Ubuntu on MacBook Air

Finally I can make it, Ubuntu on MacBook Air with Wi-Fi enable. Since Ubuntu can not detect Wi-Fi out of the box and MacBook Air has no ethernet port. The process is quite tricky.

Follow these steps if you want to install Ubuntu on MacBook Air. Important Information

  • I use MacBook Air 1.6GHz with Apple External Superdrive (need to purchase separately)
  • I install Ubuntu 8.04 Hardy Heron Alpha 4 (Desktop)
  • The good resources are on Ubuntu Wiki: How to install Ubuntu on MacBook and MacBook Santa Rosa. Some methods can be used with MacBook Air

Installation Steps

  1. Prepare you partition by using BootCamp (it's in Application/Utilities). I allocate 5GB for Ubuntu partition.
  2. Download Ubuntu CD image and burn into actual CD. Disk Utility can do this job.
  3. Insert CD to external drive, make sure you connect the power cable to MacBook Air. Then, reboot
  4. Hold down 'C' button at the black screen to boot from CD.
  5. Follow usual Ubuntu installation step. In keyboard selection screen, choose "macintosh".
  6. In partitioning screen, choose 'manually edit partition table'.
  7. Delete the 5GB partition just created from BootCamp. Then create the ext3 partition at the same size. Mount it as '/'.
  8. Complete the installation process. Then reboot.
  9. Let boot back into the OS X environment which you can access the internet via Wi-Fi. Open up the web browser and download these packages (i386 architecture):

  10. Put all files into 'Public' directory in your home directory.

  11. Insert Mac OS X Leopard DVD disc 1 (included with MacBook Air) into the external drive.
  12. Reboot again.
  13. At the black screen, hold down 'Alt' button until the BootCamp screen shows up.
  14. Select 'Windows' partition and click the arrow to confirm.
  15. Ubuntu should boot and show up. At login screen, enter username and password.
  16. You should see the CD icon on the desktop. Double click on it, go through 'BootCamp' and 'Driver' directory. Copy the directory named 'Broadcom' to the desktop.
  17. Go to menu 'Places' and 'Computer', select the 'Macintosh HD' from the sidebar. Enter your password for superuser priviledge.
  18. The 'Macintosh HD' should be mounted. Go to 'Users', your username and then 'Public'. You will see 3 packages you downloaded from the web.
  19. Double click 'ndiswrapper-common', install the package. Then follow by 'ndiswrapper-utils-1.9' and 'unrar'.
  20. Now everything is ready for Wi-Fi installation. Open the Terminal from 'Applications', 'Accessories'
  21. Go to the 'Broadcom' folder and run this command: __unrar x broadcomxpinstaller.exe'
  22. then run this command: sudo ndiswrapper -i bcmwl5.inf
  23. follow with sudo ndiswrapper -m and sudo modprobe ndiswrapper
  24. Now the driver is installed, next is to load it everytime on boot process. Run this command sudo gedit /etc/modules
  25. Add ndiswrapper to the last line.
  26. Reboot. Hold 'Alt' to boot Ubuntu.
  27. After login, Wi-Fi indicator should show up on the top-right corner of the screen. Enjoy your Ubuntu session on MacBook Air!


I haven't tried to config other MacBook Air hardware yet. If you have some problems or want to share any howto, this MacBook Air thread at Ubuntu Forums is the best place.


I created MacBook Air page on Ubuntu Wiki.

Submitted byjrp13thon Mon, 03/03/2008 - 23:07

เอามัติทัชมาใช้ได้ไหมครับ :P

Submitted bymameepokoon Tue, 03/04/2008 - 23:01

Before follow above.
1. Buy MacBook Air
2. follow above step

Submitted byRSon Sun, 05/04/2008 - 19:26


I bought the MacBook Air sometime back, and tried installing Ubuntu (both Hardy and Gutsy) recently. I ran into a small issue - thought I will check with you.

Basically, the display when running Ubuntu (either of the two versions) shows some black 'waves' or 'lines' scrolling vertically across the screen - somewhat like how a CRT screen appears on video. I originally thought it could be a display frequency related problem, tried 2-3 options, couldn't get rid of it though. When running Mac OS X, these lines do not appear, so I'd say that the hardware is fine. Did you face this issue - and if yes, can you let me know how you fixed it?

Thanks, and Rgds,

R. Saravanan

Submitted byMatt Oliveron Sun, 07/20/2008 - 04:35

In all respects, this tutorial can apply to the installation of Ubuntu on any capable Mac. Just thought I'd put that out there…