Random Geeky Musings

Random stuff about computers, software development and Linux.

How I spent Easter putting Linux on an old Macbook Pro (part I)

Posted by SchwarzerAlptraum

So I spent nearly the entire Easter weekend, trying to get Linux on my Macbook. This article will be written in two parts: The motivation behind why I did it, and how it actually went down.
 
Before, I wasn't entirely sure if I wanted to put Linux on my Macbook for lack of space for the Linux partition itself, among other reasons. I was also too afraid that Apple had designed the Macbook to be difficult to put anything else on other than their own OSes and Windows through BootCamp. In short, my Macbook already had too much history, and if anything went wrong, I wouldn't have a computer I could draw or develop my game on. That's changed however, as I have a new laptop that does all these things better, leaving only a few tasks that I still use the Macbook for. I've also gotten more experience using Linux and going through installing boot loaders and partitions on other devices, so I'm a bit more confident in the outcome than I was a few years ago.
 
With that out of the way, the other reasons I considered it worth doing was because my Macbook is nearly 8 years old. It's not nearly as old as the Macbook I replaced with my new laptop, but it's still getting old, and hasn't had any of its hardware components replaced with better ones. It's not as fast as it used to be because every new version of OSX requires more and more resources to run well enough, and there will come a time when Apple will eventually stop supporting my older device on newer versions of OSX, and I'll be forced to get a new computer. I could just leave an older unsupported version of OSX on it, but then I wouldn't get any security patches, and for a web browsing computer, that's a bad idea. Now I could just replace the RAM or the hard drive, and maybe it will work better. And certainly, a Macbook as old as mine is not nearly as difficult to take apart as the newer Macbook Retinas are. However, installing a better OS is also a viable alternative to gaining back speed as well. A web browsing computer need not have the same resources as the computer I use to draw prints or stream my art with. Not to mention Linux is not built with planned obsolence in mind.
 
Since I've been using my new laptop to do most of the more processor and RAM intensive stuff, my Macbook has been delegated to a web browsing machine that I occasionally use for Windows 7 and flash games. Linux can do all of those things except the Windows 7 games, and does just what I need it for on my Macbook.
 
Lastly, I like to have the feeling that I'm actually in control of my own computing. With Mac OSX, I felt as if I had no freedom or choice over some of the stuff that OSX does for you. It's the same reason I decided not to get another Mac OSX computer and to put Linux on the new machine. I dislike the general feeling of not knowing how my computer works or what's wrong with it when it crashes, having to read cryptic error logs or feeling like I have no control over what my computer does. It's a typical problem with proprietary OSes.

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