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Linux Can Work On The 2013 MacBook Air

Hardware

Published on 25 August 2013 09:18 AM EDT
Written by Michael Larabel in Hardware
19 Comments

As soon as Apple launched their Haswell-based MacBook Air I purchased the "ultrabook" for its long battery life, great build quality, and impressive design. However, running Linux on the 2013 MacBook Air has been a pain. It wasn't running cleanly but it looks like the major kernel booting problem comes down to a UEFI interaction issue.

Most Apple MacBook Air 2013 owners have a problem with the modern Linux kernel not booting on the system. The system hangs almost immediately when the kernel prints "smpboot: Booting Node 0, Processors #1" and there hasn't been a clear workaround. The Linux kernel can boot on the MacBook Air if using an older kernel and being lucky, or more reliably if booting a Linux 3.8 era kernel and setting maxcpus=1, which limits the Linux use to one CPU core but will boot the system. The newer kernel releases don't work with this workaround or toying with different ACPI-related kernel parameters and other common workarounds hasn't helped.

It turns out now from the kernel bug report and Ubuntu bug report on this 2013 MacBook Air issue, Fedora 19 Xfce reportedly works fine. For Ubuntu Linux users, if manually converting Ubuntu to UEFI mode (Wiki instructions) the system will boot on the latest Linux kernel with not needing any extra kernel parameters.

On my 11-inch MacBook Air I tried the Xfce spin of Fedora 19 x86_64 but hit the bootloader stage1 target device error even after various other partitioning attempts to the point of taking over the entire disk. With Xubuntu 13.04, the 3.8 kernel I am running into UEFI issues still but am making more progress.

Linux Can Work On The 2013 MacBook Air


Stay tuned for more information next week when hopefully I'll have all the Linux hardware compatibility issues worked out for this latest-generation Apple MacBook Air. There will also then be OS X vs. Linux performance benchmarks for this lightweight Intel Haswell system and other interesting results.

About The Author
Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the web-site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience and being the largest web-site devoted to Linux hardware reviews, particularly for products relevant to Linux gamers and enthusiasts but also commonly reviewing servers/workstations and embedded Linux devices. Michael has written more than 10,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics hardware drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated testing software. He can be followed via and or contacted via .
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