OSX and Ubuntu- dual boot

After playing around with Ubuntu Live (PPC) on my ibook, this weekend my mission was to get OSX and Ubuntu dual booting on my ibook. Here’s how it went.

  1. Backup some of my important Docs and data from my existing OSX install
  2. Start clean install of OSX, creating 3 partitions, one shared, one for OSX and one for Ubuntu
  3. Continue OSX Clean Install
  4. Once OSx is installed insert Ubuntu Install CD
  5. Choose all default options but when it comes to partitioning, dlete the Ubuntu partition you created earlier. go back and choose to use maximum free space
  6. Ubuntu will continue it’s install and will install a boot manager so you can choose between OSX, Ubuntu or CD on boot
  7. To view the files in the shared partition, I used the following
    sudo mkdir /media/share
    and then
    sudo mount -t hfsplus /dev/hda5 /media/share
    I still can’t write to this disk but I am working on it

I now have OSX and Ubuntu running very smoothly alongside each other… let the development begin :)

To get the shared partition working you can to sync the two users’ (my OSX user and my Ubuntu user) user ids and group ids (You can change the ID in OSX netinfo manager). Once this was done and the drive was mounted correctly (in /etc/fstab)
/dev/hda5 /media/share hfsplus user 0 0
I could write to the shared drive in both installs but it caused havoc with permission in OSX as the user ID had changed. I reckon I can just give world write access to the drive though and it’ll still work.


  1. Posted January 28, 2006 at 10:33 pm | Permalink

    How is it with your AirPort card?

  2. Posted January 28, 2006 at 11:43 pm | Permalink

    Not a peep, I bought 2 usb wireless adaptors which supposedly had drivers that worked… Nope. I’m going to give it another try but plug and play wireless it is not :(

  3. Posted February 22, 2006 at 10:03 pm | Permalink

    Wahey! dual booting my iBook too! ;)

    Got really stuck (for about 20 mins) on point 5 though.. non too clear to a idiot like me! ;)

  4. Posted February 22, 2006 at 10:05 pm | Permalink

    Great stuff, Ubuntu heaven

  5. ranjeet
    Posted March 7, 2006 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    I already have OS-X installed on powerbook.

    Is there any way by which i can re-partition the hard-drive without re-installation?

    I remember s/w like partition magic or fips which i used to re partition windows drive.

    How is Ubuntu in performance ? Is it better than that of debian ? or Gentoo ?

  6. Posted March 7, 2006 at 10:33 am | Permalink


    Thre’s a thread @ macslash (http://macslash.org/article.pl?sid=05/12/09/1624201) which discusses partition software.

    I haven’t used Gentoo or Debian on PPC i’m afraid, but on my machine, 800MHz 384Mb Ram it’s quite quick.

  7. Pat
    Posted July 2, 2006 at 6:30 am | Permalink

    I used Drive Genius to dynamically repartition my hard drive with OS X already installed. Here are the steps I followed:

    With Drive Genius:

    (1) Click on the “Volume” button on the left (as opposed to “Device”) then defragment the OSX partition. Note that this may take a long, long time. I ended up waiting until bed time before starting the process so that I wouldn’t have to wait for it.

    (2) The following morning ;) Click on “Device” and Repartition the hard drive. This will be pretty quick now.

    (3) You’ll see two partitions:
    /dev/disk0s1 (Apple_Free) 128MB
    /dev/disk0s2 (Apple_HSF) 30GB

    (the disk0s# may be different)

    (4) If you also want to have a shared partition as discribed earlier, now is the time to set it up otherwise doing it after Linux is installed will mess up the disk0s# and you won’t be able to boot into either OSX or Linux without more work… (I know cause I did that the first time :S )

    (5) So Resize the Apple_HSF partition to say 15GB (in my 30GB example)

    (6) Create a new partition (Apple HSF+) of say 10GB (this will be your shared partition

    (7) leave the rest of the space as Apple_Free (say 5GB). Ubuntu will use this space to partition its bootstrap, swap and main partition.

    (8) Restart and load OSX. Hopefully you should see your new shared partition. With “Disk Utilities” erase the shared partition and format it with “Mac OS Extended” (NOT Journaled) You can also rename both partitions to something like “OSX” and “Shared”

    (9) Put the Ubuntu CD (I used Kubuntu 6.06) and load linux live.

    (10) Once you’re running Linux from the CD, click on the “Install” icon and follow the steps.

    (11) at step 5 of 6 of the installation process (step 5 in the original post abouve) click on “Use the largest continuous free space”

    that’s it! From that point, it took my iBook G4 1.2GHz exactly 12 minutes to install and configure everything. I’ve never experienced such a smooth Linux install ever!!! It was as easy (if not easier) than to install OSX the first time around!! Wow…

  8. Rory McCann
    Posted August 18, 2006 at 9:38 pm | Permalink

    If you’re having trouble with permissions, I’d recommend changing the group and user ids (gid and uid resp.) on the ubuntu end, rather than the OSX end. Ubuntu will probably be less annoyed at you.

    You’ll have to change all the uid and gid on the Ubuntu end to match the new one. Imagine the old uid and gid were 1001 and 1002, new were 1010, 1012 resp, then as root something like:
    find / -uid 1001 -gid 1002 -exec chown 1010:1012 ‘{}’ ‘;’
    find / -uid 1001 -exec chown 1010 ‘{}’ ‘;’
    find / -gid 1002 -exec chgrp 1012 ‘{}’ ‘;’

    should change all the permissions on the ubuntu side.

  9. Paul-C
    Posted August 29, 2006 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

    i’m completely new to Linux/Ubuntu but the Live CD really impressed me – i like ubuntu but I’d like to keep OS 10 too and I’ve been struggling to install both with neither recognising the other’s partitions! I’ll try this on the Sawtooth and see how it goes – these are the clearest instructions I’ve seen! Thanks!

  10. Paul-C
    Posted August 30, 2006 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

    and it worked! thanks a million. ubuntu runs better now on a partition than it did when it was the only OS on the hard drive. next up mp3 playback…

  11. Posted August 30, 2006 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

    Good stuff Paul. I also managed to get Wifi working using the open source version of the broadcom driver. I can’t remember how I did it and I forgot to note the procedure, but it is doable.


  12. Posted October 18, 2006 at 8:30 pm | Permalink

    this is an excellent tutorial. i have attempted this in the past and always got stumped at the partitioning. i followed yours step by step and it went without a hitch I didn’t even have to configure yaboot. ubuntu picked up my osx tiger installation and on reboot was prompted by which OS i wanted to boot into. excellent, thank you.

  13. Chris
    Posted January 27, 2007 at 12:13 am | Permalink

    i found this post very helpful and got both systems running smoothly next to eachother but why are my resolution options so limited?…(in ubuntu?)

  14. Poochy
    Posted March 15, 2007 at 3:54 am | Permalink

    Found this post when looking for solutions in sharing drives. Can someone please teach me how to find the UserID? My machine is a PowetBook G4 dual-booting Ubuntu 6.10 and Mac OSX Panther.

  15. Posted April 7, 2007 at 12:33 am | Permalink


    You can find the user id easily with the terminal. just enter the command ‘id’, and you’ll get something like this:
    uid=1000(rory) gid=1000(rory) groups=4(adm),20(dialout),24(cdrom),25(floppy),29(audio),30(dip),44(video),46(plugdev),109(lpadmin),111(scanner),114(admin),116(fuse),1000(rory)

    The ‘uid’ is the user id, it tells you that the user ‘rory’ has the user id 1000. The gid is the group id, and it lists all the groups (and the corresponding group id) for each group that the user ‘rory’ is in.

    This is on Linux, but it should be similar for OSX.

  16. Pauly
    Posted May 6, 2007 at 4:27 am | Permalink

    does the linux have to be installed on the same drive as osx or can it be on a seperate drive?

  17. JK
    Posted May 12, 2007 at 9:41 pm | Permalink

    I’m having some trouble with getting OS X Tiger and Kubuntu Feisty Fawn dual bootting on my MacBook. I followed the instructions up to point five. I’m not sure what you mean by deleting the Ubuntu partition. I figured it meant chosing the manual partition option, and deleting the partition, but I couldn’t find a way to save the changes so I could go back to the previous screen. Instead I proceeded the manual way and everything seemed to go just fine. However, when I restarted my system, it booted straight into OS X. I can’t figure out how to boot into Kubuntu. Disk utility shows the third partition as greyed out and doesn’t show any information about it. Using the live CD, I can see the partition, and it says that “,0 GB of the partition is used, so the installation seems to have gone just fine. So, how can I boot into Kubunu instead of OS X?

  18. Evan
    Posted May 25, 2007 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    Just tried to install Ubuntu on a partition on my iMac G5.
    Same thing as JK is getting.
    Installer completed OK, it says it installed Yaboot. I can boot from the CD by holding the c key, but on restart it just goes directly into OS X.

    Also have had no success in getting it to recognize my wireless keyboard.

  19. John
    Posted May 29, 2007 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

    I’m having similar problems with tiger and feisty on a g4 iBook.

    Some notes:
    1. When I created the three partitions, the ubuntu partition I used unix files system

    2. I delete the ubuntu partition as in step 5, then I go back and when I choose to use the largest free partition size is says it failed to partition because the selected space was too probably too small (In this case it was 10 gigs, so I don’t think it would be too small).

    It seems something may have changed with the 7.04 partitioner perhaps?

    Any ideas?

  20. Vijay
    Posted August 22, 2007 at 9:52 am | Permalink

    I have been dual booting my ibook g3 for some time now. (ubuntu 7.04 and mac osx 10.2.8). Works fine.

    The yaboot loader can be reinitialised by pressing the command + option + P + R keys on starting the machine. This resets and gives you the option when the screen lights up.

    Good luck

  21. Vijay
    Posted August 22, 2007 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    I have been dual booting my ibook g3 for some time now. (ubuntu 7.04 and mac osx 10.2.8). Works fine.

    The yaboot loader can be reinitialised by pressing the command + option + P + R keys on starting the machine. This resets and gives you the option of which partition to boot up from. the next time you will have the normal options when bootin up.

    Good luck

  22. Robert
    Posted September 18, 2008 at 8:54 pm | Permalink

    Can Ubuntu be installed on an external FireWire drive? So far, no luck so I’m thinking no.

  23. satsuma
    Posted October 30, 2009 at 3:18 am | Permalink

    How can I unistall Ubuntu from a dual boot with mac OSX tiger?
    Thank you!

  24. Posted August 14, 2010 at 11:22 am | Permalink

    when I tried to follow your method, there’s just no way that the steps you describe match the installation software. There’s no “use maximum free space” option at step 5, and the default choice the installer gives me is an equal partition of ubuntu and a partition called “files,” which is ext4 and the meaning of which I don’t get. Attempting to get rid of these manually brings up the error “there is no newworld boot sector” or some such. It’s a disaster!

    I had to try 5 times to do this today because the ubuntu partition manager crashes if it catches even a sniff of hfs+, and I couldn’t get Mac os to install without hfs+. In the end I had to wipe a partition manually myself, and have a dual boot with mac os x when actually I don’t want a dual boot at all.

    I’m halfway through installing now and no idea whether it will work or not…

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