Macbook Air 1,1

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The following are (incomplete) instructions to install and configure Slackware 13.37 on the Macbook Air 1,1 (from early 2008).


What You'll Need

  • External DVD-R drive (No success so far with bootable USB drives)
  • Bootable disc with some sort of disk utility (Optimally, the Snow Leopard DVD)
  • Slackware 13.37 DVD (32 bit is best, but it's up to you)
  • Bootable rEFIt CD


The installation itself is not at all different from a slackware install on any other intel machine. The difficult parts are configuring afterwards and getting the machine to boot to an MBR scheme. Luckily, rEFIt does some arcane magic with it's partition manager that can set your scheme up as Hybrid GPT/MBR. Which brings us to step 1.


Okay, the first step is to partition your hard drive with the MBR scheme. Boot into the Snow Leopard DVD and run the Disk Utility. Re-partition the hard drive as free space, and make sure to select "Master Boot Record" in the Advanced menu. Now boot into your slackware disk. It will show up in the alt boot menu without any configuration. Partition slackware as you would for any other install and take note of the path to the boot partition (probably /dev/sda2).


Install slackware as you would on any intel machine. Make sure to select option 1 when installing the LILO boot loader.

Make it Bootable

Linux will not initially be bootable since the Apple firmware hates MBR drives. If you need to boot into your slackware install at any time, just put the slack disk back in and follow the instructions in the boot: menu to boot to the hard drive. To make the drive itself bootable, start up into the rEFIt cd. One of the options is the partition manager. Starting that will scan your disk and give you the option to configure it into Hybrid GPT/MBR. Do that. If all went well, your disk is now bootable!

If it takes forever to boot

If it is taking forever to go from the pale blue startup screen to the LILO boot loader (30 seconds or so), you need to bless the partition from a terminal with the bless utility. The Snow Leopard DVD has such a terminal. Boot back into that, start up a terminal, and run the command:

bless –device /dev/disk0s2 –setboot –legacy –verbose

Where the device is your boot partition (it will be in the disk?s? format, not the sd?? format).

Extra configurations

Your slackware install is actually quite usable exactly as it is at this point. However, there are a number of extra configurations that are at least advisable.


Broadcom's linux driver should work right out of the box. The readme file explains how to blacklist the conflicting drivers you may have in your install.


The default runlevel is, for some unknowable reason, 3. You won't get a desktop session manager unless you edit your /etc/inittab file and change the line:


to be 4 instead of 3. Restart, and you should get kdm (the KDE session manager) on boot.

Desktop Environment

The default desktop environment is KDE. This works quite well out of the box. Volume control works fine, the brightness keys are recognized, but they don't do anything. For somebody used to OS X or Windows, it's probably the most friendly. Almost every other popular desktop manager (besides Gnome, but there are reasons) is also available. You can change which one is run by default with the command:



There is a utility called s2ram that will put the machine to sleep. Map it to a keystroke or hardware event to enable sleeping. The machine will not go to sleep by default when you shut the laptop!


The command line utility xbrightness works fine. If you map it with the '-inc' and '-dec' options to the brightness keys (keycodes 232 and 233) it should work fine.

Fan control

Install the mac fan control daemon macfanctld and set it to run on startup. It works just fine.

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