Status of Gentoo on MacBook Pro (5,3)

HEY, LISTEN! This blog post and some of its tips are out-dated. You can read it but keep that in mind. I have a more detailed HOWTO-like blog post here.

  • ALSA: It supports all the inputs and outputs on the computer. The headphones and speakers get two different volume levels. I find setting headphones to 30% and speakers to 100% works perfectly for me, but every pair of headphones acts differently.
  • Graphics: NVIDIA drivers have been available from the start. No fuss or mess here, especially now that distributions have seemed to have finally found a way to package them in a way that doesn’t obliterate important X11 libraries.
  • Screen and keyboard brightness work if you install pommed. Since GNOME already recognizes the volume keys, I turned that off in pommed. The Banshee music player (my new favorite) understands the media controls, to my surprise! The eject button is also supported by pommed. As far as standard keyboard buttons go, the Home, End, Page Up, Page Down, Windows, Delete, and Function keys are all accessible via the Fn key, in combination with the left, right, up, down, Command, “delete”/Backspace, and Function keys respectively. (Why OSX doesn’t understand half these keys, and some of them only half the time, I still don’t understand.)
  • The large trackpad works very well. Single-finger click is a left click, two-finger click is a right click, and three-finger click is a middle click. Two-finger scrolling works very well, and can even be turned on and off in the Mouse settings in GNOME. Four-finger scrolling appears to be interpreted as a single finger, but that may be adjustable.
  • Within the last week or so, a new release of the isight-firmware-tools package (1.5.92) just added support for the iSight camera built into this MacBook. I am very happy about that, since that’s one less thing to reboot into OSX for. It still has some small setup required, but it’s a one-liner, so it barely registers on my “todo” list.
  • The wireless card works very well, and works with NetworkManager. Bluetooth works.
  • The battery is reported correctly in GNOME.
  • The SD card slot works. I’ve used it several times.
  • The fans require some doing. They don’t actually turn on automatically (scarily enough), so I had to hack up a script someone wrote to get the fan to react to temperatures reported by sysfs.
  • And the hard-drive, um, spins and stuff.

So, as you can see, besides pommed, a fan script, and the webcam, there’s really very little tweaking required. Everything more or less works.

Edit: The kernel configuration for this machine was requested in the comments below, so I’ve posted it here.

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  • GNUardo  On May 20, 2010 at 4:50 pm

    Hi javaJake.
    Pretty good job with this machine here. Can you leave your kernel config and version to us?


  • Tiago Caxias  On May 21, 2010 at 3:00 am

    Hey there, found your post at Larry the Universe.
    Great post, will help me a lot.
    Do you know if there is a similar work with the last gen iMacs? (21.5 and 27)
    I have searched a little but didn’t found much…

    • javaJake  On May 21, 2010 at 9:02 pm

      I don’t know much about other hardware specifically. Sorry about that!

      Googling around should get you some information. Likely someone’s already tried to get Ubuntu to work, so that could be a place to look.

  • hangfire  On May 21, 2010 at 9:35 am

    It would be nice if you used your experience to update the gentoo-wiki macbook article. That way, peoples’ install experiences can cumulatively improve the article and keep it up to date; blog posts tend to get stale quickly, but people still expect them to be accurate.

  • Dave Percy  On February 15, 2011 at 3:52 pm

    That fan issue sounds really scary!–would your CPU just fry if you didn’t get the fans on after a few minutes?

    Could you post the script you used to fix it?

    • javaJake  On February 19, 2011 at 11:50 pm

      I lost my Gentoo installation and reverted to an OS that was fast to set up. I haven’t been able to get away from it yet.

      The script is in my backups, though. I’ll dig it back up when I get some time.

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