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Setting up Ubuntu 12.10 on a Macbook Pro

With Mountain Lion really not living up to any form of the expectation a new OSX release has, infact making my MBP run slower i was interested to see what the Mac specific 64bit build of UBuntu 12.10 has to offer this long time Ubuntu user. While the inital install wasn’t without its gripes i’ve stuck with it and documented how I got on.

Update: If Ubuntu isn’t all you need it to be follow this link to find out about Sabayon on the Macbook Pro


Previous installs of Ubuntu on this mac have involved what is basically a respin of the alternative install, a lot of mucking about with Disk partitions and a lot of install pain. Not this time. I downloaded the Mac specific download and booted it off a CD. The Unity booted up and i was asked if i wanted to install or try, i gave it a bit of a run through and then ran the stock Ubuntu Installer with no issues at all. After the reboot once the install had finished I waited for a few seconds for the EFI boot to pass and Ubuntu booted up and I was able to login.
During the install i Encrypted the drive because I could and I like to think I have a little extra security on there should i forget the device anywhere, this all worked fine, and yet again each version of Ubuntu provides me with a cleaner and more user friendly experience..

Installing the NVidia Drivers

I like to run the NVidia drivers, nothing wrong with the stock Ubuntu display drivers, however I don’t stick to that everything must be opensource clap trap, I want the best experience I can get from my desktop.. On previous versions of Ubuntu you would power up Additional Hardware Drivers (Jockey-gtk) and drivers would be installed, for some reason this is now found not as a standalone app but under the sources dialog as its own tab. Not the most intuative place to put it.
It did offer me the tested, experimental and waaaaay out there use at your own risk bleading edge drivers for Nvidia which my MBP has, so I went for the nvidia-current and installed that and the Broadcom Wifi Drivers because the wifi wasn’t working the install provided me with a bar showing just how long i had left to wait then I was told i could reboot.
Rebooting however gave me a problem as when I logged back in the wallpaper displayed but no Unity…

Fixing the login issue

Turns out there may be a bug in the NVidia install DEB’s on 12.10 which calls  linux-headers-generic but doesn’t install them, so while the package tries to install it actually fails. To get round this you need o do the following from the command line:
sudo apt-get install linux-headers-generic
Once the headers have installed, you need to reconfigure the Nvidia drivers which will depend on which one you chose when you installed them.
This if you have nvidia-current (proprietary,tested)

sudo dpkg-reconfigure nvidia-current

This if you have nvidia-current-updates (proprietary)

sudo dpkg-reconfigure nvidia-current-updates

This if you have nvidia-experimental-304 (proprietary)

sudo dpkg-reconfigure nvidia-experimental-304
A reboot will then resolve this login issue and display Unity

Getting Wifi to work

The last major system to get working would be the Wifi and for me that was done by installing the following from the command line
sudo apt-get install broadcom-sta-common b43-fwcutter
Then rebooting, what was also interesting was the Avahi Daemon also automatically  sorted out the .local extention on my home OSX domain for me, a known problem with previous versions of Ubuntu

Odds and Sods

Having got the video fixed and wifi working, and this being a MBP I needed to get a few other things working which are the reason I still keeep the device going, so i’ll share those as well

Ubuntu and the iPad

I’d like to be able to mount my iPad 3 on Ubuntu and get the photos off it some time, Apple have actually done a really good job at making the device software not require to be connected to a PC since IOS5 occasionally however it is needed.
sudo apt-get install libimobiledevice-utils ifuse
Then connect the iPAd and run
idevicepair unpair && idevicepair pair

Google Drive

With no Google Drive client for Ubuntu in sight leave it to the community to create the software the big boys are scared to and InSync is just that an Ubuntu Google Drive Client.

Go over here and download a copy of Insync using your web browser. Or open terminal and run the commands below to download.


Next, run the commands below to extract the file

tar xjf insync-linux-beta1-py27.tar.bz2

After that, run this command to perform the second extraction.

tar xvf insync-linux-metapackage.tar

Finally, run the commands below to install insync. Follow the on screen prompts (accept all when prompted).

sudo ./insync-installer

After installing, go to Startup Applications


Then click ‘Add’ to add new program. Next, type the name, command to automatically start insync and click ‘Save’


Log Out or Restart your computer and insync should launch and allow you to configure it.


Right-clicking in Nautilus will give you the option to share.


The command to start insync from the command line is insync


As a Spotify rather than an iTunes user due to my cross platform addiction getting Spotify onto Ubuntu is also a lot easier

run the commands below to add Spotify’s repository key.

sudo apt-key adv --keyserver --recv-keys 4E9CFF4E

Next, copy and paste the line below to add Spotify’s repository.

sudo sh -c 'echo "deb stable non-free" >> /etc/apt/sources.list'

Finally, run the commands below to install Spotify.

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install spotify-client-qt


The install and disk partitioning issues i’ve had previously with this ISO are no longer however a bug in the NVidia package did make this a bit of a beast to get going, however now I’m installed on the MBP its a lot quicker even than a fresh install of Mountain Lion.. Unity works well and I’m a Happy Linux User Again..

30 comments on “Setting up Ubuntu 12.10 on a Macbook Pro

  1. Monaco
    October 23, 2012

    Is it possible to copy and paste news articles for my blog or is that copyright infringement?

    • projectzme
      October 23, 2012

      Copy away.. It’s the Internet, it was designed that way..

  2. Pingback: Ubuntu 12.04 the Macbook Pro Post Install « projectz

  3. Pingback: Ubuntu on the iMac.. Not so good « projectz

  4. gigabytes
    November 6, 2012

    Useful article! But, excuse me, what is this “mac specific” ubuntu download?


    • projectzme
      November 6, 2012

      I’m guessing google is broken at your end then?
      Head over to

      You will see a 64 bit mac specific build, it’s tailored to some hardware requirements for macs,, efi as well

  5. Jake Swanson
    November 17, 2012

    I have a 700MB blank CD but it seems that isn’t big enough 😦 and I haven’t had good luck getting the amd64+mac.iso file to a usb stick from OSX, like I usually do. The farthest I made it was to a a Grub2 Prompt, and that was by creating a USB stick using the non-mac amd64 ISO.

    • projectzme
      November 17, 2012

      Why not burn on to a DVD? I use unetbootin to get the iOS onto a USB stick, but I agree I have only ever got this working from a windows PC, otherwise Ubuntu does have a tool built in to get iso files on to a USB stick.

  6. Jake Price
    November 22, 2012

    This didn’t work for me on an imac, using a livecd and the mac specific ubutunu 12.10…. It doesn’t seem like the efi bootloader has been installed as linux is visible in the mac alt boot selection menu.

    • projectzme
      November 22, 2012

      Sorry I don’t understand.. What didn’t work? Did the cd boot? Did Ubuntu install? Can you not boot into Ubuntu post reboot? Are you trying to dual boot OSX and Ubuntu? If you can elaborate maybe we can learn what isn’t working and see if we can help? 🙂

  7. bigfan
    November 27, 2012

    Great post. For some reason i can’t get wireless to work. I followed your instructions as well as from here: and all to no avail.

  8. wouter92
    November 30, 2012

    Shouldn’t the line “sudo apt-get install linux-headers-general” be “sudo apt-get install linux-headers-generic” ? Because the linux-headers-general package was not found when I tried this.

    • projectzme
      November 30, 2012

      You are of course correct, apologies I. Have amended the post. Many thanks for letting me know and may autocorrect rot in hell 😉

  9. brady love
    January 4, 2013

    Thanks for this post, one difference I had was when I installed linux-headers-generic it was getting newer headers than what I needed. So I had to do uname -r which spits out 3.5.0-17-generic, then had to install linux-headers-3.5.0-17-generic.

  10. Jason
    January 30, 2013

    did your mac run extremely hot? mine is simply burning up and the battery runs out in 2 hours from a full charge. great article though.

    • projectzme
      January 30, 2013

      Yeah, battery life does get caned somewhat. I used Powertop

      This sorted it out from running hot, then this guide has some great tips..

      • Humberto "SilverOne" Carvalho
        February 7, 2013

        Dear Projectzme,

        I’m a computer engineering student that’s really anxious to get rid of OS X and use linux as the main OS.
        But has a student i need 4 ~ 5 hours of battery, usually my mac gets through the day just fine.
        How did the battery life fair after running powertop?

        Best Regards,

      • projectzme
        February 7, 2013

        Yeah, not excellent however the more I read up on this, the more battery life I can eek out of the system

      • Humberto "SilverOne" Carvalho
        February 7, 2013

        Oh never mind i just read the article 😛 thanks

  11. Pingback: Sabayon Linux 11 on a Macbook Pro (Updated 18/02/13) « projectz

  12. Marco Daniel
    March 21, 2013

    Can I remove the entry Ubuntu from the boot page of refind? I uninstalled Ubuntu and I want to suppress this entry.

    Thanks in advance

    • projectzme
      March 21, 2013

      Probably.. I’d have to d what you should, and google it.. Sorry don’t meant to be rude, we progress by searching..

  13. mechgrav
    March 21, 2013

    How can I remove an entry of the boot menu? I uninstalled Ubuntu and I want to suppress the entry.

  14. claudiomet
    March 24, 2013

    Hi man! I have a MacBook Pro 7,1 with Ubuntu as unique operating system. The system is finely configured (graphics, touchpad, keys, boot resolution, tty fonts and resolution, etc.) reading a lot of articles. But there are one thing that I can’t do. When the power button is pressed to turn on the MacBook, appears a white screen during several seconds (almost one minute). It’s possible to disable or reduce the wait time of this white screen? Thanks!!

    • projectzme
      March 24, 2013

      I don’t believe you can do that, I think it is the Uefi boot loader timing out. Maybe install refit ? That might resolve it.

    • GhettoMrBob
      April 9, 2013

      Do a search for blessing the partition to boot…I don’t remember where I’ve read it but know that it can be done and requires an OS X install disk (to access Terminal).

      After that it shouldn’t sit at that white screen for longer than it does when booting to OS X.

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