Breathing a new life into a late 2010 Macbook air

Posted on 10 Jun 2020 - filed under: macbook, apple, linux

I snatched an old macbook air from a friend who was letting it gather dust.

My initial ambition was to use it like I would use an iPad, mostly to read stuff online when I’m too lazy to undock my main laptop.

Nothing to blog about I hear you say ! Well it was a pretty rough battle with the nvidia drivers, so I thought I’d share.


  • New battery from amazon
  • New m.2 drive from amazon
  • m.2 adapter to fit in the motherboard, I actually fucked up and bought the wrong one :D it’s either this OR that I’m too lazy to open up the mac and figure out :/ Sorry

Note that these are not affiliate links, I hate amazon and feel bad for linking it here but sometimes you just can’t do without them…


I went with the latest Ubuntu 20.04, it usually has all the little quirks shipped with it so that almost anything runs without a hitch…. Most of the time that is.

There were three issues: - Cannot adjust brightness - Cannot sleep - Crappy framerate

Which all ended being caused by the same root cause.

Sleep issue and fucking nvidia drivers

During the ubuntu install if you choose to include non-free software (sorry rms), it will install the latest official nvidia drivers, as opposed to the open source “nouveau” drivers.

The graphics seemed a bit clunky at first, like low frame rate but I just chugged it to the macbook being old hardware.

Closing the lid would not make the mac sleep, other than that everything else was pretty smooth.

Trying to fix the lid issue was a real PITA, there are lot of people suggesting a lot of different things out there, Ubuntu has one of the biggest linux community so the Signal to Noise ratio is pretty low…

Then I found this stackoverflow answer which changed everything ! The instructions are not straight forward but if you do exactly as he says, you will fix your issue, no point in me paraphrasing here, click that link and do what the guy says.

Random interwebz suggestions

I did not modify my GRUB config.

I did not blacklist the nouveau modules.

I did uninstall GDM3 to replace it with LightDM, apparently some people are reporting that that fixed their issue; I can only report that this alone did not fix it for me.

And now my Macbook air runs smooth af (:)


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