Buying a vintage Mac to run Linux

Discussion in 'Windows, Linux & Others on the Mac' started by SB-MBP, Apr 2, 2017.

  1. SB-MBP Suspended


    May 11, 2013
    N. Ireland
    How would this work?

    Buying a white or black MacBook - Core 2 Duo at least model > fitting an SSD > installing Ubuntu Linux as a main OS.

    Will it support the latest Linux?
    Will it be fast enough?
    Will the drivers be available?

    I have crappy entry level PC laptop money. I don't want crappy hardware. I'm happy to use Ubuntu. That's where the idea comes from
  2. flyinmac macrumors 68040


    Sep 2, 2006
    United States
    I've found current Linux distributions for my PowerPC G4 mini. So surely the one you're considering would have recent versions available.

    Start from the other direction.

    Look at the Linux distribution you like. Then see what hardware it recommends for good performance. Then find a machine that meets those specs.
  3. elf69 macrumors 68020


    Jun 2, 2016
    Cornwall UK
    A1181 and A1342 I can say linux mint runs great on

    also the older silver macbook pro, pre unibody.
    works on my 15" and 17" models fine.
  4. Mikael H macrumors 6502a

    Sep 3, 2014
    Unless you can find someone running a similar setup and who can vouch for it working well, see if you can get a Thinkpad T-series with integrated graphics at a similar price point. Still great hardware (but usually a worse screen unless you can get a "P" model, and definitely a worse trackpad, so you'd better learn using the navpoint), and in my experience a larger chance that everything will work out of the box. You'll probably get a computer that's a generation or two newer at the same price point. Also it's highly fixable with easily found components.
  5. Fancuku macrumors 65816


    Oct 8, 2015
    PA, USA
    Ubuntu would probably run ok but it makes no sense to me economically since you would end up spending ~ $200 but still have a core 2 Duo processor and slow DDR2 RAM, not to mention the crappy graphics card which may not even be enough to play HD youtube videos.

    For $200 you can get a much newer business class laptop like the Lenovo Thinkpad or Dell Latitude series with 2nd or 3rd generation i5 processors and at least 4GB RAM.
  6. elf69 macrumors 68020


    Jun 2, 2016
    Cornwall UK
  7. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    I also recommend an inexpensive PC, I think you'll be running into issues with drivers and configurations and the fact that there will be few if anyone running linux on an old Mac means you'll be left to your own devices to figure it out.
  8. elf69 macrumors 68020


    Jun 2, 2016
    Cornwall UK
    I have run linux on an old 15" macbook pro as it will not go past 10.7.

    but reverted back to 10.7 to try and sell it.
  9. cynics macrumors G4

    Jan 8, 2012
    I personally use a T420 for Linux Mint (but Ubuntu 16.x works fine too). I can understand wanting a specific laptop though, the reason I went with a T420 is because I liked them for nostalgia reasons and you may feel the same about an older Mac.

    More than likely it will work. Newer Macbooks can be problematic with certain desktop environments but older hardware is generally fairly well supported. I would recommend going to the Ubuntu forum and sifting through the laptop compatibility thread to find the exact Macbook model you are looking to purchase.

    Don't get too used to that Unity desktop, Ubuntu is eventually moving to Gnome (which is why I just switched to Linux Mint).

    With an SSD it should be fast enough but there are lighter weight version you can look into like Lubuntu.

Share This Page

8 April 2, 2017