Apple’s newest computers have a new chip dedicated to security. That’s a great thing if you care about disk encryption, support for for Touch ID/fingerprint sensors, and even improved visuals using a FaceTime HD camera.

It’s less good news if you care about booting Linux on a Mac. Any computer with the Apple T2 security chip can’t currently do that.

Update: Or maybe they can… See below for details.

That’s because the T2 chip is used to handle secure booting, which means you can only boot operating systems that are signed by Apple.

Right now that includes two operating systems: macOS and Windows. If you want to run Windows you can set it up through Boot Camp (you’ll have to use the Boot Camp Assistant to enable support for Windows, since secure boot support for Windows isn’t enabled by default).

There’s currently no support at all for Ubuntu, Fedora, Debian, Arch, or any other GNU/Linux distribution.

You could try disabling secure boot, but so far it doesn’t look like anyone’s had much luck getting that to work.

Update: French site MacGeneration reports that they were able to disable secure boot and install Linux on an iMac Pro with a T2 chip, so it may be possible to load Linux after all. But you’ll sacrifice some security features to do so.

Apple

The whole situation feels kind of familiar though — Windows users went through something similar when Microsoft and PC makers made the move from old-school BIOS to UEFI earlier this decade. Eventually the issue was resolved when Microsoft started working with Linux developers to offer signed keys that would let you boot a Linux distro on a computer without disabling secure boot.

It’s unclear if or when we’ll see a similar resolution of the current situation for Apple computers with T2 security chips.

For now that means there’s no way to dual boot macOS and Linux on an iMac Pro or 2018 models of the MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, or Mac Mini. You could probably run a Linux distro in a virtual machine if you really wanted to though.

via Phoronix and Apple

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16 replies on “You can’t run Linux on Apple’s 2018 Macs (Update: or maybe you can… while sacrificing some security)”

  1. From now on any computer I buy must be able to run MacOS, Windows, Linux. 3 hard drives and able to easily boot any OS of my choosing. No more computer purchases till then..

    1. not wrong… merely acting with the information that was available at the moment…

    1. Would you be kind to explain to me like to a 5-year old, what would Docker solve in this situation? I’ve heard about the technology, but I’m far from being an expert on it. Thanks!

    2. How would running containerized programs fix secure booting to linux on T2 secured Macs?

  2. When Apple used to make good hardware it made sense to take older Macs and install Linux in order to extend their lives. The new Apple hardware is nowhere near as robust as the old hardware. I am not sure why anyone would buy new Apple hardware to run Linux as the prices are out of line with the specs. As for dual-booting, I expect a solution will be forthcoming. The only question is how soon.

    1. Eh, it’s already possible to disable the secure boot the chip enables in the bios.

      But you are spot on about the hardware: daft keyboard, odd specs, ridiculous prices… there are so many other options for running Linux on out there.

      1. Is it? Please do tell us how as the article explicitly states that it hasn’t happened yet. Also show me where the BIOS is on a mac.

    2. The whole point is dual boot.
      Running only Linux on a new Mac would be a total waste of money.
      People just want to buy one PC and boot into whatever operating system they want

      1. Dual-boot is a bad idea in my experience. The main problem being the internal storage device containing files that should not be seen by the “other” OS. I’ve had issues with file corruption.

        1. Multi-boot is fine. There’s many HTPC enthusiasts that run Windows 10Pro, Hackintosh, SteamOS, Linux Distro, and Android.

          It’s about having a large and fast main drive, and partitioning it accordingly (eg/ 512GB, 256GB, 128GB, 64GB, 64GB = 1TB WD Blue3D).

          Then having a second drive, example 2TB Seagate HDD 2.5in 5,400rpm. Which can be visible on all the Operating Systems, and that’s where you store all your documents, pictures, music, videos, files, and game saves.

          The trick is to have physical buttons that triggers which OS to boot when you start. Or have a splash-screen which you can control using a wireless keyboard from the couch.

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