How to Install Ubuntu 12.10 In Macbook Air

This is a follow-up post to the previous article: How to Install (And Dual Boot) Ubuntu In Macbook Air (5,2).

If you have followed the previous guide to install Ubuntu 12.04 in your newly acquired MacBook Air and is looking to upgrade to Ubuntu 12.10, or you just want to install Ubuntu 12.10 from scratch, this guide is for you. The good thing about Ubuntu 12.10 is that it works better than 12.04 on the Macbook Air, so the installation will be a breeze and less fixes are required.

Note: This tutorial is based on the 2012 Macbook Air (5,2). If you are using an older version of Macbook Air, this tutorial might not work.

1. In your Mac, download the 64-bit Mac (AMD64) desktop CD iso.

2. Once the download is completed, plug in your USB drive and open a Terminal (Applications -> Utilities -> Terminal).

3. Convert the iso file to img format with the following command:

Replace the “/path/to” with the actual location of the iso file (you can drag and drop the iso file to the terminal to paste the file location).

4. Check the location of your USB drive:

ubuntu-mac-usb-disk-number

5. Unmount the USB drive:

Replace “diskX” with the USB drive disk number.

6. Run the following command to create the USB Installer:

Don’t forget to replace the “path/to” and the “rdiskX” with the file location and disk number respectively.

7. Lastly, eject your USB drive.

rEFit is a boot menu toolkit that can detect multi-boot system on Mac and allows you to boot into another OS easily.

1. Download the latest version of rEFit from here.

2. Install it in your Mac.

The next step is to partition your Mac to make space for Ubuntu. Open the Disk Utility (Applications -> Utilities -> Disk Utility)

1. On the left panel, select the Mac SSD. On the right, click the “Partition” tab.

2. Select “2 partitions” from the Partition Layout dropdown. You should see the partition layout become two equal containers.

3. Highlight the bottom container (the partition to use for installing Ubuntu). Give it a proper name and select “MS-DOS (FAT)” for the format. Next, change the hard disk size you want to allocate for Ubuntu.

ubuntu-mac-partitioning

4. Click Apply.

Once you have partitioned the hard disk, you are ready to install Ubuntu.

1. Plug in your Ubuntu USB Installer and reboot the Mac.

2. On the rEFit screen, press the right arrow to select the USB installer.

ubuntu-mac-refit-bootscreen

3. The Installer should boot you into the LiveCD desktop without any issue.

4. Once you are in the desktop, select “Install Ubuntu”.

5. Follow the onscreen instructions to install Ubuntu until you reach the point where it asks you to select the “Installation Type”. Select the last option “Something Else”.

ubuntu-mac-installation-type

6. The partition table will now show up. You need to delete the FAT32 partition and create two other partitions – one for Swap and another for Ubuntu installation (ext4 format). The general rule of the thumb for the Swap size is to allocate twice the RAM size, up to a maximum of 4GB, so if you have 4GB or more RAM, make the Swap size 4GB. Leave the rest of the free space for Ubuntu.

Note: Some people will opt to create another partition for the GRUB installation. This is purely optional.

Before:

ubuntu-mac-before-partition

After:

ubuntu-mac-after-partition

Make sure you select the correct partition for the boot loader installation.

ubuntu-mac-grub-install-partition

Once you have completed this partitioning step, you can proceed to install Ubuntu.

After you have installed Ubuntu, remove the USB drive and reboot your Mac. On the rEFit boot screen, you should now see a new Penguin icon. select it.

ubuntu-mac-penguin-icon

Note: If you are seeing a dark screen instead of the GRUB menu, you have to:

1. Boot to Mac OS X
2. Install the GPT fdisk terminal utility
3. Follow these instructions to build a hybrid boot menu.

You should be able to boot into Ubuntu now.

There are some fixes and tweaks that we have to perform before Ubuntu can function properly.

Note: The following script is a modified version of the post-install-precise.sh script that we used earlier for the Precise install.

Open a terminal and type:

It will issue a warning that the script is not meant for your version of Mac. You can ignore it and continue the installation process. The script It will add a few PPAs and install a few important fixes, including macfanctld (CPU fan control), lightum (light sensor), xmodmap (key mapping), suspend, etc.

That’s it. You should be able dual boot Ubuntu 12.10 on your Macbook Air now.

45 comments

  1. Thank you very much for the updated script-file (post-install-quantal.sh)! All hardware components are working really nice on Ubuntu 12.10! The only thing I had to do, is to change the blacklisted sensors as described in the script-file. I also added a second PPA (from pof) “pof’s random packages” where I installed the “indicator-sysbat”-package. So I have an indicator which shows me CPU temperature and RPM of my fan. So I was able to see/control if all went right after installation.

    • I am glad that everything went well with you. I been enjoying it better than 12.04, hope you have the same experience too.

  2. Has anyone noticed the backlit keyboard blinks on an off alot? is that normal or have i just not noticed considering quantal just kept it on all the time :) otherwise GREAT work…

    • I think it is the backlight saving mode. When your hands are off the keyboard or mouse/trackpad, the light will go off.

    • This seems to be controlled by the lightum package. I disabled this “automatic” powersaving by uninstalling “lightum” and “lightum-indicator”. I prefer to control my brightness manually so these packages aren’t necessary.

  3. thx for the guide :) one question: every time i try to write an image to usb (dd etc.) afterwards usb wouldn’t be recognized by the system, it doesn’t appear also in refit.. diskutil show dos_fat_32 partition. i can’t see what’s wrong..

    • ahh ok it works with just ALT pressed by boot time then i could easily install lubuntu 12.10 everything seems to work fine but i don’t know how i can use keyboard cut & paste in xterm especially to paste into xterm.. thx once again for your help :)

  4. So i took a different approach and since i was upgrading from 12.04 to 12.10, I just let the software update do the trick but now the wireless isn’t working properly. It’ll show it enabled but no wireless networks show up. Should i just install from scratch again?

    • Even on a usual PC, i would never use the update manager to upgrade the distro. Some things will surely break after the upgrade. For this Mac, I advise you to do a reinstall.

  5. I have 1 issue so far after loading 12.10 and then running the post_quantal script. my screen gets way to dark. I tried doing f2 on my macbook pro and it doesnt help… how do i fix it? otherwise the machine runs great..

  6. Following the instructions it was straightforward to install 12.10 on the MacBook Air 11. The only thing I did differently was to change rdiskX to diskX in the dd command. I also had to use the GPTfdisk tool to get the Ubuntu partition booting as described in the instructions.

    Finally to get the middle click for copy/paste in the terminal I used
    synclient TapButton3=2 ClickFinger3=2 PalmDetect=1
    as described in the relevant Ubuntu site.

    Thank you very much!

  7. Many thanks for this excellent guide.

    A few questions:
    1. After running the post-quantal script. The fan seems to be working in really loud ‘bursts’ every once in a while. I am wondering if this is OK?

    2. My f buttons still don’t work. I manually mapped my volume fs, but couldn’t get for example f2 to map to brightness.

    3. The touchpad feels way to sensitive to me. Can you please advise of a fix for this, or is something I need to live with?

    Many Thanks!

    • 1. The fan is working in loud burst is because you are running a CPU intensive application. Once you close the application, the fan will go back to normal. Alternatively, you can install a CPU indicator to monitor your cpu usage and temperature.

      2. My Fn button works out of the box. I am not sure why it doesn’t work for you.

      3. For the TouchPad, I used TouchEgg to configure the sensitivity and gestures

  8. Thank you for yout great tuto!
    Could you help me ? I’am stuck at the GRUB menu. Actually, there is no GRUB menu but just a balck screen “GRUB _”.
    Thank you again and sorry for my bad english.

  9. Good tutorial. The only thing is that I am stuck with the black screen and the blinking thing… I followed the instructions for the hybrid MBR, but it did not work. I hope it’s not because the info on that forum was for MacBook Air 4,1 & 4,2 and not 5,2 like mine. Any clue?

    • Forget it!

      I retried the hybrid MBR with GPT and I realize I made a mistake first. I chose the swap partition instead of the Linux files partition. So, for me, it was “2 3 5” and not “2 3 4” like in the example.

      Many thanks again.

  10. How can we uninstall your script?

    Everything was fine before installing it. Now the fan, the keyboard et the screen are doing free games.

    • You just have to use the command “sudo apt-get autoremove macfanctld lightum lightum-indicator lm-sensors” to uninstall the packages installed by the script.

  11. Thanks.

    But now, I’ve lost control of some keyboard’s keys, like F1, F2, F5, F6, for the backlight and the screen.

  12. Damien, have you already done the “MacBook Air EFI – Firmware-Update 2.6”? I don’t want to break my system (Dual Boot).
    THX in advance!

  13. Anybody else suffering from the screen backlight not always turning on after rEFIt just before Grub loads? It seems to be a timing issue but I can’t quite figure out a reliable pattern or reason why it does that.

  14. Nice summary! Worked to a degree. Had to do the hybrid MBR thing, but worked. However, after rebooting and doing the first system update, I lost the wireless with “no network devices available”…any ideas?

  15. Ok, disabling the broadcom wireless driver (system settings -> Software sources -> Additional drivers) got me wireless again…

  16. Thanks for the how to.
    Was able to install Ubuntu 12.10.
    There is only one problem, which I am trying to solve at the moment.
    Right after the install, it booted fine with correct screen resolution and wireless working.
    Then it had to install around 244 updates.
    After it reboot, screen was back to VGA, and no wireless at all.
    That was even before running the post-install script.
    Anyone else facing the same issue?
    Would the post-install fix the problem?
    Thanks,
    derchris

  17. HELLO ,I just bought a macbook air and can’t wait to install ubuntu 12.10 on it.Then I found your how-to.It all went smoothly but the link which is the post-install script seems not working any more .Can you kindly send me a copy?
    Many Thanks!

  18. Hi!

    Everything works fine until step 6. When I enter the command it says ‘No such file or directory’. I am 100% sure that I have put in the right locations and I have not changed the name of anything.
    Please help!

    • Open the finder and double check the img location. Also check if you have replaced “rdiskX” with the correct number.

  19. Installation according to this tutorial didn’t work for me. I spent to many hours and after several annoying results (losing wifi, strange behavior of keyboard, lightum not working,…) I started from scratch with 12.04. which indeed needs some manual tuning steps. but these steps took me just one hour and I have a LTS version running.
    A complete tutorial can be found here: http://iletee.wordpress.com/2012/07/16/installing-ubuntu-12-04-on-a-2012-macbook-air-52/

  20. Hi. Thanks for the tutorial. 12.10 works fine on my macbook air (mid 2012). Now I am curious if I can just use the automatic updates to 13.04? Will that work fine? Thank!

    • I didn’t try the automatic update as it fails me everytime, regardless of the PC that I am using. I used the same steps to install 13.04 and everything works fine.

      • Thanks. How do I get rid of the current 12.10 version? Just by deleting the partition or do I have to consider something else?

Comments are closed.

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