How to install Ubuntu 12.10 in Macbook Air 2011 mid


Just in case you are curious enough or you simply want to act similar to Linus Torvalds using GNU/Linux in Apple’s hardware (Macbook Air) then follow this guide. As you can see from my picture above, I’ve tested it and is working 100% running Ubuntu 12.10 with GNOME shell.

Step 1: Install rEFIT boot menu

In order to install more than one operating systems into your Macbook Air, you’ll need a boot-loader called rEFIT — a boot menu and maintenance toolkit for EFI-based machines like the Mac hardware.


Once you have it installed, you can use it to boot multiple operating systems easily, including triple-boot setups eg. Windows 8, Mountain Lion and Ubuntu 12.10. Geek-wise, it also provides an easy way to enter and explore the EFI pre-boot environment. The current release is 0.14 and tt is available in various forms. However, we need Mac disk image only, double click the installer, set it up and click finish.

How to install rEFIT

The steps to install rEFIt this way are as follows:

  1. Download and mount the rEFIt-0.14.dmg disk image.
  2. Right-click and select Open on the “rEFIt.mpkg” package.
  3. Follow the instructions and select your Mac OS X installation volume as the destination volume for the install.


So you hated Ubuntu and this article have been your worst choice ever ? No worries, you can undo things and go back to Mountain’s normal. Here’s the instructions for uninstall rEFIT and have it removed out of your Macbook:

To get rid of rEFIt, open the “Startup Disk” preference pane and select “Mac OS X” as the operating system to boot. This will re-bless your Mac OS X volume and instruct the firmware to boot from it. Then rename or delete the “efi” folder.

In case your Mac OS X installation on the hard disk no longer boots, you can boot from the Mac OS X Install Disc (hold down the ‘C’ key while booting) and run “Startup Disk” from the “Utilities” menu.

Download refit

Once you’ve rEFIT installed, run the Partition Inspector application and press Analyze button.


If everything went well, you’ll see the rEFIt boot menu on the next restart. Otherwise have a look at rEFI’s documentation. Apart from troubleshooting advices, there are some useful tips for customizing your all-new bootloader.

Just to make sure we’re all in the same page here, before you go to the next step, make sure that the app is working. So reboot your system and if you see a startup menu like the one above, you’ re good to go. If not … try again! Last but not least, ignore the Linux penguin (aka Tux) icon, and boot into Mountain Lion (for now).


Step 2: Make space for Ubuntu 12.10 installation

Supposing you use the full SSD disk’s size, you have to resize it and free some space — min 5GB — for Ubuntu. Don’t worry, there is nothing to afraid of… but just in case backup your most important data before make any changes to the disk. The utility we are going to use is called Disk Utility.


How to resize and partition in Mountain Lion

  • Open Disk Utility (Applications > Utilities > Disk Utility.)
  • Select your hard drive from the list on the left, and click the Partition tab on the right.
  • You’ll see the current partition layout. Click the right corner of the current partition and shrink it to the size you want. The display will show you the minimum size, so don’t worry about going too far. Alternatively, just select the current partition and type in the final size (total hard drive space – amount you want Ubuntu to have) in the Size field on the right.
  • Click apply. Disk Utility will shrink the current partition for you and free up space for your Ubuntu install.


Resize first and then press Apply button. The resizing process needs about 1 min to be completed. After that you are ready to install Ubuntu at the free space along with Mountain Lion in a such a beautiful dual boot configuration.

Step 3: Prepare Ubuntu 12.10 USB Flash disk

As far as I am concerned there is no optical drive into Macbook Air. After all it’s too thin and so much insanely designed for a CD drive. Hence, you are going to install Ubuntu 12.10 via a bootable USB flash disk. If you have a Windows PC, fire up Unetbootin app. If you have another Ubuntu PC, use my version script from — but modify it according to your needs. Otherwise, if you are a Mac-lover only, this procedure requires that you create an .img file from the .iso file you download.

How to prepare Ubuntu flash disk in Mountain Lion

  1. Open the Terminal (in /Applications/Utilities/ or query Terminal in Spotlight).
  2. Convert the .iso file to .img using the convert option of hdiutil (e.g.,hdiutil convert -format UDRW -o ~/path/to/target.img ~/path/to/ubuntu.iso)
  3. Run diskutil list to get the current list of devices.
  4. Insert your flash media.
  5. Run diskutil list again and determine the device node assigned to your flash media (e.g. /dev/disk2).
  6. Run diskutil unmountDisk /dev/diskN (replace N with the disk number from the last command; in the previous example, N would be 2).
  7. Execute sudo dd if=/path/to/downloaded.img of=/dev/rdiskN bs=1m (replace /path/to/downloaded.img with the path where the image file is located; for example, ./ubuntu.imgor ./ubuntu.dmg).
    • Using /dev/rdisk instead of /dev/disk may be faster
    • If you see the error dd: Invalid number ‘1m’, you are using GNU dd. Use the same command but replace bs=1m with bs=1M
    • If you see the error dd: /dev/diskN: Resource busy, make sure the disk is not in use. Start the ‘Disk’ and unmount (don’t eject) the drive
  8. Run diskutil eject /dev/diskN and remove your flash media when the command completes.
  9. Restart your Mac and press alt/option key while the Mac is restarting to choose the USB stick.

Step 4: Install Ubuntu alongside with Mountain Lion

Now that your USB flash disk is ready, restart Macbook and press ALT key in order to select your first boot device. Go with Flash disk instead of SSD and voila… Ubuntu 12.10 is booting!

Furthermore, thanks to the modern Ubuntu installation wizard, you no longer have to create partitions manually but select the appropriate option. My wireless network was automatically detected, based on Broadcom Corporation BCM4322 802.11a/b/g/n chip. Hence, I had no problem with Ubuntu installation. Everything went smoothly.



  1. I did just that, it worked! I then I tried to install the latest Nvidia driver (310.14) with your script and it doesn’t work. I have 1024×768 screen with no Dash or Icons, just the mouse and the background image??!!

    Mini Mac 2009 (Nvidia 9400M)

    Can you please help? Thank you!


    1. hmmm so you have an external GPU… I don’t know so if it is possible to detect it in Mac. It would be a better idea to install Ubuntu 12.04 and update the kernel to the latest (from git). Yet again I am not sure it is going to work though.

      Best of Luck 😉


  2. […]I miss Mountain Lion. You may ask, WHY ?[…]
    i’m running xfce4 on debian wheezy and i can also bake eggs on my macbook. so i don’t think it is an ubuntu-only “feature”… i’ve tried a few daemons that control the fan but all they do is run the fan at almost full speed, almost all of the time, just to keep cpu temperatures between 68~75c. =/


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