Fedora 13 Goddard on MacBook Aluminum 5,1 [Guide]

Update: May 25, 2010 — I was able to take some time to verify the following steps to installing Fedora 13 Final on MacBook Aluminum 5,1. Enjoy!

This is my guide to getting Fedora 13 Goddard running on a MacBook Aluminium 5,1 (I believe this should work on more recent generations as well because the only difference was the addition of the SD card slot and Firewire port). As with Fedora 12, there were many things that worked out of the box. I have created this guide to help others get Fedora 13 installed on their MacBook Aluminum.

Table of Contents:


Video Working, but with comments

Wireless Needs manual install

Bluetooth Works out of the box (OBO)

Touchpad Working, but with comments

Sound Working out of the box (OBO)

Function Keys Working, but with comments

Keymapping Working, but with comments

Webcam Working out of the box (OBO)

Backlight Working out of the box (OBO)

Keyboard Backlight Working, but with comments

Power/Battery Working, but with comments

Working out of the box (OBO) = Working out of the box (OBO)
Working, but with comments = Working, but with comments
Needs manual install = Needs manual install
Won't work = Won’t work
Not yet documented = Not yet documented (TBD)


Gain internet access using a hard-wired Ethernet connection then install and enable the RPM Fusion repos for both the free and non-free packages which will get wireless networking up and running (and also the nvidia drivers if you wish):

su -c 'rpm -Uvh http://download1.rpmfusion.org/free/fedora/rpmfusion-free-release-stable.noarch.rpm http://download1.rpmfusion.org/nonfree/fedora/rpmfusion-nonfree-release-stable.noarch.rpm''

Apply all updates to the system:

yum upgrade

Yes, this step takes a bit of time, but it’s worth getting all the updated packages (less to fix).


The Nouveau drivers actually work out of the box, so nothing really needs to be done here, but if you want a better video experience including desktop effects (compiz), you’ll either need to get the proprietary Nvidia drivers from the RPM Fusion repository or enable the experimental 3D support from the Nouveau drivers using su -c ‘yum install mesa-dri-drivers-experimental’. Then, to enable desktop effects, simply go to “System -> Preferences -> Desktop Effects” and enable them.


su -
yum -y install akmod-wl akmods kernel-PAE-devel
akmods --akmod wl
modprobe lib80211
modprobe wl


Bluetooth connections work out of the box. I was able to test a pair of bluetooth headphones and a bluetooth mouse.


The touchpad works out of the box, but if you’d like to have two finger scrolling and such, navigate to the mouse settings in the main menu and select the “touchpad” tab:
“System -> Preferences -> Mouse”


Sound works out of the box. This includes the headphones and internal speakers. Internal speakers turn off when headphones are plugged in and are turned back on when headphones are unplugged.

Function Keys:

These are working out of the box, including the backlight and audio keys, but not including the keyboard backlight.


If you’d like to customize the keys a little more to your liking (for example, swapping the command and control keys), please refer to this fedora forums post.


Works out of the box. Open “Cheese Webcam Booth” from “Applications -> Sound and Video” to see.


Works out of the box.

Keyboard Backlight:

The keyboard backlight works, but you need to manually increase and decrease the brightness (as mentioned in a comment by “Min” below).
Max Brightness:

su -c 'echo 255 > /sys/devices/platform/applesmc.768/leds/smc::kbd_backlight/brightness'

Min Brightness:

su -c 'echo 0 > /sys/devices/platform/applesmc.768/leds/smc::kbd_backlight/brightness'


With a fresh install of Fedora 13, I realized that the battery indicator is way off and I’m getting notifications that I only have so many minutes of battery left.

I would also like to make a few observations after a few days worth of using the MacBook with Fedora. In previous releases, it seemed that it tends to run hot and the battery life isn’t as good as it would be in Mac OSX. I’ll report back in a few days after using it.

Partition Scheme for Dual-Boot Mac OSX and Fedora 12

By Request:
This is my partition scheme for dual boot environment with Mac OSX and Fedora 13. I have a totally separate partition for sharing my files between both the OSs (which requires a change in UID in Fedora from 500 to 501):

Feel free to donate if this post prevented any headaches! Another way to show your appreciation is to take a gander at these relative ads that you may be interested in:

There's 25 Comments So Far

  • Min
    April 24th, 2010 at 8:49 am

    Hi, Thanks for the guide again, I will read before upgrading later. But i want to tell something, In fedora 12 you can
    echo 255 > /sys/devices/platform/applesmc.768/leds/smc::kbd_backlight/brightness

    as root to increase backlight keyboard at maximum
    and 0 to make it off

    It is manual but better than not

  • LoveThePenguin81
    June 7th, 2010 at 4:05 am

    … it is a tricky workaround but it is safe and works just fine

    1) make the backlight accessible to all users (from root)
    chmod a+w /sys/devices/platform/applesmc.768/leds/smc::kbd_backlight/brightness

    2) create a shell file in /usr/bin. Call it keylight. Inside the file write

    current=$(cat /sys/devices/platform/applesmc.768/leds/smc::kbd_backlight/brightness)
    if [ $new -ge 255 ]; then
    if [ $new -lt 0 ]; then
    echo $new > /sys/devices/platform/applesmc.768/leds/smc::kbd_backlight/brightness

    3) make the new file executable
    chmod a+x keylight

    4) If everything is fine exit super user. You should be able to change the light issuing commands of the kind ‘keylight +25’ or dimming it with ‘keylight -50’

    5) Implement this in your gnome dektop (KDE must have something similar). Uing graphic interface

    system>preferences>keyboard shortcut
    click on add
    create a “keyboard backlight up” and set its command “keylight +25”
    create a “keyboard backlight dw” and set its command “keylight -25”

    6) assign the shortcuts to fn + f6 and fn + f5

    AND VIOLLA!!!!!

  • [email protected]
    June 7th, 2010 at 8:20 am

    Very clever! Thank you for sharing.

  • Giovanni
    June 11th, 2010 at 5:58 pm

    To get wireless working I just had to “yum install kmod-wl” and reboot.

    Webcam worked out of the box.

  • Soderstrom
    July 19th, 2010 at 8:24 am

    Have you had any heat issues running Fedora, or any other Linux distro, on the Macbook 5,1? I could not use Ubuntu for this reason and there where no solotuin to make Macbook run cooler with Ubuntu. My fan was spinning on 6000 RPM and the CPU was around 50c while the GPU hit around 70-80 by just browsing the web. If I watched you tube or anything else that needed more from the graphic card, I could use my Macbook as a frying pan after a while…

    Well, for now I run Linux on a PC instead, but would be nice to get some feedback of how Linux works on Macbook 5,1 for you other people out there.

  • Soderstrom
    August 14th, 2010 at 2:04 am

    I can confirm it works great now. Don’t have have the heat problem anymore and the system works great! 🙂

    Fedora rocks!

  • RinH
    August 23rd, 2010 at 2:08 am


    Did the heat problem solve after update ? Did you install something???? I installed the Fedora on my macbook 5.5. The laptop heats up.

  • [email protected]
    August 30th, 2010 at 7:42 am

    I’m with you… still a ton of heat with F13.

  • Craig Watson
    August 29th, 2010 at 4:13 am

    Just done a fresh install of Fedora 13 on my MacBook 5,1 (October 2008) and I still have the heat issues – CPU cores idling at 64C when all I have open is Firefox.

    Also, the touchpad seems to be very sensitive, I really have to be careful when I right-click (aka two-finger tap) as it sometimes ends up detecting a left-click instead.

    Are there any tweaks that can be made to the configuration files to make the touchpad a little less sensitive for taps?

    It’s unfortunate that there’s two fairly big problems (heat and touchpad) – otherwise this would be perfect!!


  • [email protected]
    August 30th, 2010 at 7:46 am

    Heat is an issue. So far, I haven’t been able to figure it out and nobody has stepped up to the challenge.

    That’s odd… the touchpad seemed to work really well out of the box for me. You’ll want to ask around at the Fedora Forums for some help with setting up your touchpad I guess. I can’t remember what files are responsible for the touchpad settings (something in /etc, I’m sure).

    I wonder what F14 or F15 will have in store for us macbook users…

  • gnudna
    September 14th, 2010 at 1:24 pm

    I believe the heat is coming from the nvidia card being used full time. Versus when using a mac it is passive because it switched between the the 2 video cards.

  • Nicolai R
    October 5th, 2010 at 1:06 pm

    How did u install?

    I did a fresh install on my MBP. But when trying to boot the macbook just flashes a image of a folder with a question mark.

    When i choose boot from local drive from the install disc it just says: “No bootable device found”

  • [email protected]
    October 5th, 2010 at 2:29 pm

    Did you install rEFIt? Otherwise, the firmware won’t recognize ext partitions as bootable.

  • Nicolai R
    October 5th, 2010 at 3:58 pm

    Nope .. But i did afterwards. But i kinda messed it up.. How should i set up the partition table? And should i install grub?

  • [email protected]
    October 5th, 2010 at 8:03 pm

    I’ve included a screenshot for how I had my partition table set up. You’re free to use it as an example if you’d like. A partition layout can be pretty personal, so you might want to make it your own. Use partedmagic to setup partitions if you’ve nuked the Mac OS on the computer.

  • Wukoje
    October 15th, 2010 at 5:48 am

    Any of you have an idea on how to disable the Nvidia graphic card while using fedora. I want to have fedora on my mbp just because its light and I can fully controll it, and is fedora gona affect my battery life? while using os x I’m getting about 5-6h of light usage (usually just coding).

  • Damir Franusic
    October 18th, 2010 at 8:04 am

    I have just finished installing Fedora 13 on my MacBookPro 6.2 and most of it worked ot of the box. Screen brightness was the only thing that was causing me problems. After some googling around, I found an article saying that in order to have your brightness keys working, you should install “mbp_nvidia_bl” module. I tried “modprobe mbp_nvidia_bl” but it gave me an error. The module that came with my version of kernel was an old one(mbp 6.2 not supported) so i just downloaded the new source code, ran make, copied the .ko file to “/lib/modules//kernel/drivers/video/backlight/”, ran “depmod -a” and finally “modprobe mbp_nvidia_bl”…and it worked 🙂 …also…one more tip…fedora 13 kernel version 2.6.34 was draining my battery(3 hours max)…so i downloaded f14 kernel source and compiled it. Now I’m running F13 on 2.6.35 kernel and my battery can last for 6-7 hours. I am also using “laptop-mode-tools” to set system setting when in battery mode and “powertop” to measure power consumption. Finally everything works! 😉

  • [email protected]
    October 18th, 2010 at 8:50 am

    That’s a great success story! Thanks for sharing those tips. I’ll have to include them in my next guide for installing Fedora 14 on the MacBook which will be coming up in just another two weeks. I’m excited to give it a go based on your experiences!

  • Damir Franusic
    October 19th, 2010 at 12:36 pm

    Here’s the link for the “mbp_nvidia_bl” kernel module that woks:

  • coulon
    October 20th, 2010 at 8:57 am

    Hello and thank’s for this page because documentation are so rare about macbook.

    But it stays in me a problem; my external video output don’t run neither text-consoles nor graphic mode. Do you have a solution for it ?

  • [email protected]
    October 20th, 2010 at 1:01 pm

    This is one area that I haven’t tested (I don’t own the mini-DVI converter cables to test with). Maybe Fedora 14 will have something in store for us?

  • Damir Franusic
    October 20th, 2010 at 1:31 pm

    Hi…i am running dual screen(separate X screen) with miniDisplayPort2VGA cable and everything works as it should. You have to install nvidia driver(kmod-nvidia) and blacklist the default one(nouveau). There are many tutorials on how to do this. It’s very simple, it all comes down to adding new rpm repository, and installing one or two packages with yum. Maybe this link will help :


    Good luck!

  • Damir Franusic
    October 27th, 2010 at 1:58 am

    One thing that I haven’t been able to make it work is the microphone. Well, actually I haven’t put much effort in it since i don’t use it so often but if anybody has a suggestion, i would appreciate it.


  • Nivea
    March 26th, 2011 at 1:02 pm

    i am using fedora 13 in vmware. i have installed the updates.
    But still ma webcam is not working.
    i am getting device not found.
    m using dell insiron n5010
    can plz sort out vat the problem is…

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