Saturday, August 1, 2009

Boot Ubuntu Studio with Mac OS on Macbook Pro


I wanted to dual boot my 13” Macbook Pro with Linux because some of my favorite applications are Linux-only and I didn’t want to get stuck running OpenLINA all the time. However, I wanted to use Ubuntu Studio, a multimedia variant of Ubuntu which does not have a graphical installer. All the other tutorials I found in on the first page on Google said to install use the entire disc for the install and I wanted to dual boot. Please note that there aren’t screenshots, so please use your brain. If you have questions, try commenting.


1.) Seeing as this is a dual-boot tutorial, I am going to remind you all to back up your data. Because this dual-boot involves a Mac, there is absolutely NO reason not to back up. Time machine is stupidly easy to use. For more information, go to the Apple website and find a Time Machine tutorial.
2.) I used this method on a 13" Macbook Pro running Leopard - Macbook Air users, please note that you'll need an external disc drive
3.) Keep your computer plugged in. No point on a failed install because you ran out of batteries

Things You'll Need:

The Procedure:

gathered from various other tutorials I read and my own experience of this install:

  1. Back everything up. Since Ubuntu Studio does not have a graphical installer, it would presumably be easier to format the wrong partition than on your standard dual boot installation. If this is your first back up, you may want to leave your computer on overnight to transfer everything to the external disk. It took me about an hour to back up about 33 GB of data to my 1 TB MyBook. You may want to leave it running to backup overnight. Be sure you have your computer plugged in so that your batteries don’t die on your backup.
  2. Install rEFIt ( - this just makes everything easier when restarting
  3. Download and burn Ubuntu Studio to a DVD (it is too big for a CD, being about 1.8 GB). Disk Utility is great for burning ISO files.
    • This is the first of several time-consuming steps – you have been warned
  4. Partition your hard drive. I used Boot Camp and let the "Windows" partition be where Linux will go and gave it 32 GB, figuring that I can use my main partition and external hard drive for storage, I’d give it just enough room for the kernel and some applications.
  5. Once Boot Camp is done, click the quit and install later button. If you open Disk Utility, you should notice a BOOTCAMP partition on your main hard disk.
  6. Make sure your computer is connected to the internet with an Ethernet cable. I read somewhere that internet helps you install better and Ubuntu Studio doesn’t support AirPort or wireless when it is being installed, although once instaled, AirPort should work out of the box
  7. Restart your computer. You should see a rEFIt menu with a choice of your install disc and booting from your hard drive. Choose the disc (it has a large penguin logo and a small disc icon)
  8. When the disc boots, select your language and then select the “Install Ubuntu Studio” option or check the dick for defects first, to make sure it was a good burn. (Again: rather safe than sorry).
    • Note: this may take some time (I guessed about 30 minutes)
  9. Enter the information as it asks
  10. At the [!!] Partition disks screen, select manual
  11. On the next screen, select the free space you created and press enter. In my case, it is partition #3 (34.2 GB) fat32 “Untitled”
    1. The next steps are tricky. You now can rename your partition, set its mount point, set its bootable flag to “off,” and do other things. First, set it to be used as your preferred file system (I recommend ext4 or XFS – chose ext4). Then,
    2. Set it to mount as /
    3. After you are satisfied with your partition, scroll down to “Done setting up the partition” and press enter
  12. Now, create your swap partition:
    1. Find some free space slightly larger than your RAM and create a new swap partition there or resize one of your other partitions to create your free space. Although you may never use it for paging, it is used for hibernation
    2. If you chose to resize your main partition, you must write the previous changes to your disk before continuing
    3. Once you have some free area, select it, hit enter, and partition it as swap space
  13. Then scroll down to “Finish partitioning and write changes to disk” and press enter again
  14. Make sure you’re happy with the disk changes and say yes to continue
    • A partitions formatting screen may appear, then the installing the base system screen. This doesn’t take too long
  15. It will ask you for personal information. Enter it to make your user account. It gives you the choice to encrypt your home directory, and it’s your choice as to whether you like encryption or not. Next is the network information.
  16. Time to set up and install software – finally! This will take a while. Go grill something. Actually, the first install does not take too long. Next, you are presented with four packages to install; you can select the ones you need. This is the time-consuming step
  17. As on the Ubuntu website’s instructions, set the drive to /dev/sda3
  18. FINALLY!! It will eject your DVD and try to restart your computer. You may need to hold down the power key to restart. When you restart, note that the penguin is now with a hard disk logo by it. Happy Linux!


There are still a few items to make it work smoothly in the Macbook Pro, I’ll cover those in a later tutorial

Coming next: a tutorial on how to create an acceptable a cappella version of a song from a single recording.

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