Tips & How-To's

The MacBook Pro Ubuntu Edition

TechieMoe has put up an interesting article on his experience in getting Ubuntu Gutsy Gibbon up and running on his MacBook Pro. Here’s what he writes:


Many times on LinuxForums I’ve come across folks who wanted to run Linux on an Apple computer. Most of the time the first question I ask of them is “If you have an Apple computer, why not just run OS X?” Until this past week, I could not have answered this question.

For several years I’ve run OS X on my Macbook Pro and been quite happy with it. The OS did what I wanted it to do and didn’t get in my way. I’ve been able to do work and play on it just fine. For those of you unaware, I write Java software for a living. I also sometimes coach a high school computer science competition. I spend a lot of time writing Java code and investigating new and exciting features in the language. One such feature is JavaDB. It’s completely new in Java 1.6, and can only be used with that version.

I run 1.6 at work and I was having such a good time playing with JavaDB that I decided to send myself the code to work with at home. This is where I hit a wall. When I got home I realized OS X uses an Apple-modified version of Java 1.5, and in all my searching I couldn’t find any indication of when (or even if) Apple planned on releasing a new version of their JVM. Without 1.6, I couldn’t utilize JavaDB.

For the first time, Mac OS X was getting in my way. This was disappointing to say the least. Throughout my life when computers have told me I couldn’t do something I have tended to go to great lengths to prove them wrong. I decided to dedicate a couple of days to getting Linux installed on my Macbook Pro. Here is what happened.

Initial Install

For this install, I used the latest available Ubuntu at the time (Ubuntu 7.10 “Gutsy Gibbon). Unless specified otherwise I followed all the instructions as given from the Ubuntu Macbook Pro Wiki (see references). The first thing on the wiki says to use BootCamp to resize your existing OS X partition. That no longer works, since the Boot Camp Beta has ended with the release of Mac OS 10.5 (Leopard) and Apple has pulled the download links. Even if you find a download (I did), the program blows up and says the beta has expired.

I ended up trying to resize the partition using diskutil resizeVolume in the Terminal. I ran the command given on the “Partitioning” section of the Wiki. It gave me an error. I looked it up and someone said to verify my HD with Apple’s Disk Utility. Lo and behold, I had errors. I rebooted into “Safe Mode” (hold Shift after the bootup sound) and the computer ran through all its diagnostics. That seemed to fix it since the next time I ran Disk Utility, it reported no errors.Then I rebooted and issued the diskutil resizeVolume command again. This time it got past the “Verifying…” stage and made it to the “Resizing Volume” stage. I was cautiously optimistic. At 88% resizing, I got an error “No space left on device (28).” I reduced the size of the partition I was trying to create and tried again. Some research on that error message suggested that my Parallels virtual harddrive was the culprit, since the resizing utility couldn’t move it. I uninstalled Parallels and tried again. This time it took, and I was instructed to reboot.

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Wonder if Preshit would try this out!

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