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Tag Archives: Macbook

A friend recently gave me an old macbook, [from about 2009-ish?]

TL;DR
Linux Mint with it’s Cinnamon desktop resulted in the fewest headaches out of the box for me and my needs.

I’ve been looking for a lightweight PC to serve as a dock for my portable hard drives, kind of functioning as an ugly sort of NAS. I have been using my 2011 Macbook Pro with a USB hub. However, it is a pain to disconnect all the USB drives from it if I need to move. But with another small computer I can permanently untether the Macbook and use it around the house again!

So when I was gifted another old Macbook, I set about finding what Linux distro would work best with it.

TIP: To get to the boot select screen on this version of a Macbook, press and hold the Option key when the machine is first booted until the boot device selection menu appears.

As I dabbled, I came up with a list of features I was looking for.

  • Does it boot without error?
  • Does it resume from sleep?
  • Does it resume from a lid close?
  • Does the bluetooth work?
  • Does the wifi work out of the box?
  • Other notes

These are the distros I ended up trying

  • Manjaro
  • ElementaryOS
  • Pop! OS
  • Ubuntu
  • Deepin
  • Ubuntu with MATE
  • Mint
Boots?Resume from sleep?Resume from lid close?Bluetooth?Wifi OOTB?Notes
Manjaro KDEYes, but with errorsYesNonot testedYes
Manjaro XFCEYesYesYesNo, headphones not recognized as outputNo/Yes, when installed on EthernetNo option to add nVidia drivers from install disc
Wifi works OOB
elementaryOSYesNoNonot testedNo
Pop! OSYesYesNonot testedNo
UbuntuYesYesNoYesNo/Yes, when installed on Ethernet
Linux MintYesYesYesYesNo, but an easy add from discwifi & nVidia drivers easily added from disc
DeepinYes, but slowNoNoYesYestrackpad X-axis input is Y-axis cursor movement & no x-axis cursor movement possible
App Store and default browser don’t work
The test results

The most difficult hurdle for any of these distros to overcome was resuming from sleep due to the lid being closed. All but Mint and Manjaro XFCE failed this test. I imagine this is more of a desktop environment issue than related to any particular underlying Linux distro.

The results of these simple tests put Linux Mint with it’s default Cinnamon desktop as the clear winner for my needs.

Worth noting is the utter failure of the Deepin distro. It was unusable on this Macbook and disappointing to such a degree that I doubt I’ll bother with it ever again.

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