Installing Ubuntu on an old Macbook

I have an old macbook (year 2006) that had a crashed hard-disk over two years ago. At the time, the new disk with a clean install of OSX was very fast to start up, and it was not even a SSD.

The laptop was functional in my secondary office, at which I go maybe once at week. Normally, I’d use it to connect to a random linux server via the terminal.

However, it was clear that the laptop was unusable for web browsing due to the lack of software updates available.

I attempted to install Elementary.io but it only works for 64 bits. On the other hand, Ubuntu works, and here are a few of my notes:

  • Etcher is quite amazing for making a bootable USB drive: select the image file, then the destination USB drive, and click on the “flash” button.
    • This video was very useful: link
  • Etcher would not do the trick when trying to make a bootable USB for Unbuntu. Then I tried UNetbootin, which would not display the USB disk.
  • I had to “fix” the USB disk (erase volume, unmount, erase partition) via command line usage of diskutil
    • diskutil list: shows you the list of disks
    • diskutil eraseDisk: did not work, gave me an error on: Unable to begin erase operation: The target disk is too small for this operation (-69771)
    • diskutil eraseVolume FAT32 ABCD /dev/disk2: did the trick
    • diskutil unmount disk2: this is needed for the next step to work
    • sudo diskutil partitionDisk disk2 1 MBR FAT32 ABCDE R
    • Kudos to a stackExchange response (great, as usual) that was key to solve this
  • The USB drive then showed up on UNetbootin, for which I recommend downloading separately the .iso file (before using UNetbootin).
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