1. zahadum

    thanx for the tips! – especially about the alt EFI bootloader!

    I know you didn’t want to be shackled by bootcamp – but some people would benefit from the results from that encounter too!

    btw: for those mac users who don’t have any back kground with Linux, it would be night e if you. iuld explain your choicecof the jaunty distro.

    1. I’m sure some people would like to know about using bootcamp but it seemed to want to much control over the whole process for my tastes and I’m not about to reinstall my laptop again to try it out! 😛 As for the choice of Jaunty for my linux distro, well, I’ve been a ubuntu user for a while now primarily because it’s a well supported, easy to use distro that has a large, knowledgeable community behind it. I have jaunty installed on my desktop machine and so keeping to the same distro for my laptop made sense since I’d know more or less what i was getting into.

  2. Thank for your step by step!

    Everything goes fine until I tried to boot ubuntu from refit. I have a cute little Tux in the center of the screen and Ubuntu is not booting. Do you think it’s a partition problem? No problem with os x and windows 7 tough.

    Any idea?

    1. Perhaps your bootloader on your ubuntu partition has gone screwy. I’d recommend using a linux rescue CD to boot you linux partition, or if that’s too difficult, booting a rescue CD, chrooting into the linux partition and then installing the bootloader again. That’s a bit of an involved process that I can’t really walk you through I’m afraid, but that’s the only idea I have. There is probably a decent tutorial on how to repair bootloaders out there. Make sure to install it to the linux partition, rather than the whole drive though.

  3. Magnus Øverli

    Hi! Want to thank you for an outstandingly simple and understandable guide to triple booting an macbook! I have tried so many other sites but saved my day(and night)


  4. Tim

    Your system is EFI boot hence Windows not screwing it up. 😛

  5. This is very useful and timely given my current situation.

    It is also written at just the right level of detail given my level of experience.

    I’m very glad I stumbled upon this post…thanks for putting it together!

  6. Mike Lin

    Would you mind telling me where you got the snow leopard prerelease drivers? Or if it would be legal to send it to me?

    1. Well, the best way to get is to actually have access to the Snow Leopard beta in which case you can just use BootCamp from within to make the driver CD but if not there are plenty of ISOs of the driver disk floating around on the net just waiting to be torrented. I’m sure you’ll find something with a simple search for “snow leopard boot camp driver torrent” or the like.

  7. Hi!

    It’s working now, thank you again for your advice!

  8. Steve Lin

    How did you format the other partions to FAT? I see Mac OS Extended (Journaled) as the only option.

    1. What I did is format them as whatever was available in the installer and then booted into OSX and used Disk Utility to reformat them as FAT. The thing is, it probably isn’t even required as you are only going to be reformatting the partitions anyway from within the Win7 and Linux installers but I wasn’t sure so if there would be any weirdness going on so I did it anyway.

  9. Steve

    I created the partitions and erased the ones prepared for win7, ubuntu, and swap to FAT. Then I installed reFIT and rebooted. Every was fine and I can see the reFIT menu on boot up and my OSX still works fine. Now I am trying to install win7 from dvd by doing a reboot. reFIT sees the DVD and allows me to boot from it. So I tried and it took a long time before it finally goes to a screen that says “CDBOOT: Couldn’t find BOOTMGR”. Did I miss a step? What did I do wrong? Thanks.

    1. Sounds like your DVD didn’t burn the bootloader on properly. I’ve had issues with other software where the data has been fine but the bootloader for some reason didn’t work. Usually a reburn of the disk on slow settings sorts that out.

  10. Steve

    Ok there was definitely something wrong with the first disk. OSX was not even able to mount it. I reburned it at 2x and now it can at least mount it and see its contents but when I try to boot with it, I get an error message that it’s not a system disk. Sorry to keep bugging you about this but I desperately want to get this to work. Thanks so much for your help.

  11. Steve

    Hey it’s working now and I don’t know why :). I tried rebooting it one more time just for kicks and it detected it. It’s installing right now. I may be back for questions when I try to install Ubuntu tho. Thanks.

  12. Steve

    Ok I finally got the thing running BUT I noticed 2 big problems. 1. You can’t adjust the brightness, its stuck on the brightest setting. 2. The system runs hot. Although running Win7 works on a MacBook, I don’t think I want to risk damaging my system by running it with these problems. Have you or anyone else been able to solve this? I’m assuming that I’m going to have the same problem when I try to install Ubuntu. Should I even bother trying?

  13. You may notice I updated the post regarding this. Installing the snow leopard prerelease boot camp drivers solve pretty much all power management and brightness control issues and I’ve found linux runs more or less the same as OSX regarding power management after I followed all the instructions on the article I linked to regarding running ubuntu on the macbook.

    Yes, there is an element of risk here, I can’t promise you that your mac won’t burst into flames but I’ve been running mine fine for quite a while now and my mac seems to survive running for several hours in either linux or win7 without incident on my 3 year old hardware.

  14. Steve

    Hmmm… ok I guess I’ll have to try that. Thanks so much for your help and quick replies.

  15. Steve

    Back again… I got Ubuntu installed and it worked but I think after I installed all the system updates and tried to reboot, all I get now the grub command line when I choose to boot into Ubuntu.

  16. Steve

    Crap, now Win7 doesn’t boot anymore either, it just sits there at the gray windows flag icon and not doing a thing.

  17. Hmm, not sure what is going on there. When you installed the Ubuntu installation you made sure to select to install the bootloader on the same partition as the main linux partition and didn’t let the installer mess around with any of the existing partitions, right? That’s all I can think might have caused it.

    If you installed the bootloader onto the MBR, you probably want to uninstall it. I’m guessing here though and any suggestions I have might just make things worse, so bear that in mind.

    As far as I am aware you can’t actually uninstall the bootloader, just overwrite it so I expect you’ll want to let the Win7 tools do that. I have no idea how to actually fix bootloader problems with Win7 but I imagine booting off of the win7 install disk and using it to boot the installed win7 system should allow you to repair the win7 install or it might magically offer some way to fix it itself once booted or from within the cd boot menu.

    Assuming that is done and you can reach th epoint where you can boot into the win7 partition (and your osx partition still works) you can try reinstalling the bootloader in linux but make 100% sure you do not install it into the MBR but instead install it onto the partition the actual linux root fs is on. You may also need to edit your grub config.

  18. Steve

    I’m not sure what I did with the boot loader when I installed ubuntu I can’t remember if there were any options as to where to install it. Any how, I wiped everything and reinstalled osx and now I’m pretty much where I was before I started all this. Not sure if I want to try this again any time soon. But thank you so much for your help.

  19. Stephen Byerley

    Hi, thanks for this guide! I’m reading up in preparation for the arrival of my brand new 13in MacBook Pro. Other triple-boot guides warn that you can only have four partitions (weird apple partition, OS X, Linux, Windows), prohibiting a swap partition. You don’t seem to have had that problem…can you shed any light on this?
    (I’m not actually worried about swap, but I was thinking of having a shared data partition–any thoughts?)

  20. Well, if a shared data partition is all your looking for, I use OSX as my shared data partition 😛 With the snow leopard boot camp drivers for windows, it can mount the hfs+ filesystem, as can linux, so they can all use that.

    I don’t recall having any issues what so ever having 4 partitions (OSX, Linux, swap, Win7) in addition to ‘the weird apple one’ which is the EFI partition I believe. I do however have chunks of free space between each of my partitions of about 50-100mb each, not sure why but that’s how OSX insisted on partitioning it so I’m assuming it was to do with the EFI system – I wouldn’t recommend trying to reclaim it or doing any partition under linux/windows.

  21. Miguel

    Hi, thanks for your simple guide. I just tried it on a MacBook Pro 6.2, to install Snow Leopard + Win7 + Ubuntu Lucid, and so far it seems that everything works fine. Sure, there’ll be some tweaks to be done here and there, but mostly it works.

    I have one doubt, though. On the GRUB loader, which I installed on my Ubuntu partition, I have the options to boot Windows and OSX too. I’m afraid of trying, in case it messes up something. Do you know what would happen if I try? I’ll probably remove those entries from GRUB, anyways, since they don’t make much sense.

    1. I expect it will be fine – certainly I wouldn’t imagine it would break things, at worst just failing to boot from grub into anything but Linux. It’s possible the other OSes might get confused and mess up their config but I couldn’t say for sure

  22. Miguel

    Ok, thanks for your reply. I think I’m not going to try right now because I do a lot of work with my laptop and I wouldn’t like to mess it up. I may try when I do the next format (which I hope is in a few years :P)

    BTW, something werid happened with the order of the comments or is it my computer messing things up?

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