Fedora 10 and the MacBook Aluminium (5,1) [Guide]

Without boring you too much with the details, I recently purchased a new 13.3″ MacBook Aluminum (Intel C2Duo 2.4Ghz) with the uni-body design.  It’s one heckofa laptop and I would recommend it to anybody.  However, I’m having a very difficult time getting used to the Mac OSX environment and the programs that it uses and I dearly miss Fedora 10.

So, I’ve gone through the process of tripple booting my MacBook with several different partitions for Mac OSX, Windows, and Linux each having access to what I call a shared partition formatted in the HFS filesystem so that all OS’s have access to the files on that “home” drive.  I plan on making Fedora my main OS on this machine.  After installing and fixing some of the issues that I will outline below, there are still some issues that are unacceptable at this time, namely 1.) the backlight control, 2.) the sound, 3.) the touchpad, 4.) the keyboard keymap, and 5.) three (3) error beeps when rebooting.  A program called pommed, which controls backlight and hotkeys, just may take care of some of these issues, but the version packaged with Fedora is outdated and needs to be replaced with pommed version 1.23 (at least, newest version is 1.25) which also requires the Linux 2.6.28 kernel to run.  This means that either you’ll have to compile the kernel yourself, or wait for the update to come through Fedora on it’s own (be it through the package manager or waiting until Fedora 11).

In order to help other Fedora MacBook users, here are the steps I have taken to get 1.) the video card, 2.) wireless, 3.) headphone jack sound, 4.) minor touchpad functionality, 5.) a little better keyboard mapping to work, and 6.) the iSight webcam.

Video, Wireless, and FirstBoot

Upon startup of a freshly installed Fedora 10, users will notice that they had to go through a non-graphical installation and then once Fedora was installed, they were met with despair when they only had access to a command line interface (CLI).  This is because the video card drivers have yet to be installed.  The good news is that the Ethernet Port still works, so find a hardwired connection and type the following into the command line after you’ve logged in using “root” as the username:

rpm -ivh http://download1.rpmfusion.org/free/fedora/rpmfusion-free-release-stable.noarch.rpm http://download1.rpmfusion.org/nonfree/fedora/rpmfusion-nonfree-release-stable.noarch.rpm
&& yum install -y kmod-nvidia kmod-wl

You will now have video and wireless support, but stay connected via hardwire while you’re there and type the following into the terminal:


If this doesn’t give you a nice GUI (sorry, I can’t remember), then type “startx” which will get you into the GUI and then from there, open the terminal and type in “firstboot”. This will walk you through and help you setup your username and password as well as a few other things.

Next, if you’ve installed Fedora in text mode, you will always be defaulted to text mode upon boot. To fix this type the following into the terminal:

gedit /etc/inittab

Then make the following change to the last line in that file:


Speaker Sound

I don’t think there has been anybody to figure this one out quite yet for Fedora. It seems that a few people over in the Ubuntu world have been able to get it to work. I’ll refer you to a couple good resources to follow:

Apparently, some distros have recommended using a sound mixer application (any) to switch from 2ch to 6ch, save the settings, reboot and enjoy.  At this point, it’s either the speaker sound or the headphone jack… not both.

Headphone Jack Sound

Please view this thread over at the Fedora Forums:
How to: Fix PulseAudio and primary audio issues with Fedora 10 (F10)


It seems that the guide posted over here works well for the touchpad. I’ve yet to personally test it.

Keyboard Keymap

Within the “System->Hardware->Keyboard” menu, there is a place to select what kind of keyboard you are using. Simply select, “MacBook” and that will help out a little bit. I’ll try and get a little more specific on this soon.

iSight WebCam

You will need a copy of the firmware from Apple. You can either download this here or simply type the following into the terminal:

su -c 'wget http://www.i-nz.net/files/projects/linux-kernel/isight/against-revision-140/firmware/AppleUSBVideoSupport'

Then you’ll need the isight-firmware-tools package, so type this into the terminal:

su -c 'yum install isight-firmware-tools'

Then, from the same directory that you downloaed the AppleUSBVideoSupport file into, type the following into the terminal:

su -c ift-extract --apple-driver AppleUSBVideoSupport

Honestly, this could probably all be done swiftly with one command, but I haven’t tested it yet:

su -c 'wget http://www.i-nz.net/files/projects/linux-kernel/isight/against-revision-140/firmware/AppleUSBVideoSupport && yum install isight-firmware-tools && su -c ift-extract --apple-driver AppleUSBVideoSupport'

You’ll need to reboot to take advantage of it.

Other Issues:


If I were to make a conclusion (and so I have), I would have to say that, at this time, Linux is not ready for the MacBook Aluminum.  If you’re a beginner installing Linux for the first time, then I would seriously recommend waiting for another 6 months or so when the software has been able to adapt.  Knowing the aggressiveness of Linux, it won’t be too long before this generation of MacBooks will be fully supported.


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There's 14 Comments So Far

  • Davide
    January 26th, 2009 at 11:36 am

    hi, i have a problem.i’ve read all but when i insert the cd of Fedora appear the blue image of fedora with the countdown of ten seconds and then all black…i can write on it but if i push enter nothing appened?!what can i do?please aswer me!!!

  • SendDerek
    January 26th, 2009 at 11:13 pm


    I honestly can’t tell you what happened there. I’m not sure which tools you used or anything else about your setup. I’d hate to say it (both because it’s a pain and because I don’t have enough information), but you may need to try to reinstall.

  • SendDerek
    February 5th, 2009 at 9:41 am

    I don’t know. I believe that you’re talking about the GRUB menu. If you interrupt the countdown by hitting an arrow key (or any key), do you get any other options? There may be a list of Kernel versions you can boot into. Try booting into a earlier one than the one on top.

  • Davide
    January 28th, 2009 at 11:48 am

    thank you for answering but the problem is that i don’t arrive to install the OS…the problem appear soon after i’ve put in the cd of Fedora!!what have you done to install Fedora to my same mac?!!!!!

  • SendDerek
    January 28th, 2009 at 3:59 pm

    Do you have rEFIt installed and functional (http://refit.sourceforge.net/)? This would more than likely be the problem. In this guide, I didn’t want to go into the specifics on the partitioning to create a dual or triple boot environment. I’m going to assume that you’ve done that and you’re ready to start installing F10.

  • Davide
    January 28th, 2009 at 4:56 pm

    Yes i have Refit installed on my mac…i’ve partitioned my disk for the ext3 and for the swap…you can answer me also by email.Thank you very much…

  • Joy
    February 3rd, 2009 at 2:02 pm

    hi i’ve a macbook aluminium loke your but i’ve a little problem…i’ve done the installation of fedora without problem also of the wifi card…but it’s very very slow(and i’m sure it isn’t the connection).Did it happens also to you?answer me please!!!

  • Joy
    February 5th, 2009 at 11:40 am

    hi thank you for answering!maybe i don’t explayn well the problem!my connection is very slow!!my browser, mozilla, is very very slow also to reaching google.With Leopard i haven’t this probem…do you know why?!maybe the fault is of the driver of the wifi card (broadcom 4322)…

  • SendDerek
    February 5th, 2009 at 8:40 pm

    Use the “Ping” utility to benchmark your network performance, not Firefox or any other browser. This will give you the true performance of your network. Compare the results from both Mac OS X and Linux.

  • eelco
    March 7th, 2009 at 1:02 pm

    You might want to add the xdriver=vesa option when booting the install. That will give you a graphical UI, and with that, the LVM options in the partition manager.

  • SendDerek
    April 11th, 2009 at 11:15 pm

    Thank you for that suggestion! If it really does work, that might save a lot of steps from this little guide. I’m not going to be making any changes to it though because I’m working on moving over to Fedora 11. I just don’t think Fedora 10 was ready for the MacBook yet.

  • Greg
    March 12th, 2009 at 10:35 am

    I have a unibody MacBook Pro and the Fedora 10 GUI installer worked just fine for me…. Thanks for posting the info about pommed. Looks like Mandriva 2009.1 (RC1) has version 1.25.

  • SendDerek
    April 11th, 2009 at 11:13 pm

    Thank you for that update! Sounds like you got lucky. Everybody else I’ve read about hasn’t had the GUI work for them at all. Good thing Fedora 11 will be fixing that problem.

  • PatrickEB
    July 1st, 2011 at 11:26 pm

    I’m often surprised by how the Macs are not ready for Linux yet.

    The OS is available for them to test, they can work out which hardware would best suit it, but they seem to resolutely refuse to ensure that their hardware works properly.

    I’m not clear when they’ll learn but I guess until then one can look at style over substance and hope they finally get their act together 🙂

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