June 4, 2012 Seth Perkins

Triple Booting Mac with OSX, Win8, Linux

The rEFIt bootloader showing options for (the ...

The rEFIt bootloader showing options for (the large icons, from left to right) Mac OS X , Linux, and Windows. There are also other tools below the OS selection in smaller icons. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Recently, I set up a triple boot on my MacBook Air of OSX Snow Leopard, Windows 8 Preview, and Ubuntu Linux.  This article will cover the basic steps.


  1. rEFIt – This is the tool necessary to set up 3 or more boot disks on Mac.  Download the Mac disk image here : http://refit.sourceforge.net/ and burn it to a disc (use disk utility on Mac or any number of options on Windows)
  2. Ubuntu – This is my preferred desktop distro of Linux.  Other distros can work.  Grab the 64-bit or 32-bit ISO from here : http://www.ubuntu.com/download/desktop and burn to a disk
  3. Windows 8 Preview – I wanted to give Microsoft’s latest a go.   It’s going to be a good upgrade to Windows.  Download the ISO here : http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows-8/download burn to a disk and be sure to write the key on the disk


    1. If you care about the data on your Mac, back it up to another drive or a service.  Simple solution on Mac is Time Machine.
  2. SET UP rEFIt
    1. Run the rEFIt package and Install
    1. Boot your Mac with the OSX Install DVD
    2. Once in OSX, select Utilities – > Drive Utility
    3. Select your internal harddrive
    4. Select Partition Tab
    5. Click the + sign on the screen to create a total of 4 partitions.  On my Mac, I did the following
      1. 150 GB for OSX
      2. 20 GB for Linux
      3. 4 GB for Swap
      4. 20 GB for Windows8
      5. Rest left as freespace
    6. Click Apply
    7. Quit Disk Utility
    8. Install OSX using the partition you created for OSX as the target.
    9. On restart, OSX should be operating.
    1. Insert the Ubuntu LiveDVD and restart
    2. rEFIt will display on startup, select to run Linux from DVD
    3. Select to install Ubuntu and choose to custom partition your machine
    4. use the #2 partition as your “/” mount
    5. Install
    6. After install, on reboot, rEFIt should show both Mac and Linux bootable from the harddrive.
    1. Restart the machine with the Windows 8 disc inserted
    2. Select the #4 drive for install.  If windows asks to create another partition allow it.
    3. Install
    4. On reboot, all three OSs should be selectable from the rEFIt menu.
  1. If, after installing rEFIt, the bootloader does not appear on reboot, try holding Alt/Option on Mac on restart, and select the various boot disks as you install.

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