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Pre install steps

These steps are common to most distros. Please refer to both this page and this wiki's install page for your distro.

Partition with Disk Utility

In macOS Disk Utility you need to create your Linux partition:

  1. Open Disk Utility
  2. Choose the volume you want to partition for Linux
  3. Press in the top-right "Partition"
  4. Under the blue pie chart press "+" button
  5. When prompted be sure to select "Add Partition" and NOT "Volume", you want a partition.
  6. Name: choose a name for the partition, e.g. Linux
  7. Format: choose whatever format there is - APFS or another - it doesn't really matter (during the Linux installation you must erase your created partition anyway)
  8. Size: pick the desired amount of space for Linux, because you will not be able to change it.
  9. If you want separate partitions for /home, /boot etc., create them as well (if you are a beginner and you don't understand this point, you may just skip it).

Triple booting with Linux and Windows

Refer to this guide to make sure you will be able to boot both Windows and Linux.

Create Linux installation USB

Selecting an ISO

Listed below are the currently available installer ISOs for download:

Linux Distribution Download ISO with T2 support
Arch Linux
Gentoo Please refer to this page
Ubuntu & Kubuntu
Linux Mint

Other distributions

If you are a beginner we highly recommend to choose one of the distros above.

In case you wish to proceed manually, you can download the official ISO from the distro website, but you will have to use an external USB keyboard and mouse for the install process. Additionally, you may require a wired internet connection with a USB adapter. Note that if you later have issues with installing the bootloader (e.g.: GRUB), try booting the ISO with the efi=noruntime kernel parameter.

Please, refer to this guide: Basic setup.

You can also find detailed info for unsupported debian-based distros here.

Copying the ISO to the USB

User-friendly applications for copying the Linux install image to your USB include:

Or you can use dd in macOS Terminal:

  1. Insert your USB drive.
  2. Open macOS Terminal.
  3. Run diskutil list to list all the drives.
  4. Look up for your USB thumb which appears as an external, physical drive labelled /dev/diskX where X is a single number (e.g. /dev/disk2).
  5. Run sudo diskutil unmountDisk /dev/diskX to unmount the disk.
  6. Run sudo dd if=path/to/linux.iso of=/dev/rdiskX bs=1m to start writing. To fetch the iso path easily you can just drag and drop the .iso into the Terminal.
  7. Now you may press control-T to make it show how many KBs it has written so far.

While the installation image is being written to the USB, you can skip to Copy Wi-Fi firmware; but don't follow the steps after it, wait until the ISO has been written to disk.

Disable Secure Boot

Now that you have completed the first part of the Wi-Fi firmware in macOS, you can proceed with the disabling of the secure boot. Apple's Secure Boot implementation does not allow booting anything other than macOS or Windows when it is enabled (not even shim signed GRUB). We need to disable it:

  1. Turn off your Mac
  2. Turn it on and press and hold Command-R until the black screen flashes
  3. Your Mac will boot in the macOS Recovery
  4. Select your user and enter your password
  5. Now, from the menu bar choose Utilities > Startup Security Utility
  6. Enter again the password
  7. Once in Startup Security Utility:

  8. set Secure Boot to No Security

  9. set Allow Boot Media to Allow booting from external or removable media

Now you are able to boot from a Linux install ISO.

Keeping your Mac secure while Secure Boot is off

If you are worried about the reduced security, in Startup Security Utility you can select "Turn On Firmware Password" to require entering a password to boot anything other than the default OS. Additionally, after installing Linux on the internal SSD, you will have the option to reselect "Disallow booting from external or removable media" in the Startup Security Utility.

Booting your Linux install USB

  1. Ensure the Linux Installation USB you created is plugged into your Mac.
  2. Reboot while holding down the option (⌥) key, this will put you in macOS Startup Manager.
  3. Select the orange EFI option with arrow keys and press return/enter on it. If there are two, try the one to the very right first (the last one).
  4. The installation may start right away or you may be put into a Bootloader Menu where it may select a default option e.g. "Try or Install Ubuntu", but you can use arrow keys to select a different option. If you are unsure, check if there is any additional advice on your distro's installation page on this wiki.

A software update is required to use this startup disk

If you see this message when trying to boot Linux, Apple may be enforcing Secure Boot. Make sure you have disabled Secure Boot. If there were two orange "EFI Boot" entries in Startup Manager, try selecting the other one. This may occur when booting Linux from a partition formatted as APFS or "macOS Extended" (also known as "hfs+"), even when Secure Boot is completely disabled.

Follow distro specific steps

Automatic Partitioning

The installers of many distros provide options like "Automatic Partitioning" when installing Linux. You always have to select the option that allows "Manual Partitioning". Do not select "Automatic Partitioning" as it shall remove macOS as well. During manual partitioning make sure that you mount /dev/nvme0n1p1 or your separate EFI partition (whatever applies to your case) at /boot/efi and the partition you created for Linux at /. If you want separate partitions for /home, /boot etc., make sure you have created them before as well and mount them accordingly during manual partitioning.

This wiki provides a set of guides for different distributions. If the distribution you want to use is present there, it's recommended to follow it instead of the official documentation by distribution vendor, as it considers T2 support.