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Question: Ubuntu install on macbook pro 16 (2019)

Hi,


Is it technically possible to install Ubuntu (18.04.03) and boot from some partition on the internal SSD, on a macbook pro 16" running mac OS 10.15.2 (Catalina) ?


I already know the two prerequisite condition :

1-Allow the boot on alternate OS, &

2-Deactivate the System Integrity protection.


More accurately, is there any hardware limitation prohibiting Ubuntu to write on the SSD, and/or a technical incompatibility with the trackpad and/or the touchbar, or any other MBP 16 component ?


If such an installation is possible, does it present any risk for the MBP hardware (like overheating for instance) ?


Additional information : my MBP 16 already dual boots mac OS & Win10, installed without any difficulty through BootCamp. Then my purpose is to triple boot mac OS, Win10 and Ubuntu. When I tried to install, the Ubuntu installer is unable to "see" the SSD, then can't mount it to format the partition(s) it needs to install.


Thank you in advance for your help.

MacBook

Posted on Jan 30, 2020 10:03 AM

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Answer:
Answer:

You cannot currently install Linux onto bare metal on any 2018+ Mac which uses a T2 chip since the Linux kernel doesn't yet contain the necessary drivers to communicate with the T2 chip and hence the SSD. I've heard someone is working on T2 chip support, but I don't believe it will be anytime soon.


Besides the T2 chip issue the default Linux kernel in most distributions do not have the necessary drivers to be able to use the Keyboard or Trackpad since those items are no longer considered USB devices. IIRC the v5.5 kernel will support the Keyboard & Trackpads on MBPro 2016-2017 (and probably 2018+). Even Ubuntu 19.10 by default only includes the v5.3 kernel although it is possible to upgrade to the v5.5 kernel after Ubuntu is installed (or it will soon be possible to get v5.5).


At this time if you want to use Linux on this laptop you will need to use a VM.


FYI, before you try to install any other OS on the same drive as macOS make sure to have good verified working backups of macOS. So many people end up destroying both macOS and the other operating systems when resizing partitions and installing/uninstalling the other operating systems. You are much safer using a VM or installing other operating systems to an external drive.



Posted on Jan 30, 2020 9:38 PM

Question marked as Helpful

Jan 30, 2020 11:02 AM in response to First6a In response to First6a

Another prerequisite you did not mention was to create a partition and format it for Linux: Partition a physical disk in Disk Utility on Mac - Apple Support


The most likely explanation is that Linux won't recognize APFS. It sounds like you already addressed Secure Boot / External Boot but confirm those requirements.


I don't believe there is any reason for concern about overheating. Macs implement thermal protection in hardware.


I'm not sure deactivating SIP is required. It's strictly to prevent modification of macOS. Leave it disabled if you wish but if and when you get Linux installed you should enable it again.

Jan 30, 2020 11:02 AM

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Question marked as Helpful

Jan 30, 2020 11:02 AM in response to First6a In response to First6a

Another prerequisite you did not mention was to create a partition and format it for Linux: Partition a physical disk in Disk Utility on Mac - Apple Support


The most likely explanation is that Linux won't recognize APFS. It sounds like you already addressed Secure Boot / External Boot but confirm those requirements.


I don't believe there is any reason for concern about overheating. Macs implement thermal protection in hardware.


I'm not sure deactivating SIP is required. It's strictly to prevent modification of macOS. Leave it disabled if you wish but if and when you get Linux installed you should enable it again.

Jan 30, 2020 11:02 AM

Reply Helpful (1)

Jan 30, 2020 12:21 PM in response to John Galt In response to John Galt

Thank you for your answer about thermal protection, this is very useful to know there is no overheating problem to expect.

I understand the issue probably comes from the fact Linux won't recognize APFS file system.

Then, according to this link


https://apple.stackexchange.com/questions/375371/how-can-i-triple-boot-macos-catalina-ubuntu-18-04-and-windows-10/375863#375863


I create two dummy partitions on the SSD and followed the prescribed procedure.

That's precisely when, booting live Ubuntu on a USB key, gparted and the installer where unable to see neither the SSD nor these partitions, then the installation miserably failed; without any further damage to the system, though.


Then in the next step I'll try make a new msdos partition for Ubuntu on the SSD, and give a new try to the installation process.

Then I'll come back on this forum, to report if the issue is solved or not.

Anyway, thanks for your help. I appreciate.

Jan 30, 2020 12:21 PM

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Jan 30, 2020 9:38 PM in response to First6a In response to First6a

You cannot currently install Linux onto bare metal on any 2018+ Mac which uses a T2 chip since the Linux kernel doesn't yet contain the necessary drivers to communicate with the T2 chip and hence the SSD. I've heard someone is working on T2 chip support, but I don't believe it will be anytime soon.


Besides the T2 chip issue the default Linux kernel in most distributions do not have the necessary drivers to be able to use the Keyboard or Trackpad since those items are no longer considered USB devices. IIRC the v5.5 kernel will support the Keyboard & Trackpads on MBPro 2016-2017 (and probably 2018+). Even Ubuntu 19.10 by default only includes the v5.3 kernel although it is possible to upgrade to the v5.5 kernel after Ubuntu is installed (or it will soon be possible to get v5.5).


At this time if you want to use Linux on this laptop you will need to use a VM.


FYI, before you try to install any other OS on the same drive as macOS make sure to have good verified working backups of macOS. So many people end up destroying both macOS and the other operating systems when resizing partitions and installing/uninstalling the other operating systems. You are much safer using a VM or installing other operating systems to an external drive.



Jan 30, 2020 9:38 PM

Reply Helpful (1)

Feb 2, 2020 9:19 AM in response to HWTech In response to HWTech

Thanks a lot for your advice, you really saved me hours of useless search.

I do then acknowledge the only way to run Ubuntu on the MBP 16" 2019 (T2 protected) is through a VM, which by the way is much safer for the internal disk partition.

Then I did that, and everything goes fine, and safe.


Thank you for your help and for your time : This solved my question.


Feb 2, 2020 9:19 AM

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Question: Ubuntu install on macbook pro 16 (2019)