Boot Ubuntu 18.04.1 Live USB on MacPro 1,1

Problem – MacPro 1,1 is 32-bit EFI while having 64-bit architecture. There are other ways to boot that bypass EFI mode, but – booting in EFI mode on MacPro 1,1 allows for 2 more SATA ports (located on motherboard).

To run a live Ubuntu 18.04.1 USB on MacPro 1,1, one needs to add a 32-bit EFI boot loader, here is how to do it:

Make a bootable USB with Startup Disk Creator on Ubuntu

Download Ubuntu 18.04.1 iso and use Ubuntu “Startup Disk Creator” or see  “Making a bootable USB manually” below. You can try booting from this drive, but it won’t work.

Use fdisk to delete EFI partition and create a new, larger EFI partition

Kernel and initrd would have to be present on EFI partition, so we need to delete existing EFI partition that is too small, and make larger one:

$ sudo fdisk /dev/sdb
d (delete)
2 (partition 2)
n (new)
t (change type)
2 (partition 2)
ef (efi)
p (print the resuts)
w (write and exit) or q to cancel
$ sudo mkfs -t vfat /dev/sdb2
(eject and reinsert)

Copy grub, kernel+initrz and create a config file

Use “Disks” app in Ubuntu to mount EFI partition (it won’t mount automatically upon USB drive insertion, just select the partition and click little triangle “play” icon).

Create folders /efi/boot and /boot/grub on EFI partition

Put a Grub2 bootia32.efi file, taken for example from github to /efi/boot.

Copy vmlinuz (kernel) and initrd.lz (initial ramdisk) from Ubuntu iso /casper folder to /boot/grub

run blkid and note PARTUUID for sdb1 (your first USB partition with Ubuntu Live USB)

Create a text file “grub.cfg” with the following contents, replacing string after PARTUUID= with your PARTUUID above:

menuentry "Linux" {
 linux /boot/grub/vmlinuz file=/cdrom/preseed/ubuntu.seed root=PARTUUID=D3D50768-F8DC-4FCA-B9E8-23570817D322 boot=casper priority=low vga=normal video=efifb noefi
 initrd /boot/grub/initrd.lz

Previously, noefi parameter was required in linux line, but this does not seem to be the case anymore.

Boot, hold Alt key, select second EFI boot icon, the first one is trying to boot from CDROM partition. Be patient, it would take couple of minutes looking at blank screen for kernel to boot.

Finishing touches

As soon as possible, install and enable Mac Fan control daemon to avoid CPU and RAM thermal shutdown:

sudo apt install ./macfanctld_0.6+repack1-1build1_amd64.deb

install SSH:

sudo apt update
sudo apt install ssh
passwd ubuntu

Making a bootable USB manually

  1. Create a GPT parition table, using gparted, for example
  2. Add an ext-4 volume, e.g. 3GB, copy all files from Ubuntu LiveCD ISO
  3. Add a 500M vfat volume, change its type to EFI, follow the instructions above


3 thoughts on “Boot Ubuntu 18.04.1 Live USB on MacPro 1,1

  1. tangles

    I still need to have noefi present with 18.04.2 Server, otherwise I have black screen. This is with the original Nvidia 7300GT that I believe does have EFI ROM on board.

    I haven’t tried with other GPUs.

    1. admin Post author

      EFI drive must be FAT, must have EFI partition type, and must have bootable flag – try these settings and see if it helps


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