Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Loading Ubuntu 12.10 on a Macbook Air

To create a live USB for installation, I had to follow the instructions at the link below. The basic steps were to convert the .iso to a .img using diskutils, then dd that image onto a USB driver, which was formatted as FAT_32 in my case. I think other formatting schemes may work as well.

Update: Trying to do this from non-Mac platforms, one can try
mkfs.hfsplus to create a .dmg file. To do this, you will need to install the hfsplus hfsprogs and hfsutils packages. you can then install dmg2img to convert this to .img format by installing dmg2img.
The whole command is sudo apt-get install hfsplus hfsprogs hfsutils dmg2img 
See for more details

Create a blank file of the size needed
dd if=/dev/zero of=/path/to/output.dmg bs=1 count=0 seek=590M
mkfs.hfsplus -v 'Description of DMG file' output.dmg

mount it, copy all files from ISO to DMG, then unmount.

Once the live USB is created, simply reboot the Macbook Air while holding the alt (option) key, then select the yellow USB UEFI icon as the boot device. Make sure to install 3rd party sources when running the installer, as the Broadcom wireless device uses a 3rd party firmware blob.

After running the Ubuntu installer, everything should be running, but there are still a few usability issues to fix. I will cover these issues under separate headings below.

Installing XMonad is the next crucial step for me - I don't install a wireless manager, doing wifi management with wpa_supplicant instead.

sudo apt-get install xmonad xmobar suckless-tools

Suckless-tools is a package of helpful tools for xmonad, such as dmenu. I use dmenu for launching graphical programs like firefox or
I have two example configs for a MacBook Air running XUbuntu 12.04, located at .Simply put the ~.xmobarrc file at ~/.xmobarrc, and put the xmonad.hs file in ~/.xmonad/xmonad.hs

Wireless in XMonad is ...interesting. Here I will document some common wireless connectivity scenarios, and how get on the net.

Easiest - install trayer by doing sudo apt-get install trayer
Now simply do
trayer & 
to start the network manager applet in the bottom left hand corner. Simply click and connect as normal. When finished, kill trayer by doing pkill trayer

After installing Ubuntu 12.10 and configuring XMonad, things appeared pretty good. The only issue so far is that the "right click" of the mousepad is two finger click, instead of clicking in the bottom right hand corner of the touchpad.

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