What is best Linux distro for mid-2009 MBP?

Discussion in 'Windows, Linux & Others on the Mac' started by poiihy, Mar 10, 2016.

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  1. poiihy macrumors 68020

    poiihy

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    #1
    What do you think, in terms of compatibility and perhaps performace, is the best Linux distro for a 15" mid-2009 MBP? ubuntu 12 and 14 LTS don't work on my MBP; only 10 LTS works but then Wi-Fi doesnt work and I cant update it because updater freezes... Anyone have any knowledge of this subject?
     
  2. lowendlinux, Mar 11, 2016
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2016

    lowendlinux Contributor

    lowendlinux

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    #2
    You need a kernel module to enable the WiFi on the Mac, I don't think it's packaged with any distro. If you want to run Linux on your Mac you're going to need to do a bit of reading because WiFi is only gong to be the first of your problems. Why are you trying to run Linux on your Mac, what issue would a bare metal install fix that a virtualized one won't?
     
  3. throAU macrumors 603

    throAU

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    #3
    If you WANT linux, your best option is to probably stick 8 GB of RAM in it and then run the distribution of your choice in Virtualbox, Parallels or Fusion. All hardware compatibility problems are then solved.

    I'm guessing you're doing it to try and get better performance without spending anything on hardware though and I get it, but Linux is a pain in the rear for a lot of things and just giving OS X some more RAM will be a lot less painful.

    As an example of how Linux still sucks for desktop use, connect to a NAS and try and play a video off it over WIFI. Linux will copy the file to your machine before playing it. As it has for the last 20 years. Windows and OS X can stream from network shares (and find them from within virtually any app for that matter), Linux still can't, unless you map it via NFS, which has its own set of hassles.

    /linux user since 1995
     
  4. kschendel macrumors 6502a

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    #4
    I had an earlier OpenSUSE (I forget the release) running on a mid-2009 MBP. As I recall, the main issues had to do with the nvidia graphics card; the nouveau driver was in pretty bad shape at the time. With more recent linux kernels there's a good chance that nouveau will work, and if you need to you can get it up and running in dumb (VESA) framebuffer mode and then download / install the proprietary nvidia driver. You might try opensuse 13.2; I'd avoid Leap, as KDE Plasma 5 is a mess and absolutely not ready for prime-time, IMHO. My second choice suggestion would be Debian, as it tends to be a conservative distro and is likely to work well on your slightly older hardware. I can't comment on the wifi support as I always ran the 2009 MBP hardwired.

    I'll second the suggestion to use Virtualbox (or one of the others, but vbox works and is free), unless you have some particular reason to run linux on the bare metal, or unless you're badly memory deprived and can't upgrade. I use VirtualBox to run opensuse 13.2 on the rMBP and it works well. (My Mac Pro dual-boots into OSX or Linux, but I do have reason to run on the bare metal in that case -- I get paid for it.)
     
  5. doynton, Mar 11, 2016
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2016

    doynton macrumors 6502

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    #5
    It isn't clear if this guy is really a twat or just pretending to be.

    Obviously 8GB is just a random number. You could stick your 8GB in your phone perhaps or up your arse. Whatever.

    You can easily install Wi-Fi drivers. Just google it or (best case) look in the Arch wiki.

    Arch is what I use (on my 2006 MBP) but any Linux will work. It isn't difficult and you don't need 8GB (of what I've no idea).
     
  6. poiihy thread starter macrumors 68020

    poiihy

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    #6
    Ok well what do you ppl think would have the most support and least tweaking needed? (you always need to tweak so no big deal). Just curious
     
  7. kschendel macrumors 6502a

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    #7
    "Support" is a bit nebulous since unless you want to pay someone, it's going to be forum level support. Ubuntu might possibly be at the head of that list, or Arch. Least tweaking? Very difficult to say.
     
  8. throAU, Mar 11, 2016
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2016

    throAU macrumors 603

    throAU

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    #8
    It's not an arbitrary number. It's a requirement to do reasonable virtualisation under OS X with a spinning hard disk. Which is the easiest way to get up and running without needing to mess with drivers other than install VM tools which can even be automatically done depending on the distribution and VM host software used. You also get snapshots to recover from if you screw something up.

    No, you don't need 8 GB for linux on bare metal. But it is cheap and trying to run VMs on a machine with 4 GB and a spinning hard drive in it sucks. And if the only reason you want linux is because it runs faster on your old hardware, just get the same thing with 8 GB in your OS X install and have something that actually works in a typical home network much better. It wasn't a random number at all.

    And whatever variant of Linux you use, virtualisation or physical install, it will still have problems actually doing basic things like streaming content from network shares via CIFS or appletalk (KDE / Gnome apps almost all want to copy the whole file to your local machine first before playing or working on it - which is just garbage when you're say, watching a movie over WIFI and have to wait for it to copy first - yes you can solve that to an extent by mounting the share via the command line so linux thinks it is a local file system, but there's a bunch of other caveats on that and it's not intuitive at all). You'll also have to give up virtually all of your OS X apps.

    Never mind the inconvenience of things like kernel or OS upgrades breaking your WIFI that you set up via WIKI somewhere because it was compiled against a previous version of the kernel to the one you just updated to.

    Now speaking of just being a twat...
     
  9. Fancuku macrumors 6502a

    Fancuku

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    #9
    I too recommend running Linux on VirtualBox. No need to run older versions of Ubuntu when the latest are much better. Ubuntu 15.10, Mint 17.3, Zorin, etc. Lots of choices.

    I was triple booting my MBP but I stopped doing that and I now I use Virtualbox for those few times that I need Linux and Windows on my machine.
     
  10. throAU macrumors 603

    throAU

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    #10
    Oh one other thing....

    Maybe consider PC-BSD (check compatibility or just install in VM).

    Why?

    Because it's FreeBSD based and a lot of the command line tools on BSD and OS X are actually built from the same code, the text output is the same, the command line arguments are the same, etc.

    If you learn BSD command line, a lot of it will translate to OS X and vice versa.

    Linux tools are all GNU and things are.... a lot more different at the command line.


    PC-BSD 10.2 is a bit slow until you update it though - not sure why but I installed it on bare metal on my Windows box the other day and disk IO was bad until I patched it up to date.

    All the same network file sharing caveats I mention above still apply though.
     
  11. lowendlinux Contributor

    lowendlinux

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    #11
    He's a typical Arch Linux user on social media it really wasn't worth responding to. The kernel module will rebuild no matter the kernel that is underneath it the era of breakages for common stuff like that is over. Where he will have problems though will be keyboard, keyboard backlighting, backlight control, and trackpad. He'll eventually get it all running but it's not going to be quick, clean, nor easy.
     
  12. throAU macrumors 603

    throAU

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    #12
    Hmm hasn't been over for long then, because not so long ago I upgraded kernel on my desktop to find that my wireless adapter didn't have source available for the new version and had been abandoned.

    About that time is when i added a second airport extreme to my network and abandoned wireless adapters in PCs.
     
  13. lowendlinux Contributor

    lowendlinux

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    #13
    In the last 5 years I've not had any kernel module fail to build and I don't exactly run a stable OS. I could not say that prior to it was a crap shoot every kernel upgrade for any module.
     
  14. throAU macrumors 603

    throAU

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    #14
    Well the card in question was an ASUS wireless N adapter purchased in late 2012 - with Linux support listed on the box, so perhaps you're luckier than I am.
     
  15. liamh2o macrumors newbie

    liamh2o

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    #15
    my macbook pro mid 2009 15 inch uni-body is on peppermint OS that deviated from ubuntu 16.04 and it works like a charm with 4GB of ram and i do photo editing, music production and alot of app development within the computer, FFS i could do all this from a 11 inch yoga tablet with a dual core 1.6 GHz bay trail processor and 2GB of ram and she ran then so 8GB of ram will potentially go unused
     
  16. poiihy thread starter macrumors 68020

    poiihy

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    #16
    He was talking about in virtualbox
    Using virtual machines with 4gb gets tight
     
  17. liamh2o macrumors newbie

    liamh2o

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    #17
    fair play yeah, id say it depends on the distro as ubuntu uses nearly 1GB of ram as peppermint os used 250-270MB on the system so id say upgrade it if necessary or when really needed if it could potentially run on 4GB
     
  18. PaulAnaya macrumors newbie

    PaulAnaya

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    #18
    I have been running Ubuntu on my mid-2009 15" MBP for some time and it runs fine. This MBP was retired as my main MBP in 2014 when I purchased a new model. My primary reason for switching to Linux on the 2009 MPB is because it can't run macOS Sierra and it does not run anything past Mountain Lion very well. Even with 8GB of memory install. I've had 8GB installed in it since 2011. In fact, the best macOS it runs is Snow Leopard...problem is Snow Leopard is no longer supported by Apple, Google, Mozilla...so I did some research and found Ubuntu and the Ubuntu MacBookPro community to be very helpful. I started out with Ubuntu Desktop 14.01 and am currently running Ubuntu Desktop 16.04.3. Nearly all the hardware features work...WIFI, backlit keyboard, temp sensors, etc. Don't get me wrong, I love macOS. My 2014 15" Retina Display is running High Sierra just fine. I have VMWare Fusion 10 installed on it and run several different VMs on it just fine. But I wanted to breath new life into my 2009 machine and Ubuntu has delivered nicely. Burn a copy of the Ubuntu ISO onto a USB drive using Unetbootin (http://unetbootin.org/), boot up the old MBP from that USB, run the install. Then use this page as a reference for what needs to be installed to enable all the hardware features like WIFI, backlit keyboard, etc: https://help.ubuntu.com/community/MacBookPro Take your time to do your research and don't rush through the process. I think you'll be pleased with the results and this will breath new life into older but still very solid hardware. Enjoy!
     
  19. lowendlinux Contributor

    lowendlinux

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    #19
    This is key with Linux and even more so on special hardware
     
  20. winnyweg macrumors newbie

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    #20
    --- Post Merged, Apr 30, 2018 ---
    For a year or so I ran Linux Mint 18.1 and Deepin 15.3 in dual boot on my Macbook Pro 5,5 mid 2009. Deepin 15.3 was superceded and I found that Linux Mint 18.2 and 18.3 misbehaved slightly. We're talking little things here, like the MacBook not suspending with the lid closed. About 6 months ago I went for single boot with Deepin 15.5 which installs pefectly in every respect with no tweaks needed BUT I've subsequently learned that Deepin 15.5 has minimal spyware secreted in its software store. It's sad but I can live with it for a while. At some stage I'll install Debian Stretch MATE and I'm confident that 98% of it will be successful. That leaves a 2% challenge which I really could do without, because Deepin 15.5 ran like it was made for a MacBook. In fact you could put a granny in front of it and she'd be able to use it without a problem. Deepin 15.6 appears in June so we'll see what happens.
     
  21. lowendlinux Contributor

    lowendlinux

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    #21
    Deepin is a desktop environment that used to be plopped on top of and Ubuntu base and is now on a Debian base (unstable IIRC). In 2016 I had a Deepin Gentoo laptop for a bit and the DE was nice I'm sure two years later it's probably super sexy.

    The key is to find what agrees with you most, learn it, and roll with it.
     
  22. taranee macrumors newbie

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    Dec 27, 2017
    #22
    im going to disagree my mid 09 mbp is running OSX 10,13,4. right now and it runs great. it runs as dose the all the older os just as good as a new mac.
     
  23. krause734 macrumors 6502a

    krause734

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    #23
    Linux Mint is my favorite. Prefer it to MacOS now. Very simple and customizable.
     
  24. winnyweg macrumors newbie

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    #24
    --- Post Merged, Aug 10, 2018 ---
    No doubt about it now in my mind. I installed Deepin 15.6 over a month ago. It installs onto a MacBookPro 5,5 mid 2009, effortlessly. It's beautiful on a MacBook and the spyware issue has been resolved. Only drawback is that battery does not last as long as OSX. I've used a lot of distros and I'm happiest with this on a Mac. It's a pleasure to use .
     
  25. taranee macrumors newbie

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    Dec 27, 2017
    #25

    um dude mac os 10,13 works great on the mid 09 macbook pro, just as fast as any older os, yes it is truely installed on mine
     

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