My boss is giving me an old macbook to use for developing iOS apps. I would like to install a linux distribution but i don't know if doing this would have bad consequences that would cause problems when I have to start using OSX.

Can I install linux OS and then later change it back to OSX later? Will this cause any unexpected problems later?


You might be interested in dual booting. You can have a linux os on one partition and mac os on the other. Swithing between those two will be very easy and you can even remove the dual boot linux os and only have the mac os once you are done.

Maybe this question here gives you more information about dual booting linux and mac osx. This question or This question whatever suits you best.

As for the consequences I quote from a site.

If you’re thinking about reinstalling because something has gone wrong with your Mac, know that an OS X reinstallation should be your last resort. If nothing else fixes your Mac, reinstalling OS X could well be your final option before invasive surgery (that is, trundling your Mac to a repair shop). You don’t want to reinstall OS X if something easier can correct the problem. So if you have to do a reinstallation, realize that this is more or less your last hope (this side of the dreaded screwdriver, anyway).

In the worst case scenario you'll have to bring it to apple care. Other than that some things can go wrong and data can get lost (If you do not backup it).

  • 2
    There's also Linux in a VM to consider... – AFH Feb 22 '17 at 22:42
  • @AFH Yes good point. But as a programmer myself I would rather have dual boot linux. Because in VMware or Virtual Box I've always had to search a long time to finally get multiple screens working. But thats just my preference. – RamonRobben Feb 22 '17 at 22:47
  • There's lots of good info about doing a bare install of MacOS: support.apple.com/en-us/HT201372 – user394804 Feb 22 '17 at 22:48
  • That's all a bit off-topic to the question though, which is specifically about what problems to expect when reinstalling. – user394804 Feb 22 '17 at 22:49
  • @SkyRamon - I accept that, but I normally do development in a single screen, and if the questioner works similarly it's probably a better option for him. A full-screen VM performs extremely well and it allows him to switch between Linux and OSX easily, without rebooting. It also avoids the problems which may arise while repartitioning and installing multi-boot. – AFH Feb 22 '17 at 23:20

Having done many "bare installs" of OS X after formatting the disk, I can say you shouldn't expect loss of functionality in that respect.

You could run into trouble installing linux if you have to modify UEFI for some older distributions.

You might have trouble with drivers when using a different OS (again this depends on which distro you choose).


Yes, it's certainly possible to reinstall macOS after erasing and using Linux (or anything else for that matter), but downloading the macOS installer without already having some version of macOS running is a little tricky. It generally involved booting into recovery mode over the Internet, which can be rather slow.

IMO it'll be a lot easier to reinstall macOS with you build an installer disk, and it's easiest to build an installer disk under macOS before you erase it. The basic procedure is to use the App Store to download a copy of the macOS Sierra installer application, plug in a flash disk (at least 8GB), use Disk Utility to reformat it with the GUID partition map (aka GUID partition table aka GPT) format, then use the createinstallmedia tool to clone the relevant bits of the installer app to it (details here) (or use DiskMaker X to handle the details for you).

Keep the installer drive around, and when it comes time to reinstall macOS, plug it in, start the Mac with the Option key held down, and select it as the startup volume. Then you'll have all the recovery and reinstall tools available, without needing to boot over the Internet.

  • This is good info, but it doens't actually answer the question. – user394804 Feb 23 '17 at 15:56
  • @DoritoStyle Hmm, maybe not explicitly, but I think it does. It's a "here's the best way to do it" answer, which pretty much implies "yes, it's possible" (which is the direct answer to the original question). But I'll add an explicit direct answer as well. – Gordon Davisson Feb 23 '17 at 17:40
  • That's a fair point, but given the summary, that's only tangential to the question of "Will this cause any unexpected problems later?" – user394804 Feb 23 '17 at 17:45

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