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I do stupid things sometimes. I’m not sure if this was one of them yet.

I found that my Mac hard drive had some physical errors yesterday, so I headed to my local computer store and picked up a new drive. But I wasn’t looking forward to the hours of resetting up my computer, so (being a Linux geek at heart) I decided to change it up and install Ubuntu 13.10 on my MacBook Pro. While the install did not go as easily as planned (do they ever?), I’m writing this post on it today and overall I like the OS, though I still have some problems.

Anyway, back to installing Ubuntu 13.10 on my MacBook Pro.


This isn’t going to be a full description on how to install Ubuntu Saucy Salamander (that’s the name for 13.10) on your Mac, but rather a quick overview of the process and details on how to fix the problems I encountered (and therefore you may too) while installing.

Install Image

The first mistake I made was not to download the Mac version of the install image. Oh, everything works fine, until you reboot. So, don’t do that. Download the Mac version here:


Disk Partitioning

After burning the and booting the DVD, I clicked, clicked, clicked until I got to the partitioning page. I set up my partitions like this:

  • /boot (ext4, 200MB)
  • / (ext4, 200GB)
  • /swap (8GB)
  • “Reserved BIOS Boot Area” (50MB)

Note the last entry above. The system would not let me go further until I added it. It requested a minimum 1MB partition (I created a 50MB partition to be safe). The option is in the list of file systems.

The rest of the install went as planned.

Black Screen of Death

After restarting the system, I received a black screen (though the backlight was still lit). I should say 2 black screens, as I have an external monitor connected to my laptop. Blah.

Turns out disconnecting the monitor before booting (then plugging back in afterwards) solved that issue. I’m not sure if that will be a recurring thing. I feel like I’ve rebooted since and haven’t had the same problem.

Apple Magic Mouse

Note: I’ve given up on my Magic Mouse. Although I am using at this moment, I’ve been unable to tweak it to my liking (the right-click is too sensitive, mostly). Also, it keeps dropping it’s bluetooth connection. I’ve ordered a nice Logitech replacement.

Adjusting the Scroll Speed

The mouse scrollspeed was too fast or slow, I can’t remember. Anyway, the info on this site solved that problem:


To change, do this:


To make permanent, create a file, /etc/modprobe.d/magicmouse.conf. Put the following in it:


You can play with the scroll-speed and scroll-acceleration values above if you don’t like the one’s I’ve entered.

I also disabled the middle click on the mouse, which was annoying as hell. That tweak is in the .Xmodmap file, which is up next.

More Mouse and Keyboard Tweaks

I wanted my new Ubuntu install to act more like my Mac, so I downloaded some toys from this site:


To complete the job, I wanted my Mac keyboard’s <cmd> and <ctrl> to behave as they do on my Mac (<cmd>-c for copying, for instance). I tried various changes using xmodmap, but I finally settled on modifying the <cmd> key to act as a <ctrl> key, leaving the rest of the keys alone. So far that works for me.

If you want to do the same (and get rid of that pesky middle click on your Magic Mouse), create a file: ~/.Xmodmap, and enter the following in it:


You can initialize the changes by running:

xmodmap ~/.Xmodmap

To make the changes permanent, add the line above to your .bashrc (I thought the existence of the .Xmodmap file would cause X to run it automatically, but no).


Unity handles Ubuntu’s desktop environment. I installed unity-tweak-tool:

apt-get unity-tweak-tool

This allowed me to easily change many of the config settings, including the auto-hide feature, the default Ubuntu theme, fonts, etc.

Lost Application Menus

Unity has a toolbar at the top of the desktop similar to what you see on a Mac. The focused application menus appear on this toolbar, instead of inside the app (as in a Mac). At some point that feature stopped working. To fix, I had to install indicator-appmenu:

apt-get install indicator-appmenu

Problem solved.

And here I sit, typing away on my new Ubuntu 13.10 Saucy Salamander MacBook Pro.


I wasn’t happy with the fonts installed so far, so I used this site:



Putting the xmodmap line in the .bashrc file was dumb. It runs every time I open a terminal. I haven’t had a problem with it such as it stands, but if I ever changed the .Xmodmap file, things could go badly. So I added it to my ~/.xinitrc file:


Haven’t restarted my computer to see if it works yet, but I wanted to add it to this post now in case I forget later. ([Later] Didn’t work. Ran gnome-session-properties and added a startup app like: /usr/bin/xmodmap ~/.Xmodmap. That worked)


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