Steps for Installing Mac OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion and Ubuntu 13.04 Raring Ringtail in Dualboot Configuration on MacBook Pro Retina 10,1

Ubuntu's Circle of Friends Logo.
Ubuntu Circle of Friends Logo.

There are a number of useful guides to installing Mac OS X and Ubuntu in a dual boot configuration on Macintosh hardware such as James Jesudason’s guide here or Alex Victor Chan’s guide here. However, I ran into a problem with Mac OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion not waking from sleep due to using the rEFInd bootloader (more information about this problem documented on this thread).

The following is the process that I used for successfully having Mac OS X and Ubuntu play well together on my MacBook Pro Retina (MacBookPro10,1) (15.4″/2.6 Quad-core i7/8GB/512 GB SSD)

  1. Using a Mac OS X 10.8 bootable USB flash drive (create your own by following the DIY instructions here), partition your drive into two equal partitions with Disk Utility. Format the first partition as Mac OS Extended (Journaled) and the second as free space.
  2. Install Mac OS X on the Mac OS Extended (Journaled) partition.
  3. Boot into Mac OS X, download the rEFIt bootloader, and install it in Mac OS X. Reboot your Mac twice and you should see the rEFIt bootloader screen appear after the second reboot. It will have your Mac OS X installation highlighted. Press Enter to boot.
  4. Create a bootable USB Ubuntu disk with this guide for Mac OS X. It will involve downloading the Ubuntu 13.04 ISO image, converting it for Mac OS X, and using terminal commands to write the converted image to your USB drive. When it is all done, Mac OS X will not recognize the disk and ask you to initialize it. Choose “Ignore.”
  5. Reboot your MacBook Pro with the Ubuntu USB drive inserted. rEFIt will give you the option to boot Mac OS X (Apple icon) or Ubuntu (this might appear as two separate icons depicting four squares in a diamond configuration). Choose the first Ubuntu icon with the arrow keys on the keyboard, press Enter.
  6. Next, GRUB, another bootloader, will appear as white text over a black background (like DOS) and give you options to Try Ubuntu or Install Ubuntu. Unlike the other guides, I suggest selecting Install Ubuntu from this menu.
  7. The Ubuntu installer will guide you through the setup process. The only setting that you have to select is “Install alongside Mac OS X.” The Ubuntu installer will automatically find the free space partition that you created earlier, partition it in a way that Ubuntu anticipates, and install Ubuntu and its included software.
  8. At the end of the installation, it will return to a text-based screen and prompt you to remove the installation USB drive and press a key to reboot.
  9. After rebooting, rEFIt should show your Mac OS X installation (Apple logo) and Ubuntu represented by three stacked, colorful boxes (subtitled: EFI\ubuntu\grubx64.efi from EFI). Select the Ubuntu installation with the arrow keys and press Enter. GRUB will appear, select Ubuntu and hit Enter.
  10. The Ubuntu desktop should load very quickly, but it will appear very tiny at the native resolution of the MacBook Pro Retina’s 2880 x 1800 resolution. To adjust the resolution, click on the Gear/Wrench icon in the launch bar on the left to enter system settings. Click on Displays, choose a new resolution (I use 1680 x 1050), click Apply, and Confirm.
  11. The status bar at the top of the screen will show familiar icons for Bluetooth, WiFi, sound, and system/shut down (If Ubuntu does not automatically detect your WiFi card, you can download this package and its three dependencies from within Mac OS X, put them on a USB drive, reboot into Ubuntu, install each from terminal using the “sudo dpkg -i filename.deb” command for each–though, leave the Broadcom deb package for last. I downloaded the nightly build of 13.04, which I believe has this package on the installation disk.).
  12. To switch between installations, simply reboot the one that you are in and select the system that you want to run from rEFIt.
Apple's friendly byte.
Apple’s friendly byte.

Now, you can run Ubuntu or Mac OS X on your MacBook Pro. Here are some important things that you should do in Ubuntu after installation.

Also, it is possible to take GRUB out of the equation by installing Ubuntu with the “ubiquity -b” command from within the Live CD version of Ubuntu and configuring rEFInd or rEFIt, but I had trouble getting Ubuntu to boot following Jesudason’s guide for rEFInd (the fault is likely with what I did and not his thorough instructions). I can live with GRUB if it means that I can get my work done in these two computing environments on my MacBook Pro.

If there is interest among Brittain Fellows, I can incorporate this into the series of DevLab Workshops that I am planning for the upcoming year.

Increasing Your Battery Life on a MacBook

Laptop batteries are a fascinating work of engineering. They live, they die, and then they are resurrected. I have always struggled with prolonging each brief recharged life in my laptop batteries ever since my first Powerbook 145B back in 1993.

Now I have a late 2008 aluminum unibody MacBook (MacBook5,1). I am a little displeased with my battery life, which usually tops out between 4-5 hours (I believe I was promised at least 6 hours when I purchased it). However, I have figured out a few things on my own and read others on the net that may lead to longer battery life for your MacBook or MacBook Pro.

  • Power cycle your battery. I do this each time that I use my Macbook. What this means is to run your MacBook off its battery until it goes into deep sleep. Then, plug your power cord in and let it recharge completely. This keeps the battery properly calibrated.
  • Turn off your radios. When I’m on the go, I always turn off Bluetooth, because I don’t carry my wireless Mighty Mouse with me. Also, I only turn on Airport when I plan on surfing the web.
  • Reduce your screen brightness. I lower my screen brightness to the lowest level, which works fine in good indoor lighting.
  • Run fewer concurrent apps. This means not only running fewer apps that you directly interact with, but also keep background running apps to a minimum. If something is eating up processor cycles, then it is eating power from your battery.
  • Streamline your browser. During the school day, I usually only leave Safari open as I go from class to class teaching. Flash is terribly inefficient on MacOS X (I say this, because it is hard to imagine how Flash ads can cause Flash to take upwards of 100% processor use, leading to more heat expenditure, and increased fan use). Make sure Flash is up to date, and install Safari AdBlocker (64-bit) and ClickToFlash to reduce ad trash and invoke Flash when you want it. Also, I only use one tab/window with Safari 4 to reduce its memory footprint and hopefully processor time.
  • Try other browsers. In this article, AnandTech demonstrated that your choice of browser and the things that you browsing will affect your battery life. However, they tested a number of browsers on PCs, and not Macs. Obviously, the underlying hardware on the newer Macs and PCs are similar, but the applications themselves on the two platforms will be affected by the OS, APIs, different library builds, etc. So, I don’t know which browser works best on Macs to increase battery life, but I do hope that someone out there will run a methodical test to determine which browser at the moment saves the most juice. If you do this, please post a comment with a link to your results.
  • Leopard vs. Snow Leopard. I am currently running Snow Leopard, and I do not find an appreciable difference in run time between the two OSs. However, there is a tremendous amount of debate over this issue online. This is something else that requires methodical testing to determine, and I have not found anyone to have done so on a baseline piece of hardware.
  • Be radical. Some folks online have removed their optical drives in order to save a little power, and others swear by SSDs at saving more power than traditional HDDs. My MacBook has an Apple supplied SSD, but I do not have another MacBook identical to mine to compare run times.
  • What did I miss? Leave a comment below.