Triple Boot via BootCamp

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This procedure allows you to triple boot Mac OS X, Windows XP and Linux. It has been successfully used to setup a MacBook, but is untested on the iMac/mini. Therefore if you try this you do so at your own risk.

Before you start

This procedure takes 3-4 hours (with broadband downloading), which is mostly Windows & Linux installation. Also note that if you want to undo this process without destroying and reformatting your JHFS+ partition, you'll need iPartition. This is not reversible (nondestructively) with Apple's tools.

Before you begin you will need the following:




Further issues

Linux Drivers

  • Version 8.24.6 or later of ATI's notebook linux drivers support the X1600 card found the MacBook Pro. They are available on (ATI's website)
  • wstein has a working xorg.conf using Ati's drivers and lilo+bootcamp for triple boot. This xorg.conf file is written for a Macbook Pro, but has also been tested successfully on a 20" iMac. (Simply change all occurances of "1440x900" with "1680x1050")

Upgrading Boot Camp from 1.0 to 1.1

On the 16th August 2006, Apple released an updated version of Boot Camp which includes drivers for iSight, amongst other things.

(The point of this upgrade is just to install newer drivers, so you just need to create a new drivers disk; you don't need to do any repartitioning or reinstalling of OSes.)

However the Boot Camp Assistant will not run on triple boot setups due to the different disk layout. In order to upgrade, you need to use the following workaround:

  • Download version 1.1 from Apple's website (the link is at top of this article).
  • Install as normal.
  • Locate the Boot Camp Assistant icon in utilities, right click (or ctrl-click for single button mice) on it and select "show package contents".
  • In the finder window that opens, double click on contents, then double click on resources.
  • Right or ctrl-click on the diskimage.img file and select "open with -> disk utility".
  • Insert a blank cd, and burn the diskimage.dmg file to create the updated windows driver cd.
  • Restart into windows, and insert the driver cd to update your drivers.

Restoring your Mac to its original state

The following instructions worked for me on Mac OS X 10.4.8 with BootCamp 1.1.2.

Basically, there are two operations that need to be done:

  1. Remove the Linux and Windows partitions.
  2. Resize the Mac partition to the full size of the disk.

Removing the partitions can be done with "gpt":

  1. Read the "remove" and "show" sections of "man gpt".
  2. Reboot using the Mac OS X install disk.
  3. Run the disk utility and make sure all volumes on your harddisk are unmounted. I've had to repeat this step after each gpt command, which, for some reason, caused them to get mounted again.
  4. Run the terminal.
  5. Use "diskutil list" to find the device identifier of your harddisk (usually, it's "/dev/disk0").
  6. Use "gpt show" to find the indices of the volumes you want to remove (if you've completed the triple booting sequence successfully, it should be 3 and 4).
  7. Use "gpt remove -i <index> <device identifier>" to remove the Linux and Windows volumes. Replace "<device identifier>" and "<index"> with the values you found in the previous steps. Obviously you will need to run this command once (with the corresponding index) for each volume you want to remove. Note: Volumes are mounted automatically whe you remove a partition. Dismount them again.
  8. Close the terminal, run the disk utility, check that the only remaining volume is the one you wanted. Make sure it's mounted.
  9. Close disk utility and quit the installer. In the "Startup disk" dialog, select Mac OS X on your harddisk.
  10. After rebooting, you should be back in your regular Mac OS X, with the Linux and Windows volumes gone.

Resizing the Mac volume is surprisingly difficult. Although "diskutil resizeVolume" claims to be able to grow volumes as well as shrink them, in reality, it fails with a "Resizing encountered error No space left on device (28) on disk" error message. Luckily, Boot Camp Assistant has an option to restore your disk to its original single-volume state, and that option will make that volume span the entire disk. To convince it to do this, however, you first need to use it to split your Mac volume into a smaller volume and a Boot Camp (Windows) volume. The steps:

  1. Run Boot Camp Assistant. Note, this will only work after you've removed the Linux and Windows volumes, as Boot Camp Assistant expects a single-volume disk.
  2. Skip the "Burn a Macintosh Drivers CD" step and split your disk into two volumes as instructed by Boot Camp Assistant. The actual sizes of the volumes don't matter.
  3. Tell Boot Camp Assistant you do not want to install Windows now. It will then make you reboot.
  4. Run Boot Camp Assistant and choose the "Restore to a single Mac OS partition" option. It should show you that the new size of your Mac volume will be as large as the entire harddisk. Confirm the restore, and you're done.

Resizing Windows and Linux Partitions

  • Read the "remove" and "show" sections of "man gpt".
  • Reboot using the Mac OS X install disk.
  • Run the terminal
  • Dismount all volumes
 umount /dev/disk0s2
 umount /dev/disk0s3
 umount /dev/disk0s4
  • Remove 3rd and 4th partitions. Note: Volumes are mounted automatically when you remove a partition. Dismount them again.
 gpt remove -i 3 /dev/disk0
 umount /dev/disk0s2
 umount /dev/disk0s4
 gpt remove -i 4 /dev/disk0
 
  • Resize partitions as you like using diskutil
 diskutil resizeVolume disk0s2 40G "Linux" "Linux" 51G "MS-DOS FAT32" "Windows" 20.5G
  • Check new distribution with diskutil
  • Reboot and reinstall Windows or Linux