So, I had a problem with my MacBook – the harddrive failed twice (or, at least, that’s what all the symptoms pointed to). After it failed the second time and I brought it back, the nice Apple tech support guy messed around with it a bit more, and replaced both the drive and the logic board (as he called it). It’s been working fine since, so kudos to them.
Of course, this meant that I had to install Linux on it again. This time, I decided I’d go with Debian, instead of Ubuntu. You’d think there wouldn’t be much difference, but there is.
Last time, I installed Ubuntu from a Dapper CD I had lying around, and upgraded to Feisty in one fell
apt-get dist-upgrade. And, of course, this horribly messed up lots. Simple things like icons for certain things went missing, and never came back. Sometimes, when I logged into Gnome, it wouldn’t run my .xmodmaprc and I’d have to do it manually. I swap the ` and \ keys, as they are by default on the MacBook, so that they’re in the usual position. Another minor annoyance, but it’s those types of things that grate on me. The last one which really annoyed me was the Fn key functionality. Basically, I like to have F-keys first and require pressing Fn to get that functionality. So, I passed the necessary option to the necessary kernel module to get this. This enabled Home, End, Pgup and Pgdn on the arrow keys aswell, using the Fn key. But, if I held Fn, Alt and Left Arrow (Home) in Firefox, it didn’t recognise the key as Home, and instead went back a page instead of to the home page.
So, I decided to try Debian on it and see if it fared any better. And it did. I installed from an Etch CD, and nearly everything worked out of the box. The few things that I needed to do were :
- Get the kernel source and apply the mactel kernel patches, build it and install it
- Make sure the appletouch kernel module is loaded before usbhid for the touchpad
- Install madwifi-source and madwifi-tools, and build and install the modules to support the wireless card
- Set up the touchpad for 2-tap right click, and 3-tap middle click, instead of the opposite (which is the default)
ACPI_SLEEP_MODEto standby. This works around an issue I had (have) where, when the power cable is plugged out and the lid is closed and reopened, the computer doesn’t return from its sleep
/etc/acpi/events/powerbtnand comment out the
actionline, so that the script isn’t run. When I press the power button, the Gnome logout dialogue pops up, offering me the choice to logout, power down or reboot. The acpi script shuts the machine down immediately.
All this stuff is explained on the MacBook – Debian Wiki page, so I won’t go into the details of it here. I haven’t even tried getting the iSight camera working yet, because I don’t really have any need for it.
So, I’ve noticed from my web logs that people do end up here on quests for information about Linux, particularly Ubuntu, on MacBook. Well, here’s my advice if you’re here on one of those quests – install Debian Etch! It’s easier, quicker and works perfectly.