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#1 2015-04-10 23:58:27

aadithya
Member
From: Berkeley, CA
Registered: 2015-04-10
Posts: 1
Website

Installing and running Arch linux on the new MacBook 2015

So Apple has just started taking orders for the new 2015 MacBook. You know --
the thinnest and lightest MacBook to date (even thinner than the MacBook Air),
with a 12 inch retina display, the Intel Core M processor, a single USB-C port,
and the new force touch trackpad.

I'm pretty sure there are a few people like me who'd like to buy this new
MacBook and then install and run Arch (or some other flavor of linux) on it.
But of course, this MacBook is in many ways very dissimilar to previous MacBook
Pros and MacBook Airs. So this thread is a shout out to likeminded individuals
who are willing to brave the odds and install Linux on this new machine, so we
can help each other figure out (and hopefully fix) the inevitable issues that
will arise when we venture into this uncharted territory!

I have a little bit of experience installing and running Arch on MacBook Pros
and other Apple computers, but I'm (very) far from being an expert. But based
on my limited experience, I think the following areas will pose the biggest
challenges to getting Linux properly up and running on the new MacBook:

1. Installation: it's possible that booting a live USB will fail. So we might
   have to use a CD. Indeed, perhaps we may even have to build a special ISO
   image for this laptop. And once the install is complete, EFI/EFISTUB booting
   with/without refit/refind may or may not work. Also, installing a bootloader
   (grub, gummiboot, etc.) for dual booting Mac OS X and Linux may be a
   challenge. We might have to endure kernel panics and deal with cryptic error
   messages while booting.

2. Wifi may or may not work reliably. We might have to do some tinkering with
   different drivers, etc.

3. Battery life may not be very good. We might have to fix a few things here.

4. The HiDPI retina display may or may not work properly with specific window
   managers/desktop environments. Fonts/icons might be too tiny, may not scale,
   etc.

5. The new Force touch trackpad may not work out of the box. In fact, I'm
   fairly sure the regular xf86-input-synaptics package won't play nice with
   this trackpad. There may not be support for features like the trackpad's
   haptic feedback, multi-finger gestures, pressure sensitivity, etc. Indeed,
   this might actually take a while to get properly working under Linux.

6. I don't know if the new USB-C port will work out of the box. It may not
   play nice with USB flash drives and other peripherals and there may be
   issues with ehci/uhci/whatever.

I tried Googling around trying to learn as much as I could about the issues
above, but since the laptop is going on sale only today and most users are
probably not interested in running Linux on it, I came up quite empty. I think
many others on this forum might also have faced the same issue.

So here's an open invitation. Let's share our experiences trying to get linux
working on this laptop. If you buy this laptop and try to install Arch on
it, please let us know how it went! Even if some things work out of the box, it
might be useful for others to know, so please share.

And of course, if you have more information/gotchas: for example, if you
encountered and managed to fix one or more of the issues above, or you
encountered a problem that's not on the list above, or even if you tried
something and it didn't work out as expected, please post below. I'm sure this
will be a very big help to others trying to solve similar issues on the same
hardware. Thanks!

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#2 2015-04-10 23:59:50

jasonwryan
Anarchist
From: .nz
Registered: 2009-05-09
Posts: 29,068
Website

Re: Installing and running Arch linux on the new MacBook 2015

Moving to Laptop Issues...


Arch + dwm   •   Mercurial repos  •   Surfraw

Registered Linux User #482438

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#3 2015-05-01 22:01:56

FS1RTG77
Member
Registered: 2015-05-01
Posts: 1

Re: Installing and running Arch linux on the new MacBook 2015

These are my results, addressing the points that aadithya has raised:

  • 1. A 2015.05.01.iso dd'd to a USB stick will boot from the Option menu, without need for rEFInd. However...

  • 2. Broadcom BCM4360 AirPort Extreme, not supported.

  • (3 was not investigated.)

  • 4. The HiDPI retina display appears to work, tested with Unity shell on Ubuntu 15.04. Arch desktops not yet tested.

  • 5. The new Force touch trackpad and keyboard, both SPI bus devices, do not work.

  • 6.The new USB-C port works with flash drives, keyboards, ethernet and hubs.

Last edited by FS1RTG77 (2015-05-02 05:34:32)

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#4 2015-05-06 09:53:21

Knasher
Member
Registered: 2013-10-09
Posts: 12

Re: Installing and running Arch linux on the new MacBook 2015

It would probably be beneficial to post the output of lsusb -vvvv and dmesg. 

FS1RTG77 wrote:
  • 2. Broadcom BCM4360 AirPort Extreme, not supported.

  • 5. The new Force touch trackpad and keyboard, both SPI bus devices, do not work.

On 2, it may just be a case of needing firmware, my laptop has a BCM43602 card, and the firmware required has only just been added to the linux-firmware package.  Prior to that I had to install it manually.
On 5, I'm wondering if you identified them as SPI devices by looking in OS X, I ask because my laptop categorises my keyboard and trackpad in the same way.  But they are actually still both connected to the USB bus, and presumably using SPI as an interconnect between the keyboard/trackpad and the microcontroller that tie them together.

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#5 2015-06-24 12:38:26

lucysan
Member
Registered: 2015-06-24
Posts: 1

Re: Installing and running Arch linux on the new MacBook 2015

I can confirm that keyboard and touchpad does not work in Macbook 12" 2015, both in Arch and Xubuntu. What is interesting that keyboard works in GRUB, but not in Linux.
Has anyone got it working?

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#6 2015-06-24 14:55:18

Spider.007
Member
Registered: 2004-06-20
Posts: 1,173

Re: Installing and running Arch linux on the new MacBook 2015

lucysan wrote:

I can confirm that keyboard and touchpad does not work in Macbook 12" 2015, both in Arch and Xubuntu. What is interesting that keyboard works in GRUB, but not in Linux.
Has anyone got it working?

Connect an external keyboard via usb and tell us what dmesg, lspci & lsusb output

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#7 2015-07-03 03:04:08

mrgiraffe
Member
Registered: 2015-07-03
Posts: 1

Re: Installing and running Arch linux on the new MacBook 2015

This thread has a lot of information on the issue, but no resolution:
https://forums.opensuse.org/showthread. … na-MacBook

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#8 2015-07-28 14:59:50

lucup
Member
Registered: 2015-07-28
Posts: 1

Re: Installing and running Arch linux on the new MacBook 2015

I have booted my MacBook 2015, 12'' with:
- Fedora-Live-MATE_Compiz-x86_64-22-3.iso
- Debian-8.1.0-amd64-DVD-1.iso
- Ubuntu-14.04.2-desktop-amd64.iso
The keyboard and touch-pad do not work at all. :-(

I will check some other distributions...

Regards,

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#9 2015-07-31 14:26:32

sml
Member
Registered: 2005-05-21
Posts: 89

Re: Installing and running Arch linux on the new MacBook 2015

lucup wrote:

I will check some other distributions...

suggest you try some new distributions ...

maybe 15.10 alpha 2
http://distrowatch.gdsw.at/?newsid=09033

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#10 2015-07-31 20:55:46

rockinchado
Member
Registered: 2007-07-11
Posts: 10

Re: Installing and running Arch linux on the new MacBook 2015

This kernel commit seems promising for getting the keyboard/touchpad to work.

http://git.kernel.org/cgit/linux/kernel … 29068b7efd

Notably, the device id for the keyboard that was added

#define USB_DEVICE_ID_APPLE_WELLSPRING9_ANSI	0x0272

matches the dump from the openSUSE forum.

Apple Internal Keyboard / Trackpad:
  Product ID:    0x0272
  Vendor ID:    0x05ac (Apple Inc.)

Recompiling and loading the latest kernel snapshot might yield some improvements.

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#11 2015-08-18 22:18:53

john_morton
Member
Registered: 2015-08-18
Posts: 4

Re: Installing and running Arch linux on the new MacBook 2015

My apologies for not running Arch but I hope you'll forgive me as there's not many other places on the Internet tracking Linux installation on the 2015 MacBook (Retina) far as I'm aware.

I thought I'd just chime in mention that I've just tried installing a 'daily' Ubuntu GNOME; 'Wily Werewolf' (15.10 x64, 20150814) with kernel 4.2rc6 as well as the release version of Ubuntu GNOME 'Vivid Vervet' (15.04 x64) in conjunction with kernel 4.2rc6 and 4.2rc7 but none of these combinations (to the best of my knowledge) have out-of-the-box driver support for the trackpad and/or keyboard as I was hoping.

It's entirely possible I've overlooked some module which may need loading etc so I'd welcome any suggestions to this effect (I've tried a couple but to no avail). Further, I'm equally happy posting (or emailing) any kernel/syslogs (or other diagnostics) should anyone want them.

John

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#12 2015-08-19 10:42:36

john_morton
Member
Registered: 2015-08-18
Posts: 4

Re: Installing and running Arch linux on the new MacBook 2015

Further to my last post I've also compiled a custom 4.2rc7 kernel which I believe includes the patch that 'rockinchado' previously pointed to for the trackpad etc (https://github.com/torvalds/linux/commi … 29068b7efd).

Unfortunately, it hasn't had any noticeable effect - although, I would welcome other peoples comments having tried this themselves (as I might not be loading modules correctly etc). I'm out of ideas - anyone else?

John

Last edited by john_morton (2015-08-19 10:43:39)

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#13 2015-08-22 12:39:25

JulianNymark
Member
From: Norway
Registered: 2010-11-25
Posts: 18
Website

Re: Installing and running Arch linux on the new MacBook 2015

tl;dr
  • here is an attempt at making a bootable ISO with a checked out kernel version

  • Don't copy paste the commands, they don't work as they are now (they are more 'reminders' than anything)

  • I couldn't actually get it to work. I ended up with an ISO that didn't even show up in the mac boot menu... so... YMMV! tongue
    So I want someone who's got more experience in doing this stuff to make this work tongue.

  • It's a hodgepodge of info from https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Re … nstall_ISO, and https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Ke … ild_System, and the README from the kernel git repository, and maybe some other sources I can't think of

  • the ordering of stuff might be wrong, it's got errors... etc!

random info
  • Macbook (Retina, 12-inch, Early 2015)

  • Processor 1.2GHz Intel Core M

  • Memory 8GB 1600MHz DDR3

  • Startup Disk Macintosh HD

  • Graphics Intel HD Graphics 5300 1536 MB

  • Display 12 inch (2305 x 1440)

  • Broadcom BCM43xx 1.0 (7.15.166.24.3)

  • SSD ap0512h

  • keyboard 
      - SPI Product Name = "Apple Internal Keyboard / Trackpad"
      - idProduct = 0x272
      - idVendor = 0x5ac (apple)

other notes
  • - needs kernel v4.2-rc7
    - requires some built-in driver update (not modules)
    - keyboard / force touch supported in v4.2-rc7 (presumably, needs confirmation)
    - when I booted using the current latest ISO (archlinux-2015.08.01-dual.iso) + external keyboard... I couldn't even find the macs SSD disk? (using lsblk, blkid or fdisk), this also needs confirmation tongue

compile kernel
  1. clone the repo

     git clone https://github.com/torvalds/linux.git 
  2. checkout the relevant tag

     git checkout v4.2-rc7 
  3. make a build directory somewhere

  4. copy config from running system (or do something else from the makefile or sumth)

     zcat /proc/config.gz > .config 
  5. start to make stuff (-j for speed):

     make O=/home/name/build/kernel -j5 
     sudo make O=/home/name/build/kernel modules_install install 

    or maybe it's ok with just this:

     # make O=/home/name/build/kernel modules_install 
  6. should now have compiled & compressed kernel images in:

     ./arch/x86_64/boot/bzImage 
  7. make modules as well:

     $ make 0=/home/name/build/kernel modules -j5 
  8. you should now have compiled modules in:

     /lib/modules/arch 
mount & chroot into bootable iso (work on a copy)
  1. copy from either livecd / bootable usb iso, or from anywhere
       - to copy from usb:

     # mount /dev/yourdisk somewhere 
     $ cp -a somewhere somewhereelse 
  2. cd to where the squashed fs is:

     $ cd ~/customiso/arch/x86_64 
  3. unsquash it:

     $ unsquashfs airootfs.sfs 
  4. mount the root filesystem:

     $ mkdir mnt 
     # mount -o loop squashfs-root/airootfs.img mnt 
  5. chroot into it

     # arch-chroot mnt /bin/bash 
  6. pacman and updates

     (chroot) # pacman-key --init 
     (chroot) # pacman-key --populate archlinux 
     (chroot) # pacman -Syu --force archiso linux 
     (chroot) # nano /etc/mkinitcpio.conf 
  7. change HOOKS="..." to:

     HOOKS="base udev memdisk archiso_shutdown archiso archiso_loop_mnt archiso_pxe_common
       archiso_pxe_nbd archiso_pxe_http archiso_pxe_nfs archiso_kms block pcmcia filesystems keyboard" 
  8. create a list of all installed packages, clean the pacman cache:

     (chroot) # LANG=C pacman -Sl | awk '/\[installed\]$/ {print $1 "/" $2 "-" $3}' > /pkglist.txt 
     (chroot) # pacman -Scc 
  9. paste the fresh kernel from earlier into the iso filesystem (vmlinuz == bzImage):

     # _ cp arch/x86_64/boot/bzImage ~/notsotemp/maciso/arch/x86_64/mnt/boot/vmlinuz-linux 
  10. get the modules as well:

     # cp /lib/modules/4.2.0-rc7-ARCH ~/notsotemp/maciso/arch/x86_64/mnt/lib/modules/ -r 
  11. since we updated the kernel, copy it over to the system:

     $ cp mnt/boot/vmlinuz-linux ~/customiso/arch/boot/x86_64/vmlinuz 
  12. create the initramfs:

     (chroot) # mkinitcpio -k 4.2.0-rc7-ARCH -c /etc/mkinitcpio.conf -g /boot/initramfs-linux.img 
     (chroot) # exit 
  13. now copy over the initramfs:

     $ cp mnt/boot/initramfs-linux.img ~/customiso/arch/boot/x86_64/archiso.img 
  14. move the list of packages:

     # mv mnt/pkglist.txt ~/customiso/arch/pkglist.x86_64.txt 
  15. Now unmount the root filesystem and recreate airootfs.sfs:

     # umount mnt 
     $ rm airootfs.sfs 
     $ mksquashfs squashfs-root airootfs.sfs 
  16. Cleanup (don't do this until shit works i guess, just gonna have to do it again):

     $ rmdir mnt 
     # rm -r squashfs-root 
  17. Now update the MD5 checksum of airootfs.sfs:

     $ md5sum airootfs.sfs > airootfs.md5 
  18. create ISO image:

     $ genisoimage -l -r -J -V "ARCH_201209" -b isolinux/isolinux.bin -no-emul-boot
        \-boot-load-size 4 -boot-info-table -c isolinux/boot.cat -o ~/arch-custom.iso ~/customiso 

Last edited by JulianNymark (2015-08-22 12:44:40)


When there is nothing left to do. Do nothing.

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#14 2015-09-17 23:15:43

john_morton
Member
Registered: 2015-08-18
Posts: 4

Re: Installing and running Arch linux on the new MacBook 2015

Just a quick update... As far as I can tell (which is not to confirm either way or the other) - after having just installed kernel 4.3RC1 (admittedly on my Ubuntu-based system); there doesn't appear to have been any changes which have enabled the track-pad, keyboard or visibility of the disk. You may want to try this yourself within an Arch environment but it's still looking like this is a fringe use-case and not getting any attention.

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#15 2015-09-28 16:41:22

john_morton
Member
Registered: 2015-08-18
Posts: 4

Re: Installing and running Arch linux on the new MacBook 2015

You guys might be interested in the following: https://forums.opensuse.org/showthre...57#post2729857

Cheers,

John

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#16 2015-10-04 21:13:36

noobermin
Member
Registered: 2015-10-04
Posts: 1

Re: Installing and running Arch linux on the new MacBook 2015

Hello all. I'm a gentoo user trying to install linux of any kind on the new macbook as well. For me, the keyboard and mouse are not as big a priority as getting access to the disk drive.

Looking here http://lists.infradead.org/pipermail/li … 02268.html and previous mails, it seems that some people have tried to use linux's nvme driver on the disk drive with no success. The specific linked mail seems to suggest that the drive may not use nvme at all, it may just be a proprietary interface. Really, all information anyone has so far on this drive are press releases...so it's definitely possible. I contacted one of the people in the thread a few weeks ago (two or so) and they told me they haven't made progress on it since.

I'm a busy guy, but, with free time permitting, I might try to contact Apple directly and ask them if they can help. It seems like no one has tried to do this yet...I mean the worse they could say is no (which yes, is pretty bad). If anyone has tried to, it'd be nice to know what they said.

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#17 2016-02-10 03:40:44

JulianNymark
Member
From: Norway
Registered: 2010-11-25
Posts: 18
Website

Re: Installing and running Arch linux on the new MacBook 2015

Just thought i'd post an update to this thread (I presume it's not dead yet!)

The disk is now visible as an NVMe disk since kernel 4.3.something? so if you make a bootable image using archiso with the latest kernel (currently 4.4.1-2), you'll be able to install your stuff on the macbook 8,1 big_smile (assuming an external keyboard)

Keyboard and touchpad is a different matter.


When there is nothing left to do. Do nothing.

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#18 2016-08-27 17:01:36

vesto
Member
Registered: 2015-12-03
Posts: 1

Re: Installing and running Arch linux on the new MacBook 2015

Has anyone had any more luck with the keyboard/trackpad issues? I've been tempted to install linux on my rMB but by the looks of it I would be entering a very dangerous territory (even more so than installing linux on a regular rMBP, haha).

Keep fighting the brave fight, everyone!

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#19 2016-08-27 21:50:42

JulianNymark
Member
From: Norway
Registered: 2010-11-25
Posts: 18
Website

Re: Installing and running Arch linux on the new MacBook 2015

@vesto

Just tested with Current Release: 2016.08.01, and can confirm it doesn't work still yikes, will test again in 5 days x)

I wouldn't recommend installing anything other than osx on it for now (unless you have / use an external keyboard with it)... so i guess keep on VM'ing


When there is nothing left to do. Do nothing.

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