Gray Matter

How to install other operating systems on your First Generation MacBook Pro

How to install other operating systems on your First Generation MacBook Pro

Apple has its niche in the computer market, and their mind and market shares are on the rise. Their hardware is loved by many and can be used for more than what apple originally intends it to be.
In a constant effort from Apple to move users to the next generation technologies, often times, a user finds him/herself in the need to buy a new computer, for no other reason than that their old and still very well functioning system does not meet the requirements for an OS update. But that does not always have to be the case.

I own a first generation MacBook Pro, its superdrive no longer works, and Apple does not support it in its newer versions of its infamous Mac OS X, past Snow Leopard (10.6.x), not even in security updates anymore.

While newer models have better support to boot from USB drives, in my case, only OS X bootable flash drives are supported, if you need to install Windows, or any other OS you must use the internal Superdrive, which in my case is broken. So, for me to install Linux or Windows, I need to do something.

In this article, I am going to talk about how I installed Linux and Windows on my old MacBook Pro.

First, I ran the “BootCamp Assistant” from the “/Applications/Utilities” folder, or you can simply use “Spotlight” to find it more quickly.
Then I partitioned the hard disk to make space for my new OS. “BootCamp” only supports making two partitions, one for Mac, and the second is for “Windows”. But you can install Linux on it later if you want.
I even installed OS X, Linux and Windows all at the same time.

Now, the trick to boot from a USB Flash drive is to install a little bootloader on your hard disk first.
Go ahead and download and extract “rEFInd” on your Mac system. Then open the “Terminal” either by using “Spotlight”, or by launching it from “/Applications/Utilities”. Change directory to where you extracted “rEFInd” and execute the following command “./refindinstall” and press the enter button on your keyboard.

Now prepare the USB Flash drive with your favorite OS using the tools supported by them. In my experience, “Universal-USB-Installer” works well with most Linux distributions, and with Windows as well. I used my Windows workstation for this step. But you can use “DiskUtility” on your Mac if you want to.

Restart your mac and you will be greeted with the rEFInd boot menu where you can select which device you want to boot from. You do not need to restart your system to make it see new devices, just hit the refresh button and it will search for them. Insert your Flash drive in a free USB port and press the enter button on your keyboard to boot from it.

There is not much difference in how you install either Windows of Linux using BootCamp. The trick is in selecting the correct partition, and in Linux’ case, where to install the boot loader so you do not erase rEFInd.

For Windows, the “BootCamp Assistant” has created and named a partition that you need to select, there is an unused space between it, and the Mac partition. No need to alter the partition layout. If you are installing Windows 7, (Windows XP was the intended version of Windows for this particular machine at the time), you will need to reformat the drive as NTFS to be able to perform the installation process. And you will be able to find the Windows drivers on your Snow Leopard DVD disc.

If you decide to install Linux, you will need to install the boot loader on the “/dev/sda” drive, and the system on “/dev/sda3”.

You can use a Linux boot disk to alter the partition layout using “gparted” if you wish to keep rEFInd on your disk, or install both Linux and Windows in addition to Mac OS X on the same hard disk.


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