Installing Ubuntu on a macbook air

Short way... spring for the macbook air crippled superdrive...  Update -- take the short way!

This is the only device other than the internal hard drive that you can use to boot the laptop from. No, you can't boot from another external usb cdrom drive or usb drive. Apple prevents you from booting another OS.

Long Way... you like pain and want to install without buying apples additional hardware... this is not recommended, but I am stubborn and did this. This requires an additional computer and a large external hard drive.

1) We have to get the OS on the internal hard drive somehow... so install elsewhere and then copy over the installed partition.

You may think... hey I can partition the internal drive into three partitions, MacOS, installer partition and target ubuntu partition. Then I'll boot from installer partition and install to target partition. However, ubiquity (the ubuntu installer) in intrepid doesn't allow you to install (doesn't even see!) partitions on the drive you boot from.

2) To allow booting external partitions, we install the rEFIt program onto the OSX partition.

3) Then, booting an ubuntu live cd on our other computer we install to an external hard drive partition, say /dev/sdb1 of say 24 GB.

4) Use Boot Camp Assistant to make your macbook drive a 25GB mac partition and 25GB partition for ubuntu.

5) Plug your external hard drive with the ubuntu install into the macbook air. Then use dd to copy the externally installed partition onto your macbook air. Here's how: Use 'diskutil list' on the mac to find what the disk partitions are called, say /dev/disks1s2 (source) and /dev/disks0s5 (target). Just put an 'r' in front of the disk names to force raw mode and prevent a "resource is busy" error, and plug them into the dd command like so:

dd if=/dev/rdisk1s2 of=/dev/rdisk0s5

This will take a really long time (30 mins?) to copy over every little bit...

6) Then before we can boot to linux, we need to "bless" the ubuntu partition to make the wierd-ass mac boot system happy.

sudo bless --device /dev/disk0s3 --setBoot --legacy --verbose

OK, so the above isn't going so well.. ... Went out and spent $99 on a superdrive for the macbook air (the only drive tweaked so that the macbook will boot a non-macos from it). I highly recommend going this route to avoid much pain.