MacBook 5,1 and Ubuntu 13.04 (Raring)

This page aims to describe the steps needed, to fully enable all features of the 1st Generation MacBook Unibody (release date: late 2008) when using Ubuntu 13.04, Raring.

You can find the Ubuntu 13.04 Mac desktop image here: Ubuntu 13.04 (Raring Ringtail) Daily Build. When doing a full disk installation you can savely pick the regular 64bit build (not the Mac version). The only difference is that EFI is disabled in the Mac version (Source, answer #2).

IconsPage/terminal.png You can find out, what model you have by typing at the terminal:

sudo dmidecode -s system-product-name
  • If you have a different model, please go here and find the right wiki.


Anything not mentioned here probably already works out of the box. If not, please refer to the Ubuntu Apple Users forum.

  • Feature

    Support status

    Wireless (AirPort)

    IconsPage/ok.png IconsPage/info.png

    Desktop Effects (Unity)

    IconsPage/ok.png IconsPage/info.png

    Touchpad (appletouch)

    IconsPage/ok.png IconsPage/info.png

    Keyboard functions (Brightness,volume,...)

    IconsPage/ok.png IconsPage/info.png


    IconsPage/ok.png IconsPage/info.png



    Suspend & Hibernate

    IconsPage/ok.png IconsPage/info.png

    CD/DVD Writing




    External Monitor




    Apple USB 56K Modem


    Apple Remote Control


IconsPage/ok.png (works out-of-the-box)
IconsPage/ok.png IconsPage/info.png (works, with remarks)
IconsPage/warning.png (needs manual install)
IconsPage/dont.png (won't work)
IconsPage/question.png (not yet documented)

Basic Installation Instructions

Common things about installing and maintaining Ubuntu on Intel-based Macs: Intel CPU-based Macintosh Generic Installation Instructions.

You can also install Ubuntu by replacing MacOS as the installer offers you. This makes full disk encryption easy since you can use the corresponding full-disk-install option.

When doing a MacOS replacement install: To decrease booting time do the following after you have installed Ubuntu: restart and hold the alt/option-key. Press enter while holding the control-button. This will decrease the time for the initial "lit-screen" from about 45 to 12 second.

Wireless (AirPort)

You need to check "Third-Party"-Software while installing or do the following afterwards: Open and choose Broadcom STA in:

  • System -> Administration -> Additional Drivers

At least with 12.10 it seemed to be important to have a internet connection while installing otherwise event the above way wont get network-manager to work with the wireless card.

Desktop Effects (Unity) & Keyboard functions (Brightness)

If you want to enable proprietary graphic drivers you can do that here. I strongly recommend that you install the following before activating Nvidia drivers:

sudo apt-get install linux-headers-`uname -r`

Otherwise you probably will encounter a black screen or a login promt instead of lightdm after your netxt reboot.

  • System Settings -> Software & Updates -> Additional Drivers

Tested: "Experimental NVIDIA ... from nvidia-experimental-310 (proprietary)"
After installing 310 you have to follow these steps to get you brightness-control-keys to work again: Brightness control not working- Ubuntu 12.04 LTS - Macbook pro 5,5.

Note: You should be able to disable the Nvidia branding this way: disable nvidia splash screen.


If you get the impression that you Mac runs hotter than usual (as I did), then add the Mactel PPA repository and install the following package. It will start your fan sooner. You can uninstall/reinstall it anytime and should hear the effect immediately.

sudo apt-get install macfanctld 

If you get an error while running update it means you have to edit the contents of the following file and exchange "raring" with "quantal":

sudo nano /etc/apt/sources.list.d/mactel-support-ppa-raring.list

Note: You can observe CPU temperature with this tool:


Left-click, right-click (two finger-)use and basic trackpad work out of the box.

You can switch to two-finger-scrolling here:

  • System Settings -> Mouse & Touchpad


I had to install the Nvidia drivers as shown above to get it to work. It then worked with and without full-disk encryption.

Booting a LiveCD & reinstalling

If you have installed Ubuntu as a Mac replacement you get the problem that booting from the Ubuntu live cd just gives you a grub rescue shell. The long way to solve this would be to use the MacOS cd to format the harddrive. The short to do the following (as adapted from here):

- With Efi enabled. The best solution (its ought to decrease temperature and increase battery life), but only tested with a full disk install:

set root=(cd0)
linuxefi /casper/vmlinuz.efi boot=casper
initrdefi /casper/initrd.lz

In case of Ubuntu 12.10 it would be "/casper/vmlinuz.efi.signed". If the booting process comes to a halt and wont continue, restart and swap "set root=(cd0)" for:

set root=(hd2)

If it comes to an halt while displaying something with "magic numer", sometimes you get it to work by restarting and using

linuxefi /casper/vmlinuz.efi boot=casper nopromt noeject

- Efi disabled:

set root=(cd0)
linux /casper/vmlinuz.efi boot=casper
initrd /casper/initrd.lz

Sidenodes & Errorcodes

Nvidia driver blackscreen / login promt after reboot (with or without EFI enabled)

If you encounter

Module build for the currently running kernel was skipped since the
kernel source for this kernel does not seem to be installed.

after trying to install the Nvidia drivers (on your Mac 5.1 with or without EFI enabled) do the following (as recommended above):

sudo apt-get install linux-headers-`uname -r`

then reinstall your Nvidia driver, e.g.

sudo apt-get purge nvidia-current
sudo apt-get install nvidia-current

Small solution & dash missing after nvidia driver install

Same solution as above: Nvidia driver blackscreen / login promt after reboot (with or without EFI enabled)

Switching back to the standard driver Nouveau via terminal

If you ever want to do that via the terminal do the following:

sudo rm /etc/X11/xorg.conf
sudo apt-get purge xserver-xorg-video-nouveau
sudo apt-get install xserver-xorg-video-nouveau

MacBook5-1/Raring (last edited 2013-12-18 21:04:52 by pguth)