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How to Install Linux on a Mac

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Linux is an open-source operating platform that you can download and install on your computer. Linux has many advantages over Windows and Mac. These include flexibility, privacy and security, as well as easy customization. If you own a Mac and would like to try a new open-source OS, our guide will show you how to install Linux on Mac.

You will need to create space for Linux OS to live if you want to dual-boot Linux and macOS. Partitioning your main drive is necessary in order to accomplish this. Here are the steps:

How to partition your Mac Hard Drive

  1. Go to your Applications folder, and then click on Utilities.
  2. Open Disk Utility.
  3. Next, click View at the top-left corner of the window.
  4. Next, select Show All Devices.
  5. Choose your macOS partition, then click Partition. This button is located at the top right of the window. You might be asked to create a volume if you have a newer Mac. On the pop-up, click Partition.
  6. Choose the size of your Linux OS partition. Drag the small white circles along the edges of the larger circle to adjust the size. Or, you can use the box beside Size to enter the size. The gray portion of the pie will represent your Mac space and the blue will be your new partition. It is recommended to set aside at most 20GB for Linux. Other information can be added here, such as the partition number. You will need this information later.
  7. Format new partition using MS-DOS (FAT).
  8. Click Apply. As the partition is created, your computer will become unresponsive.
  9. When prompted, click Partition and Proceed and wait for the process to complete.

How to make a bootable USB on a Mac

  1. Download a Linux distro. An ISO file is a disk picture. You can choose from Ubuntu or Mint. You can download them from the main distributions website. We will be using Ubuntu in this article.
  2. Open Disk Utility. Select your USB drive and click Erase.
  3. Format your USB drive using MS-DOS (FAT), and use the GUID Partition Map. Disk Utility can be used to do this by selecting the drive and clicking on Erase.
  4. Download the Etcher app. This will allow burning your Linux distro to a USB flash drive. Download Etcher is available here.
  5. Move Etcher to your Applications folder. You will need to go to System Preferences > Security & Privacy > General if you receive a warning that the application is not available. Next, click on the lock and enter your password. Click Open Anyway.
  6. Click on Open Etcher and click on Select Image to select your Linux ISO. This is the file that you downloaded in step 1.
  7. Select the target and choose your USB stick.
  8. Click Flash. If you receive an error message and your OS is not supported, please go to Applications > Utilities. Enter the following command, and hit enter.

sudo /Applications/balenaEtcher.app/Contents/MacOS/balenaEtcher

If you get an error message saying that the disk you have inserted is not readable, you can click ignore.

How to install Linux on a Mac

After you have created a partition, you are ready to proceed with the rest. Before you can begin, however, you’ll need a USB keyboard and mouse. Linux won’t recognize your drivers if you use a newer Mac.

  1. Turn off your Mac computer.
  2. Insert the USB bootable Linux drive into your Mac.
  3. Hold down the Option key while turning on your Mac. The boot manager will appear with a list of all available devices that you can boot from.
  4. Click on the USB stick you wish to use and hit enter. This will be called EFI boot or EFI driver.
  5. Next, select Install from GRUB.
  6. Follow the instructions. Select Normal Installation.
  7. Choose Something else in the Installation Type window. This option will allow you to choose the partition that you used earlier to install your Linux OS. You should not choose any other option as you could install Linux on top of your existing operating system. This would also wipe out all your files.
  8. Select the partition that you created. This is the partition that’s the same size as that which you made before.
  9. Click on Change. This will take you to the device list.
  10. Select ext4 journaling system from the Use As dropdown.
  11. Select forward slash in the Mount Point dropdown and click OK.
  12. When prompted, click Continue
  13. Next, click on Install Now.
  14. Next, click Continue to succeeding warning popups
  15. Click Continue, enter your time zone, and choose your keyboard layout.
  16. Create your Linux account. Enter your name, computer name, and username.
  17. Click Continue
  18. Wait for the installation to begin and complete.
  19. Start your Mac again and hold the Option key down while it restarts.
  20. To get started, choose your Linux OS.

After you have installed the OS and explored it, ensure that your applications work properly.

You now know how to install Linux to your Mac. Check out our guide on how to install Linux on a Windows 10 machine.

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