Install Manjaro on new Macbook Air

I got a new MacBook Air for free. Actually, i’m running on it MacOS 11 (BigSur) and yabai (tiling window manager, similar to some extent to bspwm). But i’m sick of all the hassle with MacOS and Homebrew and would like to get a clean manjaro installation on it.

Now, i can boot from a usb stick attached to the usb3 connectors via an adapter. BUT: Since the built in graphic chip of the MacBook supports an enormous resolution (by default; up to: 2560x1600) so screen appearance (fonts images etc.) on the built-in screen is so small i cannot read (or click) anything.

So, my first question is:

How can i change/reduce the resolution on boot from the installer usb stick to 1440x900?

My second question:

Is there any problem known with this model macbook, something of the basic hardware, not being supported (not yet or absolutely not)? Especially, as i’m aware by sad experiences in the past, for the wireless and bluetooth … (at a first glance, i do not see them in what inxi says (?) ).

This is what ‘inxi -F’ tells:

System:    Host: MacBook-Air Kernel: Darwin 20.1.0 x86_64 bits: 64 Desktop: N/A OS: Darwin 20.1.0 
Use of uninitialized value in string eq at /usr/local/bin/inxi line 11258.
Machine:   Type: Laptop System: Apple product: MacBookAir8,2 v: 1.0 serial: FVFZP82LLYWJ 
           Mobo: Apple model: Mac-226CB3C6A851A671 serial: FV994561WYMLF07AH BIOS: Apple v: 1554. (iBridge rev: 0.1 
           date: 10/29/2020 
Argument "Unknown" isn't numeric in division (/) at /usr/local/bin/inxi line 6787.
Argument "Unknown" isn't numeric in division (/) at /usr/local/bin/inxi line 6791.
Battery:   ID-1: BAT0 charge: N/A condition: N/A/0.0 Wh 
CPU:       Topology: Quad Core model: Intel Core i5-8210Y bits: 64 type: MCP L2 cache: 256 KiB 
           Speed: 1600 MHz min/max: 400/400 MHz Core speeds (MHz): No speed data found for 4 cores. 
Graphics:  Message: No Device data found. 
           Display: server: X.Org 1.18.4 driver: N/A resolution: 1440x900 
           OpenGL: renderer: Intel UHD Graphics 617 v: 2.1 INTEL-16.0.49 
Audio:     Message: No Device data found. 
Network:   Message: No Device data found. 
           IF-ID-1: en3 state: active speed: 100baseTX duplex: full-duplex mac: ac:de:48:00:11:22 
           IF-ID-2: ap1 state: inactive speed: N/A duplex: N/A mac: fa:ff:c2:1d:1f:b0 
           IF-ID-3: en0 state: active speed: N/A duplex: N/A mac: f8:ff:c2:1d:1f:b0 
           IF-ID-4: en1 state: inactive speed: N/A duplex: full-duplex mac: 82:e7:8a:a4:58:01 
           IF-ID-5: en2 state: inactive speed: N/A duplex: full-duplex mac: 82:e7:8a:a4:58:00 
           IF-ID-6: bridge0 state: inactive speed: N/A duplex: unknown type mac: 82:e7:8a:a4:58:01 
           IF-ID-7: awdl0 state: active speed: N/A duplex: N/A mac: 3e:ea:78:3e:9c:39 
           IF-ID-8: llw0 state: active speed: N/A duplex: N/A mac: 3e:ea:78:3e:9c:39 
Drives:    Local Storage: total: dmesg.boot not found used: 95.96 GiB 
           Drive Report: dmesg.boot not found 
Partition: ID-1: / size: 112.71 GiB used: 13.91 GiB (12.3%) fs: apfs dev: /dev/disk1s6s1 
Swap:      Alert: No Swap data was found. 
Sensors:   Platform: No Darwin support. Is a comparable sensors tool available?

Thanks in advance for any help!

This would be a way

Or use custom kernel boot parameter with vga code. It seems the 1440x900 would be vga=869 so you add that right after the quiet when you edit the grub before booting. But, you have to use rEFit bootloader and install grub in legacy mode on /boot partition …

This is not a question you should ask us. We don’t deal apple.

Apple did their best to make sure their hardware runs their software and nothing else without a lot of work.
Generally this would answer a lot of questions, but mostly old models

Thanks for your suggestions.

Or use custom kernel boot parameter with vga code. It seems the 1440x900 would be vga=869 so you add that right after the quiet when you edit the grub before booting. But, you have to use rEFit bootloader and install grub in legacy mode on /boot partition …

Is this due to the vga settings or would that be generally the case - on an iMac i did a simple installation with grub in standard mode?

I know … :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: It was rather a “cry for help” by someone who already did succeed in installing manjaro (or arch) on a MacBook Air. Generally, in the past i had some success in re-enabling older Macs installing on them manjaro o arch. E.g., my desk machine is a 2013 iMac - which works, apparently, flawlessly …

As per arch wiki, the two iMac models presented there require a different approach, so i’m sure that a 2020 MacBook Air will require a different approach too for the install.

Probably because was the same procedure of install as the Mid 2010 iMac, hence required no much fuss, but newer models from apple are quite linux unfriendly …

the first macOS version to support Macs with ARM-based processors. - macOS Big Sur - Wikipedia

If the system is ARM based - I bet you will get older and your hair will become grey and fall off before you get Linux working on that one.

But as it apparently is x86_64 - my bet is still a grey haired old daddy - banging his head on wall - - and though it is a challenge - believe me it is not worth it.


For what it’s worth, I am running Manjaro on a MacBook Air 4,2 and it runs smooth as custard, with the exception of one thing (see below). I know I have a much older model, so I am not surprised if things don’t go that well with the newer models. You can see my inxi -F output below and compare.

The only problem I have is related to support for the aux output: When I listen to certain audioformats (I have yet to really look into which, or if there is any fix) I get distortions on all of the sound or on the dialogue. I am pretty sure it’s not the hardware that has broken, as sound from for instance Spotify alwyays works well. And I also assume that it’s linked to the software support for the aux output as there is never any problem when I use the internal speakers or bluetooth pairing. This didn’t use to be a problem, but it has been since an update about a year ago, if I remember correctly. The problem persists after fresh installs, so I guess some extra messing around with it will be necessary when I get time.

      Host: penguinbook Kernel: 5.9.3-1-MANJARO x86_64 bits: 64 
      Desktop: Xfce 4.14.2 Distro: Manjaro Linux 
      Type: Laptop System: Apple product: MacBookAir4,2 v: 1.0 
      serial: <superuser/root required> 
      Mobo: Apple model: Mac-742912EFDBEE19B3 v: MacBookAir4,2 
      serial: <superuser/root required> UEFI: Apple 
      v: MBA41.88Z.0077.B14.1510261805 date: 10/26/2015 
      ID-1: BAT0 charge: 12.9 Wh condition: 14.7/50.2 Wh (29%) 
      Info: Dual Core model: Intel Core i5-2557M bits: 64 type: MT MCP 
      L2 cache: 3072 KiB 
      Speed: 800 MHz min/max: 800/2700 MHz Core speeds (MHz): 1: 1093 2: 953 
      3: 1631 4: 800 
      Device-1: Intel 2nd Generation Core Processor Family Integrated Graphics 
      driver: i915 v: kernel 
      Device-2: Apple FaceTime Camera type: USB driver: uvcvideo 
      Display: x11 server: X.Org 1.20.9 driver: intel unloaded: modesetting 
      s-res: 1440x900 
      OpenGL: renderer: Mesa DRI Intel HD Graphics 3000 (SNB GT2) 
      v: 3.3 Mesa 20.2.1 
      Device-1: Intel 6 Series/C200 Series Family High Definition Audio 
      driver: snd_hda_intel 
      Sound Server: ALSA v: k5.9.3-1-MANJARO 
      Device-1: Broadcom and subsidiaries BCM43224 802.11a/b/g/n driver: wl 
      IF: wlp2s0 state: up mac: b8:8d:12:07:29:aa 
      Local Storage: total: 113.00 GiB used: 21.13 GiB (18.7%) 
      ID-1: /dev/sda vendor: Apple model: SSD SM128C size: 113.00 GiB 
      ID-1: / size: 102.30 GiB used: 21.13 GiB (20.7%) fs: ext4 dev: /dev/sda2 
      ID-1: swap-1 type: partition size: 8.27 GiB used: 0 KiB (0.0%) 
      dev: /dev/sda3 
      System Temperatures: cpu: 28.4 C mobo: N/A 
      Fan Speeds (RPM): N/A 
      Processes: 192 Uptime: 5m Memory: 3.76 GiB used: 1.14 GiB (30.3%) 
      Shell: Bash inxi: 3.1.08

Ok, i’m already old and grey haired … :wink: May be you’re right: Not that good idea to make the situation even worse. Although, i’d love to run a clean i3 on it …

I don’t think is impossible to install it, but more investigation is required. Without the hands on such device i can only speculate. In some cases the use of acpi_osi=!Darwin was required as kernel boot parameter. Maybe on this new models needs to be different. acpi_osi=!Linux probably would do it, but i have no clue how the power management works on the newer models …
Have you considered trying Architect and collect some logs ?