Embracing Linux Mint for My Old MacBook Air: Stability, Customizability, and a Lightweight Desktop Environment

As an Apple hardware enthusiast, I’ve always admired the elegance and durability of their products, especially my trusty 2011 MacBook Air – the very one I’m using to write this post. Unfortunately, the passage of time means that official macOS support for older devices eventually wanes, which led me to explore Linux distributions as a viable alternative. In my quest to find the best fit for my MacBook Air, I’ve tried various distributions like Elementary OS, Ubuntu, and Pop!_OS. Yet, after giving Linux Mint another chance, I’ve found that its combination of stability, a lightweight desktop environment, and customizability makes it the top choice for my MacBook Air. Let me share my experience and explain why Linux Mint has captured my attention.

Stability and Well-Supported OS

Linux Mint is based on Ubuntu LTS, ensuring a stable and reliable operating system. This rock-solid foundation provides confidence in the system’s performance and security. The vibrant and active Linux Mint community and development team work tirelessly to provide regular updates, patches, and support. This level of commitment means that users can rely on Linux Mint for a secure and up-to-date computing experience. Plus, the Linux Mint team develops a lot of their own software to support their desktop environment, which I’ll discuss next.

Lightweight Desktop Environment

The Cinnamon desktop environment offered by Linux Mint strikes a perfect balance between simplicity, functionality, and resource efficiency. This lightweight desktop environment ensures that older hardware, like my MacBook Air, can run smoothly without being bogged down. The user-friendly design makes it easy for those transitioning from Windows or macOS to adapt quickly, without feeling overwhelmed. Since the Linux Mint team develops the Cinnamon desktop used in the distribution, everything just works together seamlessly. This cohesion is reminiscent of my experience with Elementary OS–a distribution I could love if it had better software support in their App Store.

Customizability and Widgets

One of the standout features of Linux Mint is its extensive customizability. The Cinnamon desktop environment allows users to personalize their experience with a wide array of settings, themes, and extensions. Additionally, Linux Mint boasts an impressive collection of widgets, providing users with numerous options to enhance their desktop and improve productivity. This level of customizability sets Linux Mint apart from other Linux distributions, catering to individual preferences and needs. It rivals KDE in terms of customization and seems easier to make your own than the Gnome desktop environment.

Enhancing Trackpad Support with Additional Software

While Linux Mint does not offer seamless trackpad support for the MacBook Air out of the box, there is additional software available to address this issue. By installing a few packages, users can unlock gesture support and customize trackpad settings to suit their preferences. Although this requires some extra effort, the benefits of Linux Mint’s stability, lightweight desktop environment, and customizability make it well worth the investment. I personally used touchegg and Touché to get the functionality I wanted.


After revisiting Linux Mint and experiencing its well-supported, stable OS, lightweight desktop environment, and extensive customizability, I’ve concluded that it is a better Linux distribution for my old MacBook Air. Although trackpad support requires some additional software, the overall benefits far outweigh this minor drawback. I encourage fellow old MacBook users in search of a modern, secure, and user-friendly Linux alternative to give Linux Mint a try. You may find that it’s the perfect fit for your needs as well.

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2 thoughts on “Embracing Linux Mint for My Old MacBook Air: Stability, Customizability, and a Lightweight Desktop Environment

  1. I have Manjaro KDE in my 2011 15″ MBP.
    He is running fine.
    The 2011 battery still had juice for 4 hours!!
    Did have a lot of trouble with Wi-Fi and still have with “suspend”.
    AUR is “confuse” and for example, I am not able to install (mbpfan) and others “patch”.

    Since I am no Linux expert and I don’t remember what I did, I will try another distro in another 2011 MBP.
    I like and use Kubuntu in a PC without any problem, but when I try in my MBP (2011 GPU problem), I have a black screen on boot.

    So I will try Linux Mint in other MBP.


    Thank You.

    1. Admittedly, I have issues with suspend, too. When I shut the lid to my 2011 MBA and then leave it for a few days, when I return sometimes the mouse will not work and I have to hard power-cycle it. I’ve gotten into the habit of shutting the system down if I know I might not touch it for any extended period of time.

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