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Triple Boot 13inch MacBook Air 4.2 (2011 model)

December 5th, 2011

After recently purchasing a MacBook Air 4.2 (2011 model) I decided it would be great to triple boot with MacOS, Windows 7 and a linux distro. After some googling I found this great article on lifehacker. This how-to follows this guide, but has been modified slightly for my installation.

The MacBook Air this was completed on had the following specs:
– i7 Processor
– 256GB SSD Hard Drive
– External DVD Drive on USB

CD/DVD Discs Required:
– Windows 7
– Linux Distro

Step 1: Partition Hard Drive

Using “DiskUtilities” in MacOS, add three extra partitions, format them all as MS-DOS, the partitions to add are:
1. Windows 7 Partition
2. Linux Root
3. Linux Swap

My partitions ended up (approx these sizes) as follows:
0. MacOS – 80GB
1. Win7 – 80GB
2. Linux – 80GB
3. Linux Swap – 4GB

Step 2: Install rEFIt – Boot Manager

When running in MacOS, download and install rEFIt, located here on sourceforge, at the creation of this how-to the latest version was 0.14, it can be directly downloaded here.

Once downloaded locate the disk image file (dmg) and double click, then double click on “rEFIt.mpkg”, then follow the prompts.

Once installed you will need to reboot the system, however sometimes it takes two (2) reboots for the rEFIt boot screen to come up, this did not occur for me it appeared after the first reboot.

The screen will look something like the below, but without the windows and linux icons:

Step 3: Install Windows

This how to will not go into any detail on this part of the installation as there are many great how-to on the web for this component, I followed the LifeHacker guide

All you need to ensure is that you remember the partition that the Windows 7 installation was installed on, I installed this on second partition after MacOS, with the Linux Partition being the one after that.

Step 4: Install Linux

Installing Linux is the most complicated part, I went through quite a few distributions of Linux before I was able to get one to work correctly. The first version attempted was Linux Mint Debian Edition as I use this on another PC, this did not work. Then the I attempted Ubuntu Linux 11.04, however this one did not function well either, the video card did not work correctly. Then the final version that I got to work was Ubuntu 11.10.

However I was not a fan of unity so have been using this a little, but really waiting for Linux Mint 12 (Lisa) to be released (Linux Mint 12 is based on Ubuntu 11.10), so the process used for 11.10 would in theory work on Mint 12. This was proven to be “ALMOST” the case, with a little tweaking of the process I now have Linux Mint 12 (Lisa) functioning on a MacBook Air 4.2.

To get Ubuntu 11.10 running, I followed the how-to on the Ubuntu community, found here.

As the process of installing Linux Mint 12 was quite a long process, I have created blog post specific to this part of the installation.

Installing Linux Mint 12 (Lisa) on 13inch MacBook Air 4.2 (2011 model)

  1. September 18th, 2012 at 22:43 | #1

    Thanx for the excellent writeup. I just combined your experiences and the arch wiki to install arch on macbook air. Thanx for the effort

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