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#1 2013-06-27 19:49:10

Legogris
Member
Registered: 2012-09-11
Posts: 36

Macbook Air 2013

I just got myself a new Macbook Air 2013 and while I realized I couldn't expect the smoothest experience, I never expected this much hassle with it. So many differnet issues. No need to have a sad face about it, though - let's get together and figure out how to make this work! At least we only have one graphics chip to worry about this time around wink

This is going to be a pretty long post but I figured it's good to have it all in one place. Please correct me if you think this is the wrong way to post these things.

Installing and booting

Booting from a normal 2013.6 USB key works fine, but I couldn't seem to get either GRUB or Syslinux working.
I was able to boot by first installing Arch Linux following the Macbook guide at the wiki (having a separate FAT32 /boot partition). Skip the bootloader installation.
Installing rEFInd from OS X (important!) and installing the EFI stub loader made me able to boot fine.
Separate thread.

Stability problems

This is the big worry for me. Every now and then my system hangs for a brief moment and everything involving net or disk access just hangs there for a while and then it seems to work.
So far it only seems to happen when I run something disk- or CPU-intensive. Also had an occassion when I couldn't start X and just got this repeating all over my screen:

ata1.00: failed command: WRITE FPDMA QUEUED
ata1.00: cmd 61/08:f0:10:8c:c2/00:00:0b:00:00/40 tag 30 ncq 4096 out res 40/00:00:00:00:00/00:00:00:00:00/00 Emask 0x4 (timeout)
ata1.00: status: { DRDY }

On the next attempt it worked fine.
I did SMART short and long tests on my disk and they returned fine:
smartctl -a
There are some messages in my boot that indicate this could be disk and/or ACPI related.

journalctl -b
dmesg

This was on a boot when my NIC was renamed from eth0 to wlp3s0 as noted under Wifi - this should hopefully not be a big deal to fix. Will update when I look more into it.

uname -a:

Linux temperance 3.9.7-1-ARCH #1 SMP PREEMPT Thu Jun 20 22:45:32 CEST 2013 x86_64 GNU/Linux
WiFi

WiFi does not work out of the box. Installing wireless-bcm43142-dkms from AUR made me able to connect to my network. I haven't been able to get it stable yet -interface name changes randomly between wlp3s0 and eth0 between reboots and I get disconnected from my network every 30 minutes or so. Disconnects seem to correlate somewhat with the freezes mentioned above.
Separate thread.

Touchpad

Have only been able to get it to work like a one-button mouse using evdev for now. Looks like an upstream bug.
Separate thread

Audio

In order to get audio, I need to put the following in /etc/asound.conf:

defaults.pcm.card 1
defaults.pcm.device 0
defaults.ctl.card 1

I'm no ALSA pro, but I can only seem to get output from the headphone jack so far - no speakers yet.

Last edited by Legogris (2013-06-27 20:21:11)

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#2 2013-06-27 20:01:01

karol
Archivist
Registered: 2009-05-06
Posts: 25,423

Re: Macbook Air 2013

This should end up in the wiki.
You can easily edit wiki articles and discuss issues in the talk page.

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#3 2013-06-27 20:08:03

drcouzelis
Member
From: Connecticut, USA
Registered: 2009-11-09
Posts: 3,411
Website

Re: Macbook Air 2013

karol wrote:

This should end up in the wiki.

You (generally speaking) can add to it here: https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/MacBook

Last edited by drcouzelis (2013-06-27 20:08:27)

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#4 2013-06-27 20:10:26

Legogris
Member
Registered: 2012-09-11
Posts: 36

Re: Macbook Air 2013

karol wrote:

This should end up in the wiki.
You can easily edit wiki articles and discuss issues in the talk page.

Yeah, I was thinking about that but opted not to since I have more questions than answers here and thought this might be a good start of discussion. But I guess I might as well add it, on it now!

EDIT: Wiki page updated. Hope it will help someone and that more people will add on their experiences.

Last edited by Legogris (2013-06-27 20:21:58)

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#5 2013-06-27 20:40:14

karol
Archivist
Registered: 2009-05-06
Posts: 25,423

Re: Macbook Air 2013

drcouzelis wrote:
karol wrote:

This should end up in the wiki.

You (generally speaking) can add to it here: https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/MacBook

I saw there are a few articles like https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Ma … (Mid-2012) but if there's not much info, OP can add it to https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Ma … nformation

A thread on the forums doesn't hurt, there's nothing wrong with opening one or more (unless you're crossposting) e.g. https://bbs.archlinux.org/viewtopic.php?id=165854 :-)

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#6 2013-06-27 21:23:31

nacase
Member
Registered: 2013-06-25
Posts: 2

Re: Macbook Air 2013

I'm not using Arch, but I can add that I get the same ATA errors with Linux Mint 13.04.  That's the biggest problem by far for me.  WiFi also didn't work out of the box as you mentioned.

I haven't had much time to dig into the ATA errors yet.

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#7 2013-06-29 12:28:53

jnor
Member
Registered: 2012-03-21
Posts: 13

Re: Macbook Air 2013

Im waiting for some news on the stability issue before i dare to buy one

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#8 2013-07-02 10:36:34

yesbabyyes
Member
Registered: 2013-07-02
Posts: 1

Re: Macbook Air 2013

While I'm using Ubuntu and not Arch, I wanted to chip in with my experiences.

First, I am happy to tell you that I've found a fix for the ata errors/freezes (which for me were so bad I could hardly install) -- at least I think it's the same or related. I got udevd spitting errors about blkid timing out, and it couldn't find the disks. I found this in a Ubuntu forum -- sadly, I can't find the url now. Anyway, Pass

libata.force=1:noncq

to the linux kernel parameters (in Ubuntu you can add this to /etc/default/grub). This disables NCQ, which according to that post wasn't needed.

YMMV and I am not certain that it doesn't have bad side effects, but for me it made the laptop usable.

Other findings:

My Fn key, and thus delete, page up/down, media keys etc didn't work. That's because the keyboard has a new device id which isn't in usbhid. I added entries like the existing apple keyboards with the new device id (05ac:0291) and after recompiling, it works. I'm pretty sure this is fixable by passing the correct "quirks" flags to the usbhid module, e.g. "quirks=0x05ac:0x0291:0x00001248", but I'm not sure which flags should be set (I have an ISO keyboard layout which is yet another flag).

My sound card doesn't work. Or; i hear no sound at least ;-). After checking in alsamixer, it had two cards, one HDMI with S/PDIF only and one with analog in/out and digital in. I tried passing "index=1" to snd_hda_intel, which makes alsamixer pick up the right card by default. I'm not sure if the problem is that pulseaudio still has the wrong card, or something else.

My wifi works after installing bcmwl from Saucy (i.e. the upcoming Ubuntu 13.10 release), which was a relief because I feared this not being supported.

Sometimes after resuming from suspend, the screen is totally dark -- barely discernible in bright daylight. First I figured this was an issue with lightum (a daemon which monitors the lighting and adjusts keyboard and screen brightness), but after checking /sys/devices/pci0000\:00/0000\:00\:02.0/backlight/acpi_video0/brightness it turns out that when this happens, only the brightness levels 13, 14, and 15 (which is the brightest) have any brighness at all. 12 and under means no backlight. The only "fix" I've found so far is rebooting, which sucks. I hope this will get fixed (I will report a bug on Launchpad next time it happens).

Somewhere I picked up that passing

i915.i915_enable_rc6=1

to the linux parameters enables some great power saving features in the GPU. From modinfo:

i915_enable_rc6:Enable power-saving render C-state 6. Different stages can be selected via bitmask values (0 = disable; 1 = enable rc6; 2 = enable deep rc6; 4 = enable deepest rc6). For example, 3 would enable rc6 and deep rc6, and 7 would enable everything. default: -1 (use per-chip default) (int)

Oh, and if anybody knows how I get my GNU/Linux partition to show up in the Mac boot screen I would be grateful! Right now I have refit installed, which works but I would rather just use the built-in boot manager, which works on the predecessor (MBA 3,2).

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#9 2013-07-03 09:31:32

kokeroulis
Member
Registered: 2009-11-25
Posts: 7

Re: Macbook Air 2013

yesbabyyes wrote:

While I'm using Ubuntu and not Arch, I wanted to chip in with my experiences.

First, I am happy to tell you that I've found a fix for the ata errors/freezes (which for me were so bad I could hardly install) -- at least I think it's the same or related. I got udevd spitting errors about blkid timing out, and it couldn't find the disks. I found this in a Ubuntu forum -- sadly, I can't find the url now. Anyway, Pass

libata.force=1:noncq

to the linux kernel parameters (in Ubuntu you can add this to /etc/default/grub). This disables NCQ, which according to that post wasn't needed.

After a little googling, i have found that the error "WRITE FPDMA QUEUED", means that there is some hardware issues... Does this log exist on macos? If not, it would be better to open a bug report on upstream kernel... Some people had performance issues and very long boot time....
Since there is a good amount of people with mba 2013, I guess it might be possible for the kernel developers to fix that issue...

Oh, and if anybody knows how I get my GNU/Linux partition to show up in the Mac boot screen I would be grateful! Right now I have refit installed, which works but I would rather just use the built-in boot manager, which works on the predecessor (MBA 3,2).

I don't have a macbook to test if it works, but your don't need refit or refind... You just need to create a htfs+ partition (inside from macos), and inside to that partition to create the following stracture

|-- System
|   `-- Library
|       `-- CoreServices
|           |-- SystemVersion.plist
|           `-- boot.efi
`-- mach_kernel

After that bless that partition and you are done. smile

More info here

P.S. After adding libata.force=1:noncq to the grub, do you have any performance issues or high temperatures?

Last edited by kokeroulis (2013-07-03 09:35:18)

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#10 2013-08-06 13:15:36

w1ll1am
Member
Registered: 2013-04-07
Posts: 19

Re: Macbook Air 2013

I am considering getting a 2013 mba. Are there any updates on any of these issues? Is Arch stable enough to run as an everyday OS on this computer?

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#11 2013-08-07 12:45:51

wombat23
Member
Registered: 2011-01-14
Posts: 45

Re: Macbook Air 2013

I got a new MBA, too. Currently running Mac OS, but I'm already getting tired of missing basic OS functionality and the myriads of trial / app store software. anyone can relate? ;-)

one thing i noticed, the MBA doesn't ship with any OS install media. it seems a recovery setup is stored on a separate partition on the system disk. does anyone know if one can safely erase that partition? as far as i understand, it can do some kind of network boot and perform a netinstall. is that true? has anyone ever tried it?

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#12 2013-08-07 18:40:07

swaraj
Member
Registered: 2013-08-05
Posts: 35

Re: Macbook Air 2013

Hi Legogris, I'm having the same problems regarding my wifi. The only thing I've realised (after 2 new Arch installs) is that the broadcom-wl-dkms (it's a newer one) driver works when you install it, but immediately fails to connect to other APs after rebooting. Before I rebooted, my devices name was eth0, and now it's wlp3s0.
Basically, I'm facing the same problem as you. Have you found any fix yet?

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#13 2013-08-14 16:59:37

Cirdan
Member
Registered: 2006-03-18
Posts: 64

Re: Macbook Air 2013

swaraj wrote:

Hi Legogris, I'm having the same problems regarding my wifi. The only thing I've realised (after 2 new Arch installs) is that the broadcom-wl-dkms (it's a newer one) driver works when you install it, but immediately fails to connect to other APs after rebooting. Before I rebooted, my devices name was eth0, and now it's wlp3s0.
Basically, I'm facing the same problem as you. Have you found any fix yet?

Found this in the MBA WiFi thread:

WonderWoofy wrote:

If you are okay with it always being eth0, then you can simply create a blank file in /etc/udev/rules.d/80-net-slot-names.rules (or symlink it to /dev/null).  This will mask the rule of the same name in /usr/lib/udev/rules.d causing it to go back to the old kernel naming scheme.  Alternatively, you could create persistent naming for the device.


I'm also checking in to see if there are any updates...I'm kind of interested in buying an MBA, but will avoid if Linux compatibility is unstable.

Last edited by Cirdan (2013-08-14 17:00:04)

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#14 2013-08-14 18:38:29

WonderWoofy
Member
From: Los Gatos, CA
Registered: 2012-05-19
Posts: 8,412

Re: Macbook Air 2013

Macbook Airs tend to have really great Linux compatibility because they are nearly entirely Intel based.  There are a couple of exceptions of course, like the broadcom wireless chipsets that they use in the Airport Extreme cards.

But with the release of the new Airs for 2013, they have adopted the Intel Haswell processors.  This is actually a really good thing in terms of performance and particularly battery life.  But it also means that you are an early adopter.  Unlike windows, where compatibility with new processors are ensured before release, the Haswell support for Linux is still a work in progress.  Intel is really great in terms of providing open source drivers for their stuff, and they have been working on Haswell support for quite a while now.  That said, from initial reports of Haswell performance on Linux, although things seem to function just fine, the performance and power savings benefits still seem to be a work in progress.

So if you buy an Air now, it will likely be great.  But if you run into HW compatibility bumps in the road, then you are going to have to be willing to do some hardcore search engine work in order to find fixes.  Things will undoubtedly get better, and probably will do so at a pretty quick pace.  But you should know that you will be considered an "early adopter" to some degree.

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#15 2013-09-02 09:46:24

jnor
Member
Registered: 2012-03-21
Posts: 13

Re: Macbook Air 2013

Is anyone actually running a clean Arch install ? I want to buy a new MBA, but I'm concerned for the long term durability. Also people seem to have problems with Wireless.
I hate the Shark Bay specifications, why did Intel have to make every appealing laptop use touch displays.. Laptops != tablet

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#16 2013-09-10 14:42:04

hobarrera
Member
From: CABA, Argentina
Registered: 2011-04-12
Posts: 309
Website

Re: Macbook Air 2013

I purchased a 2013 MBA about a week ago.

I installed broadcom-wl-dkms, and have had no issues with the wireless network. So far I've used hidden, WPA2, and WPA2/802.1X networks.

These are the issues I have not been able to resolve yet:
* After closing the lid and reopening, the screen brightness is very low (as this thread describes; that's why I'm here!).
* The webcam won't work. It seems to be a PCI-E device, so don't expect that to change soon.
* I have no output sound. I haven't looked into this, and, while it may be trivial, I can't guarantee that sound will work.
* The Thunderbold->Ethernet cable needs to be plugged when booting or will not be detected.

I used rEFInd to boot straight to arch (it's an arch-only) install, and that worked fine. Configuration is ridiculously simple, so I'm glad I got rid of GRUB. Oh, I installed rEFInd from arch, onto a fat32 EFI Boot partition. No idea why everybody says "install from OS X".
I'll update the wiki on this last point when I get around to it.


GPG Key | AUR packages | github

caffeine-ng: Temporarily disable screensaver/sleeping with a simple click.

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#17 2013-09-10 16:51:55

WonderWoofy
Member
From: Los Gatos, CA
Registered: 2012-05-19
Posts: 8,412

Re: Macbook Air 2013

@hoberrera, the reason that people typically suggest putting rEFInd on the OSX partition is because Macs have tended to like it better when booting from an HFS+ partition.  Putting it on the ESP in the past has caused a delay for seemingly unknown reasons, though I am not sure if this is still the case.  Also, if you use the firmware boot manager with EFI, it would give you multiple entries for the Linux installation.  Again, I am not sure if this is still the case, but there were bugs that I knew about when I had my MacBook with Arch on it.  If you want the firmware boot manager to look nice and pretty, Matthew Garrett has documented a super minimal HFS+ filesystem structure that he determined would play nicely with Apple's EFI implementation.  I hunted it down for you here.

Thunderbolt is actually just a direct PCIe link.  So unless you have PCI hotplugging enabled and working, this is likely why the ethernet cable has to be plugged on boot. Greg HK (the kernel dev) has a short bit on his blog.  It mentions too that Apple's implementation of Thunderbolt is not to the Intel standard (surprised?), which means that there are likely going to be additional quirks in getting it going.  Who knows if there have been changes in this 2013 Air…

The rest I'm pretty clueless on.  But hopefully that info might be of use to you.

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#18 2013-09-11 05:23:59

Richjn
Member
From: Perth (Australia)
Registered: 2004-03-22
Posts: 32

Re: Macbook Air 2013

hobarrera wrote:

* I have no output sound. I haven't looked into this, and, while it may be trivial, I can't guarantee that sound will work.
.

The Alsa team are working on a patch HERE

Probably won't be long before it is shaken down and appears in a future kernel, till then just headphones work.

Richard

EDIT forgot tags

Last edited by Richjn (2013-09-11 05:28:21)

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#19 2013-09-12 06:47:57

hobarrera
Member
From: CABA, Argentina
Registered: 2011-04-12
Posts: 309
Website

Re: Macbook Air 2013

I'm really glad I spent no time trying to make my sound work then. I would have hit a wall, and someone else was already properly on track! big_smile
Oh, I did try the headphone output today, and that worked fine for me too (out-of-the-box, with stock PA).

Thanks, @WonderWoofy for the information, quite interesting. smile I wish I had know that a year ago while I fiddled with an older MBA. For the record, the 2013 model boots fine (and no delays) with rEFInd in a fat32 partition (ie: as it would on any other UEFI machine). smile

I don't think anything had changed on the Thunderbolt side, otherwise I expect that the cable would have worked when hot-plugging. Good think it's only for very ocassional situations.


GPG Key | AUR packages | github

caffeine-ng: Temporarily disable screensaver/sleeping with a simple click.

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#20 2013-09-13 05:44:35

neptuneK
Member
Registered: 2008-06-03
Posts: 32

Re: Macbook Air 2013

I also get this error after resuming from suspend:
[ 4816.454350] ata1: SATA link up 1.5 Gbps (SStatus 113 SControl 310)
[ 4816.454995] ata1.00: unexpected _GTF length (8)
[ 4816.455587] ata1.00: unexpected _GTF length (8)
[ 4816.455598] ata1.00: configured for UDMA/33
[ 4816.455697] ata1: EH complete
[ 4816.555824] ata1: exception Emask 0x10 SAct 0x0 SErr 0x10000 action 0xe frozen
[ 4816.555834] ata1: irq_stat 0x00400000, PHY RDY changed
[ 4816.555839] ata1: SError: { PHYRdyChg }
[ 4816.555850] ata1: hard resetting link

I tried reformatting my the partition (ext4), use the mount option "discard", and changed the default
IO scheduler to deadline, and use noncq in kernel parameters. Does anyone else have this issue ?

The message does not seem to reduce usability; but I don't know if it is killing the SSD.

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#21 2013-09-13 05:51:30

WonderWoofy
Member
From: Los Gatos, CA
Registered: 2012-05-19
Posts: 8,412

Re: Macbook Air 2013

@neptuneK, from that output it doesn't look like you are using a Macbook Air 2013…

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#22 2013-09-13 15:18:15

neptuneK
Member
Registered: 2008-06-03
Posts: 32

Re: Macbook Air 2013

I guess you're basing that on the "SATA link up" thing ? Yes I have no idea why that is being shown.
I can assure you that I am using a 2013 MBA though.

Last edited by neptuneK (2013-09-14 04:41:03)

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#23 2013-09-13 15:32:14

neptuneK
Member
Registered: 2008-06-03
Posts: 32

Re: Macbook Air 2013

Using Apple's -fancy- bootloader to chainload GRUB2 works like a charm:
http://glandium.org/blog/?p=2830

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#24 2013-09-13 15:51:44

neptuneK
Member
Registered: 2008-06-03
Posts: 32

Re: Macbook Air 2013

I ran smartctl on the SSD and it still seems to be using SATA (yes I'm still using 2013 MBA!).

And dmesg says something like:
[    0.000000] ACPI: SSDT 0000000082d7e000 0010B (v01 APPLE  SataAhci 00001000 INTL 20100915)
[    6.361282] ahci 0000:04:00.0: AHCI 0001.0000 32 slots 1 ports 6 Gbps 0x1 impl SATA mode

I thought the Macbook used a PCIe; does it somehow register itself as a SATA interface on the PCIe ?

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#25 2013-09-13 16:04:17

neptuneK
Member
Registered: 2008-06-03
Posts: 32

Re: Macbook Air 2013

The error that I mentioned seems to go away with the 3.11 kernel in testing.
Ignorance truly is bliss smile

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