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Quad boot Macbook | by foskarulla
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Quad boot Macbook

HOW-TO: Installing OSX Leopard, Windows Vista, Windows XP and Linux Ubuntu on a Macbook


Updated: Now also triple boot without Vista


1) You will need a format and repartition of the whole disk, so time machine your previous data.


2) Insert OSX Leopard (also Tiger works) Install DVD. Reboot the macbook pressing the C key (so it will boot from DVD). From the "Utilities Menu" window menu select "Disk Utility". From "Volume Scheme" tab, select 5 partitions and use this schema:


0 EFI protected (which is invisible under Disk Utility)

1 Name: VISTA Format: MS-DOS File System <--create this partition *even* if you don't plan to install Vista, XP partition *must* be the 4th one to avoid missing hal.dll trouble!

2 Name: STORAGE Format: MS-DOS File System

3 Name: XP Format: MS-DOS File System

4 Name: OSX Format: Mac OS Extended (Journaled)

5 - Format: Free Space (Linux partitions will be created here later)

Every partition will host its OS. The (optional, but very advidsed) STORAGE partition will be formatted in FAT32 to share files between the four OSes. If you are installing a brand new hard disk, check boot loader type as "GUID Partition Table (GPT)" (remove MBR default or you will not be able to install OS X). Then click the "Partition" button, and all your data on disk will be destroyed.

Now you can close "Disk Utility", and start install OS X to volume "OSX". After reboot into OS X, hou have to install rEFIt boot loader (download it from into volume "OSX".


Update: If you have installed "MacBook EFI Firmware Update 1.1" (available via Apple Software Updater) installing rEFIt is no more compulsory if you plan to install linux after on your macbook. This update will fix built-in keyboard issue with "legacy" bootloaders, so you can use grub bootloader included in Ubuntu to boot Vista, Xp and Ubuntu. But I personally installed rEFIt because I really prefer his graphical boot than grub textual one :D


Update: If you want to obtain a triple boot macbook, without installing Vista don't create the VISTA partition on step 2), proceed to step 3a) and ignore 3b). Instead if you want to install Vista, jump directly to step 3b)


3a) You can use directly from OS X terminal the "fdisk" command, that handles an MBR-partitioned disk, to setup the XP partition suitable for installing that windows version. Open a terminal under OS X:


type "sudo fdisk -e /dev/rdisk0"

enter password and ignore the message "fdisk: could not open MBR file /usr/standalone/i386/boot0: No such file or directory"

type "p" to print MBR partition table

type "f " "4" to flag partition 4 active

type "q" to save and quit

3b) Insert Windows Vista install DVD. Reboot the macbook pressing the C key. Install Vista onto partition 2 named "VISTA". You must format it as NTFS at this point. Installation finishes and you have a dual boot Mac.

In Vista, click the "Start" button, click "Control Panel", click "System and Maintenance", click "Administrative Tools", and then double-click "Computer Management". In the Navigation pane, under "Storage", click "Disk Management". Right-click the XP partition, and then click "Mark Partition as Active".


4) Insert Windows XP install CD. You can't install any XP version coming on 2 CDs (like Media Center Edition 2005), only version from a single CD or DVD. So if you want to install MCE 2005 you need the (single) DVD version. Reboot the macbook pressing the C key. Press the enter key when you will read "Press any key to boot from CD". If you boot Vista by mistake, you must mark active XP partition again (because rEFIt will flag Vista as active if you select it).

You will see the VISTA partition marked "D:" and XP partition "C:". Now install XP to "C:". You must format it now (in either NTFS or FAT32) or XP will not boot. At reboot, select the 2nd windows logo "boot from partition 4" to continue install. Installation finishes and you have a (dual)triple boot Mac.


5) Insert Linux Ubuntu install live CD or DVD, (I used Ubuntu Desktop 8.04b AMD64) reboot from it. Launch install from desktop.


- At step 3, choose your keyboard layout as Macintosh.

- At step 4, choose to manually partition the disk:

create a / partition and a swap partition at the end of the disk. (Swap must be larger than memory to be able to "hibernate". And one megabyte here is 1000*1000 bytes, not 1024*1024)

- At step 7, before you go ahead with the install, click "advanced", and tell ubuntu to install GRUB to (hd0,2), the FAT partition. (Yes, this is the right place. Installing GRUB into the MBR will let GRUB manage the windows booting, you will have to go through 2 boot manager to boot windows or linux, which is not what we want. Besides MBR, it seems GRUB can only be installed into among the first 4 partitions to be bootable, and the FAT partition right now doesn't contain a boot code so it's safe to have GRUB live there)

Update: If you don't want to use rEFIt, install GRUB into the MBR. Hold "option" key upon boot to select "Windows", then use Grub menu to boot between Ubuntu, Vista, or Xp.


Proceed with the install. Reboot and you will see 4 OSes from rEFIt menu.


6) Almost done! Now install hardware drivers in each OS, in both Windows installation insert Leopard install disk 1 and install bootcamp drivers to make touchpad, iSight and so on perfectly working under both Xp and Vista.

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Taken on March 2, 2008