Install report: MacBook

Fabio Massimo Di Nitto fabbione at
Sun Sep 23 02:22:27 BST 2007

Hi guys,

I recently got my hands on a MacBook and dedicated it to do test installs.

For the first installation I followed the different docs I found on several
wiki's and found out that most of them are out dated.

So this is a list of findings:

- using alternate CD did corrupt the screen after running xresprobe. The
installation will complete successfully and it's just a matter of not being able
to read exactly what is going on. Resolution was not detected properly. (*)

- using the desktop CD has been problematic recently and it will require another
round of testing. Resolution was detected properly with Tribe 5 (or there about)
but not recently (I suspect this to be a side effect of the unionfs issues - not
critical). (*)

- bootloader: if you plan to use only Ubuntu on this machine, scratch from the
wiki all that bootcamp/refit stuff. It's not required at all. Grub will work
just fine (*)

- audio: the control of the speakers is strange but i am no alsa expert and
would appreciate somebody to help me digging into it to prepare a sensible and
useful bug report (basically the master volume seems to control the high tones
and the pcm control the low/mid tones of the speakers).

- touchpad: it is detected by X and it works, but the default settings are
horrible (for me at least). The ubuntu wiki has a very long config section on
how to make it behave almost in a decent way but touchpad, like mouse and other
bits, are really a matter of personal taste on how they work.

- keyboard layout: I used the typical Danish - Mac layout and the usual pc105
but i am still unable to find a bunch of keys like | or { } or [ ]. It looks
like the layout we have is pretty much PPC only. If there is any expert in the
area I will be glad to help out, but last time I looked at layouts was 3 years
ago and lost the touch.

- iSight web cam is now supported by the default gutsy kernel but a firmware is
still required to make it work out of the box. AFAIK it is not possible for us
to redistribute the firmware so users will have to install it manually (**).

- ekiga lacks a very simple web cam setting (very low priority wishlist) LP #137453.

- wireless network: I was not able to get it working with mad wifi (I used a SVN
snapshot). The card is recognized, it can associate, but no traffic is going
(tho ifconfig counters are updated). The only workaround was to use ndiswrapper

(*) During several runs I noticed a very strange problem that some wiki/google
search report as an issue between the EFI loader and grub/syslinux. Basically
you often will not be able to use the keyboard at that stage. In some cases is
ok (like using the desktop CD that has a boot timeout), in others (like
alternate or recovery) it will just block you from doing any operation.

(**) An idea for Hardy would be have some kind of nice UI that can actually tell
users that "some modules that have been loaded during the boot are lacking a
firmware". It wouldn't be too complex to create a match between module name and
firmware name at kernel build time. The UI could use this mini db to check if
that specific module is loaded and if the firmware is available in usual place.
Suggestions can be made to the users at login time on how to address the issue.
Advanced idea would be to be able to automatically fetch those firmware and
install them on user requests (where possible of course).
Also a reload of the module after installing the firmware would make the hw
working immediately (<- nice user experience).


I'm going to make him an offer he can't refuse.

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