How to Install Linux on Your Mac: A Step-by-Step Guide

How to Install Linux on Your Mac: A Step-by-Step Guide

Linux is a powerful and versatile operating system that can run on various devices, including Macs. There are many reasons why you might want to install Linux on your Mac, such as exploring a different environment, learning new skills, or reviving an old machine. There are different versions of Linux, called distributions, that offer different features and experiences. Some of the most popular ones are Ubuntu, Fedora, and Mint. For this guide, I will use Ubuntu as an example, but you can choose any distribution that suits your needs and preferences. Before we begin, please make sure you have backed up your important data, as installing Linux may erase or overwrite some of your files.

What is Linux?

Linux is an operating system, which is a software that manages the communication between your applications and your hardware. Linux is based on the Unix operating system, which was developed in the 1970s. It is open-source, which means anyone can modify, distribute, and use it for free. Linux is also very versatile, as it can run on various devices, from smartphones to supercomputers. Linux is popular among developers, as it offers a lot of tools and flexibility for coding and customization.

Steps to Install Linux on a Mac

Step 1: Choose a Linux Distribution

A Linux distribution is a version of Linux that comes with a set of software and a graphical user interface. There are many Linux distributions available, each with its own features, advantages, and disadvantages. Some of the most popular and user-friendly ones are:

  • Ubuntu. This is the most widely used Linux distribution, and it has a desktop interface called Unity, which is very similar to macOS. Ubuntu is easy to install and use, and it has a large and active community of users and developers.
  • Fedora. This is another popular Linux distribution, and it uses a desktop interface called GNOME, which is modern and sleek. Fedora is known for being innovative and cutting-edge, and it often introduces new features and technologies before other distributions.
  • Mint. This is a Linux distribution that is based on Ubuntu, but it uses a different desktop interface called Cinnamon, which is more traditional and familiar to Windows users.

Step 2: Create a Bootable Linux USB Drive

The next step is to create a bootable Linux USB drive, which will allow you to start your Mac from Linux and install it on your hard drive. To do this, you will need a tool called Etcher, which you can download from here. Etcher is a simple and easy-to-use app that can flash the Linux image file onto your USB drive.

After downloading and installing Etcher, open it and follow these steps:

  • Click the Select Image button and choose the Linux ISO file you downloaded in the previous step.
  • Click the Select Drive button and choose your USB drive. Make sure you have no other important data on it, as it will be erased.
  • Click the Flash! button and wait for the process to complete. It may take a few minutes, depending on the speed of your USB drive and your Mac.

When the flashing is done, you can safely eject your USB drive from your Mac.

Step 3: Partition Your Mac’s Hard Drive

The third step is to partition your Mac’s hard drive, which means creating a separate space for Linux on your disk. This will allow you to have a dual-boot system, where you can choose to start your Mac from either macOS or Linux.

To partition your hard drive, you will need to use the Disk Utility app, which you can find in the Applications folder.

Open it and follow these steps:

  • Select your Mac’s hard drive from the sidebar. It should be named Macintosh HD or something similar.
  • Click the Partition button at the top and click the + button at the bottom to add a new partition.
  • Name the new partition Linux, and choose the size you want to allocate for it. You can drag the slider or enter the value manually. The recommended size is at least 20 GB, but you can choose more if you have enough space.
  • Choose the format of the new partition as MS-DOS (FAT) or ExFAT. This will make it easier for Linux to recognize and use it later.
  • Click the Apply button and confirm the changes. The partitioning may take some time, depending on the size of your disk and the amount of data on it.

When the partitioning is done, you can close the Disk Utility app.

Step 4: Restart Your Mac and Boot from USB

The fourth step is to restart your Mac and boot from the USB drive that contains the Linux image file. To do this, you will need to hold down the Option key while your Mac is starting up, and select the USB drive from the boot menu. The USB drive should be named EFI Boot or EFI Drive.

After selecting the USB drive, you will see the GRUB menu, which is the boot loader for Linux. From here, you can choose to try Linux without installing it, or install it on your hard drive.

Here are the steps to follow:

  • Plug the bootable Linux USB drive into your Mac.
  • Turn on your Mac while holding down the Option key. You will then see the boot manager with a list of available devices you can boot from.
  • Select the USB drive and hit enter. This will be named EFI boot or EFI drive.
  • Select Install from the GRUB menu. This will launch the Linux installer and guide you through the installation process.

Step 5: Install Linux

The fifth and final step is to install Linux on your Mac’s hard drive, using the new partition you created in the previous step. To do this, you will need to follow the on-screen instructions of the Linux installer, which is typically user-friendly and straightforward.

Pic credit: wikihow

Here are some of the steps you may encounter during the installation:

  • Choose your language and keyboard layout.
  • Choose your time zone and date format, your username and password.
  • Choose the installation type. Here, you will need to select the option that says something like “Install Linux alongside macOS” or “Install Linux on the free space”. This will ensure that you don’t erase your macOS partition and keep your dual-boot system.
  • Choose the partition where you want to install Linux. Here, you will need to select the Linux partition you created in the previous step. It should be labeled as FAT32 or ExFAT.
  • Choose the boot loader location. Here, you will need to select the option that says something like “Install the boot loader on the same partition as Linux” or “Install the boot loader on /dev/sdaX”, where X is the number of your Linux partition.

Wait for the installation to complete. It may take some time, depending on the speed of your hard drive and your Mac.

Conclusion

We have just learned How to Install Linux on Your Mac, and you are ready to enjoy the benefits of both operating systems. Linux is a powerful and versatile operating system that can run on various devices, including Macs. It offers you a different environment, new skills, and more options and flexibility. By installing Linux on your Mac, you can explore the world of open source software, customize your desktop, and improve your performance and security.

You can also switch between macOS and Linux at startup, depending on your needs and preferences. Choose a Linux distribution that suits your taste and needs. I recommend Ubuntu, Fedora, or Mint, as they are easy to use and popular among users. Follow the on-screen instructions of the Linux installer, and choose the options that will preserve your macOS partition and install Linux on the new partition.


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