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skaertus

macrumors 601
Original poster
Feb 23, 2009
4,061
1,140
Brazil
I have an early 2008 white MacBook, the one that came with a Core 2 Duo T8300 2.4 GHz, 2 GB RAM, and a 160 GB HDD. I eventually upgraded it and put an additional 2 GB RAM (for a total of 4 GB RAM), replaced the HDD with a 128 GB SSD drive, and put a new battery, so it got a new life.

However, this particular MacBook model is on the verge of turning 13 years old. The latest macOS it can run is Lion which is long unsupported. And most software will not run on it. It is hard even to browse the Internet.

So, I am trying to figure out what to do with this laptop. I have some other laptops, including Macs and PCs, that I bought after it. But this white MacBook, dirty and cracked as it is, is still a nice piece of hardware. Of course, it gets hot and noisy, and the 1280x800 TN screen does not hold a candle to the new retina-like ones. But the keyboard is comfortable and has a long travel, which is something all new keyboards lack.

My options would be as follows, I suppose:
  • Keep using OS X 10.7.5 Lion on it, and find software that it can still run.
  • Try a workaround to install a newer version of macOS.
  • Install Windows 10 on it and run it as if it were a PC laptop (either on Bootcamp or wipe out OS X completely).
  • Install ChromeOS on it and run it as if it were a Chromebook (I suppose I would have to wipe out OS X as well).
  • Install Linux on it and run it like a PC laptop.
  • Install a combination of Windows, ChromeOS or Linux, and have a dual-boot configuration.
So, considering the configuration (T8300, 4 GB RAM, 128 GB SSD), which would be the most recommended approach? I suppose Windows would be best but perhaps this machine is quite old and the processor too weak. Not sure if turning it into a Chromebook would be better. Thanks for the help.
 

Strategia

macrumors member
Mar 26, 2019
87
139
Apparently, you can unofficially have 6 GB of RAM with one 2 GB stick + one 4 GB stick. As for your question, I would dual-boot OS X and Linux. Linux isn't a miracle-worker, but I have no doubt it will breathe the most life into your MacBook, especially if it's paired with a light desktop environment.
 

Wowfunhappy

macrumors 65816
Mar 12, 2019
1,240
1,468
If you're happy with Lion and just want to be able to browse the web, you can use Chromium Legacy. https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/chromium-legacy-google-chrome-for-os-x-10-7-10-9.2283612/

You might also try an unofficial upgrade to Mavericks, which will help with app compatibility—Zoom will work, for instance. I'm not familiar with how well Mavericks works on your hardware specifically, but in the general case it isn't any slower than Lion, and it can even be faster due to memory compression. (It's also my preferred OS in general.)

Or, if app compatibility is less important and you just want the computer to be as speedy as possible (without abandoning macOS), you could downgrade to the famous Snow Leopard and use InterWeb for web browsing. Website compatibility won't be as good as Chromium (particularly for web-app type stuff), but it's decent enough.
 
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bobesch

macrumors 68000
Oct 21, 2015
1,952
1,933
Kiel, Germany
You may stick with Lion and with one of @wicknix adapted browsers. (for me IMAP-mail, MS Office'08, DEVONthink, FileSharing, ScreenSharing/RDP, iTunes, VMware Fusion with Win2k would be the essentials to cover >90% my daily tasks).
Windows10 is pretty decent on core2duo-Macs. Don't know how it works and how to install it on an 32bit-EFI Mac (but gonna check this with one of my white 2007 iMacs soon). My experience about Win10 on 64bit core2duo Macs is, that the official BootCamp DualBoot-Option has been a no-go for me and I'd recommend to install Win10 soleley onto a speparate drive, which leaves you to remove the optical drive for a second drive.
Linux is certainy fine, as long as it covers everything, you'll need for that MacBook.
I'd stay with Lion and put in another 120GB SSD as optical drive replacement to fiddle with both the Win10 and Linux option.
 
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Adamscomputerrepair

macrumors 6502a
Aug 9, 2015
533
256
Unofficially, your Mac will run ML using macpostfactor.

It will also run Mav, Yosemite-Catalina but will not have graphics support and each version gets worse.

Upgrade to ML, and then use either Linux or Win10 for something you can’t live without.
 

MysticCow

macrumors 65816
May 27, 2013
1,167
775
Official choices for Windows are Win 7 on down. If you're happy with that, then by all means run Win 7. If not, then either the unofficial Win 10 installs or Linux are your options.

Or you can always send it to a poor, starving teacher like me!
 
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Amethyst1

macrumors 603
Oct 28, 2015
5,709
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It will also run Mav, Yosemite-Catalina but will not have graphics support

It will if you're willing to do something drastic.


:cool:
 

Adamscomputerrepair

macrumors 6502a
Aug 9, 2015
533
256
It will if you're willing to do something drastic.


:cool:

You’d be safer buying a 2009 logic board for $20 and just swapping it out. And before you say that’s gutting a machine for no reason, hear me out. You can put an 08 board in a homemade PC case (I know because I’ve done it before) and then you have 2 computers. One that’s a turd graphics wise but is otherwise okay, and one that’s still a turd, but at least not a moldy one.
 
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iHorseHead

Contributor
Jan 1, 2021
877
900
I'd install Mavericks on it. It's not a miracle worker, but it does an amazing job nevertheless.
Another option is to install Windows 10 (unofficially). Windows 10 runs even on the first Intel MB and fairly well for it's age.
At least you'd get an up to date web browser.

 
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skaertus

macrumors 601
Original poster
Feb 23, 2009
4,061
1,140
Brazil
Thanks. That is very helpful. A few questions though:

1. If I try to install Windows 10 (64-bit) or Mavericks, can I go back to Lion if it does not work?

2. I noticed that the Geekbench 5 score of T8300 is around 300-350 single-core and 550-600 multi-core, which seems to be lower than the N4020, which is around 450-500 single-core and 850-900 multi-core. I have tried a laptop equipped with an N4020 running Windows 10 before, and it was painfully slow. Wouldn't it be more appropriate to have something lighter instead?
 

iHorseHead

Contributor
Jan 1, 2021
877
900
Thanks. That is very helpful. A few questions though:

1. If I try to install Windows 10 (64-bit) or Mavericks, can I go back to Lion if it does not work?

2. I noticed that the Geekbench 5 score of T8300 is around 300-350 single-core and 550-600 multi-core, which seems to be lower than the N4020, which is around 450-500 single-core and 850-900 multi-core. I have tried a laptop equipped with an N4020 running Windows 10 before, and it was painfully slow. Wouldn't it be more appropriate to have something lighter instead?
Hello,
Yes, download Lion and make a bootable USB installer. You can reinstall Lion later, but I also have a MacBook 4,1 and I doubt you'd want to go back from Mavericks as it runs quite well. Unfortunately Mavericks is out of date as well, but it's less out of date than Lion.

If I were you I'd install Windows 7 and then bootcamp drivers and then I'd upgrade to Windows 10 if you don't want to hunt down the drivers. Bootcamp drivers wont work on W10. It says the OS is out of date. If you install the drivers and then upgrade to Windows 10 then it'll work perfectly.
 

bobesch

macrumors 68000
Oct 21, 2015
1,952
1,933
Kiel, Germany
Hello,
Yes, download Lion and make a bootable USB installer. You can reinstall Lion later, but I also have a MacBook 4,1 and I doubt you'd want to go back from Mavericks as it runs quite well. Unfortunately Mavericks is out of date as well, but it's less out of date than Lion.

If I were you I'd install Windows 7 and then bootcamp drivers and then I'd upgrade to Windows 10 if you don't want to hunt down the drivers. Bootcamp drivers wont work on W10. It says the OS is out of date. If you install the drivers and then upgrade to Windows 10 then it'll work perfectly.
Yep, Win10 upgrade through Win7 is a good choice. Over the last two weeks I converted a few early intels into Win10Pro workstations and it was quite an amazing experience, that Win10 is a slick and fast responding (though somehow still awkward) operating system, even when running on an early c2duo intel Mac.
I wouldn't go for a dual-boot BootCamp-drive, since mixed GPT(Mac)/MBR(Win) partitioning on a single drive is prone to cause some sort of a hassle.
I found SnowLeopard-BootCamp3-drivers (fom SL-DVD) helpful to install all necessary drivers AFTER the Win7-installation from within Win7.
After that, I performed the (still free and available) Windows10Upgrade, checked the Macs overall functionionality and Win-DeviceManager to find out about any missing drivers. For missing drivers or any malfunctioning go for BootCamp5 on Apple's support sites. ( After download and extracting BootCamp5 choose either "Driver Update" through Win-DeviceManager or run the setup of each single driver from within the BootCamp/.../Apple folder.
Good luck!
 
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Wowfunhappy

macrumors 65816
Mar 12, 2019
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1. If I try to install Windows 10 (64-bit) or Mavericks, can I go back to Lion if it does not work?
Of course! It's not an iPhone, you can always reinstall whatever you want. :)

If you want to be able to go back and still have all of your data, make a time machine backup before trying the upgrade. As a separate note, if you upgrade to Mavericks (or Mountain Lion) I would recommend doing a clean install.
 

SecretSquirrel

macrumors member
Jan 21, 2013
81
68
U.K.
I have a couple of early Macbooks (a white 2,1 and a black 4,1) which I was given to fix up. Same old story; hardware in great shape, OS unsupported, limited apps. Having used Linux on and off over the years, I thought "why not? - I can always revert if it doesn't work out". To cut a long story short, the white 2,1 now has Linux Mint on it while the Blackbook has Ubuntu. I know Linux isn't everybody's cup of tea but it has brought both these machines bang up to date and made them secure and perfectly useable for everyday use. Oddly enough, the earlier 2,1 worked with Mint straight out of the box whereas the later 4,1 was more fussy and needed extra work on the WiFi and fans to sort out.
 

B S Magnet

macrumors 68000
Dec 5, 2018
1,924
3,026
unceded land of northern Turtle Island
I’m currently working with a MacBook4,1 (2008) I plan to give away once I cobble together a new battery and an SSD. I have it triple-bootable at the moment, with Snow Leopard as the primary, Mountain Lion as the secondary, and Sierra as the most experimental of the three.

I am surprised to have learnt in this thread that Intel Macs will underclock without a working battery, so given the performance so far of trying Sierra with a dead OEM battery, I’ll be curious to see how well Sierra deals with a battery and without spinning rust.

1616664343129.png
 

B S Magnet

macrumors 68000
Dec 5, 2018
1,924
3,026
unceded land of northern Turtle Island
What's it like to use without graphics acceleration?

Most of the time I’ve spent booted into Sierra on there is in setting it up, including setting it up so that sleep never happens and third-party brightness control is in place. I am waiting to put it through its paces until I can acquire a fresh/working battery (so that OS isn’t being throttled by a low clock speed of 1.0 or 1.2GHz — presuming it’s half-speed, so 1.2GHz). I also want to re-size the partitions, probably after migrating everything over SSD, to give it a bit more breathing room than it has.

That said, it’s reasonably responsive. It‘s still janky as heck with screen refresh when accessing it via Remote Desktop, and I don’t yet know the reason why.

I did briefly open a YT clip at 1080p in Safari (and was reminded instantly why I have uBlock origin and uMatrix running on everything I have and why I never use Safari, wowww).

I found it kept up reasonably well with low-impact motion video, with just a hair of choppiness on rapid, fluid scenes. Again, this would probably be better if the CPU/iGPU was running at full-speed, but for a non-supported GPU, it seems to perform better than, say, running 720p YT on my 1.67GHz DLSD PowerBook with a Mobility Radeon 9700 128MB (which, yes, I know how video on that platform is being handled by the CPU, not the GPU).

For a system whose official support halted with 10.7.5, it seems to handle well with 10.12.6. I suppose if I was even more daring, I would try installing 10.13.6 on an HFS+ partition, but given how much worse HS runs on supported hardware after uptimes exceeding one week, versus 10.12.6 with similar uptimes, I’ll still with 10.12.6 as a test bed on the MacBook4,1 for now.
 
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MBAir2010

macrumors 601
May 30, 2018
4,152
4,064
sunny florida
Any macbook is worth something even for older apps usage.
there are still good things with using Mountain Lion and Waterfox classic and using older apps can
be refreshing and quite fun!
 
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