[personal profile] mjg59
Firstly: If you want to buy a computer to run Linux on, don't buy a Mac.
Secondly: If you have a Mac and want to run Linux on it, the easiest approach is going to be to run it under virtualisation. Virtualbox is free, and worth every bit of what you're paying.
Thirdly: If you're going to boot Linux on bare-metal Apple hardware, boot it via BIOS emulation.
Fourthly: If you're going to boot Linux on bare-metal Apple hardware via EFI, and it doesn't work, write a patch. Apple's firmware has a number of quirks that I'm aware of and we're working through them, but anyone filing bugs against Apple hardware on EFI right now is likely to be ignored for a significant period of time until there's an expectation that it'll actually work. Maybe in six months or so.


Date: 2011-05-18 08:23 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Well, that's a shame. I love my MacbookPro7,1, and I only run Debian on it. I see where you're coming from with 'quirks' though, but things mostly work now - it just needed a bit of time.

- When it got it, it didn't have any SATA support at all, which was fixed relatively quickly. AHCI mode only works when you're booting via EFI though.
- EFI boot needs "noexec=off". And last time I tried it, nouveau had some problems on EFI mode.
- 2D worked without acceleration for a long time - but now I've got 3D running well enough for Gnome Shell. Thanks nouveau guys!
- Backlight needed a trivial patch with a DMI entry. But you've reworked the whole backlight driver to not need separate patches for all models anymore (thanks!). Would've been nice if the trivial patch would have been mainlined while waiting for your proper fix, though.
- wireless (BCM4322) was only supported by the binary broadcom driver at first - but since 2.6.38 the b43 driver can do it too.

So if I were to give any recommendation to people considering linux-on-mac, it would be this: don't expect the latest, shiniest Mac to work immediately out of the box without tinkering. In my case it went from barely usable to fully functional in about six months. But I knew this going in, and still wanted to do it.

Re: Bummer

Date: 2011-05-22 02:53 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] https://profiles.google.com/holisme
with 2.6.39 i can run imac12,2 27" in EFI physical-mode-patch, but not without. BIOS mode is mostly all right.
I tried (without the physical-mode-patch) booting with noexec=off, it hangs shortly after initrd is loaded (no noise from hard disk);
and tested your 5-patches set from
but it gives the same result : black screen just after initrd is loaded.

Config is : updated 1.6 apple firmware, grub-efi-amd64, pristine efi firmware (no refit), gpt (no mbr).
I'm willing to help testing, if needed. Not desperately :)

Re: Bummer

Date: 2011-05-22 06:04 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I applied this patch on top of your other five efi patches.

"It" works ! You probably don't need that, still, let me say

i'm rebuilding the kernel with your patches only, just to make sure
i'm not wildly hallucinating.

Latest iMac (May 2011)

Date: 2011-05-19 12:03 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I'm not sure I totally agree with you. I'm running Ubuntu 11.04 on the latest iMac (May 2011) and dont have any deal-breaker issues. I run Linux on an iMac because I love the all in-one design and build quality.


Re: Latest iMac (May 2011)

Date: 2012-01-21 09:55 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Could you please develop that statement?
what do you mean by 'genuine output table' and 'lot of them don't' ?

Date: 2011-05-19 12:22 am (UTC)
emperor: (Default)
From: [personal profile] emperor
I installed with rEFIt, and booting works fine. Sound still doesn't :-s

[4.5yo mac pro; Debian stable]

Date: 2011-05-19 12:26 am (UTC)
emperor: (Default)
From: [personal profile] emperor
Joy unlimited. Maybe next workplace will make it possible to buy a highish-spec machine without it being a Mac...


Date: 2011-05-19 02:48 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Even though you are probably right, this is sad.

I love running Linux on our two mac minis.

MacBook 5,1

Date: 2011-05-19 06:38 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I installed and use Debian/squeeze/i386 and Debian/wheezy/amd64 and Ubuntu 10.10/amd64 on a MacBook 5,1 and I boot them using BIOS or EFI, and it all works. So may you elaborate on your post what problems do you encounter?

Re: MacBook 5,1

Date: 2011-05-19 11:31 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Ditto here on a MacBook Pro 5.5 (13" unibody, mid-2009 model). I'm booting off EFI (rEFIt), and everything worked fine.

The only thing that broke recently is grub 1.99's ability to set up the framebuffer console in a form usable by the kernel (I believe vesafb was being used). Things start working once either nouveau or the nvidia binary brings up the display.

All this said, I'm happy to help test/debug patches if we're reasonably sure it won't melt my laptop. :)

Dissing me

Date: 2011-05-19 08:44 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Are you dissing my bug reports :) (http://smolts.org/smolt-wiki/System/Apple_Inc./iMac12,2_1.0)

But anyway, thanks for your hard work on getting macs to run. I do not like MacOSX, but Apple make the best computers.

I have a Debian Mac ;-)

Date: 2011-05-19 01:07 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I've got a Macbook Pro running Debian Squeeze perfectly, no virtualized. I don't use MacOSX anything!! In fact, MacOSX partition has only 20GB.

Everything runs out of the box, except wifi. I installed Debian using refit, but now I think seriously about erasing MacOSX and changing partition system to DOS.

God bless Debian GNU/Linux!! ;-)

Re: I have a Debian Mac ;-)

Date: 2011-05-20 01:59 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I too installed Debian on a Macbook (black, 2008) and couldn't get wifi working. For me, though, this was unacceptable, so I can only run Debian on the laptop via Virtualbox.

Of course, there are still the PPC crazies

Date: 2011-05-19 01:22 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] benanov.livejournal.com
I should know. :) Although PPC is well-enough understood that almost everything works, it's a matter of getting resources to have someone want to fix a bug on 5-year-old obscure hardware.

Linux is always 6 months behind. When you realize it's because "no one tells the Linux guys anything" you discover how frigging talented everyone is.

Date: 2011-05-19 02:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] http://users.livejournal.com/joshua_/
FWIW, my solution for running Linux on my MacBook is to run it in VMWare, which I found also to be worth every bit of what I was paying; I got it for $50 with a student discount, and have enjoyed excellent stability, and a wonderfully responsive support staff that was knowledgeable enough to conjure up udev rules to crank up virtualized hard drive timeouts, since I carry my laptop around with my everywhere. (I figured that if I was running non-Free software, I might as well go all the way and get a virtualization package that has support with it...)

Date: 2011-05-19 06:33 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
While "Virtualbox is free, and worth every bit of what you're paying" sounds like damning with faint praise, my personal experience (dunno about mjg's) is that it's actually a damn good tool and, for now at least, benefits from paid developers doing all the boring bugfix work, so dodges the CADT-model woes of open source.

Date: 2011-05-20 03:50 pm (UTC)
reddragdiva: (Default)
From: [personal profile] reddragdiva
VirtualBox is a moderately good tool in many ways, but fails horribly compared to VMware if you want to do anything halfway hardware fancy, e.g. connect your BlackBerry to a Windows instance in it.

Does VB pass the OpenBSD test yet? It certainly didn't used to. Nor did they intend to make it do so until a paying customer demanded it. Not such a good move for adding payingcustomers, given it's fine under VMware. VB's notorious and chronic crappiness is why I have personally disrecommended spending lots of money on it over VMware in the past.

Date: 2011-05-25 03:00 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
In fairness though, no-one cares about OpenBSD.

Date: 2011-05-25 08:57 pm (UTC)
reddragdiva: (Default)
From: [personal profile] reddragdiva
*cough* well yes ;-p However, it is constructed with remarkalbe attention to detail. So as an acid test it is superlative.

Date: 2011-05-20 03:52 pm (UTC)
reddragdiva: (Default)
From: [personal profile] reddragdiva
I look back with faintly warm memories to Ubuntu PowerPC installing and dual-booting flawlessly on my Mac G3 and later G4. The DVD burner worked more reliably under Ubuntu too.

EFI on non-Apple PCs

Date: 2011-05-21 09:50 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
A bit OT maybe: but I'm just curious if there are issues booting Linux on a non-Apple EFI-based PC. I mean, a number of manufacturers are already producing motherboard with EFI rather than BIOS firmware, e.g., Asus and MSI. Presumably, the reason is to allow booting the 3GB+ hard disk drives that are coming off the line.

PowerMac G4 Dual MDD

Date: 2011-05-23 12:45 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I baught a Dual G4 MDD PowerMac computer and installed debian on it. It runs fine, it took two attemts to get a bootable installation. I am going to try using this instead of my P4 Celeron-PC as mz main computer. And it seems that I can use PC-PCI cards in it. This linux feature makes it kind of a hybrid- system.

It is not even good enough to boot Windows

Date: 2011-06-01 07:21 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Last time I checked the EFI implementation even after it went 64-bit was not good enough to boot Windows natively. I posted a message to Apple's boot-dev mailing list about it.
--yuhong (openid login via blogspot do not work)

Corollary to Firstly

Date: 2011-09-06 08:36 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
* This applies for keyboards as well.


Matthew Garrett

About Matthew

Power management, mobile and firmware developer on Linux. Security developer at Google. Ex-biologist. @mjg59 on Twitter. Content here should not be interpreted as the opinion of my employer.

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