Librebooted Macbook 2,1

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pizzaiolo
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So I've been toying with the idea of buying a used Macbook 2,1, flash libreboot and install Trisquel on it.

I know much has been said about GNU/Linux on Apple products, but there are so many different Macbook models and GNU/Linux distros that it's hard to get an accurate picture when searching online.

Basically I was wondering how is the experience like. Does everything work? Is it slow? Any warnings? Words of advice?

tdlnx

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I'm curious to know as well. I seriously considered buying one simply because you can install Libreboot and (most) of the hardware works well with free software. I also thought it'd be funny to stick a GNU over the Aple on the top.

pizzaiolo
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Exactly! I'd get a GNU sticker for sure. Also, Thinkpads don't look very good, and design is about the only thing Apple got right in their products...

Alij
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Dont know if libreboot can work but Triskel seems go fine with an Imac:
http://trisquel.info/es/forum/trisquel-imac

Michał Masłowski

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Among libreboot-supported computers, the Thinkpads are technically much
better. (Both have user-unfriendly vendors.)

Macbook 2,1 has much smaller battery capacity, gets hotter, its webcam
needs nonfree firmware, you might miss some keys and the right touchpad
button. The libreboot maintainer doesn't have a Macbook, so the updates
are not tested.

Eemeli
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I have a macbook 2.1 with libreboot from 2015-02-08 installed. These are some remarks that I have with using libreboot on it:

- The webcam does not work without a non-free firmware blob.
- The battery lasts only a couple of hours compared to the 6+ hours I get from a libreboot x60s bought from Gluglug.
- It runs quite hot, but not as hot as it used to be on earlier versions of libreboot.
- On low screen brightness part of the screen is darker than the other parts.
- The touchpad was very jerky, and I posted my Xorg configuration that made it usable here: http://libreboot.org/docs/hcl/index.html#macbook21 .
- The touchpad stopped recognizing three-finger taps on libreboot (but it did work on a Trisquel 7 live CD when using the original bios)
- The macbook has an unusual keyboard, and on top of that mine was Scandinavian. That meant that there was no AltGr so I could not type symbols like @, \, etc.. To fix that I had to run "sudo dpkg-reconfigure keyboard-configuration" and map the "Keypad Enter" key to AltGr.
- I have not tried the infrared or DVD drive so far.
- Wifi worked out of the box, as did ethernet.
- The screen is bigger than on my x60s.

Overall I think it is worth installing libreboot if you have such a computer on hand. However in the current situation I would not buy one for this purpose, but that is only my opinion. The laptop does indeed look nicer than the ThinkPads, but it also looks much less robust.

If you have anything you'd like me to test or try, please reply here. I haven't had it in daily use at all, just for testing some configurations.

pizzaiolo
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Fantastic! Thank you for your reply. I'm using a modern Samsung laptop and my battery also lasts around 2h30, so I thought that was normal... 6-hour battery? that's very impressive!

Just to be sure, what kernel version are you running on your Macbook?

Also, is hardware acceleration good for 2D and 3D?

tdlnx

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Hmm that's a little disappointing. If I can get my hands on a cheap one I'll probably still muck around just for the learning experience. The webcam isn't important for my uses anyway, I haven't had a laptop with a webcam for over a decade.

The battery didn't used to be important to me, but I've been spoiled with my Thinkpad X201T that gets a reliable 5+ hours of battery (I had a X61 before and the battery only lasted 2 hours at most).

doolio
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6+ hrs on your Libreboot X60s that is amazing.

I've had some battery issues with mine of late. On two occasions recently (and currently), my battery no longer charges. I need the mains power to switch the machine on even if I leave it off for a few hours to charge. The last occasion this happened, it resolved itself when I left it over night plugged in it managed to put charge back into the battery. I think these issues started when I moved house and the battery completely self discharged over the move that took a few days. I've found the self discharge extremely high on my machine. Currently, when I have to start my machine by mains power. The notification panel states it is charging but the charge level is stuck at 40% in the panel. I have a script which watches battery parameters and it states it is charging but also the Whr values do not increase as you would expect. Any advice would be appreciated?

Cheers.

Eemeli
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Some more comments:

I have had similar problems with the x60s battery as described above, i.e. sometimes it would not seem to charge when the laptop stays on. This was always resolved by turning the laptop off, taking the battery off for a few minutes, putting it back in and letting it charge overnight. I have not found out what causes that problem. It has happened to me three times during the past year and a half.

However under normal circumstances, with screen brightness at minimum + 1, and no wifi activity, the battery indeed lasts 6 hours. It's that kind of large battery, 9-cell or was it 12-cell...

About the macbook2.1:
- The kernel I'm running is linux libre from jxself. "uname -r" returns "3.14.36-gnu.pae"
- I checked, and the dvd and infrared remote work without needing to configure anything in Trisquel 7.
- One issue which is extremely annoying: it seems that libreboot has problems turning the laptop on. If I release the power button too early or too late, I'm greeted with a constant spam of text "--MORE--Unknown key 0xff detected". When this happens I have to turn the computer off from the power switch and then try booting again.
- About 2D or 3D acceleration. This is an old laptop, so you won't be playing any new 3D games on it. You probably can watch HD movies but I haven't tried decoding any so far. glxgears runs at 60fps. Supertuxkart runs at "28/30/48 - 15KTris" in a 1024x768 window. If you want some specific tests, please reply here. I am not that experienced in benchmarking graphical acceleration.

pizzaiolo
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On the issue of 2D/3D, I was wondering if Unity and Compiz would behave normally.

Also, knowing whether HD videos are played well would be nice too. I have used an old Macbook 2,1 with OS X and loading flash videos on YouTube was a *very* laggy experience. Gnash and HTML5 may relieve that problem, but it would be cool to know nevertheless.

PS: I forgot to ask you what version of Trisquel the Macbook is running.

Thanks for being so attentive! We're asking so much I bet we can fill out the h-node form for your laptop by ourselves :P

tdlnx

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That's a great idea actually! The more info available on h-node the better!

Eemeli
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I could not get Unity to work. I do not know if it's because of a lack of 3D acceleration or because I just didn't manage to configure it properly. I followed the advice of https://trisquel.info/en/wiki/how-install-unity-desktop-environment-and-create-session-entry-trisquel-70 on an almost fresh install of Trisquel 7 on the macbook. When I log in after choosing the Ubuntu session, I get an error message about Alt+space (which is my hotkey for Synapse). After that i cannot move any of the windows, and there is nothing resembling a "start menu" in any border of the screen. In fact I could not even find anything giving me the option to log out. I had to right click, open a terminal on Desktop, and kill Xorg to get back to the display manager.

I have only ever installed Trisquel 7 (the default one, with GNOME desktop) on this machine.

Youtube worked well using html5. I have not installed Gnash of any other flash player.

I tried a few HD movies of various qualities and they play smoothly. One thing I noticed is that the speakers are several orders of magnitude better than on the ThinkPad x60s. However the fan is very loud because the machine runs hot, so it's a compromise. Maybe this can be fixed a bit by using PowerTOP...

tomlukeywood
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"Youtube worked well using html5"
it may run faster using this method
as no js needed
https://goblinrefuge.com/mediagoblin/u/onpon4/m/tutorial-bypassing-youtube-javascript-requirements/

pizzaiolo
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Thanks a lot for your input! I was thinking of writing some documentation for the trinquel.info wiki about running Trisquel on Macbook, based on the stuff you informed us, but I don't know if it would be acceptable due to Macbook being an Apple product.

What do you folks think?

Magic Banana

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Go ahead. As long as you do not propose the use of proprietary software, I do not see any problem.

SuperTramp83

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pizzaiolo - please do. It could help many folks.
cheers!

kokomo_joe

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Sounds like the purchase was already made. In that case it does only good to liberate non-free hardware. We need more of that.

Even if it did encourage people to buy new products from Apple, I believe on net balance that freeing them is still a greater act of good.

vita_cell
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My Macbook runs at idle with only 37º. But I put Coolaboratory Pro paste and modified it (see image), just almost 20º more cooler(with no mod it runs 57º at idle, with same paste).(I don't recommend use Collaboratory if you dont know how to apply or remove it, just MX-4 is a very good option)

All Macbooks, Macbooks Pro, and Macbooks Air, have no air intake, so they take hot air inside the Macbook. Macbook Air(2009) is horrible (the fan is a very very bad joke).

My macbook works well with compiz, cairo-dock, and games, I can run Nexuiz for example, yes, it work fine with very low config and with not full resolution screen.

Watching FullHD movie, it runs at 60º with 5000-5300rpm, but no loud if using headphones.

I think that T400 is better(I don't have one), but Macbook has a better speakers and screen (+bluetooth), but I am not sure. Macbook looks better.

(I using a cooling platform with a big fan in the middle)

photo_2015-10-06_18-21-35.jpg photo_2015-10-06_18-21-41.jpg
suitsmeveryfine
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So you just made those holes through the bottom and it got 20 degrees cooler? Wow! I think I need try this also, but maybe add a dust filter.

vita_cell
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You do not need the small holes (I did this only for test, before do the bigger one). Yes, this mod worked for me, very well. So I have no problem for dissasemble and clean it. You need only one big hole. It's a good idea to add some filter.

I did the holes from inside, removing the fan first. I think that it is not a good idea do the hole with no dissasemble.

suitsmeveryfine
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OK, that's good to know. Yes, I will take the machine when I do this and I will also try to document it.

Eemeli
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I installed version 20150518 today and that seems to have solved the issue with starting the computer. No matter how many times I tried, I could not get the extremely annoying "--MORE--Unknown key 0xff"-message to appear.

pizzaiolo
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Great! I'll remove that from the wiki page then.

tomlukeywood
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it might be a good idea to keep a message telling people if they have this problem to upgrade the to latest version

pizzaiolo
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Any other news from the front?

Also, I forgot to ask you about Bluetooth. Does it work?

Eemeli
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Bluetooth works. I'm trying it from a Trisquel 7 live usb.

My next project is to try to see how GuixSD will work on it. I'm in no hurry though :)

JadedCtrl
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GuixSD? I'd recommend waiting for a stable release.
It's a fine OS, but not quite good for a primary one, at least not yet.

vita_cell
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I have not that bug, only one time, my laptop boots fine at the first try.

Eemeli
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wrong post (how do you delete a message?)

tomlukeywood
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it would be a good feature to be-able to delete posts you made less than 2 mins ago

SuperTramp83

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you don't!

pizzaiolo
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So I created a wiki entry condensing all of the information on this thread: https://trisquel.info/en/wiki/macbook -- please feel free to improve it!

If it's not too much to ask Eemeli, it would be wonderful if you could update your kernel to the latest version to see if these issues persist. According to h-node, updating your kernel would fix the Touchpad issue, for instance.

Cheers!

Eemeli
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I updated to jxself's linux-libre32, version 4.0.0-gnu.pae. The touchpad seems to behave somewhat better. Two-finger scrolling used to be a very painful experience, but now it is acceptable. I would recommend using the latest kernel.

Eemeli
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One more thing: three-finger tapping still does not work.

pizzaiolo
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Thanks! I've updated the wiki page.

Besides the touchpad, was there any other change? Screen brightness, webcam, battery, heat, 3D?

Also, are there any issues with the built-in microphone?

Eemeli
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I did not notice a big difference in the brightness between 3.14 and 4.0. However now that I think about it, I'm pretty sure that it was an older version of libreboot that had problems with the screen. If the brightness is at minimum + 2, there's no problems now. At minimum it's too dark to read, and at minimum + 1 it flickers too much.

The built-in microphone works. Still no webcam in 4.0, and all other things seem like before, in particular Unity is still not working.

One more thing that came to my mind. For people flashing libreboot: I suggest that before you do that you write down your ethernet and wifi MAC-address somewhere safe, in case you want to keep these two. As I understood, if you flash the libreboot binary, then you will have the same MAC address as everybody who flashes that same binary. So in that sense I strongly suggest you compile from sources according to the instructions at the libreboot website. This is something that just popped to my mind, I could be wrong too...

pizzaiolo
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Fantastic! I've added your note to the wiki page.

GNUser
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Although that could be potentially good. It would make your computer a lot more private and hard to track if everyone shared the same MAC Address ;)
But yes, sometimes people need the real MAC so it's a good idea to save it.

jxself
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"It would make your computer a lot more private and hard to track if everyone shared the same MAC Address ;)"

It would make network access impossible. Any responsible network will shut down your access in the event of duplicate MAC addresses.

GNUser
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I know, but the idea is that we stop doing that. Just as an IP can't/shouldn't be used to identify a user, same way a MAC address can't/shouldn't.
Also, there is the very stupid (or very futuristic as someone called it) idea of build our own networks, that I suggested in a thread in the troll hole. That would not have a problem with MAC address :)

Eemeli
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After reading some more of the current Libreboot documentation I don't think that the flash chip will decide your MAC address. That seems to be the case only for the laptops having the Intel GM45 chipset. However I'm not sure. See here: http://libreboot.org/docs/hcl/gm45_remove_me.html#ich9gen

Anyway I'm waiting for someone to tell me if the address changed after flashing libreboot or not. Alternatively, if someone else has a librebooted macbook here then we could compare MAC-addresses by private message.

I'll modify the wiki after this issue has been cleared.

pizzaiolo
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Still waiting for Macbook to come all the way from Australia (to Brazil!)

lembas
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Love the intro disclaimer, good job!

SuperTramp83

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great work pizzaiolo! gonna translate it to Italian.

tdlnx

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That's awesome! Great entry I'll definitely be using it as a reference at some point in the future!

pizzaiolo
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This h-node entry recommends getting the latest Intel graphics drivers: https://h-node.org/notebooks/view/en/1135

Does anyone know if these drivers are fully free? Because if they were, wouldn't they be already in Linux-libre?

Link: https://01.org/linuxgraphics/

Eemeli
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I wouldn't keep my hopes up:

1) they keep talking about open source and open source installers
2) it is from Intel
3) I could not find source code for binary blobs that exist in their repositories

If I'm wrong please correct me.

tdlnx

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I got my Libre Boot MacBook Pro up and running (minus the small wireless dropout issue I mentioned in another thread) and thought you folks might like some pics! I got the sticker to cover the *pple logo from Zazzle. It covers the logo alright, but I made the sticker a little too big so the whole GNU doesn't glow, only his face :'(

IMG_3183.jpg IMG_3184.jpg IMG_3185.jpg
pizzaiolo
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It looks great!! I can't wait for mine to arrive :)

vita_cell
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Wow, nice sticker, nice GNUmac.