Installing Ubuntu 16.04 on Macbook Pro Retina (10,1)

I did a fresh install of 16.04 on my Macbook Pro (rMBP). It seems quite stable so far, and brings a number of improvements over 14.04.

Improved from 14.04

  1. No more special ISO (works with the default amd64 image)
  2. EFI is setup by default now
  3. Nvidia driver is automatically configured

Now for the directions!

1. Resize Partitions

This step is pretty straight-forward. Just open Disk Utility in OSX, and resize your existing OSX partition, so that there’s some free space for Ubuntu. You’ll want to leave the empty space as “free space” (it will get formatted during the Ubuntu installation). There are plenty of guides, if you get stuck on this step, including the Ubuntu wiki.

2. Install rEFInd

  1. Download rEFInd 0.10.3
  2. Unzip the package.
  3. Run the refind-install script.

If everything went well, you’ll see the rEFInd boot menu on the next restart. If you run into any problems, you can find more details on their website.

3. Create USB Installer

Download the Ubuntu 16.04 ISO. Once you’ve downloaded the ISO, you’ll need to follow some special steps to make it bootable on a Mac (the Startup Disk Creator on Ubuntu won’t work). Follow the directions for the “Manual Approach” on this wiki page.

4. Install Ubuntu

Note that the wifi won’t work (we’ll fix this in the next step), so don’t try to install updates during the installation process, unless you have a separate usb wifi dongle or ethernet. When installing select the “Try Ubuntu” option and then run the installer icon on the desktop. Selecting “Install” from the textually menu doesn’t seem to work. Also, at the end of the installer, after the dialog asking you to restart, you’ll probably get a black screen. Just press spacebar and it should reboot.

5. Install Wifi Drivers

Wifi doesn’t work out of the box, so from another computer (or your OSX install) download the driver and its dependencies (dkms, libc6-dev, linux-libc-dev), then copy them all to a flash drive and boot back into Ubuntu. Install each with:

sudo dpkg -i "the package file you downloaded"

Alternatively, if you have a usb wifi card, you can use that and install the driver with this command:

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install bcmwl-kernel-source

6. NVIDIA Drivers

Now you’ll need to install the proprietary NVIDIA drivers. Open “Additional Drivers” and select the latest proprietary driver.

7. Other Configuration (optional)

If you’re like me and want the F1-F12 keys to behave as function keys, and not special keys then just follow these steps from the AppleKeyboard guide:

echo options hid_apple fnmode=2 | sudo tee -a /etc/modprobe.d/hid_apple.conf
sudo update-initramfs -u -k all
sudo reboot

Also, if you want to allow the processor to run at full speed, you’ll want to disable power clamping:

echo "blacklist intel_powerclamp" | sudo tee -a /etc/modprobe.d/disable-powerclamp.conf

Still Broken

  • Only the native resolution (2880×1800) is available, which means the text is rather small

One thought on “Installing Ubuntu 16.04 on Macbook Pro Retina (10,1)”

  1. There is an alternative which can be useful for those that would like to run both ubuntu and OSX in parallel. I prefer using ubuntu as most of the applications run fine here. Even though I have installed linux on many machines, including exotic ones, for a laptop like the 12 inch MacBook retina (2015) I prefer the original OS as the base simply for power consumption. On a macbook air, I have used VirtualBox with great success. However this performs badly (Vbox 5.1 & Xubuntu 16.04) on a retina display with its over-sized resolution. I have tried all possible settings with the virtualbox display but no luck, graphics performance sucks at full (i.e. native) resolution. Therefore I have switched away from the virtualbox display which I just use to set the screen resolution, then I hide it and does not seem to bother the CPUs any longer. I have configured x11vnc to be launched on boot (manuals how to do this can be found by google) so that my Xubuntu guest OS can also be connected to by VNC. I have set a network card with NAT and additionally configured port forwarding (5900). Using RealVNC I can now connect to my virtualbox Xubuntu at full resolution. This way, I can use both Oses even though I work 99.9% in Ubuntu. I can use etc. without driver hassle and I have all the open source software at hand that I am used to. Last but not least, I can take full advantage of the retina display.

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