Linux Mint on MacBook Air

I have an early 2015 MacBook Air that developed problems a couple years ago when it’s battery gave up the ghost after an upgrade to MacOS Mojave. Then last fall the SSD drive gave out. I ordered a new battery and installed it and ordered a 240 GB NVMe drive for the unit and installed it also. I couldn’t get MacOS reinstalled on it. An internet search revealed that I needed a firmware upgrade. Interestingly enough Linux recognizes the SSD without difficulty.

I experimented with Ubuntu 19.10, Fedora and eventually settled on ElementaryOS which worked the best. I wrote an article about how to “Give and old MacBook new life.” Since then I have used the machine as a test platform for various projects including another article about “Why I use WordPress.” I set up WordPress in a virtual machine on that box.

Fast forward to last week when Ubuntu 20.04 was released. I wanted to see how this latest version of Ubuntu would work. I downloaded the ISO on my daily driver which is a System76 Darter Pro running Pop_OS and created a bootable USB with “Popsicle” which is a great tool. I tried a live session and determined that out of the box the new version didn’t support the BroadComm 4360 wireless chipset in the MacBook Air. I did some research and decided I’d try the full install and add the Broadcom software after the fact. I connected to the ethernet port and performed the installation. All went well and then I added the Broadcom drivers later. All seems to be working well now except the FaceTime camera.

Much to my chagrin the next time I started the computer it just would not get past the startup screen and after a number of trials I decided to try Linux Mint XFCE . I had already installed Mint on another PC in February and had the ISO already to burn. I used Popsicle again and then installed Mint on the MacBook Air. After the install was complete and I had rebooted Mint found the Broadcom 4360 in the MacBook and invited me to install the drivers. Linux Mint quickly found my HP printer and installed the necessary software. If anyone reading this blog has suggestions for how to solve the FaceTime camera issue I’d appreciate any suggestions. Once again Linux has extended the life of a five year old computer.