Boot Linux Mint on a MacBook (Live USB)

Here is how I booted Linux Mint 12 (Lisa) from USB on a 2010 MacBook.


In this how-to I’m using my Win7 desktop to prepare the USB stick.

Step 1 – Format memory stick

In Windows, go to Computer, right-click your USB memory stick and click Format…
Under File system, choose FAT32, check Quick format and press Start.

Step 2 – Extract Linux Mint to memory stick

Still in Windows, use your favourite decompression software (7Zip, WinRAR or similar) to extract the Linux Mint image to the USB memory stick.

Step 3 – Make bootable with syslinux

Extract syslinux (i.e. to “C:/syslinux“).
Open Notepad or any other plain text-editor and type the following:

C:\syslinux\win32\syslinux.exe -ma <driveletter>:

Replace <driveletter> with your USB sticks drive letter. (e.g. “syslinux -ma H:” if your drive letter is “H”).
Now save the file as something.bat. Right-click the file and then Run as administrator.

Go to your USB drive, and rename the folder isolinux to syslinux.
Go inside the folder and rename the files isolinux.bin and isolinux.cfg to syslinux.bin and syslinux.cfg respectively.

Step 4 – Installing rEFIt

Download and install rEFIt following the “Automatic Installation with the Installer Package” instruction here.

Step 5 – Boot Linux

Plug the USB drive in the MacBook and reboot twice.

You should now see the rEFIt boot menu and be able to select Linux.

If you get an error saying something like “vesamenu.c32 : not a COM32R image“,
hit TAB, type “live” and then press Enter.

If you want to install Mint, you can now run the installer from the dekstop.
I haven’t tried to dual boot OSX and Mint yet, but I’ve successfully installed Linux Mint alone.

2 thoughts on “Boot Linux Mint on a MacBook (Live USB)

  1. Thanks a lot! I was looking for some solution for this some time ago but there was little online info. It can help to many people. I place here some details that can be also be useful sometimes:

    Many times it has happened to me that, though I can boot well a Live USB, if I reboot the computer it can’t run it. After rebooting and calling (with F12, F11, …) the BIOS boot menu I can see the USB flash drive and choose it, but instead of booting from there it does the same as selecting the LAN entry of the menu (tries to boot from the network, with the Ethernet adapter, card or interface controller). I think I’ve had this problem with different Live USB Linux distros, at least in one computer (my laptop). Sometimes I solve it powering off the computer and turning it on again. But sometimes this workaround is not enough and I have to shut down the PC, extract the USB flash drive, insert it in another USB port and switch the computer on again (or, as another alternative solution, shut down + extract drive + turn on & call boot menu + turn off + plug drive again -can be in the same port as before- + turn on).



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