Macbook Pro 2015 with Arch Linux

Installation

I plan to dual-boot both Arch and OS X. OS X is still the best OS for this awesome hardware.

Fast to start up, with good battery life

Thanks to SSD, starting up the system is pretty fast. It took less than 10 seconds to get to GDM login screen. Sometimes I think it’s faster than booting OS X.

GNOME supports HiDPI out of box, some apps don’t

One of the reasons I bought MBP is its retina display. Texts are sharp and UI elements are crisp. GNOME supports HiDPI since 3.10 and improves in 3.12, but I haven’t had chance to try it with my old laptop. It looks great. Both GDM and GNOME Shell render beautiful. With Source Han Sans font (thanks to Adobe and Google), Chinese characters never look so good on Linux. I’m still struggling to find good sans and serif fonts, though :(

Touchpad support: this is not what I want

Did I mention one of the reasons I bought MBP is its touchpad? I like its smooth, responsive experience, especially the mulitouch gestures that switch among workspaces and trigger Mission Control/Launchpad. There is also a great feature that allows you to use three fingers to drag.

Suspending is broken due to wifi driver

I cannot suspend the MBP because the Broadcom wireless driver, brcmfmac, cannot suspend the device. It can be confirmed by check the logs:

$ dmesg | grep brcmfmac
……
[ 466.167212] brcmfmac: brcmf_pcie_suspend: Timeout on response for entering D3 substate
[ 466.167236] pci_legacy_suspend(): brcmf_pcie_suspend+0x0/0x1c0 [brcmfmac] returns -5
……
sudo rmmod brcmfmac
sudo modprobe brcmfmac

Keyboard layout

The “`” key that is left to “1” is mapped to wrong key. You can’t type “`” and “~” by default. The solution is on the Apple Keyboard wiki. Add the following line to /etc/modprobe.d/hid_apple.conf:

options hid_apple iso_layout=0

GRUB fails to load Linux kernel

I use the MacBook’s native EFI bootloader approach for dual-booting described on MacBookPro11,x wiki page. By setting GRUB partition as the boot partition, GRUB shows up by default, but it gets stuck on “loading initial ramdisk”. If you hold option key at start up, it shows a menu to let to choose which disk to boot with. Choose the default one and GRUB works fine. Seems like GRUB sees different disk paths in these two modes.

Conclusion

The good: Gnome and apps I use support HiDPI screen very well. Battery life is still pretty good. Booting is fast.

--

--

Love podcasts or audiobooks? Learn on the go with our new app.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store