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Triple Boot Macbook Pro

5392 Views 14 Replies Latest reply: Jan 26, 2014 8:51 PM by skullmunky RSS
Jp1016 Calculating status...
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Jan 12, 2013 1:08 AM

Hi, so a while back, I used bootcamp to add a windows 7 partition on my Macbook Pro.


Recently, I wanted to try Ubuntu 12.10 on the same macbook pro, so using reFIt (a bootloader) and now reFINd, I installed it. Now I can access both my linux partition and my mac osx partition, but I get a black screen stating that the windows os is missing. I've already tried using the ubuntu boot repair, and the windows repair disk. I posted this question at another forum, and I was told to create a hybrid MBR partition, but I was confused about that and wanted to see if anyone else had any suggestions.




MacBook Pro, OS X Mountain Lion (10.8.2)
  • mende1 Level 10 Level 10 (89,470 points)
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    Jan 12, 2013 1:12 AM (in response to Jp1016)

    rEFIt has got some problems with Mountain Lion, so I recommend you to uninstall it >


    Instead, use Boot Runner >

  • Linc Davis Level 10 Level 10 (107,465 points)
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    Jan 12, 2013 8:04 AM (in response to Jp1016)

    That configuration is unsupported and should be expected not to work. If you want to use it, refer to the developer of the "Refind" hack for support. Otherwise back up your data and repartition the boot drive. Run Linux in a virtual machine if you like.

  • Jeffrey_B Level 1 Level 1 (10 points)
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    Jan 14, 2013 3:47 PM (in response to Jp1016)

    Hey Jp,


    I think the problem is not with rEfit, rather how/where you made the partition.  Where did you "insert" the new Ubuntu partition? Before or after your existing Windows Bootcamp partition?


    Open a Terminal window and type "DiskUtil List".  This will list all the partitions on your HDD, starting at zero and counting up.


    If your Windows partition has the number 4 or higher, windows will not reconized it.

    Reason: Windows uses Master Boot Record (MBR) to save information about the partitions.  MBR has a limitation of 4 partitions.  If your Windows partition got bumped up due to the "insertion" of the Ubuntu partition, then it is out of the "Windows Range" for partitions.


    I would try removing the Ubuntu partition first, to see of you can still boot back into Windows.. It that works, then create a partition AFTER the windows parition.  This may be a problem, as you would have to change it within Windows, in order to perserve all the files.. but no gaurentees that it will work..


    If you cant repartition the windows partition, then a fresh install would do the trick... but more on that if you decide to go in that direction.






  • Jeffrey_B Level 1 Level 1 (10 points)
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    Jan 14, 2013 4:31 PM (in response to Jp1016)

    Looks somewhat strange.. if you take out the Linux partition, you are still over the limit of 4 partitions, which means that Windows should have never worked.

    Did you:

    • Upgrade to Lion recently?
    • Also create the DATA partition at the same time as the problem occured?


    But then again..the Linux partition is too small.. 1.1 GB?  I believe that the install alone is around 4.4 for Ubuntu.


    There is no way to move the partition.  What you can try, however, is to use the Disk Utility and create a New Image of your Windows partition. This is nothing more than copying the partition.  You will probably need an external drive to store the image (45.7GB).

    You can then try "burn" the image to a new partition using the "restore" tab in the Disk Utility.  I've never done it before, but it "should" work.

    Even if it fails, you can still try some kind of ISO/Image viewer to get the important data out.

    MS also has some good deals on with Windows 8, if you just want to install a new version.. but that will also be tricky if you want to use your DATA partition for BOTH operating systems.



  • Jeffrey_B Level 1 Level 1 (10 points)
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    Jan 14, 2013 5:13 PM (in response to Jp1016)

    Try turning on the debugging function in the Disk Utility:

    or in Terminal type "defaults write DUDebugMenuEnabled 1"

    And click on "Show every partition"


    This will show everything on your HDD.  If you dont have any data on the Ubuntu partition, maybe try makeing the two Linux drives "free space" using the disk utility. Warning: This is permanant and you will loose all data!


    The reason I asked about Lion was because of the Recovery partition.  Lion makes this recovery partition, in case anything crashes you can boot from it.  My problem was, that since it creates a new partition, my DATA partition got bumped up +1, and were no longer shown in Windows (was #4).


    Honestly, I think the best solution would be a fresh install of Lion, and place the Windows Partition as #1, and the DATA partition as #2.. then MAC #3 or higher.. and then after that leave room for anything else.  By placing Windows as #1, Windows will boot properly without any problems.  By placing the DATA as #2, Windows can also write to it.  If DATA is higher than 4, it wont be accessable to Windows.


    The bottom line is, that these MS-based partitions have to be on partion 0-3.


    Good luck,


  • Jeffrey_B Level 1 Level 1 (10 points)
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    Jan 15, 2013 10:50 AM (in response to Jp1016)

    If you remove the paritions you made, and leave the space as unallocated or combine it with an existing drive, it should return the BMR to the original number of partitions.  However I had tried this once with nothing but problems..


    I think your only hope would be a Windows backup, providing you had made one of your windows system.  You can then boot with a Windows Rescue disk and restore the data.. but that all depends if you used Window's backup system to made a system image.

    One word of caution though: Using the Windows's built-in recovery system also restors the partition that you had installed Windows.  This would be great in your case.. however if you had changed the partitions anyhow, windows with just copy its installation in the same spot, regardless of if you have another OS on that spot in the disk.. somewhat careless of MS actually.


    But I think I hate to say it... but it doesnt look good.  At least try and make an image of the exising partition, so you can retrieve user data (ie MS Office keys) later on..


    Give it a try,.. hope it works.



  • Globe199 Calculating status...
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    Jan 15, 2013 12:21 PM (in response to Jp1016)

    Why not just run these OSs in a VM?

  • Jeffrey_B Level 1 Level 1 (10 points)
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    Jan 20, 2013 10:28 AM (in response to Jp1016)

    There is one last thing you can try.. providing you have nothing to loose..

    You will need some kind of external hard drive, or a very large memory stick (>32GB, depending on how much info you have on that partition)


    1. start the Disk Utility
    2. Select your external hard drive or USB. Format (Erase from the menu) it as "MAC OS Extended Journaled"
    3. If your Windows partition is still visible, click on it within the list on the left side
    4. Press "New Image" from the toolbar at the top of the window.  Save this your external HD or USB stick. Use Compressed image from the menu
    5. Now return your partitions to the way they were before you made the changes.. ensure that all the partitions are the same size and in the same place.   If they are not, the boot loader may not find them.  You will have to format the old stuff to get rid of it and resize the partitions.
    6. Now use the Disk Utility and select your new Windows partition.  Select "restore" from the menu.  Drag the Windows partition from the list on the left to the "Destination" box. 
    7. Beside the source field, click "Image" and select your image you made above.  It will appear in the list on the left side.
    8. You will have to varify the image, so double click it/right click and select varify.  This can take a while
    9. After varification, drag it to the Source field.
    10. Cross your fingers
    11. Click restore.


    I've tried it by making an image, then restoring it right away.. wroks fine.  The question is, if it will work after you've moved the partitions around..


    Good luck and let us know if it works!



  • skullmunky Calculating status...
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    Jan 26, 2014 8:51 PM (in response to Jeffrey_B)

    Hi, I know this is an old thread, but just thought I'd add some info that might be useful to others with similar questions in the future.  If this is the partition table:



       #:                       TYPE NAME                    SIZE       IDENTIFIER

       0:      GUID_partition_scheme                        *250.1 GB   disk0

       1:                        EFI                         209.7 MB   disk0s1

       2:                  Apple_HFS Macintosh HD            192.4 GB   disk0s2

       3:                 Apple_Boot Recovery HD             650.0 MB   disk0s3

       4:       Microsoft Basic Data                         10.0 GB    disk0s4

       5:                 Linux Swap                         1.1 GB     disk0s5

       6:       Microsoft Basic Data BOOTCAMP                45.7 GB    disk0s6


    Then the Windows partition is #6, and that probably is the reason it won't boot anymore.  Windows 7 and below can only boot in BIOS mode on a Mac, so have to use the old MBR partition scheme, which can only recognize 4 partitions. 


    It probably happened during the linux install - it probably went with the default option, to insert the linux partition before the Windows partition.  On most PC's this isn't a problem, it's a particular quirk of doing a trible boot on a Mac. 


    The Linux partition is actually #4, the 10GB one labeled "Microsoft Basic Data".  The actual file system is probably ext3 or ext4, which are the standard linux filesystem types, but diskutil on the mac doesn't know what those are so it just calls it "Microsoft Basic Data". 


    I'd second Jeffrey_B's suggestion - the easiest thing ought to be to remove the two linux partitions so that the Windows partition goes back to being #4, if it'll let you do that, then re-install linux and put its partitions at #5 and #6.


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