Okay, so here I am. I've dealt with a million problems with Windows, Linux, and Mac so much worse than this it's almost embarrassing to be stuck on something so... ummm... well, never mind it's apple. Bastards.
Anywho, my rant is for another time and place, here's my problem. I hate Apple for a hundred reasons, and I got another one today. Basically, I can't boot into the damn installer.
I have the latest and greatest version of the Quantal Installer (with mac jazz - ubuntu-12.10-desktop-amd64+mac.iso from whatever site hosts it). I also bought my girlfriend a Macbook Air a year ago for X-mas, model is mid-2011, 4.1, core i5. I'm pretty sure this model was the first to have a 64-bit processor, so I'm not looking stupid here just yet.
So, the nitty gritty now. Snow leopard, Lion, three different puppy linux's, FreeBSD 9.1, XP Vienna, and Windows 8 all virtualized with full R/W access to almost anything, including shared files and USB - the OS X's can even do NTFS with ease. One SSD has Precise, the other has Windows 7. This all matters because no matter which one of these I use to create a bootable USB, it does NOT BOOT on the mid-2011 Air. In various tutorials that all say exactly the same thing, and my own know-how, there is not a damn thing stopping me from doing this. But, apparently I am very wrong.
I have rEFIt installed and working flawlessly, with all MBR's synced. I used Mac's own Disk Utility to make the DOS (FAT of course) partition for Ubuntu as every tutorial says, nothing in this part is the problem from anything I can tell. The mac is fine, rEFIT (v .14) is fine (also tried three older versions, and two other EFI tweakers).... and the partition is fine. I also hate to admit that, given how slow and horrible OS X is at handling jobs linux and even windows does in literally seconds.
So, I figured it was the USB stick, and once I tried it all on four thumb drives, I can safely say it's not that either, since all four boot up in a virtual machine and on two different real machines. Yes, I've created these things more than 30 times, with dd on mac, BSD, and linux and unetbootin on three windows' machines. With two different downloads of the same image from two hosts. I've used the .iso for dd against the rules, used an .img from conversion on linux and mac, and used the .dmg mac makes on it's own from conversion.
But, now... here's where I am. The disk was created successfully, and I can get rEFIT to see the blank "windows" partition I'll put ubuntu on, and I can hold alt/option to choose the USB drive... then I had a problem with it saying that there was no bootable media. I fixed that after trial and error like a boss by syncing the boot records with rEFIt's partition deal. BUT, now I'm at the point to where I get the same blank screen, saying "non-system disk" "press any key to reboot" and a total system freeze. I've googled, looked, and searched but haven't found anyone with that problem.
I have followed essentially this exact guide in every possible way on four different operating systems on three different computers in two different environments with four different thumb drives:
I've ran the script he has in Puppy, BSD, and Ubuntu to create it, ran the commands all manually in terminal and through GUI, followed the /rdisk1 vs /disk1 for mac (as well as use the iso, dmg, and img), tried two other EFI loaders, have a 20GB partition specially made, and have tried booting this thing at least 30 times total now. I haven't exactly exhausted every single possible way to do this, but COME ON!!!! Mac can't do it, Linux hasn't been up to it, and even the odd Berkley Distro can't do it. So, unix and unix-like/unix-similar are not working... and even Winodws XP, 7, and 8 have failed...
Is there something I'm missing here? Or did I overlook some very serious information? Again, after holding ALT and choosing the USB, I get:
press any key to reboot
But then a blinking cursor, and no key works to reboot. I have to hold the power button to turn it off. But, at least now I'm past the original "non-bootable" crap... From what I can gather, this problem is the rEFIT attempting, ironically, to boot the USB in BIOS mode, or as a BIOS... but I don't understnd that too much. EFI and BIOS are different, but no matter what way I create the USB, the same error occurs (from file copy and syslinux as root in nautilus to dd in BSD and Mac... or UNetBootIn in windows... anything).
I'll buy you a unicorn if you can tell me what I'm doing wrong.