I don't like the idea of throwing away old or outdated tech (within reason), so I try to find a new purpose for some of my "retired" devices. This article will cover how to switch over a mid-2011 model MacBook Air to utilize Linux Mint.

Important: This setup will completely wipe your existing disk and create a fresh install of Linux Mint on the SSD. You have been warned.

The Specs

My old MacBook Air has a pretty decent spec sheet:

  • Processor: 1.7GHz dual-core Intel Core i5
  • Memory: 4GB of 1333MHz DDR3
  • Graphics: Advanced Intel HD Graphics 3000
  • SSD: 128 GB

And let's take a look at the basic system requirements Linux Mint suggests:

  • 2GB RAM
  • Dual Core Processor
  • 20GB free disk space

We are looking pretty good!

Step 1: Download Linux Mint

For this setup we will be using the latest, stable version (at this time of writing) of Linux Mint 20 "Ulyana" - Xfce which is 20. You can download the necessary files here:

Step 2: Flash Linux Mint to USB Stick

Next we just need to flash the Linux Mint OS to a USB storage device. If you need to purchase some, you can easily find them on Amazon (affliate link):

Once installed, open Etcher do the following:

  1. Select your downloaded Linux Mint ISO file
  2. Select your USB stick/device as the media
  3. Flash media
  4. ???
  5. Profit!!

Step 3: Boot from USB

  • Make sure your Macbook Air is turned off
  • Plug your newly flashed USB stick into the MacBook Air
  • Turn on the MacBook Air
  • Immediately hold down the alt/option button (keep holding until the prompt screen is visible)
  • You will be shown drive "icons" - you want to select your USB drive (normally the far right icon)
  • Press Enter
  • Select the first item in the list that appears "Start Linux Mint"

After this you will boot into a "live session" of the Linux Mint operating system.

Step 4: Installing Linux Mint

Linux Mint makes it very easy for you to install it's OS step-by-step (similar to most other Linux distros). Simply double-click on the "Install Linux Mint" CD icon on the main desktop.

  • Choose your language. then hit Continue
  • Select your preferred keyboard layout, then hit Continue
  • Optional: You might be asked to connect to a WiFi network, if you are set it up now
  • I would suggest downloading the multimedia codecs to make things easier, then hit Continue
  • For installation type, select "Erase disk and install Linux Mint", then hit Continue
    • WARNING: This will wipe your current drive completely - make sure you are okay with this!
  • It will issue you with a warning prompt, simply click Continue
  • Select your timezone, then hit Continue
  • Enter your name, a username, a name for your computer, and set a password (you will use this to login moving forward)
  • Wait for the installation to complete
  • Once complete, you will be prompted to reboot your system
  • After a reboot you will be prompted to remove the USB device and then press Enter
  • Welcome to Linux Mint!


Linux Mint is not only a great operating system, but it is also an excellent starting point for newcomers to Linux in general. It's stable enough to be used as a daily driver and popular enough that most minor issues can be solved with a quick internet search.

Hopefully this inspires others to try "recycling" their older Apple products instead of tossing them away or having them collect dust.