Triboot Saga Continues: Mac 10.5, Windows XP, and Fedora 8 on a MacBook Pro

Posted on

For those couple people that have been following my blog for a while (thank you both!), you will probably remember me posting my woes and eventual triumphs regarding tribooting a MacBook Pro. I was trying to install a total lab image that would allow any instructor to teach a given class on their chosen platform without worrying about lab restrictions. It took a week, beating my head against a brick wall, and a lot of forum/blog readings to do it, but I finally managed to complete my mission.

If you remember, I also tried to use Fedora 7, but failed to get it to install properly. I then installed Ubuntu, which managed to install with a lot less coaxing than Fedora 7. Of course, the Linux classes that the University of Utah will be offering for credit (starting this spring! Two registered already! ^_^) will be focusing on either Red Hat or SuSE. Well, technically we could probably get away with Ubuntu, but I want the experience to be as close to the real thing as possible. That means getting Fedora to work.

The Download, Partitioning, Mac and Windows Install
I managed to find several repositories of the DVD iso for both i386 and x86_64 releases, so I downloaded them both. The final FTP mirror I used was located here on campus, so I was able to download both at about 7 minutes each (I love being at the U!). I then followed all the steps I outlined in September for the inital Mac 10.5 and Windows install. Yes, I am still using XP, if only because Vista isn't being used in our labs (and if our network guys have their say, it never will).

Fedora 8 x86_64 Install
I started the Fedora install by testing the disk. After the fiasco that was my Mac 10.5 upgrade, I'm playing it safe. ^_^ I then started the basic installation process. From what I remember of 7, Fedora 8 has a much more streamlined install process, more like Ubuntu Feisty. I was really impressed! I walked through the process, set up a partition as ext3 for Fedora, and then selected the software.

Then, I got worried. It not only didn't ask me what bootloader I wanted, but it didn't ask me where I wanted to install it. Bugger! Would I have to reinstall Windows, and compile Grub on my own? I really didn't want to do that, because it would be a mess. Well, we would just have to see. I started to sweat, worried that I would be in for another huge project that I had hoped would only take me a couple of hours.

I finished the install, and then rebooted the machine. Refit came up with all three images, which was a good thing (that didn't work with Fedora 7). Then I selected Windows. I would know if Grub had messed with the Windows MBR if it came up as I tried to boot. The screen went blank, my heart raced.. and Windows booted! I was thrilled!

I then rebooted to get into Fedora. The setup was beautiful, the boot clean. The desktop looks a lot like a cross between Tiger and Leopard, with a splash of Windows in there. Happy that the installation worked well enough for a Lab machine, I turned the machine off. Is everything working? I have no idea. Does everything need to work? Not at all! This isn't a machine that needs to run audio content, play games, or chat via the internet. This machine is meant to be a test environment for students to learn about the core OS.

Maybe, if time allows (after updating all the machines to both 10.5 and Fedora) I am interested in getting the Fedora install working at 100%, I will do that. But for now, I give a huge Kudos to the Fedora team for creating a boot installer that installs Grub on the destination Root partition, instead of the MBR for Windows. ^_^