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Victor Isaac Oshimua
Victor Isaac Oshimua

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How To Install Ubuntu On Intel Mac

As a developer with Older Macs, there are chances you've faced difficulties with installing and setting up development tools for your projects. This type of difficulty occurs more often with people using old Intel-based Macs.
Older Macs don't support later OS X versions, like OS 14 and later, and older Intel-based Macs may have limitations regarding the latest macOS updates. Apple tends to drop support for older hardware with new macOS releases, meaning some older Macs may not be able to upgrade to the latest macOS version. Therefore, the latest development tools are difficult to access.

Personally, I faced these difficulties as well. I was trying to set up Docker on my old Intel Mac (2011, High Sierra), but the latest version of Docker was not compatible with my Mac OS, and I could not upgrade the OS.

Docker warning

This problem is not particular to Docker alone; various development tools are no longer compatible with these old Intel-based Macs.
After a series of tireless hours of research to overcome this challenge, I found the best possible solution, and that's the motivation for writing this blog post; I do not want other developers to go through this stress as well.

Installing Ubuntu

There are two ways to install Ubuntu on your Mac:

  • Dual boot
  • VirtualBox

This article focuses on the VirtualBox method. This is because VirtualBox provides convenience, safety, and the ability to use both operating systems simultaneously.


VirtualBox is an open-source virtualization tool. Its purpose is to create and run multiple virtual machines (VMs) on a single physical computer, enabling them to run multiple operating systems simultaneously.
This allows users to run guest OSes such as Ubuntu, Windows, or MacOS on a host OS; the host OS serves as the primary OS installed on the computer.

To install Ubuntu on Mac, you need to perform these steps:

Step 1: Install VirtualBox on Mac OS

Installing VirtualBox is not difficult; all you have to do is go to and download the MacOS host VirtualBox package.

VirtualBox download

Next, follow the installation instructions to install VirtualBox.

Installation process

Step 2: Create an Ubuntu Virtual Machine (VM) in VirtualBox

After installing VirtualBox, the next step is to create an Ubuntu VM in VirtualBox.
Before you do this, make sure your computer has the following requirements:

  • A minimum of 4 GB of RAM on your computer.
  • A minimum of 50GB of free space on your hard drive.
  • CPU supporting Intel VT-x or AMD-v hardware virtualization

If your computer matches these requirements, you can proceed to create an Ubuntu VM by following these steps.

1. Enter VirtualBox from your application window.
2. Click on the new button at the top of VirtualBox.
3. A new window will open where you need to enter the name of your new VM. Also, you need to specify the type and version of the OS. You have the freedom to pick any name you like for the virtual machine. In this instance, you are creating an operating system of the Linux type, specifically the 64-bit version of Ubuntu.
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4. Click Continue to choose the memory size you want to allocate for the Ubuntu VM.
5. Once you have allocated the memory, click Continue to allocate the Hard disc space for your new VM.
6. Next, choose the hard drive file type. Select VDI(VirtualBox Disc Image) as the hard disc file type.
7. Click Continue and select Dynamically Allocated under storage on the physical hard disc.
8. Under file size and location, select the file limit you want to allocate to the VM.
9. And that's it! Your Ubuntu VM is ready to be used.

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Step 3: Installing Ubuntu on a Virtual Machine

After creating the VM, The next step is to install Ubuntu on the VM.

1. First, go to and download Ubuntu Desktop on your computer.

2. Next, enter settings in the new VM.


3. Navigate to storage in settings, click on the disc icon under attributes, and choose the directory where the downloaded Ubuntu desktop iso file has been saved.

Ubuntu directory

4. Press OK. Select your VM under VirtualBox and click Start to start the installation.

5 Follow the prompts to install Ubuntu. These steps are easy and won't take you long to install.
And that's it. You now have MacOS as your primary OS and still have the opportunity to use Ubuntu as a guest OS on the same computer. Fascinating, isn't it?

Ubuntu running

Final thoughts

Setting up Ubuntu on a Mac using VirtualBox is a viable solution for developers who face compatibility issues with newer macOS versions on older Intel-based Macs. VirtualBox provides a convenient and safe way to run multiple operating systems simultaneously, allowing you to have both macOS and Ubuntu environments on the same computer.

Keep in mind that running a virtual machine may consume additional resources and affect battery life on older Macs with limited hardware capabilities. Allocating sufficient resources to the virtual machine and managing its power usage can help optimise its performance.

Overall, installing Ubuntu on VirtualBox is an excellent option for developers who need to work with Ubuntu-based development tools and desire the flexibility of using both macOS and Ubuntu on their older Macs. It provides a versatile and isolated development environment without the need for dual-booting or upgrading the macOS version.

If you have any questions or spot any errors, reach out to me on email or on my social media accounts, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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