Linux on older MacBook ... white plastic case

I’m working to give new life to a couple of old MacBooks that can’t even run OSX Lion. What Linux distros have worked well for you on these older units?

I’ve got Ubuntu running on a Mac Mini.

Q4OS booted and ran fine on a MacBook Air.

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In the past I have gotten ubuntu and xubuntu running on a 2011 macbook pro (there were some issues with the wireless drivers) and I have gotten fedora to run on one of those white macbooks. You would just need to check the chip in that macbook. If it is a PowerPC, it will limit the options of what you can run since most distros do not have a PowerPC option anymore.

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I heard Leo mention Q4OS on the Sunday TTG. I have an old 2007 13 in. macbook I might try it on.

Those old white and black macbooks are so cool looking.

You may not be able to boot from USB so create a disc. I have a 2006 Mac Mini running Ubuntu and cannot boot from a USB stick with Linux on it. 2007 MacBook may be the same. Also some distros may not boot due to early Intel Macs’ 32-bit UEFI though most should fall back to legacy BIOS mode. On my Mac Mini, I had to get a special net install image of Ubuntu that did not have UEFI boot.

Also, it can take over 30 seconds to start booting in BIOS mode.


I have an old Intel mac mini. The problem with the old ones is that they are only 32 bit BIOS and there is so little that you can run on 32 bit, unless you just want to host an Apache site, without a lot of PHP packages. It would make a good desktop for kids or older relatives to use online, but I think that is close to it.

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If I can get a Linux distro with the Chromium browser loaded on the old Mac units then the teachers and students can use that. But that hasn’t proven to be easy with the older Macs.

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While Ubuntu is nearly impossible for 32 bit nowadays, Debian maintains full support. That is what I have an old machine running now, with rEFIt for the UEFI part. I even have Nextcloud running on it for a demo.

I checked and there is a chromium 32bit build for it as well.

I’m going to check out the rEFIt approach. Thanks

I plugged my 2007 macbook in and it began to over heat were the power line attached. Smelled plastic heating and burned my finger on it. I guess it died, I had to put it out on the porch to cool off. Maybe I’ll find another to try a Linux install.


Sounds like something shorted. Maybe something metallic got stuck in the MagSafe connector.

I had it out in my motorhome and it was cold. I should have let it warm up more before I put the power to it, I’d say condensation got it… I’ll look closer at it in a few weeks. Maybe It is fixable.