Monday, September 3, 2018

Rough Notes on Installing and Dual Booting Ubuntu 18.04 on Mac Mini 2011 with Thunderbolt monitor

Machine Specs:

  • Mac Mini (Mid 2011), Macmini5,2
  • Core i7
  • 16 GB RAM (2x8 GB)
  • AMD Radeon HD 6630M 256MB
  • 27-inch Apple Thunderbolt Display
  • 512 GB SSD
  • Running macOS 10.13 High Sierra


This process can result in data loss. If you have personal data on the Mac Mini before starting, back it up first. Twice! (One is none. Two is one. ~ U.S. Navy Seal saying).  Also, mistyping in the parts of this process may brick your Mac Mini. You have been warned. If in doubt, stop working and do research on Google until you understand what's going on in the step. If you find an error, please leave a comment. I will update.


This is process I figured out in lieu of booting the Ubuntu install with EFI via refind. Via the refind boot method, I would constantly get:

10:39:07 kernel: Couldn't get size: 0x800000000000000e
10:39:07 kernel: MODSIGN: Couldn't get UEFI db list
10:39:07 kernel: Couldn't get size: 0x800000000000000e

The error seems to be related to Apple's use of Secure Boot.


    Before adding *any* personal data on the macOS side...

    Disk Utility -> Click on macOS drive (Let’s call it “macOS”) -> Click “Partition” button -> Click “Partition” button -> Click macOS partition on left -> Set size to half the drive. -> Click other half -> Make new parition using exFAT FS (FS type doesn’t matter). Click "Apply".

    After resizing, connect a Apple native keyboard (dasKeyboard didn’t work).

    Reboot pressing Command+R to go into recovery mode.

    Open Utilities -> Terminal

    Run: csrutil disable

    Reboot back into macOS.

    For the purposes of this doc, your username is “username”. Change as needed.

    Unpack into ~/Downloads/refind-some_version_number

    Reboot into recovery mode by holding down Command-R.

    Open Utilities -> Terminal

    Run: cd /Volumes/macOS/Users/username/Downloads/refind-some_version_number

    Run: cp refind-install
    Run: vi refind-install

    Change: #!/usr/bin/env bash  TO #!/bin/bash
    (The rescue env doesn’t seem to have /usr/bin/env)

    Run: ./refind-install
    (no arguments are needed on macOS. Some may actually break macOS!!!)


    On refind screen choose: "Boot from disk macOS".

    In macOS, download Ubuntu 18.04 desktop ISO and “Etcher” app for macOS.

    Insert USB stick (at least 16 GB?).

    Use Etcher to write the Ubuntu ISO to the USB stick.

    Open Terminal.

    Run: sudo su -

    Run: diskutil list

    Look for disk with size of USB stick (e.g. 16GB).

    Run: bless -device /dev/diskX -legacy -setBoot -nextonly
    (Bless the whole disk, not the partition)

    With USB stick plugged in, reboot.

    You should be able to boot into Ubuntu setup without EFI issues (“legacy”).

    At the Welcome screen, choose your language and click “Install Ubuntu”.

    Choose your keyboard layout and click “Continue”.

    Click “Normal Installation” and check the “Install third party software…” box. Then click “Continue”.


    !!!! VERY IMPORTANT !!!!

    ON THE “Installation Type” screen CLICK “Something else”

    Then click “Continue”.

    You will see TWO partitions about 256GB in size. THE FIRST partition is your macOS partition!!!!

    Click the SECOND 256 GB partition with the EXFAT FILESYSTEM.

    Click the “Change” button.

    Under “Use as”, select one of the top six options (maybe not btrfs? I don't know the status of using btrfs on your root filesystem.). I chose ext4.

    Under “Mount point”, select “/”, click “OK”.



    Under “Device for boot loader installation”, SELECT THE Linux PARTITION FROM THE PREVIOUS STEP (ext2,3,4/btrfs/jfs/xfs)! NOT the macOS partition! NOT the whole drive.
    (probably /dev/sda3)

    Click “Install Now”.

    Follow rest of installation…

    Reboot Linux as instructed and remove install USB stick. Press Command+R to go into recovery mode.

    Open Utilities -> Terminal

    Run: csrutil enable


    On the refind screen:

    To use Ubuntu 18.04, choose “Boot Linux (Legacy) from ext4 volume” on the right. It should have a penguin icon.

    To use macOS, choose "Boot from disk macOS".

    That’s it.