I am a web developer experienced in the .NET environment but also in other web technologies. In order to get the work done I use a Macintosh Macbook Pro (4,1) with a Boot Camp partition running Windows 7.

This allows me to use my favorite OS (OS X) with my required work environment (Windows 7 and .NET) whenever I need them. To allow for smooth usage I use Parallels 5 to virtually boot my Windows 7 machine from within OS X but whenever I want to do some heavy lifting I reboot into Windows 7 (on Boot Camp) which allows me to use my laptop's entire resources for my work.

My problem is this:

I am now about to begin work for a company in Tel Aviv which uses Linux desktops for development and I need to follow suit. I've given myself a new quest:

Set up the ultimate web development platform.

My goal is this:

  1. Install the three operating systems one alongside the other - OS X, Ubuntu and Windows 7.
  2. Set each one of them up in such a way that allows me to boot into it (meaning I can have any one of these OSs running on its own when I want.
  3. Use parallels to virtually boot my Windows 7 partition - this allows me to keep using Office 2007, which I use often.
  4. (optional) Use parallels to virtually boot the Ubuntu OS also.

Sadly, I am simply failing at this and need your help.

I have managed to complete goals 1 and 2 but simply can't get 3. In theory it isn't a problem to install Windows and OS X alongside each other, and virtually boot the Windows under OS X using Parallel's Boot Camp virtualizer. However, the moment I install Linux alongside the other two it breaks Parallel's virtualizer and it can't boot.

I think it is due to Parallel's inability to use GRUB but I'm not actually sure about that.

Has anyone managed to do what I'm trying? Does anyone have a solution?

I am considering compromising and going for a system like this:

  1. Install OS X and Ubuntu on the laptop - which means I can boot into each of them.
  2. Create a virtual machine for Windows 7 using Parallels.

However that will be a real compromise as far as I'm concerned and I hope to find a way to set up the machine as I described earlier (three OSs which can be booted independently and also loaded in VMs).

Just to make sure I'm clear - I HAVE MANAGED to install three independent OSs on the same machine - but that always prevents me from booting them as VMs using Parallels.


You could try installing Ubuntu via wubi (Windows Ubuntu Installer). Wubi creates a disk image file on your Windows filesystem, installs Ubuntu to that image, and configures the Windows bootloader to boot Ubuntu from that disk image. If grub really is the issue this might resolve it.
To install Ubuntu via wubi just download the latest Ubuntu disk image (the Live installer, which should be the default option on their download page) and put it in your drive while booted into Windows 7.

  • I love you man :) This solved the problem. Parallels is now capable of starting a VM from the bootcamp partition. It displays the windows bootloader allowing me to choose between ubuntu and Windows 7. Thanks! – Che Feb 7 '10 at 12:03

An interesting conundrum. I too use an OSX/Win7 virtualized bootcamp solution, and have set up triple boot in the past, though I have never attempted to virtualize a Linux install on a physical partition. I think it should be possible, but I have many more questions than answers for now :-) .

Question A: What is the order you set things up? I would assume:

  1. OSX
  2. Bootcamp 7
  3. Virtualize 7
  4. "Bootcamp" Ubuntu
  5. Virtualize Ubuntu

Is this correct?

Question B:

  1. How did you set up your Partitions?
  2. What application did you use to setup the partitions, and in what OS?
  3. Did you set up all the partition at once, or in stages?

Question C: Are you using rEFIt for the triple native boot? If not, what boot-loader are you using? GRUB for all 3? OSX's boot-loader chaining off to GRUB/Windows?

  • A: I tried several ways... this one didn't work out in the end. In the end I bootcamped Win7 then used Wubi to install Ubuntu - it now works. B: 1: Every permutation you can think of :) 2: Bootcamp\Gparted OS\Disk utility... everything :) 3: attempted both ways :) None worked. C: I tried rEFIt.. didn't help with parallels in any way... tried GRUB on all three and only on Win7 & Linux... no go either way - Parallels broke on all of them... – Che Feb 7 '10 at 13:30

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