Ubuntu on Macbook Pro

As I have mentioned before (Magician Chrome makes RAM disappear), I had been facing several issues with Mac OSX. I use vim extensively, and so I had installed (after great difficulty) MacVim on my Macbook Pro, but recently while trying out a new plugin I found there was something amiss between MacVim & Python on my system and as a result I was unable to use the plugin. In my attempt at trying to repair MacVim, I ended up uninstalling it.

As I tried to reinstall MacVim using HomeBrew, I quickly realized, and rediscovered it’s very tight integration with XCode, something that I had comfortably forgotten after I installed it for the first time, after which I had conveniently gone ahead and removed XCode from my system because well, I simply do not like it. Coming back to the problem of installing MacVim, since now XCode was missing, I tried several workarounds only to install XCode in the end, which I might add is a staggering 4GB download :/.

As I downloaded and installed XCode, I restarted my system only to find that my Mac OSX had gone for a toss. As I tried to login into my system, it simply redirected from the login page to a blank white page and then back to the login page after a small delay without any error message! The credentials I was using were of course right, I knew that, but I wasn’t able to figure out what was wrong. I tried to get into the recovery options that Mac OSX comes with and even after trying to recover OSX it just did not work. This was the last straw, I had simply had it with OSX, it was time to end this futile waste of time.

I went ahead and installed Ubuntu on my Macbook Pro. Ubuntu has quite good documentation – https://help.ubuntu.com/community/MacBookPro, for installation on the Mac. Although I knew there may be a lot more issues standing in my path that I am yet to face, I buckled up and went ahead with the installation following the documentation. To my surprise, installing Ubuntu was a breeze, most features of Macbook were infact working out of box!

I have been working with Ubuntu for over 5 years, but never did I feel this much respect for the Ubuntu community as I do now. Everything except for the wireless just worked out of the box. Even fixing the wireless required me to just add a repository to APT and install the proprietary drivers and the wireless was fixed! Couldn’t be any simpler. Installing OSX on a Macbook Pro seemed more difficult that installing Ubuntu.

However once I updated ubuntu, which meant installing a lot of packages, I found that ubuntu too, like OSX, had crashed. It wasn’t able to boot :/. On a closer look I came to the realization that all of my pasts troubles were infact because of a bad hard disk, which was now virtually useless. I am very surprised though, that I had to go through so much of effort with both Mac OSX and Ubuntu, only to figure out in the end that it was just a case of a bad hard disk, it is surprising how such advanced Operating Systems are not able to diagnose such a problem and report it sooner.

I went ahead and bought a new SSD, replaced it in my Macbook Pro myself (that was fun!), and faced yet another decision to make, should I install OSX like everyone suggested, or should I install Ubuntu again, something that I have always been more comfortable with and have come to appreciate quite a lot in recent years, especially since I was successfully able to install it on the Macbook without much issues.

My open source enthusiast mind shouted out loud, I had to install Ubuntu, OSX, however shiny & nice it may be, it is still not as easily customizable as Ubuntu. So I went ahead and installed Ubuntu again, like I had previously. Today it has been over 4 months since I have been using my Macbook Pro running Ubuntu and I am yet to face any issue at all. In fact I couldn’t be happier :).

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6 Comments

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  1. There’s a lot of information here. I’ll be back again.

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  2. Hello! Nice article!

    I read somewhere in the Ubuntu documentation that you might want to keep OS X around even though you are mainly using Ubuntu. For firmware updates. What is your experience regarding this issue?

    Best wishes!

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    • That is correct, and you might want to do that. I didn’t do that only because I don’t mind not upgrading firmware, at least not for a while.

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  3. hey dhruv,
    how about nvidia drivers?didn’t you face any issues with that?

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    • I haven’t installed the proprietary nvidia drivers so haven’t gone down that road yet, but it shouldn’t be that difficult since the underlying hardware is NVIDIA’s afterall, so drivers should work.

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  4. Thanks Dhruv

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