Sunday, February 15, 2015

Ubuntu 14.10 on Macbook Pro Retina

After playing around with Fedora 21 a bit, and having some problem with the Macbook running slightly hot, I decided to try Ubuntu 14.10, as there are a lot more users and hence more useful web pages for a newbie.

Installation was pretty straight forward:
  1. Follow the guide provided for Ubuntu.
  2. Under the guide's step 2.3, the bluetooth thing didn't work for me with an iPhone 4. Easier just to connect a Thunderbolt Ethernet adaptor (at boot time), and load WiFi drivers over a wired connection.
  3. Under Step 2.1, I found a scale factor of 1.5 to be better.
  4. Under Step 2.5, note that the --calibrate function causes the screen to blank repeatedly, and takes several minutes. This is normal, just let it run through and finish.
  5. Under Step 2.6, I found the trackpad worked fine without doing any of this.
  6. After installation GRUB does not show OS X as a boot option, despite following the instructions in the guide. I found this worked (adapted from this askubuntu post):
menuentry "OS X" {
   insmod hfsplus
   set root='(hd1,gpt2)'
   chainloader /System/Library/CoreServices/boot.efi
Cooling fan - The machine runs a little hot, so I installed macfanctld and set minimum fan speed to 2500, temp_avg_floor to 40 and temp_avg_ceiling to 45.

WiFi after suspend doesn't returned, fixed using this code.

Apple Thunderbolt Display - This was a bit tricky, because Ubuntu 14.10 uses Linux kernel 3.16, which does not support Thunderbolt, whilst the Macbook Pro Retina wireless card needs the bcmwl-kernel-source code, which expects a 3.16 kernel.  So:
  1. Update kernel to 3.18, following the instructions here.
  2. Manually install the 3.18-compatible wireless drivers, following instructions here, which are for 3.17, but seem to work fine.
After this, all was great, with even my Focusrite ADDAC working fine.
Apple wireless keyboard and trackpad - Although the bluetooth setup menu bar (top right) is a little flakey under Ubuntu, it does work and (unlike Fedora 21) it reconnects at logon as long as you turn them on. The keyboard doesn't work with the GRUB boot menu, so I set the timeout for the default on GRUB to 2s to speed up boot times.

  1. LaTeX: TeXStudio looks great, much better than OS X TeXShop. 
  2. R: works fine, using the install instructions on CRAN. RStudio also works.
  3. Libre Office: Already installed and fine for occasional GUI office work.
  4. Firefox: Already installed, and works fine. 
  5. iTunes replacement: RhythmBox is pre-installed and looks good.


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