New, Old Project: MacBook Oreo!

My parents sent my MacBooks.

Way, way back in 2011, after I had moved from Australia back to Texas, I had a MacBook White that started having issues with the screen and some other stuff. A friend had a MacBook Black that wouldn’t work for him, so he gave it to me. Then I moved back to Japan and left the MacBooks in a closet at my parents’ house. They sent them to me, and after about six hours trying various combinations of parts:

Voila: MacBook Oreo.

Basically a 2006 MacBook Black Core Duo. It has the Japanese keyboard from the MacBook White (the MacBook Black Keyboard is in really good condition, and I plan to protect it to save it for later. The MacBook White keyboard is starting to the edge chip, as it is known to do). It also has the MacBook White’s SuperDrive, as the Black’s was broken.

MacBook White briefly booted, but the screen is damaged, the right speaker connection literally fell off (it would need to be soldered), and I wouldn’t be surprised if it needed something else. I could see me MAYBE putting a 2009 logic board and new screen in there, but it probably isn’t worth it.

I’m installing Tiger on the MacBook Oreo, but given it is a Core Duo with 2GBs of RAM, I am thinking a light install of some flavor of Linux will be a better choice. I want to make it my Presentation and Internet machine, which is essentially all I need at school, and I am not going to take my 2012 MacBook Pro to school with me anymore. I may just sell it, I don’t edit on it, because I edit on the Mac Pro…


Tiger is a great choice I reckon - it’s lightweight and fast, and has the benefit of being one one the OS releases that Apple spent 2 years refining. 10.4.11 was a great OS.

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It was a no-go on Tiger. The other SuperDrive borked itself halfway through the install and I never could get it finished. I am now installing Snow Leo. I think Linux Mint is going to be where I want to go with this, as soon as I am sure everything is working correctly in an OS.

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At least the hardware is old enough there should be built in drivers for everything…

Coming at you from the MacBook Oreo, but I definitely have an issue. The fan insists on running at full speed. It’s getting really hot, but I don’t know if that is from charging batteries that haven’t been charged in 7 years or if it’s because even Linux Mint is just too much for it to handle…

I suppose it’s also possible I need to change the thermal paste. But this is definitely unusable anywhere there are other people.

More than anything it’s provably a sensor or sensor software issue…

Seemed to be a couple of different things. I swapped out the 12 year old thermal paste for some Thermal Grizzly. One application helped, but I tend to be really conservative thermal paste. Going back and adding an additional application worked even better. I reseated all of the sensors, and that helped a bit more. And finally, I realised there were rather significant differences in build quality between the MacBook Black’s keyboard and the MacBook White’s keyboard.

The Black is thicker (I’m going to guess the metal underside plays a role in thermal dissipation), the material of the MacBook Black feels like a ThinkPad or other Premium Business Model. It has better key travel, better stability, and isn’t cracking or showing age at all. The trackpad is also significantly better and works much better with Mint (the White is way overly sensitive and I kept having to dial down the settings.

Holy crap, the MacBook White is a POS. No wonder my 2008 MacBook White isn’t the one I managed to bring back to life and the 2006 MacBook Black is. Even though the MacBook Black is older and less powerful, it’s clearly made with significantly better materials and quality control.

Last point, the MBB struggles with YouTube beyond 360p, but honestly, that’s not bad considering. I think it can do 480p for talking head type vlogging, but not anime music videos. I have yet to test my collection of videos on it to see what will and won’t run. But the Linux Mint OS is snappy, in part I am sure because I’m running an SSD.

Yup. this is usable:

Nice, I had both models back in the day and I loved my MacBook Black when i had it though my keyboard had seen some wear, yours look very untouched in that respect.

now i’ve got a final model of the mcabook unibody and a Mid 2010 MBP 13" and a dead A1297.

The trackpad is super shiny, you can’t tell in this photo. But the rest of it? Pretty much perfect condition. The 2008 MacBook White on the other hand is in pieces. There’s a huge black burn across the heatsink and fan, one of the speaker solder points fell off, the screen has lines, I think the battery is dead (I need to try to charge it one more time), and the keyboard has edge cracking and just isn’t as good or as satisfying. The MacBook White is crap. I only know it now when comparing the build quality to my 2012 MacBook Pro and the 2006 MacBook Black. Apple REALLY cut costs in order to make the MBW a budget entry and it shows.

I just ordered an “acceptable” condition MacBook White for $100. No RAM, but it appears to be in decent condition, and it comes with a battery, charger, spinner harddrive, a superdrive. I think I can piece together the parts I have (I have 4GBs of ram in mine as an example), and I think my keyboard is in much better condition, so I should be able to make a $250 unit out of it. What parts are leftover, I can toss up myself.

Also, of course I have all the original packaging except the gray cloth covers for both the Black and the White, and I can probably easily stitch a pouch together for it for pennies.

EDIT: Haven’t even got the new parts computer yet and IT’S ALIIIIIIIIVE:

EDIT 2: BAH after three attempts to install Lion, I give up. It keeps randomly shutting down or not booting. It will run 10.6 Snow Leo, but won’t update. I’ll wait for the parts computer to arrive. But good try!

To my genuine shock, I received the “acceptable” MacBook White, and it’s…. In way better condition than reported. It did come with 2GBs of RAM, but they were badly corroded and didn’t boot. Put my 4GBs of ram in it and it boot up. There’s some serious yellowing of the components (magic eraser helped), but they’re actually physically in better shape than my unit. Running 10.7.5, but I’m going to try to get Yosemite on here, because that can be done. I’m going to ditch the broken parts on mine, keep the parts that work, and I have all my original packaging and what not, so altogether, not bad. If I can get Yosemite working, this can probably be a daily driver, especially with an SSD. Also it SEEMs like this can actually do 6GBs of ram?

Not too shabby.

It doesn’t seem to like my aftermarket charger, but it came with its own aftermarket charger that works. I thought it was the real deal, so I am mildly disappointed, still… I wasn’t expecting this much for $100, with shipping. It was a great deal.

Thought this deserved an update since I mentioned it in the Mojave thread. Talk about taking the fight to planned obsolescence, wastefulness, etc.

I have now solved some serious issues I had with the 2008 MacBook White, and I’m getting very very close to making this a viable school/office/internet/media consumption machine. The 2006 MacBook Black just really cannot keep up much at all. Unfortunately. the 2006 and 2008 MacBooks are NOT compatible internally, so I can’t just swap the 2008 guts into the 2006 case. Because honestly the build quality of the MacBook Black is superior. I could, however (since I have an extra set of 2008 white case parts) always use plasti-dip or some other type of special paint to make my MacBook Oreo that way.

I have had two goals in mind with this project once I realised there was no way to get a really nice macOS/MacOS X version on it. I’ve been slowly converting the appearance of the stock Cinnamon desktop environment to at be as comfortable as possible to a Mac user. I still haven’t managed to install a global menu, although I know one does exist. But so many apps these days don’t even have menus or use buttons that it barely matters for about 75% of what I do. I’ve also been trying to map as many keys and key combinations to their normal macOS ones. It’s mostly succeeding.

The more important part is this MacBook, with the right OS and software capable of modern, yet everyday tasks. The answer, I am happy to report is: hell yes it can (if you are willing to put in the work).

  1. Does it school/office? Yes, with LibreOffice:

  1. Does it Internet? Yes. The best experience I have found has been with the last actual Google Chrome release. Chrome, not Chromium. Chromium and Firefox are both up-to-date but they don’t play well with the graphics acceleration available. I get annoying diagonal tearing with both of them. Chrome doesn’t have it, and everything works just fine, for now, with this Chrome. More about the tearing below:

  1. Does it media consumption? Yes. It took me some time to fiddle with VLC settings, but handles most video fine without video tearing even up to HD. Full screen has no issue, and if tearing occurs while the window is in a lower size, just resizing a bit will fix it. Tearing does also occur in my “Files” app (Finder equivalent) if I scroll quickly. I presume it draws from the same resources as Chromium and Firefox. In any case, normally that speed is slow enough this shouldn’t be an issue.

  1. Does it external monitor/projector?

Yes, but… I only have a mini-DV to VGA adaptor, and it works with my projector, but there are some serous issues with tearing. Hard to know exactly if fiddling with it will make the situation better. It’s problematic with any thing quick, but for the average TV program or non-blockbuster movie? It’s probably more than sufficient.

  1. Does it YouTube? Yes, but you’re not going to go beyond 480p for anything fast paced or 720p for anything talking heads. This is almost certainly sufficient for a screen of this size, resolution, and quality.

  2. Does it game? No. Go away.

  3. Does it Skype/etc? Yes, with an external camera and microphone. Onboard are borked, but of terrible quality for 2018 anyway. If you have an external USB webcam with mic like I do, plug and play.

Sounds like you’ve been having a lot of fun pulling apart / building / repairing!

I have a soft spot for the Black. Was going to upgrade to one from my G3 Pismo - I hoped… I spent a lot of time trying to convince the staff at the local David Jones department store to sell me their Macbook Black that had been sitting around for at least 3 years. They wouldn’t reduce the price at all.

About 6-12 months later, after I’d caved and purchased a new '09 MacBookPro 13" for $1,350, I had a call from them asking if I was still interested - they would reduce the price to $1,800… :roll_eyes: (Ok, yes, it was about $500 off RRP… but compared to the “modern” machines, for way less money… completely living outside reality.)

We’ve gotten to the point where there is such a gulf between what I need from a portable device and what I need from a desktop that honestly saving this MacBook White is more than an experiment. I’m heading to Vietnam for five weeks for a certification course (Aussie Uni accredited) on June 21st and I was trying to prep this to answer the question, “is this viable for use for the five weeks I’m there?” I won’t be doing video editing or graphics work. Just school stuff and internet/media consumption. I’m feeling confident this will be up to task. And I personally like it way better than a tablet. And for $100? Can’t say it was a bad value. :slight_smile:

A buddy of mine back at an Apple Authorised Repairer checkerboard’ed his keyboard. Black key, white key, black key, white key…

Looked mint!

The original MacBooks are by far my favourite Mac portable to repair - glad you’re having fun with them!


Okay, so I’ve been in Vietnam since last Thursday and I’ve run through all of the possible needs I have for this MacBook White to be completely useful as a modern computer. How has it stood up to my sole computer use during a professional development course in another country running Linux?

So turns out, it cannot Skype, but it CAN Wire, which seems preferable anyway. Seems less bloated. I can also Skype, Wire, WebEx, etc on my 6S or my S8+, so nowadays a computer isn’t absolutely necessary for this. I do need my USB HD Cam with Mic, but that’s far better than the onboard.

Email: Evolution works just fine. Not nearly as nice as Apple’s Mail, but significantly better than Thunderbird.

Coursework: LibreOffice Writer is just fine for essays and taking notes. I haven’t yet tried the presentation software for conducting a lesson (I’m a teacher, doing teacher training), but I will sometime next week. It seems less polished and less intuitive to keynote, but I suspect it will work.

Internet: Old Chrome handles nearly everything, Chromium handles everything else (but has screen tearing). I largely only use Chromium for its LINE app, as there is no stand-alone Linux LINE app. Old Chrome is fine.

Video: VLC works perfectly. KDEnlive is a really, really great non-linear editor, far more substantial and useful than when I tried to use Cinelerra several years ago. Old Chrome streams fine. No problem with screen tearing or other GPU issues.

Photos: No problem there. I haven’t tried to do any photo-editing, but as far as copying them over from my S8+, no problem.

Battery Life: this is my main problem. Battery life was always only about 4 hours when these batteries were new. One of my whites is already dead (and I left it in Japan, I’ll need to give it to Apple to recycle), and the other white and the black both die just really quickly. My classroom doesn’t have plugs for students, nor do many of the coffee shops, etc,

I’m concerned even if I purchase a third party new replacement, it will still have around the 4 hour charge, which is really not enough for sitting in classes for 8 hours a day or spending several hours at a coffee shop writing term papers. With keeping my screen brightness down and having an SSD, I am rather surprised that I have so few hours of battery available to me for word processing tasks. Can anyone confirm if getting a new third party battery will actually make this better?

So what’s my verdict here? Battery life aside, this machine is absolutely a capable modern machine for a shocking amount of people with Mint Linux on it. I almost never use the command line, these days so many things are browser based, and nearly all apps have Linux equivalents or actual Linux versions. This is especially useful for someone like me who has a Mac Pro at home and is ONLY using the MacBook White as a student or as a teacher. I’m quite impressed by how well this holds up with a proper modern operating system and I just don’t understand why we aren’t doing more to save these machines from the rubbish bin.

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Battery was my first concern at the project… Though I am surprised at all that it’s been capable of doing! :slight_smile:

I’m not familiar with battery options for your MacBook, but I doubt there’d be a lot out there that will be as good as Apple’s own - though the battery life seems pretty poor in general. May just be a case of having to pack a spare battery…

Just beware that aftermarket batteries don’t work properly.
They don’t communicate to Apple power management correctly.
You’ll find that the system log gets spammed with battery errors.

I found this used quite a bit of hdd space and cpu power to constantly write this error log.


Yeah, I have both the white and the black, so I have two. However with one of my whites already dead, I would be unsurprised if the other white and the black (which is even older than the whites, a 2006 vs 2008 whites) die on me rather sooner than later.

From the standpoint of what can do the computer do in 2018, I am equally as surprised and impressed. Indeed happily so. This proves that given enough time, motivation, and perseverance performance can maximised from older hardware (with a few upgrades).

This is the 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo, it has just normal integrated graphics, 4GBs of RAM, and an SSD. The ram and the SSD, combined with excellent resource management of Linux, seems likely to explain this.


This is good to know, if disappointing. But I wonder if it is even possible to get new/newer OEM batteries for these computers. And frankly, would they even be worth it? The goal of this project was to spend as little as possible to see if I could resurrect machines otherwise headed towards recycling. I’ve succeeded, but battery life is definitely keeping me tethered during times I would never have worried about being tethered with my 2012 MacBook Pro, and that’s one way in which it seems like being old tech, this isn’t keeping up with modern expectations.