Can Parallels 7 run Linux from a Partition?

Discussion in 'Linux Guest OS Discussion' started by megavolt17, Sep 17, 2011.

  1. megavolt17

    megavolt17 Product Expert

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    367
    I have been considering making my MacBook Pro a triple boot system and installing Fedora 15 on it's own partition. I know this is not the place to seek help doing that, but if I successfully do that will Parallels 7 be able to use this partition as the source for running Fedora?

    Parallels (since version 5 I think) has been able to do this with a Windows partition, but I can find no reference to doing this with Linux in the manual. Thanks!
     
  2. STim

    STim Super Moderator

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    942
    There is no official support for Linux in BootCamp.

    I mean, there is no wizard that will guide you through this, like with Windows - detect automatically, configure the VM and provision Parallels Tools inside the virtual machine.

    But I believe setting up a VM to use BC partition with Linux is possible and I saw a number of threads on our forum from users who successfully achieved this. Though it may require some advanced efforts like digging into VM configuration and even manually editing the VM configuration files.

    Probably it should be enough to create a blank virtual machine, set the correct guest OS type and point VM's HDD to the correct BC partition on your Mac
     
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2011
  3. spacewrench

    spacewrench

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    18
    I'm a recent Mac & Parallels convert, and I spent a long time trying to set up my machine (a MacBook Pro) to native-boot MacOS, Windows, and Linux, and to be able to boot the same Windows and Linux partitions as guests in Parallels.

    I only had partial success, but perhaps some of the info will be useful to you.

    I have a bunch of GUID partitions (two for each OS: system and user) plus an extra dummy MacOS install, plus the Lion Recovery partitions that get automagically created when you install Lion into a partition. My hybrid MBR lists the Windows and Linux partitions, but I can only native-boot Dummy MacOSX, Main Mac OSX and Windows (never could figure out how to native-boot Linux).

    Parallels can also boot the Windows partition.

    To get Parallels to boot the Linux partitions, the best solution I could find was to create a small virtual disk and mount it as /boot when installing linux. Most of the Linux system goes on real GUID partitions, but Grub and the kernel stuff goes on /boot. Then, in the Parallels VM setup, I have the virtual disk mounted as Hard Disk 1, and the other partitions connected as Hard Disk 2.

    Some day I'll figure out GPT booting and put the Linux /boot in one of the extra Mac OSX recovery partitions (650MB), then be able to boot natively from the reboot-option-key menu. But today is not that day.

    Good luck!
     
  4. megavolt17

    megavolt17 Product Expert

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    367
    Did you try rEFIt to select which partition to boot from? http://mac.linux.be/content/fedora-15-released has a brief listing of various boot options and from that and other articles I have read it seems like it should be able to select and boot Windows, Mac or Linux on an Intel architecture Mac. Oddly I can't seem to find a video or picture to see what it looks like in action.

    Too bad there isn't a way to make the Parallels hard file into a bootable partition. I am downloading the Fedora 15 DVD install iso and plan to read several more times through the docs (http://docs.fedoraproject.org/en-US/Fedora/15/html/Installation_Guide/) before trying. Having enough Lion weirdness already and I don't want to take a working MacBook Pro and make it into an expensive paperweight!

    Is there a good idiot's guide to installing Linux onto a bootable partition on a Mac? I figure I'll attempt that and once that is set up see if there is a way to get it to work with Parallels. Might not be possible but should be a good learning experience regardless.
     
  5. spacewrench

    spacewrench

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    18
    Tried rEFIt several times, but it apparently doesn't work with / conflicts with the Lion-10.7 boot setup. I didn't have time to investigate carefully, although the rEFIt guy responded to questions and seemed willing to help sort it out.

    I suspect that the Mac bootloader can boot ONE non-Mac OS natively, and BootCamp takes advantage of that by setting up Windows in that one bootable partition. You could probably put Linux there instead, but I haven't tried it.

    Linux knows about GPT tables, so there's no problem having a bunch of partitions for various filesystems, but I don't think any of the common Linux bootloaders can boot from a GPT partition. That's a pretty esoteric area of system software, and I just haven't had time or inclination to really dig into it.

    Good luck with your Mac!
     
  6. synacktic

    synacktic

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    2
    I am triple booting SL, W7 and Natty. I use refit and it is quite happy. You can attach parallels to both your Windows and Linux installs if you like, the linux one is just a tiny bit tricky. That being said, it's a little useless. The parallels tools in no way take into account that you might boot back into it natively, so once you configure them you probably won't even get graphics when you boot into linux. Then if you fix the native boot, parallels won't have it's tools working. I'm sure it's fixable with a lot of love but I just did not care enough. I made a small VM with linux on it and I just have it mount my linux partition so I can share my home directory and /usr/local (for installed games, etc).
     
  7. megavolt17

    megavolt17 Product Expert

    Messages:
    367
    I had not thought about the challenges of having different drivers when booted natively compared to from within Parallels. I don't really need to be able to boot natively into Linux, and less and less often need to do so with Windows as Parallels has gotten more robust.

    If Parallels at some point enables better support for Linux partition booting (including Parallels Tools/driver configuration) I will definitely pursue that as an option, even if only for the cool factor and learning experience.
     

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