This article is meant to guide users through the wiki by giving an overview over the required steps to get to a working installation.
Deciding on the Installation¶
Using Linux on a T2 Mac comes with compromises as well as advantages compared to macOS. You will need to decide for yourself if it its worth it.
Your first consideration should be the risk you are taking. Don't worry, nobody has broken their machine so far by installing Linux and by following the guides closely you should be able to get everything working even without a lot of knowledge as well. Still in case something goes wrong we are not responsible for it, we will try our best to help out however.
Note that while its technically possible to remove macOS entirely, its strongly encouraged to dual boot it with Linux to have a backup in case something goes wrong.
Now, take a look at the state article. It gives a list of roughly what works on Linux and what not. If a specific feature is not listed at all, there is a chance it actually works.
Choosing a Distribution¶
While technically it is not a limitation when installing Linux, different distributions do provide different levels of documentation, ease of use and polish.
Arch Linux probably has the most documentation, both officially for the whole project in form of the Arch Wiki and in scope of the t2linux wiki with a really detailed and up to date install guide. On top of that there is also a work in progress archinstall script. Keep in mind however that the whole process is done in the command line.
Manjaro has a more guided install experience, with a graphical installer and multiple prebuilt isos for different desktop environments. Note that Manjaro currently only has 5.7.19 as the latest kernel version. The support period for 5.7.x ended in August 2020.
You could install the linux-mbp-arch kernel, which is updated, by following step 8 of the arch install guide, and
sudo pacman -S linux-mbp linux-mbp-headers.
Ubuntu also has a graphical installer. Additionally, less post configuration work is required as some kernel modules are getting installed automatically.
Fedora also has a prebuilt ISO and a graphical installer. Most things work out of the box, though audio and WiFi generally need to be set up as in the guides below. Then they should work flawlessly.
Preparing the Installation¶
You will want to look at the wifi guide to check if your model is supported before starting an installation. Based on that information, prepare anything that is needed for installing on Linux.
Make sure to keep the wifi firmware, as well as any other files you might want to access after the installation (a password manager database for example) on a medium you can access from Linux. Linux can not read APFS, the file system macOS uses by default.
You will also need to make some space on your hard drive. While its technically possible to install Linux on an external drive, it depends on the install process of the distribution if this is supported. 20 to 40 GB should be fine for a base installation.
To boot into a live environment, you need to disable secure boot and allow booting from an external device.
If your distribution needs a connection to the internet while installing, make sure to prepare an ethernet cable, wifi adapter or phone for tethering. If none of these options are available but your model has wifi support, you can also follow the steps to install firmware in your live environment. Keep in mind that in that case you will still need to follow the guide on your actual install after exiting the live environment.
If you want to triple boot with Windows, read the instructions in the triple boot guide before proceeding.
Now follow the installation guide of your specific distribution.
This wiki provides a set of such guides for different distributions, which can be found here. If the distribution you want to use has such a guide, its recommended to follow it instead of the official documentation by distribution vendor, as it considers t2 support.
Configuring the Installation¶
After successfully booting into your new installation, you will need to configure a few things.
- Install/upgrade drivers for the internal keyboard, trackpad and touchbar: here
- Getting wifi to work: here
- Install drivers for the fan (if not working automatically or want to force a certain speed): here
- Configure audio: here
- Configure startup manager (optional): here
- Install rEFInd (optional): here
You might also want to look into getting the interal GPU to work if your Mac has two graphics cards. However if you don't need it specifically, its probably best to stick with the dedicated gpu. If your Mac only has a single GPU, you can ignore this anyways.