Installing Mint 17 on an original 2008 MacBook Air

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marnevalleymike
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Installing Mint 17 on an original 2008 MacBook Air

Post by marnevalleymike »

Here's my feedback, for what it's worth, about applying the procedures in Clem's tutorial (http://community.linuxmint.com/tutorial/view/1643) to an “elderly” Macbook Air; beware, it's a long-winded post and I'm a noob, so stand by for c0ck-ups, but I thought I'd contribute my experiences anyway:

I found this tuto really helpful when installing Mint 17 Cinnamon on a 2008 Macbook Air that I was given and that was really not well at all. The laptop's MacOS was faulty – didn't remember dates or wifi codes (probably due to PRAM capacitor running out of charge, thanks to dead main battery), no Terminal was present in the OS, no Disk Utilities (!), beachball turning forever, so I already had doubts about a valid dual-boot system working. As this MBA only ran on AC power, I removed the dead battery, which had swollen spectacularly and was probably on the point of exploding! It had distorted the case so much that the latter wouldn't shut properly but regained its svelte form as soon as the battery was out and a new, replacement battery put in, though not from Apple (they're probably all from the same source anyway)! With Mint as the OS, the machine still gets really hot, just as it did with Mac OS, especially when streaming video and sound, particularly on the left underside of the case nearest the screen; this in spite of renewing the thermal paste sparingly (Arctic Silver) before fitting the replacement battery – I followed the iFixit guides carefully for this, so I'm a bit disappointed about the continuing heat issue. This is not a machine I'd leave unattended.

As for the installation process, I'd made a Live USB of Mint 17 on my main computer that also runs Mint and, when I'd shrunk the MacOS partition with Gparted (probably wrongly-sized it!) I absent-mindedly formatted the rest as ext4 instead of leaving it alone, to be formatted at a later stage - typical noob distro-hopper's error! So I took the plunge, it's a little HDD anyway – 80GB – and installed Mint on the whole disk, formatting it all in ext4, apart from the swap of course, and then installed efibootmgr as Clem instructed. The boot order sorted itself out with Mint on top, MacOS as “FFFF” - don't know if that's right or some eventually, fatal error, but everything seems to working fairly well now, even the wifi, thanks to Clem's Broadcom driver fix included on the Live USB; however, there needs to be a functioning battery present to provide the PRAM capacitor's necessary charge (this I deduce, not having any specialist's knowledge), otherwise the wifi may not be detected and the clock goes back to Jan 1, 2001. With the battery present, the wifi is detected immediately, passwords are asked for and the clock puts itself right.

The start-up is a bit slow, a good minute and a bit, there's still the MacOS “klang!” first of all – then a good 30 seconds' wait just to the login screen, then the Mint bells, etc., password window, and finally you're off. Mint's very fast though, once it gets going, and very responsive, most things seem to work, including the touch-pad although you'll need a mouse or a program's tool-bar for the Copy/Cut/Paste functions, as far as I can see – touch-pad bar won't do this anymore. But it's so nice to have a great OS you can adjust to your liking. The Cairo dock seems to do very well in the openGL version and gives easy access to everything.

However, there are still issues I'd like an expert opinion on, if someone has time:

- firstly the overheating problem: is this normal on the 2008 MBA? Hard to believe in such a design fault on the part of Apple; this is really not a laptop for a summer's day! My good old Acer AOA110 running Xubuntu doesn't get this hot even when watching video, streamed or otherwise. I can see the replacement battery going west soon with such heat. Should I try a lighter distro than Mint 17 Cinnamon? But then how would I go about installing it without the efibootmgr process and the Broadcom wifi driver fix built into the Mint 17 iso? Noob hell!

- secondly, Mac OS took ages to boot and Mint is no better, probably due to my poor installation skills. Would anyone be able to tell me how I could improve and speed up the boot-up process?

- thirdly, the replacement battery doesn't seem to charge properly – just enough to put a charge in the PRAM capacitor but that's it - yet the little LED is green all the time. I know nothing about MBAs or their charging cycles but from what I've seen on the Net, this doesn't appear to be normal. Should I leave the charger connected all night with the MBA powered off or something?

- finally, it would be nice to have a fully-functioning touch-pad bar for Copy / Cut / Paste functions, etc., if anyone has worked out the lines of code to effect that. The touch-pad itself works responsively with the fingertip and has good “slider” sensitivity on the right-hand side. Was there a pinch / spread function originally? If so, it's gone now.

Sorry for length of this post but I wanted any readers to get the full picture.
Self-built desktop computer running Linux Mint Cinnamon
Ion 330 HTPC running Linux Mint KDE
AOA 110 netbook running Xubuntu

0ddity
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Re: Installing Mint 17 on an original 2008 MacBook Air

Post by 0ddity »

- finally, it would be nice to have a fully-functioning touch-pad bar for Copy / Cut / Paste functions, etc., if anyone has worked out the lines of code to effect that. The touch-pad itself works responsively with the fingertip and has good “slider” sensitivity on the right-hand side. Was there a pinch / spread function originally? If so, it's gone now.
I'm not sure if this is what you're looking for, but if you tap the pad with two fingers (spreadly slightly apart) it brings up a context menu (like right click on PC) where you can copy, paste, do other contexty menu stuff.

marnevalleymike
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Re: Installing Mint 17 on an original 2008 MacBook Air

Post by marnevalleymike »

Thanks, I'll try that and let you know.
Self-built desktop computer running Linux Mint Cinnamon
Ion 330 HTPC running Linux Mint KDE
AOA 110 netbook running Xubuntu

marnevalleymike
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Posts: 3
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Location: France

Re: Installing Mint 17 on an original 2008 MacBook Air

Post by marnevalleymike »

Tried Oddity's suggestion but this manoeuvre doesn't seem to work on my MBA's touchpad, but I don't mind too much. What bugs me now is that the Broadcom Wifi chip doesn't seem to be picking anything up in spite of re-installation of Mint 17 and its wifi fix, so no Internet :(
Battery also seems to empty itself pretty fast and anything streamed seems to get the board pretty hot. However, the experiment continues, fitfully....
Self-built desktop computer running Linux Mint Cinnamon
Ion 330 HTPC running Linux Mint KDE
AOA 110 netbook running Xubuntu

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