MacBook Air (5,2) on Ubuntu 14.04 (Trusty Tahr)

This page aims to describe the steps needed, to fully enable all features of the 5-th Generation MacBook Air (release date: mid 2012) when using Ubuntu 14.04, Trusty Tahr.

ATTENTION: During my installation on MacBook Air 5.2, Ubuntu 14.04 has shown some stability issues!

How to check your MacBook Air model

In OS X, click on the Apple logo on the top-left of the screen. And then "About This Mac". In the new opened windows, click on the "More Info..." button. Now, under the label "MacBook Air" you should be able to see your MacBook Air model (e.g. "13-inch, Mid 2012"). If you further click on "System Report...", you will see under the voice "Model Identifier:" your MacBook Air model - i.e. "MacBookAir5,2".

Alternatively, in OS X, you can check your model in terminal with:

  • sysctl hw.model

In Ubuntu with:

  • 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

    LCD Panel

    IconsPage/ok.png The brightness is reset to the highest at every (re)boot.
    The resolution/color quality is not as good as in OS X.

    Shutdown & Reboot



    IconsPage/ok.png When performed manually.
    IconsPage/dont.png The computer doesn't suspend properly when lid is closed. Be careful: CPU overheating possible!


    IconsPage/question.png Not tested.

    Keyboard functions (Brightness,volume,...)

    IconsPage/ok.png Backlight works, but can be controlled only manually (no sensor).

    Touchpad (appletouch)

    IconsPage/ok.png Without multi-touch.
    The quality of the touchpad is not as good as in OS X.

    Wireless (AirPort)

    IconsPage/ok.png#Wireless (AirPort) With proprietary driver. Eventual kernel craches while Wireless enabled.


    IconsPage/ok.png#Bluetooth Bluetooth always on after (re)boot. Fix available.







    External Monitor

    IconsPage/question.png Not tested.


    IconsPage/ok.png Thunderbolt-VGA,HDMI,DVI,Ethernet adapters works seamlessly.
    IconsPage/info.png Apple thunderbolt Display hotplug don't work, you should reboot after plugging. Thunderbolt HDD works with manual configuration.

    SD card slot


    HFS+ (OS X disc partition)

    IconsPage/ok.png Mount read-only.

    Fan Control

    IconsPage/ok.png According to tlp stat.

    Sensors (temps & fans)

    IconsPage/ok.png According to tlp stat.

    GPU Power Save



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


1. MacBook Air 5,2 (see Section "How to check your MacBook Air model" above)

2. USB stick (1GB at least)


Partition Harddisk

1. Boot MacBook Air into OS X

2. Open Disk Utility

  • open /Applications/Utility/Disk\ 

3. Select "Macintosh HD" > (Tab)Partition

  • Add (+) 3 more partitions (NOTE: leave the OS X partition, just resize it if necessary)

    2th Partition: Set 4 GB for Linux Swap partition
    3nd Partition: Set 25-40 GB for Ubuntu "/"
    4rd Partition: Use as much space as left for "/home"

Prepare USB-Stick

1. In OSX

2. Download iso image to ~/Downloads

3. Open Terminal (a detailed description can be found here.

  • cd ~/Downloads
    # convert iso
    hdiutil convert -format UDRW -o ubuntu-14.04-desktop-amd64.img ubuntu-14.04-desktop-amd64.iso
    open /Applications/Utilities/Disk\
    # format the USB stick with MS-DOS VFAT
    diskutil list
    # check which /dev/diskX contains the USB stick - here it is "disk1"
    # then unmount the usb-stick
    diskutil unmountDisk /dev/disk1
    # write img to usb stick - /!\ BE CAREFUL THAT disk1 REALLY IS YOUR USB-STICK
    sudo dd if=ubuntu-14.04-desktop-amd64.img.dmg of=/dev/rdisk1 bs=1m

Install rEFInd

1. Download rEFInd (Binary Zip-File) (Direct Download

2. Follow the installation procedure "Installing rEFInd Manually Using Mac OS X" (

  • NOTE: If you use OS X whole-disk encryption (File Vault) you should install rEFInd in the EFI System Partition (ESP). (See
    The following is a short example of installing rEFInd in the ESP. Please, follow the rEFInd official guide, instead.

    • Open a Terminal
    mkdir /Volumes/esp
    sudo mount -t msdos /dev/disk0s1 /Volumes/esp
    sudo mkdir -p /Volumes/esp/efi/refind
    sudo cp -r refind/* /Volumes/esp/efi/refind/
    sudo rm /Volumes/esp/efi/refind/refind_ia32.efi
    sudo rmdir /Volumes/esp/efi/refind/drivers_ia32
    sudo mv /Volumes/esp/efi/refind/refind.conf-sample /Volumes/esp/efi/refind/refind.conf
    sudo bless --mount /Volumes/esp --setBoot --file /Volumes/esp/efi/refind/refind_x64.efi
    sudo umount /dev/disk0s1

3. If you use OS X whole-disk encryption (File Vault), at every reboot you may encounter a delay of about 30 seconds before rEFInd is properly started.

  • There are various possible fix to this problem. For example, if you install rEFInd on the ESP, you can try to rename "/Volumes/esp/efi/refind/refind_ia64.efi" in "/Volumes/esp/efi/BOOT/bootx64.efi" in order to solve the problem (See

Install Ubuntu

1. Restart and press "Alt"-Key on startup.

2. Select first USB-device labled "EFI-Boot" and press "Enter".

  • Select "Install Ubuntu"

3. Choose "Something else" for partitioning.

  • Please check the sizes in the list according to the partitioning for the step above.
    OS X Disk Utility leaves unallocated partitions inbetween which usually are arround 128MB in size.
    Do not try to delete these "blank" partitions.
    2th partition should be swap (no format and mountpoint required)
    3nd partition should be ext4 formatted and mounted "/".
    4rd partition should be ext4 formatted and mounted "/home".
    Make sure you select the correct partition (i.e. "/") for the boot loader installation.

4. The installation process should run through smoothly.

  • It's suggested to choose to install 3rd party software (it will make the Wi-FI working properly). Encrypting the "/home" folder is all and good.

6. Restart. Now a Ubuntu should be shown.

  • Select this an start it.

Wireless (AirPort)


Needed only if you didn't choose to install 3rd party software during the installation.

Requires an Apple USB-Ethernet Adapter.

1. Log into ubuntu 14.04 and open a terminal (Ctrl+Alt+t).

  • Attach Apple USB-Ethernet Adapter. Enter the following commands:
    sudo apt-get update
    sudo apt-get upgrade
    This updates all packages

2. Start (Panel) > (Menu)System Settings > (Icon)Software & Updates or from terminal /usr/bin/python3 /usr/bin/software-properties-gtk

  • Select (Tab)Additional Drivers and install Broadcom 802.11 Linux STA wireless driver from bcmwl-kernel-source

3. Now reboot again

  • Select "Ubuntu"



iSight HD webcam does not work.

Touchpad (appletouch)

Works. No multi-touch gesture.
The quality of the touchpad is not as good as in OS X.

External Monitor

Not tested.



There a problem in turning it off, which simply won't work.

Changing the "InitiallyPowered" and the "DisablePlugins" entries in the bluetooth configuration file (i.e. /etc/bluetooth/main.conf) does not seem to work.

However, I was able to to turn off the Bluetooth by blacklisting it.

sudo gedit /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist-rare-network.conf

Adding this:

#Disable bluetooth
alias net-pf-31 off

Function Keys

You will probably want to switch the mapping of "cmd" with "alt". See AppleKeyboard#Corrections page this and other for fine tuning.

Finetuning Powersave functions

The battery duration is quite good by default. However, it can be boosted.

1. Install powertop

  • sudo apt-get install powertop
    sudo powertop
    Toggle through with "TAB" to Tunables Lots of "Bad" values should be displayed.

2. Install TLP

  • For detailed Instructions refer to tpl wiki.

    sudo add-apt-repository ppa:linrunner/tlp
    sudo apt-get update
    sudo apt-get install tlp tlp-rdw

3. Restart tlp with sudo /etc/init.d/tlp restart

  • Check if settings took effect with powertop.


Works. No sensor. You can only control it manually.


Please update this page, if you have figured out anything, that is not mentioned here!

The MactelSupportTeam is about to restructure and reorganize the documentation for Intel-based Macs. If you are interested in helping, please visit our team page for information. For all Mactel wikis, there is a starting place here. There is also a thread about planning the Mactel docummentation going on.

MacBookAir5-2/Trusty (last edited 2015-04-22 07:24:08 by 91)