Linuxgruven > Thoughts > Day-to-Day with Linux > Feisty on a first-gen MacBook

Feisty on a first-gen MacBook

2007.09.23

I got my "new" MacBook back from repair.  It now has a new screen, new inverter and new upper keyboard assembly.  This makes it almost a new machine!  I've also upgraded the RAM to 2GB ($100CDN if you play your cards right) and moved to a 120GB Seagate HD.  I should be getting a 250GB Western Digital shortly.

While I had already tried VMWare Fusion and Feisty out with great results, I just had to see how Feisty did on the new machine.  I'm happy to report that everything I've tried so far has worked perfectly!

To install, I first downloaded and installed the BootCamp beta.  Next, I ran the BootCamp assistant but didn't repartition, as I had previously left 10GB free when I moved from the 60GB HD to a Seagate 120GB.  next, I downloaded and installed reEFIt.  reEFIt is a boot menu program that allows you to easily boot to OSX, from CD or through to the usual grub menu once Linux is installed.  I'm not sure if this step was strictly necessary, but it works well and it certainly was required with the original dual-boot installs on Intel Macs.

Next up, I popped in the Feisty i386 install CD (the Core Duos are not x64 CPUs.)  When I first rebooted, reEFIt wasn't active.  After booting back in to OSX, I ran:
sudo /efi/refit/enable-always.sh to actually activate reEFIt.  I'm sure that was somewhere in the documentation that I failed to read. ;-)

On next reboot, I was confronted with the familiar reEFIt boot screen, picked the CD and booted into the Feisty LiveCD.  From here on, I did a standard install with manual partitioning to make use of the free space that I'd left at the end of the drive.  The install went smoothly and I'm happy to report that WiFi, suspend and resume, screen brightness buttons and volume keys all work out of the box with zero effort on my part.

I had to install 915resolution from the universe repository to get the native 1280x800 display.  I gather that I could have the xserver-xorg-video-intel driver instead of the xserver-xorg-video-i810 driver and that the display would have been picked up correctly.  I recently needed the newer -intel driver driver to get a GMA3000-based Asus P5B-VM DO motherboard video working correctly too.

I haven't played with Bluetooth yet and when I plugged my external monitor in to the MacBook nothing happened, though I've read that this is trivially easy to configure.  The battery is currently showing 2:30 left with an 85% charge, so battery life is as good as the T60 but not as good as the MacBook in OSX.  Hopefully this will improve somewhat with Guts (7.10) due out next month.  For those concerned, the heat hasn't been any worse than the T60 (or the MacBook under OSX) and you can adjust the fan timings if you really want.

Overall, I'm extremely pleased with the MacBook as a Linux laptop.  I've only been using it for a day but I can already tell that it's working out better than the T60 did.  No stinking ATI drivers, for a start. 

Since the MacBooks are known, popular hardware and since there seem to be quite a few deals out there on them, I'd strongly recommend people looking for a good Linux box to investigate these systems.  It sounds like the newer 802.11n-based Core 2 Duo MacBooks might be a bit trickier to set up, but the first-gen certainly was a no-brainer.

Oh, and I almost forgot to mention that DRI worked with zero effort on my part.  I haven't pushed the video yet with Quake 4 or anything, but Nexuiz seemed to run brilliantly with no stuttering at all.  The only downside to the MacBook as a Linux laptop so far is the single mouse button. ;-)

Relevant links: (Most of which I completely ignored)