Linux Mint MacBook Air Setup
The full process of recycling an old MacBook Air to run Linux Mint
I don’t like the idea of throwing away old or outdated tech (within reason), so I try to find a new purpose for some of my “retired” devices. This article will cover how to switch over a mid-2011 model MacBook Air to utilize Linux Mint.
Important: This setup will completely wipe your existing disk and create a fresh install of Linux Mint on the SSD. You have been warned.
My old MacBook Air has a pretty decent spec sheet:
- Processor: 1.7GHz dual-core Intel Core i5
- Memory: 4GB of 1333MHz DDR3
- Graphics: Advanced Intel HD Graphics 3000
- SSD: 128 GB
And let’s take a look at the basic system requirements Linux Mint suggests:
- 2GB RAM
- Dual Core Processor
- 20GB free disk space
We are looking pretty good!
Step 1: Download Linux Mint
For this setup we will be using the latest, stable version (at this time of writing) of Linux Mint 20 “Ulyana” - Xfce which is 20. You can download the necessary files here:
- Linux Mint 20 “Ulyana” - Xfce [1.8GB]
Step 2: Flash Linux Mint to USB Stick
Next we just need to flash the Linux Mint OS to a USB storage device. If you need to purchase some, you can easily find them on Amazon (affliate link):
- Download Balena Etcher for your current operating system
- Run the installer
Once installed, open Etcher do the following:
- Select your downloaded Linux Mint ISO file
- Select your USB stick/device as the media
- Flash media
Step 3: Boot from USB
- Make sure your Macbook Air is turned off
- Plug your newly flashed USB stick into the MacBook Air
- Turn on the MacBook Air
- Immediately hold down the alt/option button (keep holding until the prompt screen is visible)
- You will be shown drive “icons” - you want to select your USB drive (normally the far right icon)
- Press Enter
- Select the first item in the list that appears “Start Linux Mint”
After this you will boot into a “live session” of the Linux Mint operating system.
Step 4: Installing Linux Mint
Linux Mint makes it very easy for you to install it’s OS step-by-step (similar to most other Linux distros). Simply double-click on the “Install Linux Mint” CD icon on the main desktop.
- Choose your language. then hit Continue
- Select your preferred keyboard layout, then hit Continue
- Optional: You might be asked to connect to a WiFi network, if you are set it up now
- I would suggest downloading the multimedia codecs to make things easier, then hit Continue
- For installation type, select “Erase disk and install Linux Mint”, then hit Continue
- WARNING: This will wipe your current drive completely - make sure you are okay with this!
- It will issue you with a warning prompt, simply click Continue
- Select your timezone, then hit Continue
- Enter your name, a username, a name for your computer, and set a password (you will use this to login moving forward)
- Wait for the installation to complete
- Once complete, you will be prompted to reboot your system
- After a reboot you will be prompted to remove the USB device and then press Enter
- Welcome to Linux Mint!
Linux Mint is not only a great operating system, but it is also an excellent starting point for newcomers to Linux in general. It’s stable enough to be used as a daily driver and popular enough that most minor issues can be solved with a quick internet search.
Hopefully this inspires others to try “recycling” their older Apple products instead of tossing them away or having them collect dust.