Running Linux on a MacBook

For a while I had been contemplating replacing my 2008 Macbook (4,1) as it was stuck on OSX 10.6. But I couldn’t find any new affordable laptop that took my fancy (too expensive, too big, too small, just not right). I remembered reading about running Linux on MacBooks a while ago and thought, why don’t I try Linux?

I downloaded the 17.1 Linux Mint iso (cinnamon flavour) and followed the instructions to make a bootable USB stick.

I took out the internal hard disk and replaced it with an old one I had kicking about. After that,  I plugged in the USB stick rebooted the MacBook holding down the ALT key and the machine booted into Linux after choosing the correct device (in the second attempt). I followed instructions that I largely ignored as they were not applicable. To get the WIFI working this line

apt-get install firmware-b43-installer

sufficed. And another irritation is that the touchpad doesn’t quite work but the interwebs have solutions for that as well. Though the relevant config file appears to live in


You can experiment with the settings using synclient.

I also added




And it’s a good idea to switch off hardware acceleration in Chrome as the screen goes black when watching youtube videos otherwise.

After a weekend of testing, I splashed out on a 1Tb SSD and put that in the MacBook and now have a fairly zippy 4Gb MacBook running a modern OS. Even Google’s tensorflow installed without a hitch.



About Uli

Grown up in Kiel, now living in Reading.
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