Macbook abandoned by Apple, embraced by Linux

Installing Ubuntu on a mid-2007 Macbook

For the last couple of weeks I have been fighting a losing battle trying to get Linux to work on an Macbook. I was happy enough to use the Macbook with the original software – Snow Leopard that I could upgrade to Mountain Lion. For Windows users, this is like updating from Win XP to Win Vista. However, when I tried to install Firefox, Chrome, and even the Opera browser, in my mid-2007 Macbook, I was informed that the software I was using was too old for them to work properly. If you can’t browse the internet except for Safari, and the software can’t get security updates, it has been abandoned. The hardware from this laptop is pretty impressive, so it was a shame that Apple had giving up supporting it.

Ubuntu running on Macbook

Ubuntu running on Macbook

The Macbook deserved better! After several fruitless evenings trying to install Linux via Linux Mint, Fedora, SuSE and Ubuntu, I was wondering if I was ever going to crack it. I could get the live disks to work and then complete the installation process, but I felt really challenged as I couldn’t get any Linux distro to install and reliably boot afterwards.

There were quite a few forums and youtube videos that provided some insight – but never enough. I had learnt that disks with 64 bit software didn’t get loaded, which helped a lot. My first try with Linux Mint got as far as installing and restarting. But it couldn’t be relied upon as sometimes the restarts never loaded up Linux. Blessedly, I found the one line of code I needed to get Linux to boot: bless –device /dev/disk0s1 –setBoot –legacy –verbose. My gratitude goes to bionicman2 who provided a long and clear set of instructions on how to install Ubuntu into a Macbook here: https://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=2266424. However, rather than following all his steps, I just used that one line of magical code.

For those who want a short version of how to install Linux in a mid-2007 Macbook:

1. Use a live 32 bit Linux disk or USB and run it in live mode.
2. Use whichever partition tool is available to edit the hard disk. Leave the 200MB EFI partition, create a Linux Swap partition and create a third partition for the Linux distro.
3. Click on the Install icon and choose to instal it in the 3rd partition let it run to the end.
4. Use the Mac OS disk (Snow Leopard in my case) to boot up to the stage where you can see the Mac OS Utility tab.                                                                                                                              5. Use the Terminal to instruct the Macbook to use the Linux bootloader using: bless –device /dev/disk0s1 –setBoot –legacy –verbose

That worked for me.

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