Debian and the 2014 Macbook Air

My trusty 2014 Macbook Air got the its “walking papers” from Apple a while back. There would be no further operating system updates that would work on this machine. That struck me as being a pity because the hardware was great!

Debian 11 had been out for a while and I naturally wanted to install it on the Macbook but I was stumped about what to with getting the machine online. Then I remembered that I could use my iPhone as a hot spot….

So, how did it all go?

Well, I booted the Macbook with the DVD reader/writer plugged and the LXDE version of Debian in the drive. I held down the C key and held my breath as the machine went through its boot sequence. Success! I was able to get Debian 11.3 installed.

I plugged in my iPhone, set it up to be a hotspot and then moved two files that I got from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tQxEI-3itZw over to the Macbook using a USB key. These documents allowed me to install all the firmware (plus extra) needed by Debian to go wireless.

I also had to install ConMan app which is a network manager for LXDE which I learned about here: https://wiki.debian.org/WiFi/HowToUse#How_to_use_a_WiFi_interface.

Quite apart from that all went very well. The Debian installation served quite nicely until I learned about Chrome OS Flex…I wanted to give that a try next!

Addendum: The link to the youtube video is now listed as private. I’m not sure what is going on at that site. And last October Debian passed a resolution regarding non-free firmware that might make most of this post irrelevant going forward. However, I decided to post this little project anyways because perhaps someone will find it useful and a source of inspiration.

Here is what you need to do:

Enable the | MAIN CONTRIB NON-FREE | repositories on your system. You can do this by editing your sources using this command in your terminal: sudo nano /etc/apt/sources.list and adding MAIN CONTRIB NON_FREE to the end of each line.

EXAMPLE: deb http://deb.debian.org/debian/ bullseye main contrib non-free

Then copy the firmware list below to your home directory and run the following commands to enable and install.

sudo dpkg –add-architecture i386

sudo apt-get update

sudo apt-get install dselect

sudo apt-get install $(cat ~/Firmware.list | awk ‘{print $1}’)

The firmware list is as follows:

firmware-amd-graphics install

firmware-ath9k-htc install

firmware-atheros install

firmware-bnx2 install

firmware-bnx2x install

firmware-brcm80211 install

firmware-cavium install

firmware-intel-sound install

firmware-intelwimax install

firmware-ipw2x00 install

firmware-ivtv install

firmware-iwlwifi install

firmware-libertas install

firmware-linux install

firmware-linux-free install

firmware-linux-nonfree install

firmware-microbit-micropython install

firmware-microbit-micropython-doc install

firmware-misc-nonfree install

firmware-myricom install

firmware-netronome install

firmware-netxen install

firmware-qcom-media install

firmware-qcom-soc install

firmware-qlogic install

firmware-realtek install

firmware-samsung install

firmware-siano install

firmware-sof-signed install

firmware-ti-connectivity install

firmware-tomu install

firmware-zd1211 install

hdmi2usb-fx2-firmware install

midisport-firmware install

sigrok-firmware-fx2lafw install

ubertooth-firmware install

ubertooth-firmware-source install

arm-trusted-firmware-tools install

atmel-firmware install

bluez-firmware install

dahdi-firmware-nonfree install

dns323-firmware-tools install

broadcom-sta-common install

broadcom-sta-dkms install

broadcom-sta-source install

bluetooth install

bluez install

bluez-cups install

bluez-firmware install

bluez-obexd install

bluez-tools install

pulseaudio-module-bluetooth install

pulseaudio-module-gsettings install

pulseaudio-module-zeroconf install

mesa-utils install

mesa-utils-extra install

mesa-va-drivers:amd64 install

mesa-va-drivers:i386 install

mesa-vdpau-drivers:amd64 install

mesa-vdpau-drivers:i386 install

mesa-vulkan-drivers:amd64 install

mesa-vulkan-drivers:i386 install

vulkan-tools install

vulkan-validationlayers:amd64 install