Multi-booting your Intel Mac without Bootcamp

I recently came across an anonymous Slashdot posting which claims you can multi-boot an Intel based Macintosh without the Apple provided Bootcamp software. The original posting is poorly written so I’ve paraphrased it here, note that more information is also available on this page.

Bootcamp does a few things for you:

  • It provides a GUI for the DiskUtil online partition resizer though the GUI is limited and supports fewer partition types than the command line based DiskUtil which can be used without Bootcamp in OS X 10.4.6.
  • It contains a graphical bootloader for selecting OS X or Windows upon boot, but other bootloaders are available.
  • It contains a diskimage with Windows drivers for the Apple hardware, but these drivers can be extracted without installing the Bootcamp software.

Because the Intel Macintosh platform uses EFI instead of a BIOS you need firmware on your Macintosh which supports BIOS emulation. All of the recent Macintosh firmwares do and simply updating your firmware to the latest version will add this capability.

The most critical compnent of a multi-boot Intel Macintosh system is the bootloader. Luckily an open source third party bootloader, which is much more configurable than the one provided in Bootcamp, is available. The rEFIt project provides a graphical boot menu and maintenance toolkit allowing you to create triple-boot scenarios such as OS X, Windows and Linux.

I’m quite impressed by rEFIt and would actually be interested in seeing this work and potentially using it on other EFI based systems.

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