Issues with Installing Linux on MacBook Air 2019: No WiFi, Keyboard, or Touchpad


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May 28, 2024
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Hello everyone,

I am currently facing some challenges with my MacBook Air 2019 when trying to install various Linux distributions. Here are the specs of my device:

  • Model: MacBook Air 2019
  • Processor: 1.6GHz dual-core Intel Core i5
  • Storage: 128GB
  • RAM: 8GB
  • Graphics: Intel UHD
I've attempted to install Ubuntu, Mint, and Kali Linux on this machine. Unfortunately, I'm encountering the same issues across all these distributions:

  1. No WiFi: The WiFi adapter isn't recognized, so I can't connect to the internet.
  2. Native Keyboard Not Working: The built-in keyboard does not respond at all.
  3. Touchpad Not Working: Similar to the keyboard, the touchpad is unresponsive.
Due to these issues, I've reverted back to macOS to ensure the device remains usable for others at home. However, I would really appreciate it if anyone here has faced similar issues with the same or a similar device and can provide some guidance or solutions.

Is there any specific driver or workaround that can resolve these issues? Any advice on how to get the WiFi, keyboard, and touchpad working on a Linux installation would be highly valuable.

Thank you in advance for your help!

Installing Linux on any mac is a challenge, the older "air" is one of the easiest. You will have problems with some drivers, so you will need to connect to the internet by hard-wire or tethered mobile to download the Wi-Fi drivers. [I suspect it to have a BCM 43 wi-fi chip, requiring the b43-fwcutter,

Please do not ask the same question on multiple sites, it can cause confusion and is not considered good practice
you have to jump through more hoops to install Linux to a Mac, so for an Intel I5/7 series CPU

choose your distribution, [Mint LMDE, Ubuntu, Mint 21, MX-linux are all popular for this age of machine]download from official source or mirror, and write it as a bootable ISO to a clean formatted fats or ex-fats pen-drive of min 4GB

this is to completely remove everything from your hard-drive and do a clean installation of Linux.

Switch on the MacBook while holding down the Option key.

Select the EFI Boot option from the startup screen and press Return.

You should now get a black and white screen with options to Try and Install . Don’t choose either yet, press “e” to edit the boot entry.

Edit the line that begins with Linux and place the word “nomodeset” after “quiet splash”. The whole line should read: “linux /casper/vmlinuz.efi file=/cdrom/preseed/ubuntu.seed boot=casper quiet splash nomodeset –. (See screenshot, below.)
Press F10.

Your chosen distribution should now install in trial mode. [now is the time to check everything is working]

Double-click on [or right click and select open] install [distribution name]

Select your Language and choose Continue.

Select “Install this third-party software” option and click Continue. [as a newbie this is essential as it can save you hours of work]

When asked, click Yes to the /dev/sdb alert.

Select “Erase disk and install your distribution” and click Continue. [WARNING this will wipe everything from your hard-drive] if you want to run Linux and IOS then select install alongside

Select the Drive you wish to install to.

Click Install Now.

Click Continue in the alert window.

Select your location on the map and click Continue

Now is the time to your keyboard layout and click Continue. [do not leave it on the default unless its right for you]

Enter the name and password you want to use.

Click on Continue and your distribution should begin installing.

Watch carefully when installed you will be asked to remove the installation medium and re-boot
The re-boot may take a few minutes whilst the installer cleans the installation.
When it finishes the re-boot you will be asked for your name and password [you used during installation]
you should now have a Linux/mac
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