I have two MacBook a1181’s, a black one and a white one. I bought the first one (the black one) a while ago and haven’t had any problems with it. I installed Devuan on it and everything was good.

The second one (the white MacBook) arrived today and unfortunately I haven’t been able to get it to boot into anything. When I turn it on I get a flashing folder icon with a question mark. I read online that it’s either a bad hard drive or RAM so I tried swapping them both out with the parts from my black MacBook with no luck.

Then, after putting the original hard drive back something changed and the hard drive showed up but with the name Windows and when it would boot it would say no operating system.

I figured that if I got this drive to be identified I could install Linux on it from the black MacBook and then just put it in the white one and it would boot. I installed Linux and put the drive in and now it just sits at a white screen with a mouse cursor.

How can I proceed to to get this MacBook to boot into any OS?

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    Jan 23, 2019 at 5:26

1 Answer 1


Not all A1181's are the same. A list of the specs for various A1181's are given at this website. Other than some being black and others being white, here are some other differences.

  • Early models have "Core Duo" processors. These are 32 bit machines. These machines can only run 32 bit BIOS or EFI booting operating systems.
  • Middle models have "Core 2 Duo" processors. These are 64 bit machines, however the EFI is still 32 bit. These machines can run 32 bit or 64 bit BIOS booting operating systems, but only 32 bit EFI booting operating systems.
  • Later models have "Core 2 Duo" processors with 64 bit EFIs. These machines can run 32 bit or 64 bit BIOS booting operating systems, but only 64 bit EFI booting operating systems.

It would be helpful if you could list the ID and/or family for both Macs.

According to the website, possible IDs and corresponding families for the A1181 are given below.

    ID                        Family
----------     -----------------------------------------
MacBook1,1     (13-inch)
MacBook2,1     (13-inch, Late 2006), (13-inch, Mid 2007)
MacBook3,1     (13-inch, Late 2007)
MacBook4,1     (13-inch, Early 2008)
MacBook5,2     (13-inch, Early 2009)

I should also note that some early Macs needed a firmware update before being able to run BIOS booting operating systems. See: About EFI and SMC firmware updates for Intel-based Mac computers.

Note: BIOS booting normally does not require a MBR table. However, Intel Macs require a well formed MBR table in order to BIOS boot. This does not present a problem when using BIOS/MBR arrangement. Many BIOS booting Linux distributions use a BIOS/GPT arrangement. If you choose this arrangement, then you must hybrid partition the boot drive. This is a firmware requirement, even if the booting operating system will not use the values stored in the MBR table.

  • I ended up bringing the macbook to a party and someone there luckily had a osx snow leopard disk and installing that seemed to fix the device and allow me to partition the drive and install linux like I had wanted to. but you were correct this white one was 32bit.
    – MintCollie
    Jan 25, 2019 at 23:13
  • A 32 bit processor or 64 bit processor with a 32 bit EFI? Jan 25, 2019 at 23:28
  • 32bit. OSX identified it was the core duo.
    – MintCollie
    Jan 26, 2019 at 1:06

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