Install a Linux Distro on 2019 Intel Macbook Air

I am trying to install linux on a Macbook Air. Almost everything works except for the wifi, bluetooth, the keyboard, and trackpad. Possibly the webcam works. This is out of the box. Frankly, I am pretty happy with this as this is out of the box on multiple distros, but the one I used most recently is Manjaro.

However, no matter what I do, I can’t get basic functionality out of the keyboard or trackpad, let alone the advanced functions. I have used the guides that exist and I got zero response from the keyboard, trackpad, and wifi.

Are there any solutions? If not now, is it possible that in some years time, these will work on future distro versions?

| Model Name:|MacBook Air|
| Model Identifier:|MacBookAir9,1|
| Processor Name:|Dual-Core Intel Core i3|
| Processor Speed:|1,1 GHz|
| Number of Processors:|1|
| Total Number of Cores:|2|
| L2 Cache (per Core):|512 KB|
| L3 Cache:|4 MB|
| Hyper-Threading Technology:|Enabled|
| Memory:|8 GB|
| Boot ROM Version:|1731. (iBridge: 19.16.14242.0.0,0)|

| Manufacturer:|Broadcom|
| Transport:|PCIe|
| Chipset:|4377|
| Firmware Version:|v58 c132|

| Model ID:|UVC Camera VendorID_1452 ProductID_34068

| Card Type:|AirPort Extreme|
| Firmware Version:|wl0: Oct 27 2020 18:59:37 version FWID 01-7151e6e3|

Apple Internal Keyboard/Trackpad:
Product ID: 0x0280
Vendor ID: 0x05ac (Apple Inc.)
Version: 9.20
Speed: Up to 480 Mb/s
Manufacturer: Apple Inc.
Current Available (mA): 500
Current Required (mA): 500
Extra Operating Current (mA): 0
Built-In: Yes

That is difficult because you can not input any commands to try and debug it.
How did you do an install without a keyboard? If it worked for the installer it should work for the installed linux?
Find a distro that has an on -screen keyboard… the one I know of is Solus but there may be others.
I assume the keyboard works with mac software?
Try a Knoppix live DVD… it has a good range of drivers

Using a USB-C dongle and external keyboard works without an issue. And for wifi, using tethering works. Both, out of the box.

OK, thanks, now I understand where you are at.
My guess is it is not loading drivers for the internal keyboard and trackball during the boot. When you say ‘out of the box’ you mean it is loading the correct drivers for the external keyboard at boot time.

You might like to check the following

  1. For a Debian distro
    Look in /etc/apt/sources.list
    see if non-free is specified ie like this
deb bullseye main contrib non-free
deb-src bullseye main contrib non-free

If it is not a Debian related distro, there will be something equivalent

  1. Check the log files
    Go to /var/log and look at messages or boot.log or kern.log
    Use dmesg | more
    Look for stuff like this
[    2.269415] usb 2-1: New USB device found, idVendor=2109, idProduct=3431, bcd
[    2.269416] usb 2-1: New USB device strings: Mfr=0, Product=1, SerialNumber=0
[    2.269417] usb 2-1: Product: USB2.0 Hub

only you want the entry relevant to your internal keyboard.
It just might tell you the name of the missing driver.

  1. Look thru the package repo for your distro. Look for any packages relevant to Apple that are not already loaded.
    If you find anything likely, it will not hurt to install the package and see if it has any effect. You can always remove it after trying.

  2. I still think it is worth trying Knoppix on a live DVD or USB stick. It has lots of what it calls cheat codes for getting strange hardware to boot

  3. Can you find any info on the internet about drivers for Apple internal keyboard on your model? Someone will have encountered this before, you just need to search with google and you will probably find some info.

  4. It would be nice to know how the internal keyboard connects to the bus - ie is it usb or some other interface?
    Maybe your Linux has some system utility that lists all the hardware interfaces.


Got to agree, driver issue. But it’s not a distribution I know so going into the control panel and fining the update or install drivers should sort this


I also have a MacBook running Linux that I use everyday after being caught out with an older system unable to pass snow leopard. After several failed tries of different Linux systems mainly due to driver issues. I settled on Linux mint and selected on install find and install all drivers needed no more issues.

Mint is based on Ubuntu where as yours is arch Linux so not sure driver issues. But strange if it works with external devices.

1 Like

Thanks, it is nice to hear from someone with Mac experience
Yes, Mint might make it easier to debug.

This might help

It only took a simple google search to find this.
You will probably find several other similar documents for various Linux distros.

I will give it a look. Thanks!

I have an old Mac (Intel) desktop running Zorin Lite with no Apple keyboard problems. I remember that during the installation I was asked about the keyboard type, and I chose “Apple”. I’m using an ordinary PC type USB wheel-mouse. No issues that I know of. The Mac only has 3GB RAM, so it can’t do any heavy lifting. It’s deployed as a music manager and player.