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22 Nov 2020

Ubuntu Server on Macbook Pro

When finding an old Macbook pro from over 10 years ago, the only sensible option, is to install Ubuntu Server and add it to the homelab. With a 2.2Ghz core2duo processer and 8GB ram it won’t be setting any records, but perfectly capable of running a handful of docker containers.

Ubuntu Server bootable USB

The first step is to create a bootable usb of Ubuntu, then stick it into the mac, hold down the option key (sometimes labled alt or with the symbol ⌥) and start it up.

Ubuntu Server installation

Ubuntu server will guide you through the setup process. This is pretty straight forward, and even gives the option near the end to install some popular packages, including Docker.

Disable Macbook screen on Ubuntu Server

Through the install you should install SSH, so you can run this as a “headless” server. Therefore we don’t want the screen on. Running ls /sys/class/backlight we’ll be able to get details on the screen, for example nv_backlight we can then uses that in the command sudo bash -c "echo 0 > /sys/class/backlight/nv_backlight/brightness;" to set the screen brightness to 0, this turning the screen off. To turn it back on repeat the command but with 100 instead of 0.

Enable Macbook fans on Ubuntu Server

Next we want to ensure the fans are running, for this we use macfanctl. This can be installed with sudo apt install macfanctld. Refer to the documentation for configuring you desired fan speed and temperature via sudo vi /etc/manfanctl.conf.

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