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.