Ubuntu For Mac Pro

admin 12/14/2021

Pick the Right Desktop Environment. To achieve the most Mac-like look on Linux you. Prepare Your Mac for Installing Linux. To install Linux on your Mac, you need a USB flash drive with. These won't even run the latest version of Mac OS X, let alone macOS. But they will run an up-to-date version of Ubuntu Linux without breaking a sweat. Linux is loved by developers, and for good.

Do you want to make Ubuntu look like Mac OS X? If so, we’re going to show you how to do it, step-by-step.

The whole point of using Linux is that you can do things like this

It doesn’t matter whether you have a bad case of Apple envy, or you simply appreciate the design aesthetic of Apple’s OS; there’s nothing wrong with aping the appearance of a rival operating system.

After all, the whole point of using Linux is that you are free to do things like this — and hey: you certainly can’t make macOS look like Ubuntu!

How To Make Ubuntu Look like a Mac

A stack of mac GTK themes, icon sets, fonts and cursors are available for Linux, just a quick Google away.

The ones included below are the ones we use/think give you the best Mac-like look on your Linux box, But don’t be afraid to explore DeviantArt, GitHub and other avenues if our choices don’t quite match with your tastes.

1. Pick the Right Desktop Environment

GNOME Shell

To achieve the most Mac-like look on Linux you need to use the most appropriate desktop environment and that is GNOME Shell.

This is not a slight against other desktop environments (DEs) as Unity, Budgie, MATE and Cinnamon can all be moulded to resemble Cupertino’s computing OS too.

But GNOME Shell is the most customisable desktop environment. This is a key ask in a task like this. GNOME Shell lets you theme and re-arrange everything you need to with the least amount hackery or fuss.

If you’re using Ubuntu 18.04 LTS or later you already have everything you need to get started, so skip ahead.

But if you don’t have GNOME Shell installed on Ubuntu you will need to install it first.

This is easy. Just click the button below and follow in the on-screen prompts (select ‘lightdm’ as the display manager when asked):

You’re also going to need to the GNOME Tweaks tool in a few steps time, so install that now too:

Once both installations are complete you need to logout and select the ‘GNOME Shell’ session from the Unity Greeter:

Mac

A word on using Unity

One thing GNOME Shell can’t offer, that the Unity desktop can, is global menu support.

Ubuntu For Macbook Pro Download

Now, I don’t consider this to be a negative as more and more applications use use Client Side Decorations, making the need for a global menu redundant.

But if having an omnipresent set of app menus stripped across the top of the screen is part of the Mac experience you don’t wish to lose, stick with Unity.

2. Install a Mac GTK Theme

The single easiest way to make Ubuntu look like a Mac is to install a Mac GTK theme.

Our top recommendation is the ‘macOS Mojave’ theme by Vinceluice. This is a near-enough pixel-perfect clone of Apple’s OS skin, and is available in light and dark versions. It’s one of the best designed Mac GTK themes out there (it also has a matching GNOME Shell theme).

The ‘macOS Mojave’ theme requires GNOME 3.20 or later, so you’ll need to be running Ubuntu 16.10 or later to use it.

If you’re running the older Ubuntu 16.04 LTS release you can use the competent ‘macOS Sierra’ clone created by the B00merang project:

Tip: How To Install GTK Themes

Once you download your chosen macOS theme from the link(s) above, you will need to install it.

To install themes in Ubuntu first extract the contents of the archive you downloaded, then move the folder inside to the ~/.themes folder in your Home directory.

If you do not see this folder press Ctrl + H to reveal hidden folders. Next, find the .themes folder or create it if it doesn’t exist. Move the extract folder mentioned above to this folder.

Finally, to change theme, open GNOME Tweak Tool > Appearance and select your chosen theme (and the GNOME Shell theme, if you also downloaded one).

3. Install a Mac Icon Set

Next grab some a Mac Icon set for Linux. A quick Google will throw up a bunch of results. Most, sadly, aren’t complete enough to function as a full icon set, so you’ll also want to use (and in some cases manually specify) a fall back icon theme like Faba, or Papirus.

To avoid all of that hassle you may wish to use the fabulous ‘La Capitaine‘ icon pack.

What’s great about La Capitaine is that it’s a proper Linux icon set, with custom macOS inspired icons for many Linux apps and not just a direct port of mac icons to Linux. It’s also totally open-source, and is available to download from Github.

How to Install Icon Themes

Once you’ve downloaded your chosen theme from the link(s) above you need to install it. To do this first extract the contents of the archive you download, then move the folder inside to the ~/.icons folder in your Home directory.

If you don’t see this folder press Ctrl + H to view hidden folders. Next, find the .icons folder or create it if it doesn’t exist. Move the extract folder mentioned above to this folder.

Finally, to apply, open GNOME Tweak Tool > Appearance and select your chosen theme.

4. Change the System Font

If you’ve used Mac OS X / macOS at some point in the past few years you’ll know it has clean, crisp system typography.

‘Lucida Grande’ is the familiar Mac system font, though Apple uses a system font called ‘San Franciso’ in recent releases of macOS.

A quick Google should turn up plenty more information (and links to download San Francisco font) but be aware that neither font is not licensed for distribution — so we can’t link you to it, sorry!

Thankfully there’s an open-source alternative to ‘Lucida Grande’ called Garuda. It’s even pre-installed out of the box on Ubuntu, so you don’t need to go on a font safari to find it.

Head to GNOME Tweak Tool > Fonts and set the ‘Windows Titles’ and ‘Interface’ fonts to Garuda Regular (or any other font you wish).

If you use Unity you can use Unity Tweak Tool to change the font on Ubuntu.

5. Add a Desktop Dock

Ask people what a Mac desktop looks like and chances are they will mention its ubiqutious desktop dock. This is a combined application launcher and window switcher.

If you opted to use GNOME Shell back in Step 1 install the excellent Dash to Dock extension from the GNOME extensions site. This dock can be adjusted, tweaked and tune to look exactly like its macOS counterpart.

Dash to Dock doesn’t look very mac-ish by default so you will want to dive in to the GNOME Tweak Tool > Extensions > Dash to Dock > Appearance to change the colour to white, and lower the opacity.

Plank Dock

If you chose to stick with the Unity desktop you can set the Unity Launcher to hide (System Settings > Desktop > Behaviour) and install Plank, a desktop dock, to handle app launching and window switching:

Plank can be configured with all sorts of themes too, making it easy to replicate the Mac OS X experience. Gnosemite is a faithful mac Plank theme worth a look.

That’s it; we’ve achieved our aim to make Ubuntu look like a Mac — now it’s your turn.

We’d love to see a screenshot of your mac-inspired creation so do feel free to share one in the comments.

I had an old 17-inch MacBook Pro from 2009 (college) lying around and I figured it'd be a fun challenge to install Linux on it. I had never installed or even used Linux before (to my knowledge). I also, confusingly, hadn't found a clean, step-by-step guide for doing this, so I promised I'd write my process out as thoroughly but simply as I could once I got it done.

Ubuntu for mac download

I now realize, I think, that the reason the process of installing even a popular Linux distribution on a common (if old) model computer isn't written out or easily findable is that the process is a bit different for everyone, depending on the distro, the version, and the hardware you're starting with. Note that I didn't want to partition my hard drive to allow myself to dual-boot either in OS X or Ubuntu-- I was going for a full replacement, and thus would and did lose all the files on applications I had on the old Mac.

But regardless, here is the process I took.

About This Mac

How I Got Ubuntu 16 Installed

Again, note, this worked for me and my machine but may not for you. For example I believe I had to do steps 4, 5, 8, 9, 10, and 11 only because I have a MBP with an Intel chip.

Also, WARNING, this procedure completely wiped my OS X and all the files and applications on that installation, as I intended. There are ways to dual-boot both, but I wasn't interested in that as Mavericks was running super slow on this computer. Furthermore I think all the data I had on my USB stick is lost due to it being formatted in a certain way at some point in the procedure.

UPDATE (February 2017): Before moving ahead, you may want to consider the following. A helpful commenter, Brian Moran, writes that, when installing Ubuntu on an older Mac with a NVIDIA graphics card, it may be better to 'boot in 'Legacy BIOS mode', not in 'EFI' mode':

Apparently what is happening is that both the open source and Nvidia drivers are buggy when doing an 'EFI Install' on Mac machines. If full graphics performance is desired, a 'Legacy BIOS Install' is needed.

From the forum post that the commenter cites, which is concerned with a MacBook Air 3,2:

The core problem with the [generic] installation is this. The graphic driver that Ubuntu installs by default (Nouveau) has bugs with the MacBook Air 3 graphic processor, the nvidia GeForce 320M (G320M). You can do a default install, it will boot normally, but you'll soon see little glitches here and there and the computer will normally crash after a few minutes of use (especially when transparency or shadow effects are used, it seems). The problem exists with Raring and I expect it arises with Precise (though see 'alternative solutions' below).

To avoid that, you need to install the proprietary nvidia driver. But here is the catch: the driver requires the computer to boot in 'Legacy BIOS mode', not in 'EFI' mode (see here or here). If you install the nvidia drivers while Ubuntu is in EFI mode, you'll get a blank/black screen at the beginning of the boot. (If you got to that stage, see the 'recovery for nvidia drivers EFI crash' below). On a PC you can force Ubuntu to install in BIOS Legacy mode by selecting that mode in the computer BIOS. But on a Mac you can't (easily) do that, and if you install from a USB key by default you will be in EFI mode.

So summing up, if you do a default installation of Ubuntu from a USB on a MacBook Air 3,1 or 3,2, you'll either have buggy graphics and random crashes, or you'll install the nvdida drivers and have a blank/black screen at startup.

For the record, I followed the procedure detailed below with my MackBook Pro 3,1 and while I now believe that my nvidia card is NOT being used, basic computing (web browser, document editing coding, simple games) are working just fine. Not being a gamer I don't know much about graphics cards, but for what it's worth I believe my MacBook Pro has a G84M [GeForce 8600M GT] card, which is not the same model listed in the forum post the commenter cites.

But if I were starting over I might instead consider the procedure outlined in the forum post the commenter links to in hopes of even better performance. End of February 2017 update.

Alright, with all that said here's what I think I would do if I were starting fresh, knowing what I know now:

What I Did to Install Ubuntu

  1. Get a USB drive with at least 2 GB of storage. Know that it's going to get wiped, so move important files off it first. Then use the MacOS Disk Utility to format the USB stick as DOS FAT32.
  2. I'd follow this guide to download Ubuntu 16.04 LTS and get it onto the USB stick, using UNetbootin.
  3. As described in the final step in that guide, when you restart, hold down the option key on your Mac. In the resulting menu, select the 'EFI' device as the device to boot from.
  4. You'll be confronted with a text-only menu that's from a piece of software called GNU GRUB. Key down so your cursor is on 'Install Ubuntu', but instead of pressing enter, press e to edit the commands before booting.
  5. This opens an options file in a basic text editor. Find the line that has ro quiet splash in it and make that bit of the line read ro nomodeset quiet splash. Then press either F10 or Ctrl-X to boot (read the text at the bottom of the screen to be sure of the key(s) to press).
  6. If presented with a choice in GRUB (a text menu) with an option to install Ubuntu, choose that option.
  7. You should be then presented with a nice GUI (not text only) Ubuntu installer, or maybe an icon that says Install Ubuntu. Double click the icon if you see it. Go through everything, decide whether or not to connect your Wifi to download updates, decide whether or not to encrypt your home folder, and then choose restart.
  8. We now need to boot Ubuntu in recovery mode. To do this, as the computer is starting up again after restart, right after you hear the Apple/Mac start-up sound, hold the SHIFT key. Repeat step #3 above if you're presented with the EFI option. Once you're at a text-only menu, press e and add nomodeset to the line of code discussed above. Then press the key(s) to boot. Ubuntu should boot up-- though the display may be screwy. In either case, we're not done yet.
  9. Now we need to make that nomodeset setting permanent. Open terminal (ctrl+option+t) and run sudo nano /etc/default/grub. (Reference)
  10. In that file, add nomodeset to GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT as seen below:
  1. Save this text file by hitting Ctrl+O, then exit nano with Ctrl+X, then, back in Terminal, run: sudo update-grub
  2. Restart the computer (the menu for which is in the top-right corner of Ubuntu 16).

I think that would do it. I don't think I needed rEFInd. And apparently the warning on UNetbootin that I could run the device on Macs was not accurate.

Ubuntu For Mac

For completeness sake, here is the actual process I went through over three days.

Attempt #1: Ubuntu 16.04

I found this guide which involved downloading and using the UNetbootin USB installer.

I believe I successfully downloaded the Ubuntu 16.04 ISO and UNetbootin. I then installed UNetbootin (by dragging it into Application) and then I used UNetbootin as described in the tutorial. However at step 7 when I restarted my Mac and held the option key I was presented with a menu to try or install Ubuntu. Every time I selected 'install' it just went to a black screen. I waited minutes but no installation screen appeared. I then held down the power button and the computer rebooted in OS X, back to square one.

I will say that after using UNetbootin to load the USB stick the program warned the device could only boot the new OS on PCs, not on Macs. I chose to ignore that warning and try anyway, but as I reported above, it didn't work.

Upon further research I believe the Ubuntu 16.04 may not work on Intel-based MBPs made circa 2009. One page, https://help.ubuntu.com/community/MacBookPro, seemed to encourage those with MBPs this old should instead opt for Ubuntu 14.04.

I didn't want to run an old version of a distro I wasn't particualrly excited about if I could find a distro that I could run the lastest version of. Plus I couldn't quite figure out how to download an (official) copy of version 14.04.

Attempt #2: Mint 18 ('Sarah') Cinnamon 64-bit

I understand that the other distro well-reviewed for beginners is Mint. And I saw that Mint 18 was itself got good reviews.

So I headed over to their download page and chose 'Cinnamon 64-bit' and downloaded it via a torrent.

The only tutorial that I found for installing Linux Mint via USB seemed strange and brief. Thus my current plan is to try to use UNetbootin again, following the Ubuntu guide but with Mint this time rather than Ubuntu 16.04.

Ubuntu for mac powerpc

However, as before, after using UNetbootin it told me the device could only boot the new OS on PCs, not on Macs.

When I restarted my Mac and held down the option key, I got a similar menu as when I tried Ubuntu, but eventually came to a dark black screen. I waited a few minutes, and then forced the computer to shut down by holding down the power button.

Attempt #3: Back to Ubuntu 16.04 by a different method

I followed the instructions presented here, which I was optimistic about it because it avoided using UNetbootin, along with the potentially helpful warning:

UNetbootin for Mac OS X can be used to automate the process of extracting the Ubuntu ISO file to USB, and making the USB drive bootable. The resulting USB drive, however, can be booted on PCs only.

Which mirrors the warning UNetbootin gave me.

However the method described in the link above failed in the same way the others did-- I restarted, held down the option key, chose the EFI boot, chose to install Ubuntu, and then was met with a black screen. For the first time I thought to check the light on my USB stick to see if it was at least thinking but it was off.

Attempt #4: Using rEFInd Boot Manager

From here I found an article about installing Debian (a more advanced distro of Linux).

That let me to believe rEFInd was something I needed to install first.

However this program (I admittedly didn't take the time to figure out what it actually does) did not seem to help. Afterward, and before my next attempt, I bypassed rEFInd by going to System Preferences > Start Up Disk, selecting my hard drive and hitting the restart button. Thus I do not think I actually needed to install rEFInd to successfully get Ubuntu installed, however I'm not 100% of this, since the rEFInd uninstall instructions for OS X recommend bypassing rEFInd rather than actually uninstalling it.

Attempt #5: Having bypassed rEFInd, I replace quiet splash with nomodeset

Big success!

Somewhere else I remember seeing someone recommend turning on an option called nomodeset in GNU GRUB, but for some reason didn't think I had that option in the menu that I kept getting. Turns out, as described here, when you get to the GRUB menu you hit the e key. Then you add nomodeset as a parameter in one of the lines of code in the text file that opens. Removing quiet splash seems to just present more text as output-- the nomodeset solved the problem.

After maybe 40 seconds I was presented with an Ubuntu desktop and a shortcut icon to an Ubuntu installer. I double-clicked the installer and followed the wizard.

I connected to my wifi network and told it to download updates as it installed to make things quicker. The only hard choice was whether to encrypt my home folder (which I believe you can't do later). I decided not to based on this answer as I was worried about the performance hit on decrypting on a machine with 2GB memory. Then I just waited for Ubuntu 16.04.1 LTS to install.

After installation it asked me to restart. I clicked yes. I then got an ugly error message that said something like 'remove the installation device and hit enter'. I still had the USB stick in, unsure when I was to remove it. I pulled it out and hit enter. The computer then restarted, making the familiar Mac start-up sound and presenting the familiar Mac gray, but then it switched to a purple Ubuntu-like color and stayed there for a minute.

Setting nomodeset permanently

When I came back from that restart it was stuck on a purple screen. I figured I needed to set nomodeset permanently on. I needed to get back to the GRUB screen, which I figured out from somewhere:

  1. Switch on your computer.
  2. Wait until the BIOS has finished loading, or has almost finished. (During this time you will probably see a logo of your computer manufacturer.)
  3. Quickly press and hold the Shift key, which will bring up the GNU GRUB menu. (If you see the Ubuntu logo, you've missed the point where you can enter the GRUB menu.)

Then, to set nomodeset to be on permanently, I followed this Ask Ubuntu answer that reads:

I saved that file and ran sudo update-grub as instructed. I then restarted my computer once again and I think that's when things went smoothly for the first time.

(FYI a similar process to the one described above seems to be given here but with some other stuff as well, if you need more help at this stage.)

Initial Thoughts

Woohoo! It seems snappier that OS X 10.9, but it's not a speed demon like my 2012 MacBook Air with 8 GB of memory.

But the desktop and dock are familiar enough to me. It comes with Firefox, Libre Office, a basic text editor, and a link to Amazon.com(?) in the dock that's on the left by default. I got terminal Vim and RVM running with a few Google-able tweaks from the OS X installation process. Remapping caps lock to control was one line in Terminal (setxkbmap -option caps:ctrl_modifer), however that did not persist when restarted. I followed this AskUbuntu answer and went to Startup Applications > Add > and entered setxkbmap -option caps:ctrl_modifer. It seems to persist on restart now.

I was able to install git by running sudo apt install git. Similarly I was able to install KeePassX by running sudo apt-get install keepassx (I'm not 100% in the difference between apt and apt-get here but that's what I saw on the internet help sites I found). I also installed a fresh version of vim but I forget what line I ran in terminal.

To run a general update and upgrade, I run sudo apt update && sudo apt upgrade, which seems to work.

Ubuntu For Macbook Pro 2017

We'll see how much I use this old computer going forward, and what for.

Ubuntu For Macbook Pro

Update: Just found this website that aims to teach Linux for beginners, which I might checkout. There's also this series of YouTube videos: Ubuntu Beginners Guide that looks nice, is Ubuntu-specific, and is, as of this writing, only one month old.