Kubuntu 10.04 on a Macbook pro

After spending a few hours setting up a macbook pro with kubuntu 10.10 (Maverick), I figured there were a few things that would be useful to jot down.

First of all, I found this page very helpful: https://help.ubuntu.com/community/MacBookPro6-2/Maverick – instructions on setting up a macbook pro 6,2 with Kubunu Maverick provided by the community.

Unfortunately, not all of their advice was spot on, so there are a few things I figured I’d need to point out:

  1. run sudo apt-get update; sudo apt-get dist-upgrade once you’ve got things set up – that will upgrade and solve a few problems right off the bat
  2. you will need to install mbp-nvidia-bl to get the screen brightness controls working (more on that later) and you’ll want macfanctld to control the fans. I’m not sure what btusb-dkms does, but it wasn’t a problem down the road, so you can install all three at once with: sudo apt-get install mbp-nvidia-bl-dkms macfanctld btusb-dkms
  3. Mac Keys:The equivalent instruction on the community page suggests installing pommed – Do not install pommed! It’s unnecessary, it constantly takes up about 4% cpu and doesn’t work well. You can configure all of the buttons elsewhere. (eg, I used compiz to set up the desktop widget and scale applications)
  4. You’ll want to have mbp-nvidia-dkms running at boot, so you’ll add the word “mbp-nvidia-bl” to the end of the /etc/modules file. (I also have coretemp in the file, having followed the instructions for sensors on the community page.)
  5. At some point, I installed “nvidia-bl-dkms”, which was causing the mbp-nvidia-bl-dkms to not be loaded (aka, blacklisted), so I had to remove it – if you haven’t added it, you won’t have that problem.)
  6. I used the command “alsamixer” to unmute the speakers, as suggested on the community page, but then also had to make a few changes to the sound control widget. First, I had to change the master control from the High Def sound controller to the onboard sound controller, and then un-mute that. That enabled sound on my system AND made the sound buttons on the keyboard work.
  7. I found (and still find) the touchpad to be extremely annoying – so I tried touchfreeze. Unfortunately, touchfreeze takes a constant 4% of cpu as well, so I killed that. The next best solution I had was to use the command “syndaemon -d -i 1” on the command line. This runs syndaemon in the background, and prevents the touchpad from doing anything one second after you’ve typed anything. It’s not perfect, but WAY better than nothing. You can put it into systems -> Startup and Shutdown -> Autostart, so that it will turn on every time you log in.
  8. Screen brightness is somewhat of a pain. Once you have mbp-nvidia-bl running as a module, you can use the screen brightness slider on the power control (battery) applet to control the screen brightness. Unfortunately, I haven’t gotten the buttons working yet – though, I’ve read that you can add “acpi_backlight=vendor” to your /etc/default/grub file to the end of the GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT parameter. I haven’t tried this yet. EDIT: Tried it – didn’t work. EDIT 2: There appears to be a KDE bug report for this problem, which is fixed in a patch in Nov 2010 – which means it’s unlikely that there’s a trivial fix for it – and furthermore, that it will be fixed in Kubuntu 11.04. (see this)

Everything else seems to have worked as advertised on the community page.

Credit for everything here should go to the people who posted them in forums – I didn’t invent any of this myself, and, unfortunately, I didn’t write down the sources for what I did use – I’ve googled using too many other computers on the way to getting things set up.

Further Notes by means of EDIT:

  • To enable the speakers on the macbook pro, you do need to install the gnome-alsamixer package, which will then give you the option of un-muting the speakers. I couldn’t track down this option using any of the other interfaces (sound applet, control panel or the alsamixer for the command line.)
  • The best way to set up the touch pad is to use the control panel to disable the single tap (set it to none), but allow tapping to be on otherwise. That fixes most (if not all) of the weird track pad behaviors.

Happy Kubuntu-ing.

2 thoughts on “Kubuntu 10.04 on a Macbook pro

  1. Well, this appears helpful. I’ll be getting a shiny new macbook pro on Wednesday and I doubt I can give up Kubuntu, since I use a Mac at work and don’t much like it for doing serious work (like LaTeXing).

    • Glad to hear it’s helpful. I’m still pretty happy with my Mac-kubuntu computer – Its a wonderful combination.

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