I have aquired a macbook air from work after a collegue left.

I have tried, but I can't deal with the locked down nature and lack of customization available in OSX, so I want to get Linux on as soon as possible.

There seems to be two options, dual boot as I have on my other laptops, or running it in a virtual machine.

So will it be fast in a virtual machine? It seems to be reasonably recent, OSX 10.8.5 (Mountain Lion), 8gb Ram, 128GB SSD. If I use a VM, do I still need to boot in OSX, and essentially have Linux running in "another window"? Do I loose out on anything hardware wise, or can I still access everything as I could from Linux?

Or would I be better with a normal install (this looks to be difficult from teh searching I have done so far). Assuming I partition the disk, will I be able to read / write both partitions from Linux easily?

I will likely use the machine for the usual websurfing, plus a bit of python development. Nothing heavy, and number crunching.

Any recomended tutorials to expalin how to do it along with your answer would be greatly apreciated.

  • I suspect this question would attract better answers over on askubuntu.com ? Commented Feb 1, 2014 at 18:29
  • I have installed Ubuntu on windows based laptops a load of times. The whole Mac experience seems to be far more specific and locked down, so I though here. And Ubuntu is not really the choice of Linux I am looking for. Commented Feb 1, 2014 at 19:41
  • Could you clarify specifically what you are referring to with "locked down nature"? — this isn't iOS :)
    – grg
    Commented Feb 1, 2014 at 21:51
  • I am unable to customize anything to make it work the way I want. The buttons at the left side of windows. I would prefer to attach the menu to individual windows rather than have it at the top of the screen. The way booting from a USB stick seems to be a major effort..... Commented Feb 3, 2014 at 8:53

3 Answers 3



Running in a VM would be the easiest way to go. There are a number of virtualisation apps available on OS X, but I recommend Parallels Desktop. This lets you use OS X and Linux at the same time, but it means that you sacrifice some performance in the VM.

VMs are very simple — select the ISO as the install media, and let Parallels Desktop's automatic install do the rest.


Alternatively, you can dual-boot using Boot Camp. Begin the Boot Camp process as normal for Windows, but when you reboot after the partition has been created, simply insert your Linux media instead of Windows install media.

  • 2
    There's also VirtualBox from Oracle which is a free program that lets you create and run virtual machines.
    – Bert
    Commented Feb 1, 2014 at 23:23
  • @grgarside: How much performance difference is there when running Linux from a VM vs. running it natively?
    – Utku
    Commented Oct 2, 2015 at 16:34

Just one problem here is that if you create a dual boot system then the Linux side will not be able to read or write to the Mac partition and the Mac will not be able to write to the Linux partition though it would be able to read if you install OSXFuse and ext2Fuse (read support is there but is unreliable and not really a good idea for production systems).

  • Appreciated, but I doubt I will use OSX much, so I am happy using slightly unreliable drivers for Linux. The only reasons to keep OSX are to test hardware that might not work under Linux, and the fact it is a work machine, so I shouldn't nuke it completely Commented Feb 5, 2014 at 10:49

The best way is to do a dual boot Mac OS X El Capitan / Linux.

You could read and write Mac OS X partition with ExtFS for Mac OS X 9 to OS X 10.11.

  • 2
    Answers on Ask Different need to be more than just a link, especially if the link points to a non-english site. It's okay to include a link, but please summarize or excerpt it in the answer. The idea is to make the answer stand alone.
    – nohillside
    Commented Feb 22, 2016 at 9:44

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .