Linux has come a long way since I installed Red Hat 5.2 on a Pentium 90Mhz machine. Ubuntu “just works” on a MacBook from 2009, except the sound is too quiet. There is a sound setting you have to change through the command line:
amixer sset 'Front Speaker' 100%
While you’re at it, you can get rid of that funny red light shining out of the headphone jack with this command:
amixer set IEC958 off
Found that one here.