HOWTO Install CentOS on a MacBook Pro

HOWTO Install CentOS on a MacBook Pro

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On Leopard, I used Bootcamp to partition the harddisk. I reserved about 80GB for Linux (to make room for several Xen instances).
Installed the rEFIt boot loader to make life easier
Installed CentOS 5 x86_64 (the 64-bit version, I used 5.1). Take into account the limited nr. of partitions (MBR: max. 4 Primary, can use Extended. GPT: more Primary, cannot use Extended. Therefore, max. 4 partitions).


Note: the original installation is based on CentOS 5.1 x86_64. Over time, it has been upgraded to CentOS 5.4.
Late 2009, I installed Fedora 12 on my MacBook Pro.


  • /dev/sda1 and /dev/sda2 are already in use by Mac OS X
  • For dual-boot, only 1 partition is really needed, but a Swap-partition is strongly recommended. So in practice, you want at least 2 partitions (Swap and /)
  • Can use LVM, but you need a /boot partition outside of LVM

I opted to have a /boot partition on /dev/sda3, with LVM using /dev/sda4 as a physical volume. In this PV, I created the root, swap etc. filesystems as usual.

The remainder of the PV can be allocated to Xen DomU guests, or used for Snapshot backups.


  • I used rEFIt to sync the MBR and GPT partition tables
  • The system would not boot into Linux; "Missing operating system" error. The icon for Linux is a "greyed out" square instead of a nice Tux
  • It turns out that Anaconda silently fails to install Grub (on /dev/sda3, not in the MBR!)
    • Install CentOS as usual
    • Reboot, notice that system won't boot into CentOS
    • Boot from CentOS DVD, go into "linux rescue" mode
 chroot /mnt/sysimage
 grub-install /dev/sda3

Voila, this should fix the problem. Reboot and enjoy your nice CentOS installation!

Wireless LAN

I've had success using MadWifi and wpa_supplicant.

The 'wifi0' interface did not work for me, I use the 'ath0' interface instead.

  • Install madwifi and dkms (RPMs available on RPMforge)
  • Set your WPA parameters using wpa_passphrase - this will generate output similar to:
 # wpa_passphrase SSID passphrase
  • Append the output to /etc/wpa_supplicant/wpa_supplicant.conf
  • Enable wpa_supplicant: chkconfig wpa_supplicant on
  • Test wpa_supplicant by starting it in debugging-mode, and restarting networking:
 wpa_supplicant -D madwifi -i ath0 -c /etc/wpa_supplicant/wpa_supplicant.conf -d

In a separate terminal, run

 service network restart

You should see debugging messages, and if all is well you should obtain a WiFi connection with your access point.


Wireless Keyboard and Mighty Mouse

Activating the Apple Wireless Keyboard and Mighty Mouse was simple, once I figured out how to do it. They are, in fact, standard Bluetooth devices:

 hidd --search

Alternatively, you can directly select your keyboard or mouse by BD (MAC) address:

 hidd --connect 00:1D:DE:AD:BE:EF

Scrolling using the mouse wheel doesn´t work properly yet - don´t know why.

Note: the 'hidd' binary is part of the bluez-utils package.

Hints and Tips

Mounting Mac OS X volumes under Linux

  • Mount the Mac volume as "hfs+"

Sample /etc/fstab entry:

 /dev/sda2               /mnt/apple              hfsplus defaults,ro     1 2

Mounting Linux volumes under Mac OS X


See Also