Install Ubuntu 9.10 "Karmic Koala" on an already partitioned drive

(This is the fourth part of the article Dual booting OSX and Ubuntu without REFIT)

To me it seems 64bit code runs smoother on today's hardware, so I'm using the 64bit editions if I have the chance. All Apple hardware containing Core2Duo (or better, e.g. Core i5, Core i7) processors is capable of running 64bit code; so here we're going to install Ubuntu 9.10 Desktop 64bit also known as Karmic Koala (under "Alternative download options" you'll find the 64bit edition). The nice thing is that it doesn't really matter: there is hardly any difference in setting up 32 or 64 bit Linux distributions.

Somehow installing Ubuntu thru USB didn't work for me on a Macbook Pro 4.1. So I have burnt the image to a CD and installed it from there: pop in and boot from the CD (keep pressing Alt when you turn on your Mac and select the CD), and select "English" then "Try Ubuntu without any change to my computer". Sounds careful doesn't it?

Ubuntu starts up as a live distro. Double-click on the icon Install Ubuntu 9.10. Select the language to use and click Forward.

Select your timezone and click forward.

Select your keyboard layout and click forward. On a mac, it makes sense to select USA - Macintosh.

Now comes the interesting part, partitioning. Select Specify partitions manually (advanced) and click Forward.

Since OSX is using GPT instead of MBR for partitioning our drives, you can see some strange things here, like the 200MB EFI partition (/dev/sda1) or the 134MB disk spaces between the partitions. This is fine, we just have to "see through the lines". If we write the OSX names next to the partitions everything will be clear:

/dev/sda1209 MBEFI
/dev/sda274356 MBosx
/dev/sda334000 MBhome
/dev/sda416000 MBubuntu
/dev/sda54131 MBswap

So, let's mount /dev/sda4 to "/" which will be the root of our Linux filesystem. Double-click on the line beginning with /dev/sda4, in Use as select EXT4 journaling filesystem, click Format the partition, in the Mount Point select "/" and click OK.

Now we're going to create a swap partition. Doucle-click on the /dev/sda5 line, select swap area under Use as, and click OK.

We can't select HFS in the installer, so we'll have to mount the shared "home" partition later on ourselves by the fstab file. For now, we have a root partition and a swap partition, so just click forward!

Fill in all the necessary parameters in the intimidating "Who are you" dialog and click forward again.

In the Ready to install dialog, click Install (GRUB will go into MBR, which is fine). The installation commences and will be finished in no time. Press Restart Now.

When the Mac starts up, you'll have to hold the Alt key for the operating system selector menu to pop up. Oddly the additional entry we have next to our Macintosh HD is Windows; apparently Apple thinks if there's anything next to its operating system, that will be Windows. So just select Windows and press ENTER and we are booting Ubuntu!

In the next post, we will discuss how to configure Ubuntu to have access to the Shared partition and we'll set up some symbolic links in both OSX and Ubuntu to store our Documents, Pictures, Music and Videos in the common folder, so that we have access to them no matter which one we start up.


  1. I used all ur post to install ubuntu in my macbook pro v2,2. nice work!!! :-)
    i was able to move the mac os x users folder to the shared partition.

    r u planning on posting the sharepartition soon!. for some reason when I boot ubuntu the shared partition (HFS+ none J) is not mounting automatically.

  2. Thanks! I'm planning to continue the article about mounting the shared partition on Ubuntu next week (don't have access to that computer from here, holidays etc.) - but if you want to go ahead earlier, the easiest is to put a new entry into the /etc/fstab file (ctrl+f2 -> "gksudo gedit /etc/fstab"): the UUID you can get with "sudo fdisk -l" in a terminal, the type will be "hfsplus".

    Happy new year!

  3. hey, i'm looking foward for your next post, discussing about how to mount the 'shared' partition. thanks and you've done a great job. congratulations!

  4. Hey guys, thank you for all your comments & sorry for being late with the forthcoming part... There you have it now! Cheers, Lajos

  5. thanks, a lot. i now see your post. thanks again.

  6. Thanks so much! This actually worked, unlike the official Ubuntu documentation :)