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Mac Triple Boot!


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#1 DirtyHarry50

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Posted 16 July 2016 - 06:29 PM

I know. It is madness but I had to do it because I could do it. So I just had to do it.

I had tons of fun too screwing up my system, let me tell you! Fortunately, this intrepid geek made sure to run a last minute backup with Time Machine and already has everything important redundantly backed up locally. Normally, I would also have key stuff in the cloud but I am transitioning away from iCloud which sucks beyond belief for anything but Apple's own little applets basically in my own personal experience. That's a story for another post another time... maybe soon, maybe after this one!

Anyway, it kinda went down like this:
  • Google for info

  • Find and read tons of info, lots of it junk, lots of it conflicting, lots of it amatuerish

  • Find wonderfully written post by a consulting professional which while not perfect was good enough to guide me despite some glaring omissions and details about issues that can and do arise often. At least, so sayeth Google searches for said issues and so sayeth me also.
So that was the self education part of this such as it was and then I dove in doing and experiencing the following:
  • Fire up bootcamp assistant and install Windows 10 using a downloaded iso and usb stick

  • Naturally, the first issue happens right here and right away. I get the dreaded can't format the partition error.

  • Google for info about said dreaded error and find assorted (and I do mean assorted) info about how best to deal with it.

  • I opt to try booting again using EFI boot to run the Windows 10 installer from the usb stick. This works. I successfully install Windows 10. Much to my amazement, it activates a clean install automagically without even telling me since it had previously been installed on this same hardware upgrading a WIndows 7 installation. It did prompt twice for a key along the way when installing. I tried providing the WIndows 7 key which it rejected and then I opted for the handy skip button they provided. The second time it asked for this I just skipped it again. Apparently, this does not apply in the case of a reinstall or perhaps even an upgrade install or perhaps even at all? Who knows. It worked. That's all I care about.

  • Before leaving Windows, I used the Disk Management utility to create a partition for Linux. I did not bother creating a swap partition. It is ideal to have one. On the other hand, I will never notice the difference and I don't care as such. I also did not bother separating out the operating system and data (home directory) on separate partitions. I don't care about this. It's more trouble than it is worth to me. Simple is goodness. Everything of import lives in the cloud. Local data is unimportant to me aside of game saves of course!

  • I attempt to reboot into OS X by pressing alt after the chime. There is no longer any OS X to choose from. Oops! It's still right where I left it but Windows screwed up the boot record thanks to the way I got around the formatting issue by booting with EFI. Oh, well. Nothing is easy, especially trying to find information online about how to recover from this simply. I believe there is a simple fix for it too but I could not find it and not knowing what I am doing messing around with this stuff, I opted to reboot with Cmd + R and see what I might accomplish there.

  • I accomplished nothing running from the recovery partition ultimately. I tried running disk utility, etc. No joy.

  • I reboot to Winders. I install gdisk and fix the boot record. It sort of helps things but not much. It does no harm to Windows but it does not resurrect OS X access via its bootmanager.

  • Back to recovery. I mess around there with Disk Utility again and unlike before I can see all the various partitions on the disk and manipulate them. Scary stuff all things considered but I don't care. So, I move the slice of the pie that I know is my OS X install partition as if to shrink it so that the Apply button is no longer grayed out and then I move it back to where it was. Now I can click apply and hope it fixes the problem. But no! It did not. However, what it did do was make the partition visible to the OS X installer where it was not an option before.

  • I reinstall OS X and blow away my old install completely.

  • Test time. Yay! I now have a working 400 GB partition with a bootable El Capitan install and a 400 GB partition with a bootable WIndows 10 install and the Mac bootloader is working as normal again. That was easy!!
Now for the good part. Time to install Linux Mint 18 - Sarah, 64 bit with the lovely Cinnamon desktop. I liked KDE a lot in the past but I have spent time in Cinnamon lately which is yet another story for maybe another post and maybe not. We'll see if you are lucky or not. Ha ha!

As mentioned earlier, whilst in Windows I created a 200 GB partition for Linux Mint. I want to try out Steam there among other things and I think I may fire up some Feral ported goodness and see how that goes. Just for fun and as a very, very simple little test I think I might install glxgears if it still exists which it probably does on all three operating systems just to compare the results of running it in each. This of course is just geeking around and doesn't count for much but then in honesty this entire exercise doesn't count for much other than being a fun time to me as I evaluate what life might be like in other worlds if you will. A goal here by the way is to go cross platform and open source where reasonable for everything. That's kind of an impossible dream but something I want to explore and maybe I will report back on all that when I have done it. That is what I am up to here basically though.
  • So, back to OS X. I use Unetbootin to create a bootable live Linux Mint from iso.

  • I reboot and fire up Linux Mint, mess with it for a bit and then run the installer, installing to the 200 GB partition and being careful to install its bootloader into the EFI partition for later use,

  • When all is set, I reboot and of course there is no Linux Mint option in the Mac bootloader. This is not a problem.

  • I open up a terminal window and run the install script for the wonderful rEFInd boot manager which does a fine job of noticing my Linux installation and installing the supporting files it needs accordingly.
That's it hopefully. Now it is test time. Lo and behold, my iMac boots up the rEFInd boot manager without a hitch and quickly. I test each of the available options to boot into Windows 10, Linux Mint, back into OS X, that it will reboot to the last chosen system by itself after a brief countdown, 20 seconds I think it is. I forget now.

VICTORY IS OURS THIS DAY!!! GLORY TO THE EMPEROR!!!

Perseverance pays off once again and this system now flawlessly boots and runs OS X, Windows 10 and Linux Mint. For more Linux distro fun, I will be using the free open source Virtual Box to see what is new and exciting with KDE and other desktops, OpenSuSE (my first Linux), Gentoo, Arch and more.

I love this game. It is so awesome. I really don't know what could possibly be more fun.
“The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.” — Bertrand Russell

#2 DirtyHarry50

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Posted 16 July 2016 - 06:46 PM

I just realized I forgot something. I turned off SIP before I began after doing the backup and forgot to turn it back on. That is a key part of this as rEFInd cannot be installed with it turned on. So that needs to happen sometime before one gets to that and turned back on when done. In the event an OS upgrade disables rEFInd it is a simple affair to disable SIP, rerun the install script, turn SIP back on and good to go.
“The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.” — Bertrand Russell

#3 macdude22

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Posted 16 July 2016 - 11:49 PM

I salute you people who have time.

FWIW I used to use REFIT at my old gig to manage 88 dual boot classrooms. Eventually we switched to Boot Runner. Used WinClone for deployment. No qualms paying 2 Canoes for software. They are grade A class act. Have met a couple of the folk from there. Great company, dedicated to the cause.
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#4 DirtyHarry50

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Posted 17 July 2016 - 11:19 AM

I am really pleased with how this setup turned out. I am presently working my way through a lengthy outline of tasks I created in Word with the longest list being all the stuff I need to do in OS X. This is where I am getting down to the brass tacks of evaluating cross platform options. I know you like Spotify which I just installed and I am using right now to enjoy listening to some Beatles tunes. That was the first thing I looked for, do they have their catalog which it appears that they do fortunately. Spotify clients as you probably know are available across the board including Linux. So I'm doing free temporarily but pending how this goes I will move to the 30 day free trial and switch over from Apple Music if I am happy with it.

I decided to do a 30 day trial of Microsoft Office 365 which is something I have been considering for some time now anyway. I am very unhappy with iCloud, including how it even screws up uploading a Numbers spreadsheet I use frequently. Checking the console I note it attempts to upload it and fails with some useless (to me) messages every 5 minutes eternally. Signing out of iCloud in an attempt to reset it results in immediate deletion of everything local which really sucks if you use it for archival file storage of any size which I was but will not anymore. Using Time Machine to restore the local iCloud files to save redownloading everying results in a nasty bug where files display locally in Finder's view of iCloud as simultaneously trying to download and upload. It got so screwed it up it was a real nightmare. I finally logged back out and used the web interface to delete everything but the sandboxed applet stuff from Notes, contacts, etc. I am so done with iCloud. I cannot believe Apple has botched this so badly and has failed to correct the issues for this long while DropBox and others prove daily it is absolutely possible to provide a stable, reliable consumer cloud service. iCloud is fine if all you want to do is use it for Apple stuff period. It does not reliably support even uploading whatever local files you wish to iCloud Drive. It is worse than useless.

Meantime, while the iWork apps were adequate for my casual use they are not in the same league as MS Office apps that is for sure. Office has come a long way and I really enjoyed using Word to create a seven page outline of all the stuff I wanted to do. I found it very intuitive to use. I also found the built in OneDrive support to be excellent. They make it a breeze to save either locally or in the cloud without any local client involved. It's a beautiful thing. The web interface to OneDrive works very nicely also. I tested uploading some files, creating folders for stuff, uploading a large video, etc. and it just worked flawlessly.

The nice thing about Microsoft Office is for ten bucks a month I not only get first class office applications I do use but also a terabyte of storage that actually works as advertised so far. They keep this up and pretty soon all old grudges are going to be forgotten altogether. I am really liking what I am seeing from them the more I use it. Similarly, my experience with Excel after a good number of years away from it was very positive. I really like it. I never did like the way Numbers does certain things and found basic formatting to be a pain in the rear as in not being at all intuitive to me whereas in Excel going back to its earliest releases I always found it easy enough to work with and understand. I remember when Excel and Word came in huge boxes with multiple textbooks. Even then, you really didn't need to read those or at least I never felt the need. I like the ribbon UI personally and in particular how I can hide it easily unless I want it for something. I think it says a lot about Office when I can install it and immediately start being productive without needing to look at the help system at all.

The nice thing about Office is I can use it natively in OS X and in Windows and I can even use the apps via the web in Linux including Outlook which I also like much better than Apple Mail. I should not be surprised by all this I guess because I did work with Office apps including creating database apps with Access for many years before I moved to Mac four years ago. I was at the time of the change using a very old version of Office though and it is so much nicer today. For what a decent cloud service would cost me with plenty of storage, I get Office also? Sign me up.

I looked into glxgears for fun and it is useless basically. It was handy once upon a time just to verify you had OpenGL support functioning and I hadn't thought about the fact that this is about all it is good for. Fortunately, the Unigine benchmarks are cross platform including Linux so I will play with those later just to check out whatever differences may exist out of curiosity.

Things are looking pretty good so far in terms of identifying applications to suit my everyday purposes across all three platforms. Some I still need to research alternatives for. I am not going to get anything like GarageBand or certainly Logic Pro X that is cross platform I don't think. Maybe I will be surprised here but I am not expecting that. Chances are good that quality alternatives are readily available in Windows but I am not sure the price of something comparable is reasonable. Hopefully, I can come up with something there. I think SONY had something out but that was a while back. There is a major product for Windows at least that I am forgetting the name of now but it ain't cheap and it is also more complex than I need or want to learn to use.

That's all the news since last time. I need a little break from this and will probably go spend some time goofing around in World of Warcraft now. :)
“The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.” — Bertrand Russell

#5 DirtyHarry50

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Posted 17 July 2016 - 11:35 AM

Oh, I switched from Safari to Firefox and I am very happy with it. I've used Firefox off and on forever, going back to when it was just called Mozilla I think. It's quite nice, fast and the UI is nice. It comes with Pocket which gives me the reading list functionality i liked in Safari which is nice. I installed the usual ad blocking and a couple other extensions and all is goodness. I themed just the title bar and top portion of the UI in a color to match the default Office color just because. I am sick to death of silver everything. It looks nice. With a login the bookmarks, extensions, themes, passwords, etc. all cloud sync and so I am golden in Windows and Linux with this also along with iOS. It happens to be the default installed browser in Linux Mint already.
“The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.” — Bertrand Russell

#6 Camper-Hunter

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Posted 13 August 2016 - 03:00 AM

Firefox is a good choice. Ad blocking, well, I don't use that as basically you're robbing the sites which don't get the revenue from ads. There's already been some sites which had to close down because of massive use of ad blockers by their readers (even when writers are volunteers, hosting and bandwidth aren't free). And not many people are willing to pay subscriptions in order to access content on Web sites (except those porn sites I guess!).

#7 Thain Esh Kelch

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Posted 13 August 2016 - 04:38 AM

And here I was playing Borderlands 2, and thought it was the awesomest.

(Preparing for making two presentations for a conference i am going to tomorrow)
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#8 MichalM.Mac

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Posted 13 August 2016 - 05:12 AM

It's not that hard when you figure out how boot process works
We deploy OS X, Windows 7 and Gentoo to our Mac mini classroom. Although to be fair Windows and Linux get second HDD while OS X gets SSD for itself.
rEFInd is a must for boot selection and config file with ability to lock down boot options.
We have two deployment systems in place. NetBoot + DeployStudio for OS X. iPXE for Windows and Linux.

All things considered it would be a cakewalk if everything was EFI bootable but Windows and PXE infrastructure require MBR Legacy boot support and messing with MBR partion tables and MBR boot block.

#9 DirtyHarry50

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Posted 13 August 2016 - 10:30 PM

View PostMichalM.Mac, on 13 August 2016 - 05:12 AM, said:

It's not that hard when you figure out how boot process works
We deploy OS X, Windows 7 and Gentoo to our Mac mini classroom. Although to be fair Windows and Linux get second HDD while OS X gets SSD for itself.
rEFInd is a must for boot selection and config file with ability to lock down boot options.
We have two deployment systems in place. NetBoot + DeployStudio for OS X. iPXE for Windows and Linux.

All things considered it would be a cakewalk if everything was EFI bootable but Windows and PXE infrastructure require MBR Legacy boot support and messing with MBR partion tables and MBR boot block.

Yeah, this was new to me how the hybrid setup worked, etc. and while I did have some misadventures while learning and then again while making decisions to change things that included changing various partition sizes, moving them and then of course having booting issues, etc. I got a handle on how to manage all that non-destructively after one disaster but I was fully backed up and that was just paying dues in time spent on the exercise. I didn't lose anything.

Ultimately, I had a good time messing with all this but in the end didn't find any compelling reason to keep the setup vs just running Linux flavors in VMs when I want to mess with that for a simpler setup. rEFInd and the extensive documentation for it was great. So I enjoyed the learning experience. I found that Linux Mint did not benchmark as well with the Unigine OpenGL tests with the most current Nvidia driver as El Capitan or Windows 10. I think they were all relatively close though with Windows being fastest. I suspect there is nothing too scientific about that simple bit of testing but I did want to just see how they'd run in each system and compare them before i blew the native Linux install away.

I wound up setting up my disk with 250 GB for macOS and 750 GB for Windows and the default boot for the time being is now Windows because at this point it does everything I need. I still have certain stuff I want to take advantage of on the Mac side though so that is why I kept 250 GB for that.
“The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.” — Bertrand Russell

#10 DirtyHarry50

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Posted 13 August 2016 - 10:36 PM

At some point I'll close this out for anyone interested with what I found for apps, etc. to give me the same experience and utility in the Windows world that I've enjoyed in the Mac world. At this point I guess it won't be all that surprising to anyone that it turned out to not be difficult to find I could pretty much use the same applications in both systems which is nice for all the most important stuff to me. I also found there is plenty to choose from in the way of a quality DAW for Windows at a reasonable price which I should have expected anyway but was glad to confirm.
“The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.” — Bertrand Russell