Reviving a 2006 Macbook (Part 1)

This trusty old sidekick was a free grab from a prior coworker, when I lived and worked back across the country.

I had prior experience running Debian on it, but perhaps now I’ll see if it can run Void or other lightweight Linux distros. Distributions of Linux, “distros,” could be considered different flavors of the kernel, with different looks and feels. I’m sure something as complicated as the Gentoo flavor would be an option, but I’d rather not do something as intensive as installing that from scratch.

Garuda Linux is another distro, with simplicity and gaming being large focii

Garuda or Fedora, two modern and fairly up-to-date distros would have been nice ideas, but they don’t work on the older 32-bit architecture that this Macbook was built on back in the day. Another cool idea would be running Elementary OS, which is slightly mac-themed and runs well under limited hardware, as well as React OS. React OS is a re-implementation of Windows XP/Windows 7 code, but completely rewritten to avoid Microsoft legal action. But enough of this pondering of software, let’s get cracking!

Above, you’ll see the prior install of Debian I had running on the old Macbook booting…but here we run into our first issue. Yes, this Macbook boots to the current Debian install I had on it, but not a modern flash drive. All 32 of my variously-sized flash drives I own are USB 3.1…..none of them are USB 2 or older. It seems that, if the drive is configured to interface in a USB3+ transfer mode by default, we can’t boot to it on the Macbook….time to order a cheapo USB2 drive off ebay and wait for it to arrive…

A few days have passed, and I have obtained said drives.

Now to see if we can get something other than Debian 10 running on here. Maybe Void Linux in 32bit form? I selected that with the LXQt desktop environment, the lightest thing I can imagine running on here.
Burned to a flash drive, inserted…only to find…..


As the kids say, “big oof” with the older flash drive.

Guess I’ll have to burn a DVD or CD to get anywhere from here, let’s try that!

A few more days have passed and the calls from prospective employers have dropped off, so now to get back to this! It appears I’m still having that “Select CD-ROM Boot Type” issue. The issue also occurs when trying to run DVDs of burned ISOs…perhaps I’ll burn a CD of a network-installer image soon to get around that. According to friends who have also tried this, I’ll need rEFInd installed on the Macbook to be able to boot from external media. So I’ll go reinstall OSX Snow Leopard on this using this script from a Linux machine, and then install rEFInd as this guy has.

Making progress

As we can see here, I got the rEFInd bootloader installed successfully on this old boy…but now it isn’t seeing the Lubuntu drive I’ve inserted to the side….
Maybe I’ll try this with my flash drive that utilizes the Ventoy interface to boot many operating systems at once…

Ventoy is a tool for booting to various ISOs off the same drive

Looks like either USB version of flash drives is bootable? Neither the USB 2 nor 3.1 drives I had would boot, after flashing various Linux distros to them…but it looks like Ventoy is booting now on a USB 3.1 drive. However, when I try to boot the 32-bit versions of Lubuntu, Void or MX Linux

Well…that’s unfortunate

Back to the drawing board, I guess. I’ll post another article or import another blog post when I make more progress. Feedback is appreciated!

Originally published at on January 28, 2021.

I love Linux and tinkering with all things fun