linux on mac

I am completely new to this stuff but am keen to learn, I have a macbook currently running leopard can I strip this out and install Linux instead,
Sorry if this seems so obvious to you people but I am a newbie here.



Yes Linux will load and boot from an IntelMac… you can also set it up to dualboot Linux/OSX

Your only problem “may” be if your Macbook is a 3.1 or 4.1 model… NOT a major problem… These models can be a bit “iffy” about booting from non-EFI partitions, so you “may” need to install rEFIt, to a small HFS+ partition and Linux to native partition(s), so the Macbook boots from the rEFIt partition which allows you too select Linux as the boot OS.

Ubuntu, Mint, or Debian (maybe others too) will probably work without rEFIt, but there will be a delay in the boot process of around 20secs where the Macbook waits for you to insert an HFS+ CD before continuing and booting to Linux.

More info can be found here:

rEFIt can be found here:

If you decide to set it up as a Linux/OSX dualboot system and want access to the OSX partition from inside Linux, you will need to install the following packages to Linux (usually available in the package manager)


I’ve personally put Ubuntu (karmic and lucid) and Mint (8 and 9) on an IntelMac (iMac 20) without the need for rEFIt… it just worked… theoretically this should work for ANY IntelMac, but if you have any problems or don’t want the 20sec delay, rEFIt is the answer.

BTW, the above only applies to loading Linux to the “internal” hard drive… Getting Linux to boot from an external USB drive is a different story… IntelMacs can only boot EFI partitions from a USB drive… when they switch to (legacy) BIOS mode they no longer recognise USB drives… again rEFIt may come to the rescue.

For peace of mind though, it might be a good idea to make sure you have your OSX-Leopard disk, and that it is working :slight_smile:

Hi Mark,
thanks for this a lot of the acronyms are new to me but I’ll get it eventually. Just good to know that it is possible.



You’re welcome… best bet would be to get an Ubuntu or Linux Mint LiveCD… if you’re Macbook will boot from that to a Linux desktop then there is no reason you can’t install it to the internal hard drive.

To boot your Macbook from the LiveCD… hold the “C” key immediately after turning it on.

Booting to a LiveCD will NOT make any changes to your system, but will let you test that Linux works :slight_smile:

Bear in mind that running Linux from a LiveCD will be MUCH slower than running it from the hard drive, but at least it will let you “test drive” it.


Linux Mint:

Then burn the ISO image to a CD/DVD, and boot from it by holding “C” immediately after turning on the Macbook.

If you need anything explaining, just ask :slight_smile: