Linux on a Macbook - Experiences

I have an old 13" mid 2010 Macbook Pro, which still hasan old Core2Duo. I use this notebook for browsing the Internet and some developing. (If therre is some work that needs to get done on weekends for instance, because this way I can program while sitting on the couch next to my wife, which I prefer to sitting at the desk when she’s at home).

Since the new macOS has been released and I won’t get this update I was wondering if I should switch to some Linux distro. (I’m comfortable with most of them, but I welcome recommendations). In doing so, I expect more regular security related updates and a better performance. This might be strongly related to the window manager in use, hence I consider trying i3, but I’m not sure.

Anyway, do you guys have any ideas and/or recommendations?

Edit: Changed the Macbook version to the one I actually have :smiley: (thx @thro)

I think a useful resource for you might be

As for the distro, I would suggest trying Fedora and / or Ubuntu, those being the most likely to work with little prodding.

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Thanks, I always thought Hackintosh consisred of guides for installing macOS on other hardware and not the other way around.

I don’t mind prodding, I’ve installed Arch on a couple of system and also like its philosophy/approach.

Yes, you are correct. My apologies. Having a quick read around this it seems fairly possible. Lots of guides that I sure you don’t me to link.

Fedora of course changes rapidly and is only supported for around a year. So if you want support for an extended period try Ubuntu 18.04 or one of its derivatives.

Arch is a rolling release so in theory it is install once and update forever.

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I’m still a little torn. On the one hand, I really like Arch but there are some extra steps required, whereas Ubuntu “should” run out of the box. (Even though I’ll have to switch to i3).

Fedora does change frequently. Personally this hasn’t caused me any issues though. What development software do you plan on using? If you’re using Eclipse I would recommend using the installer from Oracles website. The default one in the gnome software center has issues with Fedora.

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I’ve used on a Late 2011 model for some months but went back to OS X because the trackpad was making me mad.

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If it has a core2 duo in it, i’m pretty sure its from 2009-ish or earlier…

2012 would have been ivy bridge. iX-3xxx, or at least sandy bridge, iX-2xxx if it was pre-yearly refresh.

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I switched my desktop from macOS to Solus about 9 months ago. Laptops introduce a lot of their own variables which I can’t speak to, but UX-wise, the transition was smoother than I think it would be even on Ubuntu or Fedora.

That said, I like both Ubuntu and Fedora as well, so don’t let me dissuade you from those.

It’s also possible to install the Budgie DE on Ubuntu.

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The thing you’ll miss moving from Mac isn’t the visible UI chrome.

it is the integration between applications, the standard keyboard shortcuts across applications, the cloud service integration, etc.

If you’re not using any of that on the mac, fair enough. But if you aren’t then you’re barely scratching the surface of what macOS can do.


I’ll probably use Android Studio and VS Code (I used Atom for a while, but it’s sluggish as hell; I haven’t used Eclipse in a while)

@ulzeraj I think you’ve missed stating which Linux version you’ve used :smiley: Anyway, according to this site (improve the trackpad), there seems to be a solution to that. That being said, “improve the trackpad” ≠ “same trackpad”. This factor would be really important for me, since the trackpad on my Macbook is the first trackpad I actually like and don’t hate or consider useless.

@oO.o That’s the first time I’ve heard of Budgie DE. As mentioned above I’ll probably try something like i3/awesome/sway, but I’m still open to suggestions (as long as it’s light-weight). Budgie, seems to meet these standards though:

And it has a mandatory dark-mode :smiley:

@thro: You are indeed right, it a mid-2010 MBP. I think the keyboard-shortcuts I’m using the most are cmd+c, cmd+v and cmd+space. It nice tht cmd+space can do lots of math and currency conversion :slight_smile: Aside from that, I haven’t been using macOS’ cloud integration, due to privacy concerns. I much rather have my own cloud (no pun intended, I’m using Seafile :smiley: ). But I understand the appeal of these services.

I’ll throw my 2 cents in, but surprised no one has mentioned Elementary OS. I have used Loki on a 2009 core2duo Macbook without issue.

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Thanks, I’ll give it a closer look. (That being said, I’ll probably pick one of the three mentioned above - Ubuntu/Fedora/Arch)

I have a late 2008 macbook. The first of the aluminium unibody ones. 2 ghz core 2 duo, nvidia 9400m? gpu 8 gigs of ram and a 128 gb ssd.
I used linux mint on it for a few years. It worked great. The trackpad worked better in osx, but it was still really good in linux.
Overall a very pleasent user experience. Everything worked, nothing broke.
I used the properitaty nvidia driver, since the noveau couldnt control sceen brightness.
Mint is based on ubuntu, so mint or ubuntu should work well for you too.
The only reason I stopped using it, was beacuse my brother needed a mac for music making. Apple Logic Pro is the prefered musician software.
But to summarise, Linux worked great on my MacBook in Ubuntu/Mint flavour.

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Why did you opt for Mint instead of Ubntu? (Me personally, I don’t like Unity, or Ubuntu’s recent take on GNOME, but since it has a minimal installer I can basically install whatever DE I want)

@topic: Another thing I noticed on the Arch Wiki was to following statement (Considering EFI vs CSM):

But the wiki misses to link to further information. Afaik my MBP should typically be using EFI instead of CSM (legacy mode). Any ideas what they mean with this statement?

I opted for mint because I prefer cinnamon to gnome. And with mint I didn’t have to change it. So laziness? :slight_smile:
I’m not sure about Arch Wiki article on efi/csm, I didn’t do anything special to the Mint install USB I made, or drivers post install.
When I installed Mint, I started out in os x, where I shrunk the os x partition to half of the ssd. Then formatted the remaining half to fat32.
Then I shut it down, inserted the Mint install USB, started it and spammed the alt key, to get the alternative boot menu. Then I had the options of os x, os x recovery partition, or the mint installer.
I chose the mint installer, and doing the install I selected the fat32 partition. The installer couldn’t detect the os x partitions, so there wasn’t any dual boot setup.
If I had been booted into mint, and shut it down, then next time I turned it on it would boot into mint by default.
And If I wanted to boot os x, I would restart it, spam the alt key, and selects os x. Then after the next shutdown/reboot, it would boot into os x by default. So It would always boot into the last partition it was booted from. Very simple stuff :slight_smile:

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Thanks again, especially the boot info. Considering my SSD has only 120GB of space (I replaced the default HDD a while ago), I’ll remove macOS completely though.

Edit: I might as well just try Arch and if it doesn’t work out the way I hope, I just install Ubuntu (everything, even WiFi should work out of the box… Fedora is much trickier in this regard).

If you want to go the Arch way, maybe consider Antergos. It’s arch based, but comes setup with a DE, and a gui installer. Pure Arch is command line only. And since Antergos is arch based, it’s still rolling release. Just made easier :slight_smile:

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Thanks again, why Antergos instead of Manjaro though? Was it the first which came to mind, or is there a specific reason?

A friend of mine just wholeheartedly advised against using Arch if I intend to use AUR, since library updates tend to break things which has to be fixed by hand. He claims, it happens about once every 1-2 week(s).

I used Antergos, because it was the first arch based distro I found, when i tried it out on my old Lenovo laptop. Antergos also lets you choose which DE you want when you install, 6 options, cinnamon, gnome, kde etc.
But yes, Arch, and therefore Antergos is a rolling release, and the bleeding edge of linux. So a sudden break isn’t unlikely.
I used Antergos with cinnamon DE on my Lenovo T410s laptop for a little year, with little to no problems. Until it broke completely after a update, and I had to reinstall and reconfigure everything.
I decided to try Antergos/arch because like you, the rolling release with never having to upgrade the OS really appealed to me.
But something like Ubuntu LTS is much less likely to break after an update.

In my personal opinion, I think Ubuntu is a better choice. It’s stable, and is properly gonna work on your MacBook straight away, with no hassle. And it’ll do just about the same as Arch, but with less configuring. It’ll also give you more up time, where you can use the computer, rather than setting it up. And If you want to add some software that isn’t in the Ubuntu Software program, a quick googling will get you a guide to get it installed. Remember, Ubuntu is one of the most used Linux distros, so there are many people who might already have figured out how to do it :slight_smile:

If you really want to learn how to navigate Linux from the Terminal, pure Arch will force you do it. Because that is all it comes with out of the box. But it’s kinda like jumping in the deep end of the pool, when you have barely learned to swim.

Edited for typesetting, grammer etc…

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