I own a Macbook Pro thats original HDD has been replaced with a SSHD, and the optical drive removed and replaced with a second SSHD. I have OS X installed to the drive in the optical bay, and Windows installed to the main bay. I can boot between them using the Bootcamp stuff or by holding Option during boot, there are no problems.

I just installed Ubuntu 14.04 to some extra space on the Windows/main bay drive, with a single ext4 partition. (I plan on using a swap file instead of partition) However, I haven't been able to successfully set up any bootloaders to triple boot. Here's what I've tried:

1. OS X Startup Manager

This menu only lists OS X, Recovery and Windows systems to boot into. I think this is because Ubuntu is installed on an ext4 partition. Can Apple's built-in Startup Manager see ext4 partitions?

2. rEFIt

rEFIt didn't work at all with multiple-drive setups, as their website says.

3. rEFInd

This is where things start to get weird. When rEFInd first shows up, it displays nothing but OS X (and OS X Recovery) If I first go into OS X's Startup Manager, then into rEFInd, it shows up with all three of my operating systems and boots into them properly. (With Ubuntu, I accidentally installed GRUB so it goes through ANOTHER step, but that can be removed)

Should I install GRUB to OS X? Would that work? Any help would be much appreciated.


Boot loaders are SOOOO last century. Take some aspirin and get a copy of Virtual Box or VMware Fusion (the latter is my preference). Then you can run virtual machines simultaneously and avoid the boot loader nightmare. And you'll have the added benefit of being able to snapshot your images at a point in time and even branch the images for testing multiple scenarios.

Please, do yourself a favor and drop the boot loaders! ;-)

  • The OP was asking how he could triple-boot. There are many reasons why someone wouldn't want a virtual machine. Too slow, too hard to manage, etc., etc. – QuyNguyen2013 Jul 28 '14 at 19:48
  • Understood but sometimes we try to fit a round peg into a square hole and wonder why it won't fit. I was offering a suggestion that addresses the core problem and alleviates the burden. If the OP has no desire to use a hypervisor, they're within their purview to say so. – SaxDaddy Jul 28 '14 at 19:56
  • Thanks for the suggestion, but virtual machines are not feasible in my situation. It's simply too slow, especially in Windows where I need to run very processor intense programs like Solidoworks, and just 3D games in general. I do use Virtual Box often, but for some purposes I NEED to be able to boot into the OS. – Matt Reynolds Jul 30 '14 at 18:32
  • One last thought, FWIW. If you have external SSDs and/or bootable partitions on them, you can hold ALT when the Mac boots and use the Apple boot manager to get to whichever one you want. Not sure if that will work with your different OSs but it might save you a step. GL. – SaxDaddy Jul 30 '14 at 20:46

I've found a workaround for the time being is to simply use OS X's standard bootloader and select 'Windows'. Because I have GRUB installed on that drive, instead of booting into Windows it takes me to GRUB's boot manager, where I can then choose Ubuntu.

Not perfect, as I still have to go through two steps, but it works.

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