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

/usr/share/X11/xorg.conf.d/50-synaptics.conf

You can experiment with the settings using synclient.

I also added

coretemp
 applesmc

to

/etc/modules

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.

 

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About Uli

Grown up in Kiel, now living in Reading.
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