Mac Multiboot to XBMC

Mac Multiboot to XBMC

Ever since our cutting the cord post, we’ve decided to look into XBMC.  While there are many many different options out there (Plex, MediaPortal, Media Browser3, etc), not every Media management and presentation application can do everything – yet.  We’ve previously gone back and forth on which media player and entertainment hub should we install but XBMC is the one that basically started it all as a homebrew project and has grown.  Sure, there may have been Media management and presentation software before xbmc, but either they:

  • are not still around
  • do not have the support capacity of XBMC
  • are not used as much as XBMC
  • are not as open as XBMC
  • are not the underlying technology of other software packages (Boxee, Plex, MediaPortal)


While Wikipedia has the low-down on XBMC, let’s take a more simplified look at what XBMC can offer you as your next Home Theater Server (and client!).

Cost  XBMC is Open Source software and by definition is free.  Free from initial, distribution, subscription or support costs.

Portability  XBMC is open source software meaning any0ne can download, contribute to, or simply validate.  The source code is freely available and as such, has been ported to various platforms such as AppleTV, Raspberry Pi, IOS and Windows and can transform a tablet into a portable media center.

Stability  If other free and commercial packages have used xbmc as their platform, there probably is something there worthwhile.

Features  XBMC has many & the list is growing all the time.

Extensibility  If you need functionality not included, check out the Add-ons section where hundreds of 3rd party Add-ons are available for you to use.  If you can’t find what you want, consider building your own add-on.

Localization  XBMC is available for non English speaking users


How do I set it up. There are many guides out there… here’s a few excellent guides…

  1. LifeHacker
  2. Frodo Guide by Henry Ford
  3. XBMC Install and Config


Below is what I did to get XBMC working on my Mac mini 2.1 A1176 without Refit and Refind.  I originally wanted just OSX and OpenELEC but didnt like the look and feel of Refind

P.S. no screenshots, sorry!


Section 1- Hardware

Using this article  (, I upgraded:

A- the cpu from the 1.83GHZ core 2 Duo (T5600) to a 2.33 Ghz core 2 duo (T7600)

B- the harddrive  to a slightly larger 160gb (mostly because I quad boot it with OSX 10.6 Snow Leopard, UBUNTU 13.10, WINDOWS 7, and OPENELEC 4 Beta 1) and will be mostly streaming with XBMC

C- the ram from 1 GB (2 x 512) to 4 GB (2 x 2GB)

D- I also upgraded the hd video decoder with a broadcom crystal hd 70015 (which simultaneously forced me to remove my wifi card):  You can still get Wireless capability using a universal wifi adapter like this:


Section 2- Installation

A- Install OSX 10.6 with 1 partition utilizing the entire disk


B- Use Bootcamp assistant to shrink the OSX partition (I chose 40gb)


C- Install Windows to the entire remaining 120GB


D- Shrink Windows to 20GB using Windows 7’s disk manager


E- Reboot using UBUNTU LIVE 13.10 and using GPARTED, shrink the ntfs partition to 20GB


F- Create a few more EXT3 or EXT4 PRIMARY partitions (This is a GPT disk so we can have unlimited primary partitions):

  1. UBUNTU : 20 GB
  2. SWAP : 4 GB (not really necessary as I have 4 gB of ram, but this is in case I must hibernate my UBUNTU at some point
  4. OE_STORAGE (OPENELEC DATA Partition) : 60 GB
  5. BOOTLOADER : 100 MB


G. Reboot to the UBUNTU DVD and Install UBUNTU with /dev/sda4 for mountpoint /


H. Use /dev/sda8 as the /Boot partition (and install GRUB2 here)


I. When install is complete, reboot using your Windows DVD, choose advanced repair options and get to a command prompt and follow these commands as an example:

select disk 0
list part
select part 4

bcdboot c:Windows /s c: /l en-us


J. Reboot into windows and download and install EASYBCD to manipulate the Windows Startup Menu.  Add Entries for Ubuntu & set it as the default OS.  Now might be the best time for you Windows folks to download OpenELEC and unzip the contents to a flashdrive.  (I used this OpenELEC version from this post  …and THANK YOU Jani (ufoufo512) for getting the atvclient working for my macmini’s ir.  Hopefully your fix will be rolled into the upcoming xbmc and openelec releases.)


K. Unplug the flashdrive and reboot into Ubuntu.  Edit /boot/grub/grub.conf (Ideally we shouldn’t edit it directly- you should use the update-grub command, but this worked quickly for me). Create a menu entry for OpenElec in the section ### BEGIN /etc/grub.d/40_custom  ###

menuentry “OpenELEC” {

parttool (hd0,2) hidden+

search –set=root –label OE_SYSTEM –hint hd0,ext4




L. You also can change the default Grub boot OS here.  Find the line “set default=”.  I changed mine to the 7th entry which in my case is for OpenElec:

set default=”7″


M. Re-instert the Flash drive and use terminal to copy two files “SYSTEM” and “KERNEL” to the OPENElec System partition (you may or may not have to mount this partition manually) labelled OE_SYSTEM using commands similar to this:

cp /media/<username>/<Flashdrive Name>/target/SYSTEM    /media/<username>/OE_SYSTEM/SYSTEM

cp /media/<username>/<Flashdrive Name>/target/KERNEL    /media/<username>/OE_SYSTEM/KERNEL


N. If all goes well, you can now reboot your macmini.  Bootcamp should still bring up the windows menu, and the windows menu will bring up the Grub2 menu.  The Grub2 menu should boot OpenELEC.  In my case, OpenELEC takes a long time to boot because of the HFS file system from OSX.  Do not be alarmed and be prepared to wait a few minutes.  OpenELEC may or may not address this problem ( &  I added the “parttool (hd0,2) hidden+” command in an attempt to hide the HFS file system, but it doesnt seem to help.


O.  If OpenELEC never boots, try running this command in OSX at a terminal (where diskos6 is the partition for OE_SYSTEM on my system.

sudo bless –device /dev/disk0s6 –setBoot –legacy –verbose


You should now have a working quad boot mac mini that autoboots into OPENELEC.  Now, go forth and check out the many addons like xbmcmashup!

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