These instructions cover the late 2010 MacBookAir3,1 and MacBookAir3,2 models. Some of the information in this article is derived from the Ubuntu Forums and previous MacBook Air installation instructions.

Note: These instructions may broken as of linux-image-3.8.0-17-generic. An early version of linux-image-3.8.0-17-generic broke the ability to build nvidia-experimental-310 dkms modules. Please see LP Bug #576648 - package nvidia-* failed to install/upgrade: nvidia-* kernel module failed to build (Unable to determine the target kernel version.). A fix was released but I am unable to test.


Installation works using the Apple SuperDrive or generic USB DVD drive; additional steps may be required for other installation methods, such as these for an USB stick method.

Use the Intel CPU-based Macintosh Generic Installation Instructions with the 64-bit Mac (AMD64) desktop image (this link should be updated after release).

The default Nouveau NVIDIA GeForce 320M video drivers are extremely buggy on MacBookAir3,1 and MacBookAir3,2 and may result in a pulsating line on the right-hand side of the screen or random crashes and freezes. This will be fixed during Post-Install. If installation fails due to a crash simply start over; it will install successfully eventually.

Note: wondering what filesystem to choose? For SSDs, it seems recommended to pick ext4 with journaling as this supports TRIM functiality. Read more at


Everything works out of the box with the exception of the Nouveau NVIDIA GeForce 320M drivers. The Nouveau drivers are extremely unstable and result in random crashes and freezes.

Install NVIDIA drivers

Immediately upon rebooting run System Settings -> Software & Updates -> Additional Drivers and install Using Experimental NVIDIA binary Xorg driver, kernel module and VDPAU library from nvidia-experimental-310 (proprietary).

Before rebooting open a Terminal and execute the following to generate a default xorg.conf:

sudo nvidia-xconfig

This is a critical step; not running nvidia-xconfig by hand results in a broken X. Please see LP Bug #1159269 - Installing nvidia-* results in black/blank screen on boot on MacBookAir3,1.

Reboot and login. Upon logging in immediately run NVIDIA X Server Settings, select X Server Display Configuration, and click Save to X Configuration File. This customizes the generic xorg.conf generated by nvidia-xconfig and tailors it for your specific system.

Fixing brightness keys

An additional option needs to be added to the Device section of xorg.conf. Please see LP Bug #1159274 - Brightness can't be adjusted after running nvidia-xconfig (nvidia-experimental-310) on MacBookAir3,1. Open a Terminal and execute the following to edit xorg.conf:

sudo gedit /etc/X11/xorg.conf

Find the Device section and add the following:

    Option         "RegistryDwords" "EnableBrightnessControl=1"

The entire Device section should looks similar to:

Section "Device"
    Identifier     "Device0"
    Driver         "nvidia"
    VendorName     "NVIDIA Corporation"
    BoardName      "GeForce 320M"
    Option         "RegistryDwords" "EnableBrightnessControl=1"

Avoid long EFI wait before GRUB

If your Macbook spends 30 seconds with "white screen" before GRUB shows, try booting from your Mac OS X install disc, select language, then click Utilities -> Terminal, and enter:

bless --device /dev/disk0s1 --setBoot --legacy

Assuming that the bootloader is on sda1, otherwise /dev/disk0s2 if it's on sda2, etc.


Missing keys

You may have noticed that some keys are missing from the keyboard. Most of these can be accessed with the Fn key:






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Superdrive Doesn't Work

Actually, it does, but only if you boot (or re-boot) the Macbook with the Superdrive plugged in. It doesn't seem to work if you hot-plug it -- probably the same mechanism that keeps the Superdrive from working with any other system than the Macbook Air.

Disable the Mac Startup Sound

The "BONG" when you turn on your laptop driving you crazy? Via the ArchLinux Wiki:

  1. Reboot into the OSX installation media (holding down C to boot from the DVD or USB stick)
  2. From the Utilities menu, start the Terminal
  3. Issue the following command:

# /usr/sbin/nvram SystemAudioVolume=%01

Note - Think carefully before disabling the startup sound. It serves the same purpose as the BIOS beep does on a PC - it lets you know that all the hardware was initialized properly. You could be disabling an important diagnostic tool.

CategoryMac CategoryInstallation

MacBookAir3-2/Raring (last edited 2013-04-15 14:21:00 by sciri)