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@vojtechvitek
Oct 30, 2017

Elementary OS as a replacement for super slow macOS Sierra on Macbook Air (2012)

My girfriend's Macbook Air (2012) got very slow lately. Slow to the extend that it's not useful anymore. It just makes you crazy. The mouse cursor does not move smoothly - the latency is up to 1s - and it's almost impossible to navigate in the UI and click on anything. The whole OS experience is so bad, that my girlfriend prefers using Android mobile rather then dealing with Mac, even when she needs to reply on long messages. I need to fix this.

The laptop is actually quite clean. 50G left out of 120G. No anti-virus running, no malware, no viruses. The number of application running after reboot is almost zero. This must be something with hardware I'm thinking.. Why would mouse freeze for hundreds of milliseconds when moving it?

Let's try re-installing the macOS Sierra operating system. Reboot Macbook and hold Command-R at boot time. The installation process gets stuck on this error message: "You must plug in and connect your power adapter before installing." Ha, but the power adapter is actually plugged in and connected. It's just that the battery is completely out of its life. What a bummer.

Second try - recovery over the internet. Reboot Macbook and hold Shift-Option-Command-R at boot time. That should factory-reset to the original MacOS X system that came with my laptop. After a while, the installation process fails with error saying that it can't downgrade itself "back" to the old Mac OS X version. Hm, so that didn't work either.

Meh, I don't have time for this. Let's try something else.
Let's replace the macOS with Linux!

Looking at the latest trends in the Linux world, it seems like I want to try Elementary OS. Note: I tried Linux Mint a year ago and it was not bad either.

Create bootable USB drive with Elementary OS

  1. Download latest stable ISO image at https://elementary.io
  2. Navigate to ~/Downloads and convert the ISO image to DMG format using
    hdiutil convert -format UDRW -o elementaryos.dmg elementaryos-0.4.1-stable.20170814.iso
  3. Plug-in USB flash drive into Macbook, open Disk Utility and find the USB flash drive in the left menu
  4. Unmount all of the volumes' logical volumes
  5. Right-click on the volume, click Info and copy paste the disk's Unix path (ie. /dev/disk2)
  6. Now, we're going to format the USB flash drive, be careful! Running this command will format the disk (/dev/disk2 from previous step) and create Elementary OS bootable flash drive:
    sudo dd if=elementaryos-0.4.1-stable.20170814.dmg of=/dev/disk2 bs=1m

Install Elementary OS on your Macbook Air

  1. Plug-in the USB flash drive
  2. Reboot Macbook
  3. Install the OS and format the drive along the way
  4. Enjoy!

Install some applications

  1. Google Chrome
    1. Navigate to https://www.google.com/chrome
    2. Download Chrome .dep package
    3. Install with sudo apt-get install ~/Downloads/*.dep
  2. Thunar file manager (very similar to macOS Finder)
  3. .. <TODO> (I'll update this list in the upcoming files)

Resources

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