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Options to Dual-Boot or Multi-Boot an Apple Macbook Pro

Posted on 2014-10-22
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Last Modified: 2014-12-01
Hi all - Any suggestions on having multiple Boot Partitions on a Mac?
I have a Macbook Pro (mid-2010 Unibody), always running the latest OS X, and has a 1TB internal HD, which works fine. I am adding another 1TB HD via the DVD Drive Bay. What I was envisioning was ... Partition the new Drive into 3 partitons.
Use a 333GB (give-or-take) Partition for Booting to WIndows. Use another 333GB Partition for Booting to Linux. And using the last leftover Partition just for Storage.
Any suggestions or pitfalls?
Can this dual-boot (Multi-boot) be installed to work just by Holding down the Option-Key when I turn on the Mac to select which partiton I want to boot into?
Is there an advantage to installing some kind of Boot Loader SW on this 2nd drive to choose between Linux & WIndows, leaving my original OS X Macintosh HD drive alone?
For this Mac, I am trying to stay away from any virtualization software or any other slick solutions other than totally separate partitions. I have dual-booted LOTS of Windows PC's but am less familiar with doing so for MAc, and less familiar with any limitations that I may run into.
Thanks in advance for any guidance!
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Question by:bleggee
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by:strung
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by:Alan Henderson
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Handy to know when you're making your decision:

If you install Windows using Bootcamp, you can boot into Windows in the normal way (either set it to be the default, or hold Option at boot to choose the OS) - BUT, if you install VMWare Fusion or Parallels on your Mac, you can create a virtual machine from your already installed Bootcamp partition.

Best of both worlds.

I have this setup on my MacBook Pro 15 using the Windows 10 trial. When I need full resources I boot into Windows, but when I just need to run the odd program or to have access to both OSs at once I use the VM.
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serialband earned 167 total points
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You can start with BootCamp for Windows, but you'll need rEFInd or rEFIt for Linux.  rEFIt no longer works in Yosemite, but it still works for Mavericks and older systems.

While you can hold down the Control key to boot to BootCamp, your Linux partition won't be available.  You must use rEFInd or rEFIt (Mavericks or older) to boot into Linux and it will boot into rEFInd.

I run Parallels so I originally used a BootCamp partition made with BootCamp Assistant to allow Parallels to discover it.  I added the Linux partition later.  I still found it easier to start with a BootCamp Assistant to partititon and install Windows first, then shrink the Mac HFS+ portion and create a MSDOS partition.  With Both Windows and Linux, you'll need to format your respective partitions during the install.

Some caveats:  When Yosemite was in Developer preview, I had to reinstall BootCamp drivers in the Windows Partition when I "upgraded" from Mavericks to Yosemite Developer Preview and I also had to repatch Windows when the drivers were installed.  I also had to reinstall Linux, because rEFIt stopped working and I had to switch to rEFInd and my Linux partition also got corrupted.

P.S. That rEFIt/rEFInd boot menu is too cartoonish and gaudy.  I wish they toned it down a bit.  It evokes clowns.
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