Installing Linux on the MacBook Pro 8,2

This looks like it's going to be fun. The bad kind.

What i did (pass 1):

  1. Used Boot Camp Assistant to partition the disk; i allocated half to OS X and half to 'Windows'. I declined to actually install Windows once the partitioning was done.
  2. Downloaded Fedora-15-x86_64-Live-Desktop.iso to an existing Fedora (13) machine.
  3. Installed the livecd-tools package on the Fedora machine.
  4. Put a suitable USB stick in the Fedora machine (it came up as /dev/sdc1) and reformatted it with mkfs -t vfat /dev/sdc1. The reformatting probably wasn't necessary, in hindsight.
  5. Installed the LiveCD image on the stick with livecd-iso-to-disk --mactel --format /path/to/Fedora-15-x86_64-Live-Desktop.iso /dev/sdc (sdc rather than sdc1 this time).
  6. Observed that the resulting stick was not mounted by either OS X or Linux. Presumably, Linux doesn't like the lack of an MBR partition table, and OS X is just being snotty.
  7. Plugged the stick into the Mac, and rebooted with option held down to enter the boot manager.

The consensus seems to be that the steps are:

  1. Repartition the disk with Boot Camp (or Disk Utility - is there a difference in the outcome?), creating a FAT32 partition.
  2. Use a Linux installer to destroy the FAT32 partition and create something sensible (probably an ext4 root partition, and an LVM partition for everything else)
  3. Install Linux
  4. Use rEFIt to sync the MBR and GPT (whatever that means)

Somewhere in there you install rEFIt.

I think it might actually be possible to do this more simply. The important outcomes are (a) there are four partitions, viz EFI System Partition (FAT32, actually), OS X (HFS+), /boot (ext4), / (LVM); (b) that the disk has a valid hybrid GPT/MBR; (c) that there is some software somewhere that can choose between OS X and /boot. Apparently, the modern version of OS X's Disk Utility (and Boot Camp Assistant) will create a proper hybrid GPT/MBR, and are capable of creating the partitions. They presumably won't format them correctly, not knowing about LVM and so on. So, you can do the partitioning and partition table incantations in OS X, and then just install Linux (including reformatting the partitions) onto them. As long as you don't repartition from Linux, the Disk Utility-created GPT/MBR will be valid. The Mac's normal firmware boot manager will then be able to find and start OS X and Linux. Although apparently Linux will have a Windows icon. rEFIt provides an alternative boot manager, but it's not necessary. At least, that's my theory.

Mount everything noatime. Put /tmp on a tmpfs somehow.

Later on: