Install Ubuntu 12.10 Quantal Quetzal on MacBook Pro 10,1 (Retina) [SOLVED]

Today I got my macbook pro 10,1 — first thing you do? Install Linux, of course. Actually quite easy, but there are also a few pitfalls - I try to sum this up! This guide comes with absolutely no warranty, so if you crash something, you are on your own. This guide is intended to work with 12.10 but also works with 12.04 (Ubuntu Precise).

Okay, fire up your macbook and check the following: You will need to install rEFIt [1], a boot menu and maintenance toolkit for EFI-based machines. When I installed rEFIt for the first time I had FileVault enabled ... so installing rEFIt won't work out of the box! rEFIt simply won't show up, because FileVault creates an additional (encrypted?) boot partition — the default mpkg-installer won't recognize (at least in my case) that partition.

You may try to install rEFIt manually on a (encryped?) partition but I haven't tested this yet. You may turn off FileVault (as depicted above), if you don't rely on it.

Fire up Disk Utility [2], the first thing you need to do is to resize your MacOS partition. I have a 256 GB SDD, so I decided to split the SSD — 125 GB for OSX and 125 GB for Linux.

Firstly, you will need to select your HDD and set '2 Partitions' in the layout panel. The format should be 'Free space' the Ubuntu installer will easily recognize it later on. As soon as you have set this up, hit apply.

Next step — install rEFIt. You just need to download [3] it, and use the mpkg-installer. Now, reboot your system, you should see the 'new' rEFIt boot screen.

USB drive with Ubuntu on it!

Download Ubuntu! Note: You will need the ubuntu-12.10-desktop-amd64+mac.iso iso file, NOT the 'normal' one. Here's a list of files [4]. You have downloaded the iso, convert it into an img file, here's how this goes (open a terminal on your macbook):

hdiutil convert -format UDRW -o /path/to/converted-ubuntu.iso /path/to/ubuntu-12.10-desktop-amd64+mac.iso

Done so far.

Okay, go on! Your usb drive should be at least have 1GB space. Again, you will need the Disk Utility, so start it and select the usb drive (note: Ubuntu StartUp-Disk-Creator won't work here). Select '1 Partition' and 'MacOS Extended (Journaled)' in the file system panel as depicted below, now hit apply.

You have your usb drive partitioned eventually — it's time to get Ubuntu on it. Therefore, you can use 'dd' in the MacOS terminal. How do you find your usb drive in the terminal? For instance, that's my usb drive, you can identify it based on it's size, use diskutil.

diskutil list

0: FDisk_partition_scheme *16.0 GB disk1
1: 0x17

diskutil unmountDisk /dev/diskN (replace N here)

The syntax is as follows:

sudo dd if=ubuntu.img.dmg of=/dev/disk1 bs=1m

command, (dd) infile (if) = path to ubuntu image, outfile (of) = path to usb drive

diskutil eject /dev/diskN

Now you have a working Ubuntu drive, reboot your machine and select the usb drive — BUT you should probably read this first:

At the time of writing, it seems the Ubuntu Kernel has problems with the Apple Power Management (12.04 only). After selecting the boot device (in rEFIt), your usb drive, ubuntu will start loading, press ESC (Escape) as soon as possible. Now you are in the Install Menu, press F6 (Other Options) and select 'noapic' and 'nomodeset' as depicted below. You probably won't need 'noapic' in 12.10, this is just a precaution.

Now you can run the Ubuntu installation as you know it! BTW: I installed the grub boot loader on the '/' partition. It's up to you how you are going to partition the 125 GB free space on the SSD/HDD.

I hope this helps!

Further Issues

Graphics Nouveau

The default nouveau driver works out of the box. If you remove 'nomodeset' (default if you boot 12.10 for the first time after installation) you also get the full resolution of 2880x1800 pixels, see below. To permanently edit the boot options please see Booting/Kernel. To test settings at boot time, 'press e in GRUB and add it to the kernel parameters, right next to splash and quiet' as mentioned by cberner [6]. If things go wrong try to remove/add 'nomodeset' at boot time (press e), e.g., if your system hangs before starting 'X'. Ubuntu 12.10 always started fine with 'nomodeset' as a kernel option, but the resolution was poor. You may try the NVIDIA drivers, see next section.

Graphics NVIDIA

Follow the excellent Tutorial written by cberner — step #5. Works perfectly fine for me! Note: to make this work you will need to add the 'nomodeset' parameter as mentioned in step #3.

To sum-up: Install Ubuntu as mentioned here above. With the fresh install follow cberners tutorial on the NVIDIA drivers. This is the result:

How do you remove the additional boot options in rEFIt? I exactly followed cberners intructions, so it's maybe the same for you. Go to:

cd /boot/efi/EFI

And 'mv' the unneccessary files, e.g., Windows. BE CAREFUL though.


To permanently set the kernel boot options (noapic, 12.04) please edit the /boot/grub/grub.cfg. This [5] is a perfect guide. I removed the 'nomodeset' option as mentioned before (Nouveau only).

Keyboard Backlight

Works out of the box


Works out of the box


Works out of the box


Check cberners tutorial (link below)




Battery life? Touchpad?

How is the battery life? What does TBA mean for the Touchpad? Can you adjust screen brightness? Thanks!

TBA means...

... To Be Announced :) Haven't looked into battery life yet, but sure will do that! At the moment I can't adjust the screen brightness, the keys work and Ubuntu shows an overlay but the brightness isn't adjusted.


Do wifi and bluetooth work?

Do wifi and bluetooth work? What doesn't work? Also interested in battery life and graphics switching. Does the latter work? How about the multimedia keys? I've got even more questions!


... Wifi works, also bluetooth, graphics is not possible afaik. Multimedia keys work.



I have a MacBook 10,1 with Retina display, and looking at your screen shots in full size, the text, menus etc are tiny, way too small for my eyes to comfortably read and use... Does Unity yet have support for scaling the menus?

re: DPI

I haven't tested this yet. I'll give it a try during the next days.



Same here, xubuntu on Macbook Pro 5,1: the keyboard brightness keys seem to work, they show a brightness overlay, but nothing happens to the actual brightness of the screen.

Any solution would be welcome.


Have you checked? It seems

Have you checked? It seems that icons are still tiny.

I've done all steps and realized that Unity does not suit this new resolution at this moment.

The disk you inserted was not readable by this computer.

I keep getting this response once everything in terminal is done crunching. Is this an issue? Will I still be able to run the kernel off the USB?


I got the same error - but I could boot from that usb drive.


NVIDIA card problems

Hi, I'm no linux expert so please be patient with me.

I'm installing Linux only to be able to work with some CUDA programs which do not work under OS X, so I really need to get the nvidia drivers working so I can install CUDA!

After following step #5 from cberner (and adding "nomodeset") evrytime I try to log in to ubuntu I can ONLY get to the recovery command line! I can't load the GUI at all anymore, and I'm not sure how to fic this problem. Is there a way to completely delete the intel GPU drivers?

Any help would be greatly appreciated as I'm really stuck on this project without having a working linux install with CUDA fully working.


No Problem... did you actually use the ubuntu-12.10-desktop-amd64+mac.iso file?



What about this one? (MacOS)


Thanks for the reply fl0.

I have indeed used the link you provided for ubuntu-12.10-desktop-amd64+mac.iso. I have tried before with 12.04 desktop and had a similar problem once I tried installing the nvidia drivers (something like low graphics warning, and never booted to the gnome desktop, only recovery command line).

I am using the CUDA and OptiX toolkits/SDK on the mac, and that works great, but the specific program I'm trying to compile has precompiled libraries for Linux and Windows only, but no OS X. I have contacted the author to request the the source for those libraries but haven't heard back from them yet.

Also another visualisation program I'm working on is acting very strange on OS X (again, a CUDA/C++/C++11 code) while it mostly works alright on a Linux desktop in the office.
I've spent quite a few days going over different compiler options in cmake, debugging it and so on. I think if I can just get any Linux distribution to work on my MBPr with the nvidia GPU drivers then I can solve both these problems and get some progress before my supervisor looses patience with me. :P Progress is very slow over VNC and ssh only.


Okay, so let's dig into it

Can you provide your xorg.log file somewhere?


"ONLY get to the recovery command line"

> After following step #5 from cberner (and adding "nomodeset")
> evrytime I try to log in to ubuntu I can ONLY get to the recovery
> command line! I can't load the GUI at all anymore
I had the same issue: Just starting without changing the 2 parameters worked for me.
But: After doing an Ubuntu-Update my display looks very much colorful/distorted (I will try to install the nvidia-driver this evening).

sd card reader

Were you able to get your sd card reader to work under 12.10? I put 12.04 on and couldn't get it to mount a card. I'm looking at going to 12.10 as it seems better for retina. TIA

Got it working (kinda)

Hi, sorry it took me a while to post back...

So I figured out where the problem originated (I think).

When first installing the nvidia drivers I was using 3.5.0-17-generic linux headers and then after the update the kernel was updated to 3.5.0-23-generic and when booting it could no longer find the driver and activate it (or something similar).

After about 6 formats and reinstalls I finally got ubuntu running with the nvidia-current drivers, and managed after a lot of hassle to install CUDA as well.

I'm still having quite a few issues with the system like not being able to change the resolution of the screen to anything but 2880x1800 and not being able to pair my apple magic mouse nor apple BT keyboard. Still, other than the fact that typing is a bit hard, I actually got the code I needed to compile and can finally start working with it.

If you have any suggestions regarding these issues I'll be happy to know, otherwise, thanks for the guide, it was a huge help!


Everything works fine but I can't get the right click to work. any idea ?


also, how can we change the resolution after this ?


"Everything works fine but I can't get the right click to work. any idea ?"

Go to system settings -> Mouse and TouchPad and enable two-finger tap (or something like that)

I wasn't able to change the resolution myself. Anyway - if you connect an external Monitor you can have any resolution you want ... I am on it.


sound is not working

My sound is not working. Anyone with the same issue (and maybe found a solution for it :-) ?

No? Mine...

...worked out of the box :) Sure it isn't muted? (no offense).



The sound isn't working on my Ubuntu 12.10 build either...and no it's not muted! goddamit! any tips for getting it running?


hi guys
what was your "out of box" battery life and did you improve anything ?


Sure it isn't muted?

it's not muted ! Anybody with the same (no sound) problem (and solved it?)?

Try this if your sound is not working

Taken from:

"This should work. If you speakers stop working after installing it, run

sudo apt-get remove --purge alsa-core
sudo apt-get remove --purge pulseaudio
sudo apt-get install alsa-core
sudo apt-get install pulseaudio
sudo alsa force-reload "

Post new comment

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

More information about formatting options

This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
16 + 3 =
Solve this simple math problem and enter the result. E.g. for 1+3, enter 4.