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Ezra Rogers
Ezra Rogers

Install Debian On Macbook Pro

The preparation for the installation of a Linux box can be something easy most of the time. However, using a macOS previously demands some extra steps to disconnect the device from an Apple ID. But not before preparing the installation media.

Install Debian On Macbook Pro


Run nvidia-detect to determine supporting driver$ sudo apt install nvidia-detect$ nvidia-detectDetected NVIDIA GPUs:01:00.0 VGA compatible controller [0300]: NVIDIA Corporation GT216M [GeForce GT 330M] [10de:0a29](rev a2)Checking card: NVIDIA Corporation GT216M [GeForce GT 330M] (rev a2)Your card is only supported up to the 340 legacy drivers series.It is recommended to install the nvidia-legacy-340xx-driver package.

Note: During the package installation, dkpg displays a message that the nouveau driver is conflicting, and the best way to blacklist it is to reboot. Restart your system at this point to enable the nouveau driver blacklist.

I can speak to the functionality of Linux with the T2 chip, as I am currently using Arch Linux on a 2019 Macbook Pro to type this (including functional touch-bar). I would personally recommend using the Arch Linux internet-enabled install (mentioned/linked here), but there are also resources for Ubuntu, Fedora, and a number of other distros available too. Unfortunately there doesn't seem to be a pure debian install available.

Be warned that it may be slightly more involved compared to a normal installation, and that some features may be non-functional (for example, bluetooth and automatic headphone plug-in detection in my case).

I made a successful installation of Debian 10.6 32 bits on my 2007 MacBook Pro "Core Duo" 2.16 GHz (T2600). 2007 MacBook Pro 15-Inch "Core 2 Duo" 2.16 2.16 GHz Core 2 Duo (T7400)

The Debian installation ISO files can be burned to a DVD. These DVDs are configured to be either BIOS or EFI booted. However, early Intel Macs, such as the OP's, can not boot from a DVD with such a configuration. Also, not all Intel Macs can BIOS boot from an USB port. This would include the OP's model Mac.

Use another computer to download the current 32 bit Debian installation ISO file which includes additional software for graphical video hardware. This file can be found here. At present, this would be the file named firmware-10.7.0-i386-DVD-1.iso. Here, the assumption have been made that all files are downloaded to the users default Downloads folder.

Note: After successfully transferring the firmware-10.7.0-i386-DVD-1.iso file to a USB flash drive, a partition on the flash drive may be mounted and modified by Windows. While these modifications will not interfere with the installation of Debian, the modifications will prevent verification of the flash drive by a SHA checksum or comparison to the original file.

Create a MBR Partition Table on the internal drive. Insert the flash drive in a USB port of the Mac where Debian is to be installed. Start or restart the Mac and immediately hold down the option key until the Mac Startup Manager icons appear. Choose the external drive icon with the label EFI Boot. When the image below appears, pick Advanced options ..., then select ... Rescue mode.

Here you want to create a new primary partition at the beginning of the available space. When asked for a size, enter a size smaller than the maximum size. This value can be determined by subtracting from the maximum size the desired size of the swap partition and the size of the temporary partition needed for the 64 bit Debian installation files. In this example, the swap partition will be 6 GB and the temporary partition will be 16 GB. The difference is shown below.

Proceed with the installation. When an image similar to the one shown below appears, either choose a mirror or avoid using a mirror. In this example, the mirror is avoided, thus decreased the time required to install. Avoiding the mirror can be accomplished by selecting , then selecting .

When an image similar to the one shown below appears, probably the only software required is the standard system utilities. In this example, a Debian desktop environment will be omitted to decrease the time required to install. The SSH server will be included, so sftp will be available to transfer files later. Below is the configuration used in this example. When done making choices, select Continue.

Start by booting to Debian. If the Mac does not boot to Debian (via Grub) by default, then restart the Mac and immediately hold option key until the Startup Manager icons appear. Select the internal drive icon labeled Windows. If a Debian desktop environment was not installed, login as root. Otherwise, login using the default username, open a Terminal window and enter the command shown below.

Transfer, to the /installation mount point, the three files required to install a 64 bit Debian. One of these files is the current 64 bit Debian installation ISO file which includes additional software for graphical video hardware. This file can be found here. At present, this would be the file named firmware-10.7.0-amd64-DVD-1.iso. The other two files are the text based installer image files required when booting from the internal drive. At present this would be vmlinuz and initrd.gz. Below are various ways to transfer these files. Choose one way or find another way.

If a BIOS booting Debian is the only operating system installed on a Mac, then the Mac should automatically boot to Debian. However, if BIOS booting has not be set as the default, there may be a delay before booting begins. Otherwise, the Mac Startup Manager can be used to boot Debian. To set BIOS booting as the default, boot from an OS X (macOS) installation DVD or USB flash drive, open a Terminal window and enter the command given below.

Hybrid MBRs: The Good, the Bad, and the So Ugly You'll Tear Your Eyes OutAlternatives to installing Ubuntu from bootable USB and bootable DVDRufusIn Windows section of USB flash installation medium4.3. Preparing Files for USB Memory Stick BootingDebian GNU/Linux Installation Guide5.1.5. Booting from Linux using LILO or GRUBCreating a USB Flash Drive Installer from a Snow Leopard ISO File

An Ethernet cable should be connected during the installation process due to the fact that the Broadcom WLAN module is not recognised. I could have supplied the driver in the form of another USB stick but since I have a special installation sequence anyway, I decided to install everything afterwards.

After the installation, the Mac boots into a new operating system. At first, deliberately into the console without any graphical user interface. The process continues with root. All subsequent commands can either be entered or loaded as a script from my server with wget (Click here for the direct Link):

The built-in wifi module in my Mid-2009 MacbookPro 13" requires a proprietary Broadcom B43 driver. We download this together with the package fwcutter via wget straight from the Debian server. If you have a different Mac, please check first which module Apple has installed. Macbook Pro devices before the year 2009 for instance use an Atheros chipset9.

A final reboot follows, this time into the graphical user interface and the user specified during the basic installation. After logging in, you can now customize your GNOME Desktop, connect to a Nextcloud, add printers and SMB shares or import an openVPN profile to connect to a remote network.

Whether you need a customizable operating system or a better environment for software development, you can get it by dual booting Linux on your Mac. Linux is incredibly versatile (it's used to run everything from smartphones to supercomputers), and you can install it on a MacBook, iMac, Mac mini, or any other kind of Mac.

What's more, Linux breathes life into old Macs that are no longer eligible for macOS updates. Rather than letting your old Mac turn into an expensive paperweight, install the latest version of Linux and keep it going for years to come.

There are many different versions of Linux available, but for the purposes of this tutorial, we suggest installing Ubuntu on your Mac. Ubuntu is the best option for Linux newcomers. Since it's so popular, there are also lots of active support communities available if you ever need help.

With a dual boot system, both macOS and Linux are installed on your Mac. You can just hold Option while your computer boots up to choose which operating system to use. The main difference between a dual boot system and a virtual machine is that you can only use one OS at a time while dual-booting, but you get better performance.

Despite what we've said above, installing Linux isn't currently possible if your Mac uses an Apple silicon chip, whether it's an M1, M1 Pro, or M1 Max. Your only option for running Linux on an Apple silicon Mac is to use a virtual machine such as Parallels or UTM. Alternatively, you can run Linux from a bootable Linux USB, but the performance won't be as smooth.

To install Linux on your Mac, you need a USB flash drive with at least 2GB of storage. You'll erase the flash drive in a future step to put an Ubuntu installer on it, so make sure you've backed up any important files first.

The standard boot manager on your Mac doesn't always work with Ubuntu. This means you need to install a third-party boot manager instead, which will let you easily choose between macOS or Linux when you start up your computer.

Thus, your next step is to download rEFInd, which is the boot manager we recommend. To install rEFInd, you need to temporarily disable System Integrity Protection. This is an important security feature for macOS, so make sure you enable it again after.

Download the latest version of Ubuntu as a disk image from the Ubuntu website. You need to use a third-party app to create a USB installer from the Ubuntu disk image. One of the simplest apps for this is Etcher, but you can use anything you like.

Follow the on-screen prompts to choose your language and keyboard layout. Choose a Normal installation and select the option to Install third-party software. You need to connect your Mac to the internet using an Ethernet cable to install this software, which makes functions like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth work. Then click Continue.


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