Tag Archives: macbook

Gentoo (and a little Ubuntu) on a MacBook Pro (5,3)

Getting Started

The Google-size summary: I’ve gotten Gentoo working on my MacBook Pro (5,3) again.

I’m going to attempt to recount all the little issues I ran across while installing Gentoo. If you notice I missed something, post it in the comments and I’ll try to figure it out and/or add it here. I also hope to add my findings to the Gentoo wiki, although the wiki is such an outdated mess that I’d almost feel like scratching the whole thing and having the Gentoo+MacBook community write their experiences back in. Continue reading

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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.

MacBook’s Extra Hidden Volume Level

I wanted to lower the volume a notch below the first one, before it mutes the sound. Ssuch a fine-grained level of volume control didn’t appear to exist on the MacBook keyboard (probably like any other laptop keyboard). Then I discovered an interesting key combination:

  • Hit the “Volume Down” button (the one indicated with a speaker and one wave coming out of it, I think)
  • Once the volume is all the way down, hit the mute button once.

What you’ll get is just a barely audible volume level, perfect for communicating with someone with some background noise to keep the idle part of your brain happy.

If you wanted more control over volume level, open System Preferences or click on the volume icon in the upper-right corner. There ought to be a way to control volume via the terminal, but I haven’t found it yet.

The Secret to Pidgin on OSX with Gentoo Prefix

OK, there’s no secrets really. It’s just a matter of avoiding potholes and fixing bugs enough so you can work around them.

So, first off, 2.5.7 is the version I use, even though 2.5.8 is out. 2.5.8 has its own set of problems, and if I recall correctly they’re not as easy to work around. Second, I use the following USE flags:

net-im/pidgin prediction perl gtk -ncurses gnutls debug aqua spell
x11-libs/cairo svg
app-text/enchant -hunspell aspell

Pidgin requires cairo with svg, so that’s a no-brainer. Currently ncurses wide-character support is broken, either in Pidgin or ncurses itself, so I avoid that altogether with the “-ncurses” USE flag. Also, if you want a spell-checker, aspell is much more stable than hunspell on Gentoo Prefix right now, and does the same thing. (Besides, other things use aspell more than hunspell, so it’s one less library to install.) That explains the “-hunspell aspell” USE flags.

There’s one USE flag there you may not recognize for Pidgin. It’s “aqua”. This USE flag was put there by me. This is the show-stopper that had be running in circles for quite a while. In order to get proper GTK+ aqua support, you’ll have to patch Pidgin and Pidgin’s ebuild. You can find all the resources you need at the Gentoo bug I made, or in a handily compressed file here, update: or, better yet, in my Gentoo Prefix overlay. With these in your Gentoo overlay, and the proper USE flags above, pidgin will install correctly. Huzzah! Continue reading

My MacBook Pro (v5,3) and Gentoo Prefix

As noted in a previous blog post, I am now an owner of the latest (as of this writing) 15″ MacBook Pro, the 2.66GHz model, and, let me tell you, it’s a superb laptop. (I don’t think I’ve gotten this excited since I took home my Wii.) I wanted to go in-depth on each thing I’ve done with it, so instead of covering the same topics twice, I decided to summarize my experience here, and write in-depth in other posts instead.

How has my experience been overall? OSX is not flawless, but it’s brilliant. For example, I’m constantly switching from Ctrl+Tab to Cmd+Tab to Cmd+` to Ctrl+A Ctrl+A depending on the application I’m using. (Ctrl+Tab for tab switching, Cmd+Tab for app switching, Cmd+` for window-in-an-app switching, and Ctrl+A Ctrl+A for terminal screen switching.) Another example is Finder. The fact that the Open dialog looks exactly like, and yet is different from, other Finder dialogs makes me do summersaults in my head when I try to do something in Open that I did in Finder or vice-versa. The library of software for OSX is lacking, but I supplement it with Prefix (more on that later). The hardware is sheer awesome, and I don’t think I’ll ever be able to leave it now. Continue reading