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Displays Apple Linux Hardware

Linux Is a Lemon On the Retina MacBook Pro 780

An anonymous reader writes "It turns out that Linux doesn't work too well on the Apple Retina MacBook Pro. Among the problems are needing special boot parameters to simply boot the Linux kernel, graphics drivers not working, no hybrid graphics support, WiFi requiring special firmware, Thunderbolt troubles, GNOME/Unity/KDE not being optimized for retina displays, and other snafus, including 20% greater power consumption with Linux over OS X. According to Michael Larabel, it will likely not be until early next year when most of the problems are ironed out for a clean 'out of the box' Linux experience on the Retina MacBook Pro."
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Linux Is a Lemon On the Retina MacBook Pro

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 16, 2012 @02:32PM (#41014343)

    You spent $3000 on a laptop to run linux. You are a strange person.

  • Re:Linux on Mac?! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by erp_consultant ( 2614861 ) on Thursday August 16, 2012 @02:33PM (#41014351)
    Actually I installed a dual boot of OSX and Ubuntu on my later model iMac. Not only does Ubuntu run flawlessly it's really fast. I was surprised to see that everything worked right out of the box, including the webcam, sound and wifi. Sometimes I have to test my software on a native Linux distribution so it helps to have the dual boot option. Sure I could run it in a VM but this is a bit more of a pure solution.
  • Re:Hardly newsworthy (Score:4, Interesting)

    by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Thursday August 16, 2012 @02:37PM (#41014425) Homepage

    On PC hardware, it has been running a LOT better than before. That said, it's still essentially true -- nothing works out of the box unless it is like 3+ years old.

    With all that said, Apple goes out of its was to "think different" so that its hardware is more exclusive and more likely to be running Mac OS X... but only Mac OS X version 10."latest" because they are dropping support for hardware older than X years. (Where X is a number between 2 and 5) So anyone with ideas of installing anything other than pure Apple Mac OS X on it will be faced with some challenges.

  • Re:Linux on Mac?! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by hobarrera ( 2008506 ) on Thursday August 16, 2012 @02:51PM (#41014665) Homepage

    Why not? It's the only notebook with a display capable of 2,880×1,800, so if you want a notebook with a resolution higher than 1080p, its your only choice.

    The hardware specs of a Macbook Pro "Retina" are quite unique, so there's plenty of other reasons you'd want this particular model just for hardware.

    Where I live, a Macbook Air is the only choice for something similar to an "ultrabook". Everything else weighs twice as much, and includes crap I don't want, like huge HDDs or optical drives. So even if I dislike Apple's software, their hardware is really the only choice for me.

  • by SplashMyBandit ( 1543257 ) on Thursday August 16, 2012 @02:55PM (#41014717)

    Apple currently has the high resolution screens. Too bad you can only get 1GB of video RAM on the MacBook Pros though. What is the point of having such a high resolution screen if you run out of VRAM for textures etc? I'm thinking about a Retina Mac to replace my existing Mac but at the lack of video ramm is putting me off.

    Why does this matter? Because I'm developing a cross-platform OpenGL flight simulator and I would like to have plenty of Video Ram to go around (many flight sim gamers have very high end Windows rigs with 2-4GB of Video RAM, and this is my target [TBH, I don't care about those who want to game on less capable hardware - profit limiting I know, but I'm writing the sim for myself first and foremost and I have great hardware that is poorly utilized by many mainstream games]).

    So, my point is while Apple has a lovely display resolution that will probably soon be matched by others. Other laptop manufacturers (eg. HP) produce machines with 2 GB of Video RAM, which is unlikely to be matched by Apple (none of their latops have more than 1 GB of RAM, Apple don't seem to be interested in trely powerful users of laptops - I guess that's what they have the Mac Pro for - but it doesn't help folks like me).

  • Re:Hardly newsworthy (Score:2, Interesting)

    by l3v1 ( 787564 ) on Thursday August 16, 2012 @02:56PM (#41014729)
    "so they modified their OS to handle the new technology"

    Oh, so that's why you have to use 3rd party "hacks" to enable native 2880x1800... handling it indeed.
  • Re:Linux on Mac?! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 16, 2012 @02:58PM (#41014771)

    Say what you will about Apple, they are the trend setters. Think about the ultralight laptops, tablets, etc. Other vendors chase them. So you might just get your Lenovo with a nicer display now that Apple fielded these.

  • Re:Translation (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jbolden ( 176878 ) on Thursday August 16, 2012 @03:06PM (#41014879) Homepage

    It would be nice if Apple contributed to Linux.

    They do. Their most notable contribution was all the work on the PPC version of gcc which is the reason Linux runs so well on XBox.

    Most of their major open source projects do run on Linux today though: []

  • Re:Linux on Mac?! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by h4rr4r ( 612664 ) on Thursday August 16, 2012 @03:15PM (#41015025)

    If you like having middle click copy past, functional number pad in vim, or focus follows mouse OSX is not the right choice.

    I tried to use it, I paid for software to enable focus follows mouse. I tried to find a decent terminal app, I tried to find replacements for all I needed. OSX is just really meant to be for one kind fo user and that is not me.

  • Mistaken Claims (Score:4, Interesting)

    by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Thursday August 16, 2012 @03:15PM (#41015047)

    whatever comes after (HouseCat?) will probably be more IOS-likeâ"i.e., sucky on a laptop.

    People have been saying that for years, even though Apple has repeatedly said that a desktop OS is different than a mobile device OS and held to that statement through a number of OS releases.

    Meanwhile Microsoft is the only company that has gone ahead and said "no, both platforms should run the same OS".

    You can always install Linux later IF Apple turns that way as well.

  • Re:Mistaken Claims (Score:4, Interesting)

    by aztracker1 ( 702135 ) on Thursday August 16, 2012 @03:22PM (#41015133) Homepage
    After a week with Mountain Lion, I'm actually leaning that way for my Macbook Pro next OS release... It was somewhat of a painful experience for me, doing a relatively clean install, then getting the core apps I want installed. I do a lot of my actual work in VMs, and the host OS is really starting to cramp my style so to speak.
  • Re:Linux on Mac?! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by aztracker1 ( 702135 ) on Thursday August 16, 2012 @03:27PM (#41015215) Homepage
    For me the largest frustration, is the number of applications *only* available via the MacStore, and how cumbersome the MacStore is itself. Not to mention, the default setting for 10.8 (Mountain Lion) was to only allow app installs from "known" developers on the MacStore. The first few apps I installed were non-mac-store apps, and the new sandbox doesn't work for many developer oriented apps. One of the reasons I went mac for a laptop was relatively seamless software options, and it's less so imho now than before. Homebrew/MacPorts goes a long way, but just the same, at this point would nearly rather be on Mint/Debian/Ubuntu. If the next OSX release is *any* worse, I'm definitely going Linux.
  • Re:Linux on Mac?! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by h4rr4r ( 612664 ) on Thursday August 16, 2012 @03:35PM (#41015351)

    Lots of software is actually not available, what is I have to compile myself.

    OSX has more pay for software, far less FREE software. I mostly use FREE software.

    OSX was commercial UNIX, it is not now. Not that it being commercial UNIX is something I care about.

    Here are my major issues:

    Lack of configurability.

    Lack of Focus Follows Mouse. Zoom2 fixes that mostly.

    Lack of middle click paste.

    Breaks numpad for vim.

    All the command line flags are BSD style instead of the GNU way I know and love.

    Bad multimonitor support. Does not use one wallpaper nor do the menu bars appear on both monitors.

    Print screen does not work, instead you get some sort of 4 key combo. That sure is intuitive!

    The OS comes with nothing, windows does this too. I would much rather have a compiler and tools installed out of the box that itunes. Would take up less space too.

    Asking anything on an OSX forum gets you "Why would do try to do that? It is not the one true way THE JOBS has given us!"

    The biggest issue is really the lack of configuration options. Most of this stuff should be a checkbox but is not.

  • Re:Proof at last! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Sir_Sri ( 199544 ) on Thursday August 16, 2012 @05:36PM (#41017099)

    You just don't care that you have to download Windows drivers for hardware because its normal to you

    Which kind of takes away the advantage of support out of the box.

    This is one of those points where it's only the marginal cases that matter. Whether I need to download drivers to reach the full potential of my video card or they come pre installed is of minimal importance, because there are only basically 3 video card makers and I either can find them easily, or I need someone else to manage my computer for me no matter what, because I can't find, click the drivers, GPU drivers, then auto detect buttons, I'm not capable of managing my own computer, windows or linux.

    On the other hand, if I have some bizarro SATA controller on my MOBO or a video card from SIS or matrox or one of the other boutique guys or some other random weird crap on my computer I'm still probably going to have to find drivers for something, and it's a pain in the arse because you may have to navigate some taiwanese website looking for some numbers in the hopes that they will point you to the right driver. And that's about equally bad for both linux and windows, assuming you can find drivers at all, and assuming they would do anything on linux if you needed them.

    Which takes us to why Linux doesn't work on a retina macbook. The APIC intel mobo thing seems like that's actually a linux bug, whatever they happen, I'm not going to rail on the Linux dev guys about it. But the rest of it seems to be all the marginal case stuff, some custom apple thunderbolt part that you need to get working so you can transfer over files to support some other custom apple part (or at least very new part that is currently only supported by apple). No one ever seriously thought a 2880x 1800 display was going to exist (same ratios at 1440x900 but 4x the pixels), so it works like shit, the wifi is probably some custom part, so it doesn't work, the GPU switching thing is relatively new, so it's hard to say if that's a newness problem or a custom Apple way of GPU switching problem. For windows you're stuck waiting for Apple to release a driver kit (although the retina display thing can be solved through nvidia's website), and everything else is about as bad as linux. In both cases you're waiting on someone else to solve the problem for you as an end user. On linux you're waiting for someone to basically reverse engineer the parts, on Windows you're waiting for Apple to release a boot camp disk or money to change hands and Microsoft to write their own.

    So sure, Linux has more support out of the box, but if it doesn't support the marginal case stuff that's hard for me to find fixes for then it's not getting me a whole lot over windows (at least in terms of driver support). As is well exemplified by the macbook retina display, which is basically a series of edge cases linux doesn't support yet, and neither does microsoft. That's probably Apple being assholes more than the fault of the other two, but either way, the linux setup experience isn't winning out over windows.

  • Re:Proof at last! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tqk ( 413719 ) <> on Thursday August 16, 2012 @08:03PM (#41018593)

    Installing Ubuntu has been a piece of cake on every system I've done it on over the years.

    You haven't been trying hard enough. I love Linux, and the *BSDs, but we're always going to find ourselves chasing hardware support since the manufacturers (well, many) couldn't care less about supporting us and they love to stick us with so far unsupported (by the devs) proprietary stuff. Even if you stick to older hardware to give the devs a chance to do something with that crap, some systems will inevitably fall through the cracks. I'm mostly talking about laptops in my case. In my experience, first it was video that could only barely (if at all) do X, then Winmodems (bleah!), then network interfaces, then sound, now WiFi. It doesn't much help when curveballs like PulseAudio get tossed in at the last minute. My HP dv4 AMD 64 bit Turion machine still won't do sound (using Debian testing), while my 32 bit Gateway AMD Sempron does *everything* swimmingly (running Debian stable).

    I just spent a weekend trying distro after distro trying to find one that even detected the internal wifi in an Inspiron 1525. Finally, LinuxMint did. Woohoo! Unfortunately, it refuses to connect to my parents wifi router, while it has no trouble with my sister's. Needs research, and a wired connection (which isn't easy to do these days, damnit); pain in the butt. Sucks to be us sometimes, dependent upon hardware support.

    Don't get me wrong, it's a lot better now than it used to be and live CDs/DVDs make the process a lot easier than it used to be, but there'll always be rotten boxes that refuse to play nice. Still better than banging your head on Win* and Mac, though.

  • Re:Proof at last! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ooshna ( 1654125 ) on Thursday August 16, 2012 @08:20PM (#41018731)

    You haven't installed Windows 7 have you? As surprising as it might sound Windows 7 is actually really good at installing the drivers for most hardware OOB even wireless cards then when you run windows update the first time it will almost always find and install the missing drivers. I've only had one or two weird pieces of hardware it couldn't find drivers for and one of those was because they didn't make a 64bit driver for it.

"The number of Unix installations has grown to 10, with more expected." -- The Unix Programmer's Manual, 2nd Edition, June, 1972