Booting linux from USB drive on a recent MacBook air (e.g. late 2010) - even with FileVault 2

I've spent a while figuring out how to boot linux on my MacBook air 3.2 (aka late 2010) from an USB stick, since I needed to image its disk before and after enabling full disk encryption (Lion's FileVault 2).

There are many tutorials out there but most of them either don't work, are not for the correct combination of hardware/software or miss some details. So here I give you the facts for booting a linux live image (I've used Ubuntu) with a MacBook Air that perhaps has Lion (although I am sure it works with Snow Leopard as well) and may be even with FileVault2 (full-disk encryption) enabled.

If you don't have FileVault enabled, I recommend you install rEFIt from your Mac OS X using the dmg installer, and follow the steps at the END of this page. Now, for the details....

Now, if you have FileVault enabled things are a bit more tricky. The reference post about how to do this is here. However, again there are some details that should be made clear.

I've recently purchased a Macbook Air superdrive. You can easily boot linux using that and avoid all the trouble and possible problems with the steps above. So if you want the quick and safe way I suggest you spend about $66 and take the superdrive. It works also when FileVault 2 is enabled.

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