MacBook, Nvidia drivers and other stories....

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MacBook, Nvidia drivers and other stories....

Post by Frazatto » Mon Apr 24, 2017 4:32 pm

So I'm the happy owner of an MacBook Air running LMDE2 and this is my guide for people struggling with problems that shouldn't be a problem.

The good news is MUCH of the real problems are old news and LMDE2 is running very smooth from the box.
Well, this is a very old MacBook (2011 if I'm not mistaken), so I dumped the whole damn OSX and installed only LMDE2 on it.
I was even automatically guided on how to make an extra partition for correct EFI booting.

The first annoying problem I had was with international keyboard.
I can only assume the people implementing this thing (I love you all by the way :D) all use native English keyboards, cause I only found people complaining about this problem on the Debian forums and even there no one have a solution.
Basically, it makes no difference which keyboard you select, it always sets the native english keyboard layout and shows the following error:

Code: Select all

Error activating XKB configuration.
There can be various reasons for that.

If you report this situation as a bug, include the results of
 • xprop -root | grep XKB
 • gsettings get org.gnome.libgnomekbd.keyboard model
 • gsettings get org.gnome.libgnomekbd.keyboard layouts
 • gsettings get org.gnome.libgnomekbd.keyboard options
It ends up this is a problem with the version of a Debian package that was never fixed for Jessie.
If you have this issue, I fixed it unintentionally when trying to make the USB keyboard to play ball. Just add a second layout to the list (it doesn't matter which) and it will work!
In my case, the MacBook keyboard is set for English Alternative International and the USB keyboard is set for Brazilian Portuguese.

The second one was with power management.
This thing sounded like a hovercraft during boot/login and when watching videos. Battery was draining really fast even when on sleep.
I tried Powertop for a wile (as many other users recommended) and it did help a lot.
But as I found out, you don't really need any extra power managing configuration.....

The third problem is one of the classic ones, installing Nvidia drivers on UEFI mode (the native Apple way).
It was very very VERY hard to find this information (weeks hard!!!) and if anyone reading this with powers to implement a fix on the installer, PLEASE do it!!!!
Nobody can (could??) install Nvidia drivers on MacBooks, Cinnamon will crash on best cases or you will get a black screen just before login screen (even on terminal mode).
For an explanation of the real problem and the solution, just follow this thread from AskUbuntu: ... 4eff56106e
Do it before trying to install the drivers and after it, you can follow any of the all so many guides on how to install the drivers, I just used apt-get and nvidia-driver package. You may also want to install the nvidia-settings package for UI support.

Now, the bad news is that screen brightness will stop working (very old news, nobody on Nvidia seams to care) and the know solutions does not work on the MackBook (at list not in my case). The very weird thing is that the actual physical keys don't seam to be working anymore.
The workaround is to install xbacklight and create custom shortcuts with the commands

Code: Select all

/usr/bin/xbacklight -inc X
(or -dec, where X is the amount you want to change brightness, I'm using 5)

And this is when Powertop started to actually be unnecessary and even detrimental to me.
With the proprietary Nvidia drivers in place, the computer became quieter, cooler and much faster. Running Powertop on top of it did not helped battery life and started to create all sorts of hardware wake problems (some keys were not registered while typing, Spotify crashes and reboot if playing while sleeping, etc).

I still have one problem and, as I can't understand it, I can't find a solution for.
YouTube videos don't run on 1080p! Sound is OK, but the image stuck on the first frame.
The amazing thing is that it works on the live USB stick!!!!!
No, it is not a problem with the Nvidia proprietary drivers either. It was there already and I thought the driver would fix it.....but didn't.

Well, I hope this information is useful for some one. At list is a more updated testimonial of the current state of LMDE2 running on a MacBook.

****** Update May/2017 *******
Found a very good workaround for the YouTube problem!
There are some Firefox extensions that will help you open the videos on VLC and now everything works even better since VLC is much more efficient in playing high resolution videos than the browser.
Last edited by Frazatto on Mon May 29, 2017 10:08 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: MacBook, Nvidia drivers and other stories....

Post by z31fanatic » Mon Apr 24, 2017 7:50 pm

That Air has to be older than 2011. In 2011 I believe they used the integrated Intel HD3000 graphics. 2009 and 2010 is when Apple used that weird-no one else uses-nVidia graphics. It's some weird setup that I can't really explain.

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Re: MacBook, Nvidia drivers and other stories....

Post by Frazatto » Tue Apr 25, 2017 9:31 am

MacBookAir3,2 - Late 2010 according to the serial number (I went to check :P)
But I know what you are talking about, it's not that hybrid Intel card, this one already has a GeForce 320M.

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