I'm quite the newbie at operating systems etc., so forgive me if my question is dumb. Is it possible to install Linux and Windows on a Mac, to run side by side with OS X? I'm about to start a new study, and I would like the new retina MacBook Pro for it, but for my study I'm definetely going to be programming C# and for that I'll prefer Windows. And I've recently started exploring C++, and I really love Linux and would like to make some apps for it, so that's why I'd like to have Linux on there as well.

Question summary: On a new retina MacBook Pro, is it possible to install Windows and Linux next to Mac OS X so I can choose which OS I want on boot?


6 Answers 6


It's possible to install them in multiple partitions and multiboot. But the resulting setup will be a little "rigid".

Doing OS X and Windows is easy. Adding Linux to the mix is a little more complicated.

I suggest you do not multiboot and only install OS X as the main OS and then use a virtualization solution, like Parallels Desktop or VMware Fusion. With those you can basically run a whole operating system, like Windows or your favorite Linux distribution, as if they were OS X applications.

  • 1
    VirtualBox is another great virtualization solution
    – ephsmith
    Commented Aug 11, 2012 at 15:49
  • +1 I've been using Parallels for the past week (only got my iMac a little over a week ago). So far I have not run into anything that doesn't work well in Parallels. A friend of mine runs some Linux distribution from Oracle under Parallels and has had no problems. I was thinking of using BootCamp at first, but it doesn't look like it's going to be necessary. Commented Aug 11, 2012 at 23:13
  • Would WUBI (Ubuntu coexisting with a Windows partition) work well on a Mac? Commented Aug 31, 2012 at 19:59

I recommend that you check out rEFIt for your Partition boot manager on Mac. It works great for triple booting a mac, with robust documentation.


First install refit, then install Windows via BootCamp Assistant in Mac. You will need to partition your Mac drive again and install Linux (settings depend on the distro). It should work out of the box. If you need more help, post on www.superuser.com


A fairly easy way to do this is to install Windows through Bootcamp, then Ubuntu Linux using Wubi. This negates the need to install a boot loader. There's a writeup on it at lowendmac.

If you want to get a little more technical, or use a different Linux distro, a little familiarity with boot loaders might help. Here's a good triple boot guide that goes over the process, step by step.


Technically, it's possible using Apple's default boot manager utility, Boot Camp. You'll need to make some extra effort to install Linux however, as Boot Camp supports Windows only officially (but, as I said, some people have already done it).


I have a triple boot MacBook Pro (late 2013) with OS Sierra, Windows 10 and Ubuntu 16.04.

I install macOS first, then Ubuntu, then Windows 10

Format the SSD in Recovery Mode and do a clean install of Mac OS. Boot into mac os and use UNetbootin to make a bootable Ubuntu thumb drive. Boot into macOS and make 3 more partitions. I have a 500 GB SSD. partition 1 mac os 210 GB. partition 2 Windows 10 (fat 32) 117GB. partition 3 Linux 67.4 GB. partition 4 linux swap area 5GB.

  • Shut down. Boot into macOS and install rEFInd.
  • Shut down, insert Linux usb boot drive and Boot into Linux (ubuntu 16.04 LTS) thumb drive and install linux into linux partition (mount point /). Install swap area to swap area partition.
  • Shut down and remove linux thumb drive. Make sure Linux boots.
  • Shut down.
  • Boot into macOS and configure rEFInd the way you want it (or leave it stock).
  • Insert blank 8GB thumb drive for Bootcamp and boot into macOS. Using Bootcamp, install Windows 10 to windows 10 partition- making sure to format the windows 10 partition during installation.
  • Make sure to stay at computer during install and restarting of windows during installation making sure to boot into the Windows drive and not the thumb drive. Bootcamp drivers will install and restart. Make sure the computer boots to the Windows hard drive icon and not the thumb drive.
  • When done remove Windows usb drive created by bootcamp. This is now a bootable windows installation disk for later installs.


The only problem is when you have a mac os major update or you reload the mac os as the boot files will be changes to the standard mac boot loader.

I clone the EFI boot drive and re-copy it over when mac os messes everything up. Otherwise, you have to redo the whole process when a major os update to mac is installed.

I bought an 8GB usb thumb drive for bootcamp bootable windows disk, a 4 GB usb thumb drive for gparted boot disk, a 8GB thumb drive for linux boot disk, 128 GB JetDrive lite SDXC card for time machine mac os backup. a 128GB thumb drive for windows 10 backup and a 64 GB for linux backup.

(Make sure you have UNetbootin, Windows 10.iso, Ubuntu.iso, gparted and rEFInd somewhere on your Mac partition before you backup macOS. That way you don't have to re-download all these files and all files will be there for you to re-install everything in case of problems.)

My partitions are:

   0:      GUID_partition_scheme                        *500.3 GB   disk0
   1:                        EFI EFI                     209.7 MB   disk0s1
   2:                  Apple_HFS OS Sierra               310.0 GB   disk0s2
   3:                 Apple_Boot Recovery HD             650.0 MB   disk0s3
   4:       Microsoft Basic Data WINDOWS 10              117.0 GB   disk0s4
   5:           Linux Filesystem LINUX                   67.4 GB    disk0s5
   6:                 Linux Swap                         5.0 GB     disk0s6

There are several methods. The easiest way is to use a program like rEFIt which is a 3rd party boot menu manager. But that is NOT the best option, in my opinion, because during every boot you would need to pass through the new boot menu. I made a tutorial using a slightly more complicated method, but the results are worth it as this method does not require any 3rd party apps. By creating a hybrid Master Boot Record (MBR) for the boot camp partition, you will be able to add Two or more OSs to your bootcamp partition.

To boot into Linux or Windows, you would just need to press alt/option key to access the bootcamp partition, as usual. Otherwise it will boot to Mac OS X.

But before you start be sure you have a good backup. It's a safe method if you are careful, but you never know…

If you have time, and are comfortable using terminal, there is a better way of triple booting your Mac.


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    – nohillside
    Commented May 11, 2013 at 8:41

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