I wrote about being a post-50-year-old who made the switch to Linux after a lifetime of use (pretty equally) on both Macs and Windows-based PCs. Since starting with Linux, I have been a notorious distro hopper, and as my familiarity with Linux has grown, so have my assessments of some of the better distros out there (I am pulling away from some of the ones I once recommended for beginners). That’s a fine topic for another discussion at another time.
I am writing this post running Ubuntu on a 15.6" Macbook Pro mid-2014. If memory serves, it has a 2.2 GHz processor and 16 GB of RAM along with an SSD. It was running the Big Sur edition of Mac OS and was capped out on upgrading to newer Mac OS versions when I decided to throw caution to the wind and install Linux (OK, so I did create a bootable Mac OS drive and backup the data). It ran fine, it worked fine. The issue was simply that it didn’t fit into my computing world any longer as a Mac OS system.
Per my usual starting point, I threw some Linux-based distros on bootable USB sticks at it. With Mac OS, simply hold the option key when booting and you get to choose the bootable drive,
The real problem with EVERY distro was the Macbook Pro’s stock Broadcom wifi card. Many people can tell you more than I can (and a search will reveal more), but the short of it was there was no wifi with any distro I tried. I was going to have to download the driver on another computer, drop it on a thumb drive, figure out the right location for the Linux computer and reboot and pray I got it right. The most simple solution came from using Ubuntu, a distro I have said more than once that I don’t love. What the he77, I thought. Why not?
On booting into Ubuntu FROM THE THUMB DRIVE, the same problem appeared – no access to wifi. By going into Software & Updates and selecting “Additional Drivers” I was able to activate it. Problem solved, so off I go to wipe my HD and install Ubuntu as the daily driver (I did back up Mac OS to a thumb drive and I backed up my HD on to external HD using Time Machine, so I CAN go back if needed).
I did the install WITH proprietary drivers on to ensure I got the Broadcom adapter working. Except it didn’t work. And I couldn’t activate it using the method above that I used when running it from the USB stick because it said I didn’t have internet and couldn’t download that driver to activate it (so much for it being part of the full install, right?). It said it could activate it IF I had an internet connection.
I recently moved and apparently I either lost, hid or tossed every single f_(&ing Cat 5 cable I had (Yes, I need to rummage through boxes in the garage, but not today). So plugging it into the router wasn’t going to be an option.
In a moment of frustration, the old school “plug the computer into your phone and set up tethering” trick came to mind. And it worked (chorus of Angels, ringing of bells and an immediate disappearance of all rain clouds). After about a minute of fumbling with my phone and about two minutes or less of download time the Broadcom wifi card was showing me the networks I could connect to. No reboot necessary.
- New resepect for Ubuntu. There’s something to be said for being the “go-to” distro in terms of help and support. It’s pretty cool that that Broadcom proprietary driver is available so readily compared to many of the other distros I tried. Also…
- Upon having much more familiarity with Linux distros than I did when I started all of this, I have found that I enjoy GNOME, and I find Ubuntu more user friendly than I did before – now that I have lost my virginity with Linux so to speak. I also did some customization to make it comfortable for me (dock to the bottom of the monitor, hiding on, new desktop background, activations of pleasing colors and themes, etc.).
- This 8-year-old Mac runs like a champ. It’s super fast, super smooth and it will be my daily driver. I have a work desk at home that I use where my laptop sits on a stand beside a 24-inch monitor. I unplug the power adapter, the HDMI and the keyboard/mouse dongle and then trade out my work or personal computer depending on what I am doing. This Apple will be the “new” personal workstation meaning I will be running Ubuntu daily (that chomping sound you hear is not my chowing down on tortilla chips; rather it’s me eating my own words).
So I own a few different laptops and this was the LAST one that did not have Linux. Not only does it have it now, but it is NOT running alongside Mac OS or in virtual mode. It is a true Linux machine. And with that, my transformation is complete with ALL of my computers running various Linux distros – except for my work computer, unfortunately!
Here are the details of what I am running now:
Linux (NAMEDELETED)-MacBookPro 5.19.0-23-generic #24-Ubuntu SMP PREEMPT_DYNAMIC Fri Oct 14 15:39:57 UTC 2022 x86_64 x86_64 x86_64 GNU/Linux
VERSION=“22.10 (Kinetic Kudu)”