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Our company has purchased a MacBook Air 5.2 (13 inch screen) and we want to run Linux on it, with preference for Ubuntu. My first attempt failed. I prepared a USB stick as boot device following the instructions on http://www.ubuntu.com/download/help/create-a-usb-stick-on-mac-osx . However trying to boot from that stick I got a kernel panic. Any help on how to go on is welcome!

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4 Answers 4

Contrary to Zach's experience, Linux works flawlessly on my MBA 5,2. The only gripes I have are reduced battery life (which is systemic to all of Linux at this point), and comparatively lame touchpad drivers (which is due to the lack of documentation about the protocol).

There are two major pain points with this setup, however.

  1. You will definitely need to be an experienced Linux user to set it up, or have someone who is hold your hand. It was definitely a more complicated install, but nothing someone with mild experience using Linux can't handle with the help of online documentation.

  2. Use the 3.4/5 kernel. Zach's issues have should have all been resolved in later kernels.(I can confirm all but the multi-monitor thing, which, despite my being a developer, I do not do...)

You'll need to post more information about the "Kernel panic" you're getting. I would also NOT reccomend following that guide, but rather resources such as:

Like I said, it's definitely possible, and it works as well as it can given the current state of Linux. There is absolutely no reason to get a new computer -- just make sure you're actually using a kernel that can handle your machine!

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I'm a dev and long time Linux user myself, so I'm quite confident I could handle it. However I'm not willed to spend too much time on it. Regarding touchpad: I already experienced that when trying Linux on a normal MacBook (2008 model) some time ago. That's really a pity as the touchpad is one of the highlights of the MacBooks. Maybe I will just wait for Ubuntu 12.10 as in the next weeks we won't have time for that anyway. Thanks for your answer! –  didi_X8 Aug 6 '12 at 23:37

The experience with the MacBook Air is brutal and should be avoided at all costs.

After going through hell to get it working in dualboot mode with, I get full blown crashes about 3 or 4 times a day when I'm plugged into multiple monitors (a necessary part of life for a developer) and wifi takes about 20 seconds to connect.

My suggestion: Get the guy a non-MacBook air, right now things are too unstable.

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I had a similar experience. First, the boot drive wasn't found after the installation. Secondly, the MBA would not should down when booted into Ubuntu. Then there were several graphics-related problems with caused the MBA to freeze or crash. Quite a horrible experience... MBA 5,2, Ubuntu 13.04 –  user24668 May 3 '13 at 16:18

Before buying my MBA 5-2 I came accross this post and got worried about the Linux/Ubuntu support. But after a few days of using it with 12.10 I can say that I am completly happy with the experience.

As mentioned before the battery live is not as good as with OS X and the touchpad is a bit uncomfortable.

Following installation guide was quite usefull for me: http://maketecheasier.com/install-dual-boot-ubuntu-in-macbook-air/2012/08/27

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I wonder if it's really that difficult to write a good touchpad driver... –  didi_X8 Oct 1 '12 at 19:53

After putting the ubuntu install image for amd64+mac on a memory stick using diskutil and dd as explained in the various guides, you basically need to do four things:

  1. Shrink the Macintosh HD partition using Disk Util in OS X to make space for Ubuntu
  2. Insert the memory stick and reboot while holding alt-key pressed. This will boot the image on the stick.
  3. Perform a normal installation, select Install Ubuntu alongside Mac OS X
  4. After updating all software - disable the proprietray broadcom wifi driver, it won't work after update (Software Sources - additional drivers).

There is no need to install a bootloader in OS X. But if you do, you might not have to press alt each time you boot and want to start linux instead of os x.

External screen won't work (and that sux).

Everything else seems to work flawlessly (so far).

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