and EFI System Partition (ESP)?

My question is because I'm running Sierra on the internal SSD which has an EFI partition, if I choose to install rEFInd on to the ESP, will it not mess up the Mac OS EFI? Will it just install to the SD card Linux OS?

  • Not a direct answer, but is there a reason you're using Synaptic to install rEFInd instead of refind-install or a manual process? It seems like that would allow you to install to the SD card's EFI partition easily.
    – JMY1000
    Oct 10, 2023 at 5:03
  • Yes! i got it working using "refind-install --usedefault /dev/sdc1" which installs it directly to the SD. - Thanks @JMY1000 !
    – 101rabb1ts
    Oct 10, 2023 at 12:40
  • Cool, I'll post it as an answer then; if you could accept it so the question can be marked as answered, that'd be great!
    – JMY1000
    Oct 10, 2023 at 14:06

1 Answer 1


I'd recommend following the rEFInd docs and using either refind-install or the manual process to install rEFInd directly to your SD card. Full instructions are available in the official docs, but should be able to use refind-install --usedefault /dev/<disk>, replacing <disk> as appropriate.

On Linux, <disk> will probably look something like sda1, sdb1, sdc1. This corresponds to the first partition (the EFI partition) of each drive. You can use lsblk to see a list of disks if you're not sure which is your SD card.

On macOS, <disk> should look something like disk0s1, disk1s1, disk2s1. This also corresponds to the first partition (the EFI partition) of each drive. You can use diskutil list to see a list of disks if you're not sure which is your SD card.

Note that on macOS you may see a warning that sed: -i may not be used with stdin; this is due to macOS using the BSD version of sed vs. the GNU version. The installer uses sed -i to configure the install and bootloader options; these aren't important for your use case.

   # If installing to the fallback/EFI default filename, make a duplicate copy
   # of refind.conf and edit the main copy to include the "install" and "bootorder"
   # options, so that the system can be used to install rEFInd if it's on a USB
   # flash drive or CD-R....
   if [[ "$TargetDir" == '/EFI/BOOT' ]] ; then
      cp -f "$ConfFile" "$InstallDir/$TargetDir/refind.conf-sample"
      sed -i 's/#showtools shell/showtools install, shell/g' "$InstallDir/$TargetDir/refind.conf"
  • 1
    If you look carefully you can see the OP ran refind-install from Debian and specified /dev/sdc1, which is the first partition (the EFI partition) on the OP's SD card. In other words, you should have posted refind-install --usedefault /dev/<disk>s1 when entering from Sierra. Oct 10, 2023 at 17:25
  • 1
    Also, since the sed command works differently between macOS and Linux, running refind-install with --usedefault from Sierra will result in the generation of the error message sed: -i may not be used with stdin. This means the generated refind.conf file will not be the same as the when run from Debian. I believe the refind.conf file generated when run from Debian is correct. Oct 10, 2023 at 18:16
  • @DavidAnderson Fair points; I didn't specify the partition (I prefer to have rEFInd on a different partition so I can maintain a firmware lock), but it probably makes sense to specify here. Also despite the sed error, refind.conf looks and behaves just fine after installing via macOS; the sed -i command is just configuring the install and bootorder options.
    – JMY1000
    Oct 11, 2023 at 4:57
  • Your edited answer is essentially correct. In testing, I found a Debian rEFInd install displays the tools shown in this image. A macOS rEFInd install displays the tools show in this image. So the sed -i command under Debian adds install, bootorder and exit while removing shutdown. As you already stated "these aren't important". Oct 11, 2023 at 12:07
  • I will also make the following comment. From Debian, I used Firefox to goto SourceForge's download webpage for rEFInd. The default downloaded file is refind_0.14.0-1_amd64.deb, which I did not find useful. Instead, I needed to go back and manually download the refind-bin- file. Oct 11, 2023 at 12:32

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