Dual, Triple, Quad Boot a Macbook with Mac OS X, Ubuntu Linux, Windows XP, and Windows Vista

moved to http://hydtechblog.com/2009/01/26/dual-triple-quad-boot-a-macbook-with-mac-os-x-ubuntu-linux-windows-xp-and-windows-vista/

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66 Responses to “Dual, Triple, Quad Boot a Macbook with Mac OS X, Ubuntu Linux, Windows XP, and Windows Vista”

  1. kevinthetechguy Says:

    wow, this is an amazing detailed guide. i like the effort you took with all the pictures.

  2. I agree with kevinthetechguy, great effort…I will adapt this guide for my requirements (no Vista for starters)…thanks!

  3. Hey Man!
    You do not know how glad I am to find your detailed guide. I was stumbling 3 Days with getting my quadboot to work until I found your guide. Thanks again. You saved my Ass (I mean my computer ;-)…
    Cheers and have a nice day!!!

  4. Quick question install without bootcamp partitioned disk ?

  5. can not get linux boot as it freezing

  6. Without partition 3 as a storage – IT DOES NOT WORK – you will get a hall.dll stop error in windows xp….

    i made my storage partition as small as i could (i just do not want one). partition 3 storage = 1gb…..

  7. mojacko Says:

    can we just do a 3 partition:

    1. for the OSX?
    2. Windows xp or 7
    3. Storage backup

    i only want 3 partition… and i dont want to format again and again..

    thanks

    • bretquigley Says:

      yes, and its actually not very hard because you can use the boot camp bootloader instead of setting up rEFIt. use the boot camp utility to partition your hard drive into two partitions, one for mac os x and one for windows. when it asks you to put in the cd and reboot, don’t. then open up disk utility and shrink down your mac os x partition so that there is free space between the os x partition and the windows partition. it is important that it goes there, as boot camp expects windows to be the last partition. then put in your windows install cd, reboot, and hold “C” when it turns back on. the windows installer will restart at different points during the installation (once after copying files and once after the final install). every time windows setup reboots your computer, hold the “alt” key as the computer turns on and select your Windows partition (not the windows cd) from the menu that appears. when windows is set up, install the boot camp drivers on your mac os x install disc as per above and then restart into mac os x (do this by holding “alt” at boot and choosing mac os x). then go back into disc utility and create a “MS-DOS (FAT)” partition in the free space, and you should be good to go!

  8. Thank you very very much – a great help. Work fine 🙂
    Now just have to figure out to set up internetconnection with and with out wire 😉

  9. Hi –
    I am new at this and took the plunge and think I messed up along the way – I partioned my iMac drive but didn’t get the Win partion at the end – I was able to keep the linux and osx with refit but I want to start over without removing my osx partion. Is this possible without completely reformating everything? Thanks

  10. Thanks for the excellent guide. Can I follow the same instructions to install Mac OS X, Windows XP, Windows 7, and Linux? (Windows 7 instead of Windows Vista.)

    • Im sure you can but I haven’t tried it. If you do, could you post the results? thanks.

      • I’m not familiar with EFI at all, so I’m a bit afraid of playing around with things and ending up with an unusable computer. For now I’m probably going to just go for a triple boot environment. (Mac OS X, XP, and Ubuntu.)

        Thanks anyway.

    • bretquigley Says:

      I’ve been experimenting with using the Windows 7 RC as part of the quadruple boot, and my experience has been as follows: everything works fine until you install Ubuntu, at which point booting Windows 7 from rEFIt results in the message “Error loading operating system”. Interestingly, booting Windows 7 by first choosing to boot Ubuntu in rEFIt and then booting Windows 7 from GRUB results in it loading error-free. The solution that I found for it is to use Winclone to make a backup of Windows 7 before installing Ubuntu (make sure that the “copy generic BCD” option is not selected in preferences, or it will write windows vista boot code). Then, simply restore the image back onto the Windows 7 partition afterwords and it should all work. I’m sure that there’s a better way of doing this (again, it’s able to boot through GRUB, so it’s not completely trashed), but this is the way I found to work.

      • thanks for that tip. I am also positive there has to be another way but unfortunately I can’t check because I no longer have my macbook.

  11. One more question: Is it possible to shrink OS X’s partition instead of reformatting the entire hard drive?

    • OK, I’ve done some more reading and now I understand that Windows can only be used with the first four partitions.

      Is it possible to do without the data partition and therefore avoid the need to reformat? If not, perhaps I’ll try to just shrink the Mac OS X partition, add on four other partitions, clone Mac OS X to the last partition, and then reformat the first partition for Vista… Unfortunately, I don’t have a backup hard drive, so I can’t think of an alternative.

      • its possible but theres a slight chance you might lose data.

      • I have all of my documents backed up online, so I’m not worried about that- I’d just like to avoid needing to reinstall all of my apps.

        Which is possible- to install without the data partition or to clone the Mac partition?

      • you can do without the storage partition but you might get the hal.dll error in XP and you might have to tweak it. you can also shrink the OSX partition

  12. This is a really good guide.

    One question, though. If I only want Vista, Ubuntu, and OS X, can I proceed as the above and just skip the xp parts/partition? I’ve been trying that and everything works perfectly until the last step with ubuntu. It seems that it is trying to boot from my storage partition for some reason. Does this have to do with the fact that when I installed it I typed in (hd0,2) which then installs the boot file to that partition? So if my linux partition is sda6, can I replace the above with (hd0,5)?

    • you are absolutely correct. grub is trying to load sda3 so you need to change it. you don’t have to reinstall it. before it loads, you can press e to edit and change hd0,2 to hd0,5. once you load ubuntu, you can make a permanent change by editing your menu.lst

      • El canardo :-)) Says:

        Hi big chief ! Eureka-> All is ok for me : So i still thank you for all your advice ! 😉

        A last thing : Its working but i want to move the grub position and install it on the Linux partition (hd0.5 with your tuto ??) You talk about ” make a permanent change by editing your menu.lst”

        -> I edited the menu ..But i can’t see anything about the last grub position, to change it..

        Where do you go in the menu.lst to change the grub position ???

        Thanks a lot HydTech 😉

  13. Thanks. It worked.

    I was having trouble since I had two linux penguins that booted, so I went back and wiped everything, thus restarting. I followed everything, this time storing the boot loader to (hd0,5).

    The problem now is that the ubuntu icon boots grub and the windows one as well. They seem to all be pointing to the same place, as when i boot both i get ubuntu. Now I can’t get into windows without setting the timeout back to 10 seconds and then booting into windows, though it works fine if i do that.

    Is there any way to fix the above problem? Thanks.

  14. El canardo Says:

    Wwwwoowww !

    What a work !! CONGRATULATIONS !! 🙂
    You must have look for a certain time to find out all that !
    I really appreciate the form of your presentation..

    Just 2 questions chief,

    1)-i was wondering if your process could last in this form, even if you decide to uprgade one of the Oses you installed…I mean upgrading an os may destroy the quad boot or no : no risk ??

    2)-i was wondering if you really can make the same Quad boot – replacing Vista by Seven… With the Window 7 current distribution it would be a nice opportunity to test it (Without making a backup of Windows 7 before installing Ubuntu -> I saw the post.. Seems busy to do ;-).
    May be the Seven message which indicate : “Error loading operating system” just means that You have to reboot on the Seven CD and make a repair and restart action => Like with Vista in your present tuto !!

    ANYWAY YOU REALLY DESERVE ENCOURAGEMENTS !

    P.S : Excuse my english, I haven’t practise for a long time..

    In french I tell you : “BRAVO, superbe travail ! Je vais tout de suite essayer ! Merci pour ton aide précieuse et à très bientot !”

  15. El canardo Says:

    Hey HydTech !
    Are you connected ??

  16. El canardo Says:

    Hello HydTech,

    I’m really in big big trouble vith Vista.. Using your Quadboot method :
    My Installation -> 5 partitions (like your model, EXACTLY)
    1: Vista
    2 : Storage
    3: Xp
    4: Macos (With “SNOW LEOPARD”)
    5 : Free space for Linux (Ubuntu 9.04)

    I explain quicly : I follow your process ; but first of all : Once Vista is installed -> If i try to run it, I’ve got first this message :”Booting GRLRD… Reseting the boot drive….find–set-root /bootmanager.. etc…” and after all these lines Vista starts to run..
    I tried to repair it with the Vista CD, but nothing to do..
    And even if i finish all your process, I can no more run Vista and got this message “BOOTMGR absent.. ctrl+alt+sup to restart..”-> I tried but nothing happens..

    Secondly, and this is strange but My vista partition has been renamed “BOOTCAMP” !!?

    And the third & last point : Very strange too : When I restart and arrive to the Refit menu, if I point to the linux partition : I’m said – i mean its written under the linux logo – that linux is on the storage partition !!!!??!!

    If you would help me please..

    I’ve got a 5,2 MacBookPro – Intel core 2 duo – 2,66 Ghz
    my RAM : 4 Go

    • are you following the directions?

      • El canardo Says:

        Hello HydTech and thanks to help me 😉

        Sure I follow EXACTLY what you teach here. I am on Snow Leopard -> Do you think having Snow leopard cause troubles doing your tuto ??

        What about my Vista installation ? My Vista is not an official version (I mean it’s a pirated one) but I can fully set it up vwith no problems – during the install. : Do you think it’s something to do with that ?

        After researches i understood that when you configure Linux and install it you fix the GRUB to the FAT32 partition -> That’s may be why Linux appears in the Refit menu as bootable from “storage partition”..

        I am very desapointed with all that because i found your tuto verywell made.. I am trying to retry it again..

        ANYWAY if you can help me again man ;. It would be very nice from you. I’m 2d designer.. And if i can help you one day.. Tell me !

      • i think you should download another Vista and try again.

      • El canardo Says:

        Ok thank you for you help I’m going to try it.. Thank you very much.

        For the 2 strange points i described :
        1)-My vista partition which has been renamed “BOOTCAMP” !!?
        ->When i created my 5 partitions i gave names with spaces : This may be the cause..

        2)-And IS IT REALLY NORMAL that when I restart and arrive to the Refit menu, I’m said – i mean its written under the linux logo – that linux is on the storage partition ?

        Thank you very much chief for your answer, and have a nice week;-)

      • El canardo Says:

        Hey HydeTech ?

        Excuse me again but I think i’ve 1 solution for my trouble with linux.. Just have a look on my last post -> 2) :
        I’ve got the same probl than Joe
        ———-
        joe Says:

        September 17, 2009 at 2:20 am
        This is a really good guide.

        “….. and everything works perfectly until the last step with ubuntu. It seems that it is trying to boot from my storage partition for some reason. Does this have to do with the fact that when I installed it I typed in (hd0,2) which then installs the boot file to that partition? So if my linux partition is sda6, can I replace the above with (hd0,5)? ”
        ——
        wITH FOLLOWING YOUR EXACT PARTITION TABLE
        1. Vista (MS-DOS FAT and atleast 10GB)

        2. Storage (MS-DOS FAT and however much space you want as a storage location)

        3. XP (MS-DOS FAT and atleast 7GB)

        4. OSX (Extended Journaled and atleast 20GB)

        5. Free space (Chose from the drop down. will be used for our Ubuntu Linux)

        In the step 7 of ubuntu settings ; Don’t have i to replace (hd0,2) by (hd0,6) TO BE SURE THAT WHEN I POINT TO THE PINGUIN – IN REFIT MENU – I DON’T BOOT FROM MY STORAGE PARTITION ??

        THANK YOU AGAIN !!->I promiss i won’t disturb you after that : Moreover i tested my Vista version : You were right It’s out of order and i ‘m trying with another one 🙂

      • yes, make sure you are installing grub on the right partition

      • El canardo Says:

        Hello HydTech EXCUSE I MADE A POSTING ERROR, here’s the answer to the right place 😉

        Yes this is exactly the problem :

        I mean WITH YOUR PARTITION TABLE-IN YOUR TUTO (That i followed)-where do you install the GRUB to make the quadboot working nice ?
        On (hd,0) ?
        Or do i have to install it to (hd0,6) ??

        Thank you HydTech 🙂

      • Click on advanced and in the drop down box type in (hd0,2)

      • El canardo Says:

        Hy HydTech ! How are you ? Fine ?

        Well I thank you very much for your answer : So i just Click on advanced and in the drop down box type in (hd0,2) ? And doing so linux (with the pinguin in Refit) will normally boot from his partition.. Ok man

        THANK YOU MUCH ; I RETRY

        SEE YOU AND CONGRATULATIONS !!

      • El canardo Says:

        Hey chief ?
        By curiosity do you think it’s possible to adapt your partition table to this one :

        5 Partitions from the Volume Scheme. Label them as follows:

        1. Seven (MS-DOS FAT)

        2. Vista (MS-DOS FAT)

        3. XP (MS-DOS FAT)

        4. OSX (Extended Journaled)

        5. Free space (Chose from the drop down. will be used for our Ubuntu Linux)

        ??

        The fourth is always Xp : Wich we mark as active as usual..so no pb !

        And if after the setting of Seven there is a message of a loading error -> Restore by the seven CD !

        The fact we don’t create a data store partition is not a pb anyway if all partitions are read and writen by each 0s !

        AND THIS TIME WE HAVE REALLY ALL THE CURRENT OSES USED IN THE WORLD, ON THE SAME MACHINE.. NO ?

      • El canardo Says:

        Hey HydTech ? Please if you have a minute man 😉 ,

        Can you tell me if my last Partition table with Seven+Xp+Vista is possible here according to you ??

        Thanks and have a nice we
        ôô

      • I dont know how to make that work. I’ve never tried it.

      • I dont know about that. I never tried it.

      • El canardo Says:

        HELP HELP HYDTECH !

        A last thing : Its working but i want to move the grub position and install it on the Linux partition because I will soon work on my storage one and it may disturb the grub files no ? You talk about ” make a permanent change by editing your menu.lst”

        -> I edited the menu ..But i can’t see anything about the last grub position, to change it..

        Where do you go in the menu.lst to change the grub position ???

        -> And what else position can have the grub if not (hd0,2) ? >> (hd0,5.. ? (hd0,6) ???

        Thanks a lot HydTech

      • u can install grub anywhere. check my post here http://hydtechblog.com/2009/09/10/fix-mbr-and-grub-with-ubuntu-livecd/

      • El canardo Says:

        HydTech 😉

        Don’t know if you got my last reply..so..

        I was just wondering if FOLLOWING YOUR EXACT TUTO (i precise with 5 partition, and a “STORAGE” one at the 2nd level) do i have to fix the grub on (hd0,2) ? Why 2 => I can’t understand why.. Anyway its work perfectly on hd0,2 but i’m afraid it may disturb my storage partition if i move a lot of files.. No ?

        if FOLLOWING YOUR EXACT TUTO can i or not fix this damned grub on ..for example .. hd0,6 ? YOU SAY THAT I CAN INSTALL GRUB EVERYWHERE -> EXCEPT ON WINDOWS OR MAC PARTITIONS you agree this ? IS IT POSSIBLE – still in your example – to fix it in the linux physical partition ? => In case of YES, what is my physical linux partition number.. ?-> hd0,6 ?
        So can i fix in hd0,6 ??

        Thank you again for your knoledge man

      • hd0,2 is your XP partition. you might not be able to install on root partition because on the macbook you use GUID. but you can try installing on (hd0,4) -> your linux partition

      • El canardo Says:

        :-))
        All Right.. !!

        I am just restarting with hd0,4 -> Thanks for you answer man really !!

        But in this case, Why (IN THIS TUTO i mean) do you teach to fix the grub on hd0,2 ???

        Have a good evening
        ———————————————-
        I give you my results with hd0,4 & i thank you for your patience with me..

      • El canardo Says:

        I come back with the results when fixing the linux grub on hd0,4 :

        I boot on the Refit menu, nice.., choice the pingouin on my right, click…–>> “Error when loading operating system”

        What is your conclusion HydTech ? I have no choice but install it on hd0,2 ?

      • El canardo Says:

        Sorry forgot one thing following the hd0,4 position :

        Vista boot give a error of loading too 😦

        So i must keep my grub fixed on hd0,2 .. That’s it ?

      • *** El canardo *** Says:

        Hello HydTech !

        Just to inform you :

        I tried all “hd0,..” positions i could put on The grub : Reformating & reinstall :-(((( !!!

        From hd0,1 -> to hd0,6 – following your exact tuto here – the only position which works is hd0,2 >> Which is the xp position as you said !
        So ok.. And at the question Why does it work with the xp position..? -> NOBODY KNOWS….

        But it works, anyway with a graphic default for me, in the Refit menu : Writing under the pinguin, when i decide to boot the linux partition : “boot from Storage partition !!!”

      • El canardo :-)) Says:

        YYYYYYYEEESSSS !!!

        Here is MY solution : AND IT WORKS !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        If you have problems with booting in your Vista partition – using this tuto with the exact partition scheme used here ! – try this :

        First, When i wanted to boot from my Vista partition i was said : “Error..it’s impossible to load a Windows vista system”. But when i was to boot from linux, i was said that linux was on my storage partition ; so anyway i was running it and i could see running linux, that i could select Vista through the linux loader..

        Accept that the other oses were ok : Mac & Xp & Linux could run without troubles…

        WHAT i DID ?
        FIRST I TRIED TO REPAIR IT WITH THE vISTA cd-> wITH NO RESULT / sAME MESSAGE !

        SO I just re installed Vista a second time, on his partition with reformating with NTFS
        —>>> And then ALL WORKS PERFECTLY ôô

  17. El canardo Says:

    Hello HydTech 🙂

    Yes this is exactly the problem :

    I mean WITH YOUR PARTITION TABLE-IN YOUR TUTO (That i followed)-where do you install the GRUB to make the quadboot working nice ?
    On (hd,0) ?
    Or do i have to install it to (hd0,6) ??

    Thank you HydTech 😉

  18. I try to install only MAC OS + Win XP + Ubuntu..

    What I do? I have to create the STORAGE? How I mark partition of Win XP as active and format it without the Windows Vista?

    Im Brazilian and my english are not good, sorry.

  19. El canardo :-)) Says:

    EXCUSE ME FOR NOT HAVING POSTED IT HERE

    All is ok for me : So i still thank you for all your advice !

    A last thing : Its working but i want to move the grub position and install it on the Linux partition (hd0.5 with your tuto ??) You talk about ” make a permanent change by editing your menu.lst”

    -> I edited the menu ..But i can’t see anything about the last grub position, to change it..

    Where do you go in the menu.lst to change the grub position ???

    Thanks a lot HydTech

  20. El canardo Says:

    Hello HydTech,

    IF I FOLLOW YOUR PARTITION TABLE HERE-> You teach to leave the Grub in (hd0,2)–> I CANNOT UNDERSTAND WHY..Why on this STORAGE partition ??

    FOLLOWING YOUR TUTO HERE, all is working.. BUT.. i’m a bit annoyed with this Grub in my STORAGE partition : I’m afraid it disturbs my storage partition especially if I put a lot of files in.. you know..
    But may be i’m wrong and i HAVE to leave it IN my STORAGE partition anyway..?

    In your last post you say that i can install Grub anywhere ->SO, FOLLOWING YOUR 5 PARTITIONS SYSTEM here, either you fix the Grub on (hd0,2) or on (hdO,..6 for example ? ->You agree so ?

    EVERYWHERE OK BUT NOT IN THE WINDOWS OR MAC PARTITION ? NO ?

  21. *** Conclusion of El canardo *** Says:

    Hello HydTech !

    Just to inform you :

    I tried all “hd0,..” positions i could put on The grub : Reformating & reinstall :-((( !!!

    From hd0,1 -> to hd0,6 – following your exact tuto here – the only position which works is hd0,2 >> Which is the xp position as you said !
    So ok.. And at the question Why does it work with the xp position..? -> NOBODY KNOWS….

    But it works, anyway with a graphic default for me, in the Refit menu : Writing under the pinguin, when i decide to boot the linux partition : “boot from Storage partition !!!”

  22. *** Conclusion of El canardo *** Says:

    *** Conclusion of El canardo *** Says:

    November 10, 2009 at 9:54 am
    Hello HydTech !

    Just to inform you :

    I tried all “hd0,..” positions i could put on The grub : Reformating & reinstall (( !!!

    From hd0,1 -> to hd0,6 – following your exact tuto here – the only position which works is hd0,2 >> Which is the xp position as you said !
    So ok.. And at the question Why does it work with the xp position..? -> NOBODY KNOWS….

    But it works, anyway with a graphic default for me, in the Refit menu : Writing under the pinguin, when i decide to boot the linux partition : “boot from Storage partition !!!”

  23. Excellent. We were unable to get more than 2 partitions any other way and were looking to avoid images.

  24. Used this tutorial as a guide to triple boot Leopard/Windows7/Ubuntu.

    Split my drive:
    50GB OSX journaled
    100GB Windows7 NTFS
    10GB Ubuntu (2GB for swap) ext3/swap

    Installed OSX, refit and updated everything.
    Installed Windows7, bootcamp/drivers and updated.

    Everything was fine up until here.

    Installed Ubuntu with your settings (hd0,2) and everything else exactly as you said, however after updating the partition table Ubuntu would not boot. refit leaves me on the grey screen with the linux penguin and does not boot.

    Also Windows7 gives me the same error as your Vista one (insert disc to repair) however refit doesn’t show the Windows7 disc as a boot option, I can boot from the disc normally by holding C upon reboot but I can’t just repair the Windows7 part (I’ll try re-install over the same partition anyway).

    But that won’t solve the Ubuntu problem, any ideas? Running ubuntu off the disc works (I’m using 8.something, an Intrepid distro as it’s the version my university has on their systems).

    Macbook 13″ aluminium (late 2008)
    2.0Ghz core2duo
    Nvidia 9400m
    2GB DDR3
    160GB HDD

    I can boot into OSX fine, all installs were fresh, all partitioning made by disk utility as you did.

    Cheers.

    • I looked around a bit, and found that getting stuck on refit’s gray penguin screen is normal, you just need to reboot a few times for it to work.

      I’m already in the process of re-installing Ubuntu anyway to double check settings and preferences.

      Hopefully after I re-install Ubuntu and Windows7 everything will be fine, just leaving an update for anyone that reads this.

      • After re-installing ubuntu and verifying that it booted properly, I re-installed Windows7 and all seems well.

        Really trivial thing is that refit detects Windows7 as a legacyOS after activation, but no biggie I’ll just change the icon in my refit folder in OSX to compensate till new version is out.

        Triple boot all working =]

        Now time to hunt down drivers and apps, thanks for this.

  25. I want to cry…you have made me so happy….

  26. El canardo Says:

    Hello man how are you ??
    Do you recognize me 😉 ?

    1)-You know You were very Helpfull for me with this Quadboot system !!
    Tell me how to make you a little donation for you : You deserve it

    2)I work know on Your multiboot system !! With :

    1. Vista

    2. Storage (MS-DOS FAT)

    3. XP

    4. OSX (last Updated WITHOUT TROUBLE 😉

    5. Free space (is used for my 5 GB Ubuntu Linux PARTITION)

    WHEN I AM iN THIS lINUX PARTITION (Ubuntu 9.04)(the 5th here), CAN i UPDATE MY LINUX UBUNTU OS WITHOUT CRASHING MY MULTIBOOT SYSTEM ????

    Thanks a lot and see you ;-))))

    • yes, you can update it with no problem. make sure you don’t over write the menu.lst or update it accordingly. you can make a donation by buying one of my android apps from the android market. just search for pub:Hydtech
      or you can click some ads on my site hydtechblog.com. thanks!

  27. El canardo Says:

    Hello HydTech 😉
    No pb with a donation but I’m sorry I can’t buy you an Android App because I’m on Iphone… Tell me if I can make you a donation with Paipall (-> It’s the more secure today on the web). And where I have to connect to make it for you sure.

    You say I can Update my Linux Partition : But you say “be sure you don’t over write the menu.lst or update it accordingly” => sorry I don’t see what is this menu.Ist ; and I really don’t know how to avoid over writing or updating it !!
    Can you explain ?

    PS : Excuse my english, i’m a bad-english-educated french ;-(

    • you can make a donation to craiglister@clovermail.net
      when you update the Linux, it will ask you whether you should overwrite and you select no. Or you can back it up by doing sudo mv /boot/grub/menu.lst menu2.lst
      or you can see the contents of the file:
      sudo gedit /boot/grub/menu.lst

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