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.

OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion is a Go! (and Encounter with Gatekeeper)

I installed “OS X” 10.8 Mountain Lion this morning after it appeared in the Mac App Store. However, I did create a bootable USB installer for future use when I want to perform a nuke-and-pave installation of Apple’s latest operating system.

So far, OS X Mountain Lion is running lean and fast. As with most updates from Apple, things appear snappier and smoother. Is this a trick of the brain reinforced by hyped expectations and new visual cues built into the operating system’s user interface? I’m not altogether sure, but I am sure that it feels right on the Intel 120GB 330 series SSD that I found at MicroCenter for $89.99 this past weekend.

I am specifically thinking about the new unified search and address bar in Safari 6.0, which shipped with OS X Mountain Lion. This is a feature previously made popular by Google Chrome. In Safari, the functionality seems to be the same as in Chrome, but the visual impact of the new progress bar–the way in which is snaps a little and then a lot–zippity zap–warp speed engaged–hyperdrive go–makes me feel that web pages load faster. While I will leave it to others to time page loads in the new Safari, I will say that the visual cues Apple built into their new version of Safari are quite effective at conveying an idea about Safari’s speed on my late-2008 Aluminum MacBook.

I have yet to play with the dictation features built into the new OS, but I do like the notifications center added to the menu bar, just to the right of the Spotlight icon. I am using iCal more to keep track of upcoming deadlines and events, so I am very happy about this seemingly simple new feature.

So far, I have only hit one snag with OS X Mountain Lion: Gatekeeper. In the latest iteration of OS X, Apple introduced a new security feature to authenticate certain applications as being made and distributed by who they claim to be made and distributed by. This is easy for Mac App Store programs, and I suppose Apple has released a method for non-App Store program developers to sign their software, too. Over the weekend, I had installed my new SSD and reinstalled OS X Lion in preparation for Mountain Lion’s release today. I had not gotten around to reinstalling all my software, so after installing Mountain Lion today, I downloaded and ran the DropBox application. Unfortunately, I was hit with a message that OS X could not verify the DropBox application. I then had to go into System Preferences > Security & Privacy > General > Allow applications downloaded from: change radio button from “Mac App Store and identified developers” to “Anywhere.” Now, DropBox runs. I am glad that Apple is taking security more seriously and implementing new barriers to malware on OS X, but I believe that their lack of explaining how to allow non-signed software to run might be a high barrier to novice Mac users. Perhaps this is the point, but I believe that they should work harder at educating those novice users so that they can become savvy users.

I will report on my OS X Mountain Lion experiences in the future. For now, I can recommend it for supported systems. I believe its $19.99 price to be very fair.

What are your Mountain Lion experiences? Please share them in the comments below.

Going Back in Time to Mac OS 10.5 Leopard

Before Christmas, I had had enough with Mac OS X 10.7 Lion. Despite my Late-2008 Aluminum MacBook having 8 GB of RAM and a speedy hard drive, Lion would consistently drag to a slow crawl. Generally, the RAM hog was the new Safari, but some system processes were also taking hundreds of MBs of RAM. Of course, when my Free RAM disappeared, the system would become sluggish. I thought that all of this was very odd, not just in the memory usage by the OS, but also in Safari, since I don’t run with Flash or any extensions enabled.

So, I decided to go back to basics. I made a bootable 16 GB USB drive with two partitions: one for Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard and one for my MacBook’s application restore DVD. I made each partition 8 GB, and I created the first partition with a GUID partition table so that it would boot on the Mac. I then restored the Leopard and applications DVDs that came with my MacBook to each partition respectively. Finally, I booted from the USB drive, formatted my internal hard drive, and reinstalled Leopard, Apple’s apps, and other apps that I regularly use (e.g., Microsoft Office 2011).

As they say, Leopard was built for speed, Snow Leopard for security, and Lion for Apple’s increasingly firm grasp on the desktop computing experience. I might not have access to the Mac App Store, iCloud, or the latest version of Safari, but I do have a snappy computer again that does everything that I need it to do. I might not expect any future security updates, but I can be smart about my online computer use, run ClamAV in the background, keep installed apps to a minimum, and patch any holes in the software that I do run.

I suppose there is a point where Apple’s regular release cycle of faster operating system experiences for older hardware had to end. I also suppose that we have passed that point with the transition from Leopard to Snow Leopard to Lion. Apple has big plans for Lion and its increasingly iOS-like user-experience. As they layer those things that work well on touch-devices like the iPhone and iPad on the non-touch Macs, it begins to weigh down what was an otherwise agile operating system. This trend increasingly makes me wonder if convergence is such a good idea. I am growing more dubious of this trend as time goes by. Additionally, I am growing increasingly concerned about the hardware and software development cycle. Getting people to buy more things certainly drives innovation through sales, but I see a lot of good things in older technology like Leopard. Also, what is the effect on the environment by our continuing desire to own new computer technology while discarding the old?

I am investigating hardware and software of a long bygone era in old PCs. Certainly motivated by nostalgic feelings, I want to uncover in the archaeology of computing things that used to work that we have gotten away from. What works and could still work today despite being 10, 15, 20 years old? What can we learn from old software? What can we continue to enjoy from old software? I will write on this more in the near future.