I upgraded my Mom’s old 11 inch Macbook Air since she said the screen was too small. Enter a 13-inch, Early 2014 model with OS X 10.9.3 and enter an opportunity for me to test how well Archlinux works on this gorgeous Apple hardware in the month of June 2014. Yes, I am looking to upgrade from my Thinkpad X220 and Lenovo sadness.
Firstly I must say, Archlinux wiki’s Macbook page is a bit of a mess. It over-complicates partitioning and boot loading. However I don’t feel like wading in there to try fix it.
It’s surprisingly simple to Archlinux going on the Macbook Air.
- Boot into OSX. Upgrade.
- Resize the disk using Disk Utility, amazingly you can resize a running MacOSX install
- Install rEFInd, with the all drivers switch,
- Boot the Archlinux ISO on a USB stick by holding down the Alt key
- Fdisk, create a new partition /dev/sda4, mkfs.ext4 format it, mount it and pacstrap the mount
- Oops, pacstrap doesn’t work without Internet and
03:00.0 Network controller: Broadcom Corporation BCM4360 802.11ac Wireless Network Adapter (rev 03)is not supported by the 3.15 Linux kernel :( Had to purchase a USB 3.0 to 10/100/1000 Gigabit Ethernet LAN Network Adapter, Apple IIUC doesn’t offer USB3 hardware!?
- Reboot and with some luck rEFInd, will pick it up! Hint: Installing refind-efi and
refind-mkrlconfshould give you more control, e.g. for adding “rw quiet” or hitting F2 (twice).
Wireless is since working well so far with the broadcom-wl package from AUR.
The Alt key is way too small and I am not sure what to make of the fn & cmd key.
setxkbmap -option altwin:swap_alt_win.
Someone needs to tell me where the HELL is the Insert key on a Macbook Air.
I am familiar with the Thinkpad nipple. I’m struggling with the trackpad. I can’t figure out how to paste!!!
Is it a “three finger click” to paste? Anyone know the keyboard shortcut?
BETTER with xf86-input-mtrack-git from AUR.
Suspending, shutdown etc. works out of the box with Archlinux. I think systemd should get the thanks. Really fast.
When I close the lid, the Macbook Air goes to sleep. But sometimes it’s doing a long upload or download and I do not want it to sleep.
Sound / Audio output doesn’t work
rain:/etc/modprobe.d$ lspci | grep Audio 00:03.0 Audio device: Intel Corporation Device 0a0c (rev 09) 00:1b.0 Audio device: Intel Corporation Lynx Point-LP HD Audio Controller (rev 04)
I’m not sure what I did, but it’s working now with pavucontrol. Might be my general confusion with starting pulseaudio.
Brightness buttons don’t work
Pommed dies with
E: Unknown Apple machine: MacBookAir6,2. Filed a bug.
Is the Thunderbolt port usable? Yes!
User Experience notes
The Air doesn’t have a fan, so when I come back to using the X220, I find the X220 noisy.
The Macbook Air so far seems to hover around 51C (~70C with Youtube playback)
and its temperature
/sys/class/thermal/thermal_zone0/temp doesn’t fluctuate
as crazily as the X220 does. Which is good!! Its actually cool enough to be on
my lap without feeling like I am killing my sperm off.
The 1440x900 screen is nicer, but I expected it to a LOT better. I guess I was stupidly expecting Retina.
The battery seems to drain as fast as the old 9 cell in the Thinkpad worryingly. I have tuned it with PowerTOP and still I’m not very confident at all. I suspect the screen on full brightness doesn’t help.
The distro that I maintain and earn a living from, Webconverger works with the Apple Macbook Air hardware too with the USB network device is attached.