I would like to run BSD on Mac hardware. I'm unable to locate a version of BSD that runs on any MacBook Pro.

I'd like a native install, replacing OS X entirely and not doing a Boot Camp setup or virtualizing over another OS.

  • 3
    The more appropriate question to ask first, since you kind of allude to it, is whether BSD will take greater advantage of your hardware. There's already a question for that on SO. stackoverflow.com/questions/3446231/… Mar 7 '14 at 16:20
  • I've edited out the gossip and back story from this. If MDMoore313 could add the model of MacBook Pro that would be useful to the site. Also, as bsd.org/index.html lists Mac OS X as a major flavor of BSD, you might want to explain if any or all of the sub-flavors are acceptable to you except for Mac OS X.
    – bmike
    Mar 7 '14 at 17:24
  • @bmike Done, although backstory sometimes helps future answerers understand the problem.
    – MDMoore313
    Mar 7 '14 at 17:38

Of course it's possible: Your Mac is just a generic Intel machine (albeit one running EFI instead of a traditional BIOS unless you set up BootCamp). Grab your favorite BSD install CD, stick it in the drive, and have fun.1
1 - Because Apple is deprecating the optical disk you may have to make a USB install stick, or plug in an external CD/DVD drive.

Most of the hardware should work "out of the box", but you'll probably need to do some tuning. The FreeBSD folks have a somewhat outdated Wiki page with information on getting FeeBSD running on a MacBook, either under BootCamp or as the only OS on the machine.

I do have to object to calling OS X "Nothing more than a watered-down version of BSD" though. First off, it's Mach under the hood (the kernel) - they just borrowed the userland utilities from FreeBSD, and they've diverged pretty far since OS X 10.0.0 ; Second it's goal isn't to be a Unix development platform - it's a workstation.

Personally I find doing (unix) development on a Mac painful, and I wouldn't recommend it for serious, down in the muck unix programming, but as a workstation it's quite adequate (and you're not going to get a GUI like that from any of the open-source *nix systems without spending a pretty substantial amount of time working on it).
The amount of work required to get a useful desktop/workstation with any of the open-source *nix systems is substantial compared to running OS X. If you need a BSD (or Linux, Windows, etc.) environment any of the desktop virtualization programs can be used to run it on your Mac, while retaining OS X as the primary operating system.

You should also bear in mind that despite what some of us consider questionable design choices (I want to bludgeon the people who came up with the lousy disk I/O scheduling in OS X) Apple builds OS X to run on their hardware. It's about as optimized as you can get, and much like the Star Trek franchise, Even-Numbered OS X releases (10.2, 10.4, 10.6, 10.8) are pretty good.

So bottom line?

Yes, you can do it. No, I wouldn't personally recommend it.
There aren't enough benefits, and you lose a lot of functionality (or have to spend your time making things work, rather than being productive).

  • I love your typo for FreeBSD to cost money now :-) Mar 7 '14 at 16:29
  • @BartSilverstrim eh? The only monetary costs I mention are the lost productivity because you're dickering around trying to make your UI pretty rather than - ya know - working :-)
    – voretaq7
    Mar 7 '14 at 16:32
  • Look at your link. Mar 7 '14 at 16:52
  • 3
    I've edited the OP substantially to remove the gossip. Might you revisit your desire to slaughter people from your post?
    – bmike
    Mar 7 '14 at 17:26
  • 1
    @bmike If you haven't personally felt the desire to slaughter someone or some group for his/her/their design/implementation choices at some point in your use of hardware or software, then you are a better person than voretaq7 or I. Mar 7 '14 at 21:42

The one major BSD flavor that stands out and supports the maximum number of MacBook Pro is OS X.

No BSD variant I am aware of runs on any MacBook Pro with perfect hardware support (or even good support across the entire line). I'm guessing any specific BSD build won't run on all MacBook Pro since that line spans an Intel Core Duo (Yonah 65nm) chipset and logic board manufactured in late 2005, but there's no harm in trying any BSD you care to try on whatever hardware you have to experiment with.

None of the BSD variants have even a fraction of the engineering work and budget that Apple expends on it's BSD variant, so you will be sacrificing that polish, support and driver coverage if you choose to ditch OS X on Mac hardware - especially so on the newest hardware.

  • -1 for unprovable, extraordinary statements.
    – user13716
    Sep 16 '14 at 21:00
  • in OpenBSD, FreeBSD,.. there is no DRM and iCloud
    – Josefine
    Nov 1 '18 at 18:16

FreeBSD (if that's the variant you want to run) looks like it should run on the Mac, evidenced here: AppleMacBookWikiEntry

NetBSD is really the BSD variant that is known for running on just about anything with a processor. They also appear to maybe sorta support Mac hardware. See: NetBSD information


Yes it is a simple process for me. I jun ubuntu studio and am looking to run bsd on it. The power supply using the battery it drains faster then os X

I use rEEInd then my os of choice. I left mac on but never use it.

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