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Ubuntu on Macbook
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Sethro
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Jul 22, 2007, 08:53 PM
 
Has anyone that installed Ubuntu on a Macbook had any problems with it?

I'm rather interesting in installing a new Linux operating system on the Macbook that I'm currently using, although I'd like to hear from some other people before I do so. My main concern is power management, I have noticed under Windows XP and other operating systems that the fan is usually running very loud and the battery life of the Macbook suffers tremendously, is this the case when running Ubuntu?

Do other things like the trackpad function correctly? Do advanced trackpad functions work like the should? Additionally have any Ubuntu users run into any problems when attempting to use other things like the built in iSight camera. This is something which hardly gets used on Mac OSX because I don't have a .Mac account or an AOL account, and MSN Messenger does not support the iSight yet.

Is OpenOffice as powerful and usable as Microsoft Office, and more importantly is it fast? How do other thing compare with Windows / Mac only products? Is there anything else that one should know when moving to an Linux based operating system like Ubuntu.

Thanks
     
Obi Wan's Ghost
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Jul 23, 2007, 02:41 AM
 
For a start you'll find nothing useful about having a workstation installation of Ubuntu. It's GUI is boring and Linux apps are yawnful.

Second, power management and CPU cycling isn't going to be anywhere as good as OS X and Windows so battery life will suffer if you like to run your computer at a lower clockspeed. Your trackpad might or might not work properly because Ubuntu's installer doesn't always recognise trackpads and installs a generic PS/2 driver instead. Configuring right click has to be done by digging up a config file and hacking it. The default right click is F12. I know, I know.

Is OpenOffice fast? Depends. It's not as fully featured as MS Office and doesn't have popular fonts such as Arial, Courier or Helvetica. Like the X11 version and NeoOffice it loads the whole suite in one go instead of allowing you to launch each app separately. That can be a memory hog and unstable. There's no support for the new 2007 Office formats either.

Install it on an external if you want to see it. Tinker with it a bit then delete it. That's what just about everyone does.
     
besson3c
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Jul 23, 2007, 09:18 AM
 
Sethro: I've never found MS Office under OS X to be fast, and I've found that Linux as a whole feels much faster and more responsive than OS X, so I don't think you'll be disappointed with OpenOffice performance.

If you are a Mac guy you'll likely have a hard time making an adjustment from an application centric approach to a document centric one. There are some OS X dock-like apps you can install, but most of them require that your video card is capable of Beryl, the 3D desktop engine. I believe that Beryl works on the Macbook, but I'm not absolutely certain.

Other than that, most other things will eventually work, they just may require some tinkering and patience. Linux is a very open-ended OS in its usage, its customization seemingly infinite. It looks like some people got the trackpad tap and scroll working: Setting up trackpad tap and scroll on MacBook - Ubuntu Forums

I suggest downloading and burning yourself the Ubuntu live CD so that you can experiment with running Ubuntu without actually having to install it. If the 3D desktop effects work (there is a control panel for this now), you'll know that the Macbook video card works with Beryl.

Let us know what you decide to do, and what your experience is like!
     
TheoCryst
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Jul 23, 2007, 01:10 PM
 
Just to clarify a few things: yes, the MacBook's graphics definitely work with Beryl, though you'll need to download and install a driver first. Second, for all things MacBook+Ubuntu, try this link: https://help.ubuntu.com/community/MacBook

Any ramblings are entirely my own, and do not represent those of my employers, coworkers, friends, or species
     
Sethro  (op)
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Jul 24, 2007, 12:05 AM
 
Thanks for all the interesting feedback, I really like the Beryl effects and so far "besson3c" is right on the money. Microsoft Office is painfully slow in any Intel Mac. My 4 year old Toshiba with 512 MB of RAM feels so much faster at running Microsoft Office 2007 than my Intel Macbook with the newest processor and maxed out RAM.
     
shifuimam
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Jul 24, 2007, 09:56 AM
 
I ended up using Uberyl on my Poweredge 400sc. Dual display, hyperthreading, network drivers...everything has worked flawlessly. It's really incredible. Uberyl uses Ubuntu 6.10. It's not the latest version, but 7.04 choked on my machine after a few weeks of use, and I gave up on it. Now, however, I'm actually using Linux on a regular basis. If you can nab a copy of Photoshop 7 for Windows, it's pretty easy to install it and run it under WINE in Ubuntu. For word processing, try Abiword. It's much smaller than OpenOffice and uses less resources. The only application replacement I can't find for Ubuntu is a good SFTP client. All the ones for GNOME (the default X11 window manager for Ubuntu) are underfeatured and fairly clunky to use.

The only good torrent I know if for Uberyl is here.

Also, if you really like Beryl, be aware that it's no longer under development. It was a branch of the Compiz project, and the two have now been merged. If you want the latest features, you're going to need Compiz.

For the touchpad stuff, since the MacBook's touchpad is non-standard (e.g. it doesn't follow the same conventions that Alps and Synaptic touchpad hardware), you might try Googling around for which Linux distro works best with the MacBook's hardware. OpenSuse, Fedora, and Knoppix are all excellent all-in-one distros (OpenSuse is the free version of Novell Suse; Fedora is the free version of Red Hat) that are good for those who are new to Linux.

Good luck!
     
besson3c
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Jul 24, 2007, 10:40 AM
 
shifulmam:

You should really master using the scp command. I find it so much faster and easier than any SFTP client. Rsync is also a very handy tool along the same lines.
     
hayt3r
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Aug 9, 2007, 12:15 PM
 
Careful. Grub messed up my macbook's partition tables. I now can't partition to single volume and hence bootcamp assistant doesn't work at all. It may have also messed up the OS X reinstall disc startup because that also doesn't boot. Haven't been able to find a fix.
     
Sethro  (op)
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Aug 9, 2007, 04:57 PM
 
Originally Posted by hayt3r View Post
Careful. Grub messed up my macbook's partition tables. I now can't partition to single volume and hence bootcamp assistant doesn't work at all. It may have also messed up the OS X reinstall disc startup because that also doesn't boot. Haven't been able to find a fix.
Why can't linux systems just use NTFS like Windows or HFS like Mac?
     
Chuckit
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Aug 9, 2007, 05:06 PM
 
Originally Posted by Sethro View Post
Why can't linux systems just use NTFS like Windows or HFS like Mac?
Those are both proprietary filesystems.
Chuck
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"Instead of either 'multi-talented' or 'multitalented' use 'bisexual'."
     
besson3c
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Aug 9, 2007, 05:14 PM
 
Originally Posted by Sethro View Post
Why can't linux systems just use NTFS like Windows or HFS like Mac?
Because those are both proprietary, and also sucky. Under Linux, there is a choice of many different file systems: ext2/3, Reiser, JFS, etc. - each with their own advantages which may work in your favor depending on what kind of server/system you intend to run. In many instances, this selection of file systems is a perk, not a burden.
     
tavin64
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Aug 10, 2007, 09:16 AM
 
I have a first gen macbook and Ubuntu now works flawlessly with it. I even got 2 finger scrolling and 2 finger right click to work after some tweaking of the xorg.conf. Other things that also work with some right off the bat:

bluetooth
isight (right off the bat)
suspend (with the proper kernel patches)
all hotkeys like brightness, volume, eject, etc

And also battery life has improved quite a bit and all you need are some proper dpkgs and some tweaking. And also beryl works flawlessly with the gma950, with the 3d effects much smoother than osx.
     
besson3c
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Aug 10, 2007, 10:53 AM
 
Originally Posted by tavin64 View Post
I have a first gen macbook and Ubuntu now works flawlessly with it. I even got 2 finger scrolling and 2 finger right click to work after some tweaking of the xorg.conf. Other things that also work with some right off the bat:

bluetooth
isight (right off the bat)
suspend (with the proper kernel patches)
all hotkeys like brightness, volume, eject, etc

And also battery life has improved quite a bit and all you need are some proper dpkgs and some tweaking. And also beryl works flawlessly with the gma950, with the 3d effects much smoother than osx.

Very good to hear! Are you running Ubuntu full time?
     
tavin64
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Aug 10, 2007, 11:21 AM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
Very good to hear! Are you running Ubuntu full time?
For a while I was but now I go back and forth a lot more because we just got a new home theater/hifi music setup and I use itunes on my laptop to control what songs the music server plays.

Although we got this new app for the iphone called remote buddy which connects to all of the networked music around the house and allows you to play everything via remote. It's pretty neat but still has some tiny quirks before it can be perfect.

Although I do have a first gen macbook and I think right now the only thing that has some issues is the new atheros wireless n card on the new c2d macbooks. But madwifi is working on new drivers which will completely fix the problem.
     
besson3c
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Aug 10, 2007, 11:30 AM
 
Originally Posted by tavin64 View Post
For a while I was but now I go back and forth a lot more because we just got a new home theater/hifi music setup and I use itunes on my laptop to control what songs the music server plays.

Although we got this new app for the iphone called remote buddy which connects to all of the networked music around the house and allows you to play everything via remote. It's pretty neat but still has some tiny quirks before it can be perfect.

Although I do have a first gen macbook and I think right now the only thing that has some issues is the new atheros wireless n card on the new c2d macbooks. But madwifi is working on new drivers which will completely fix the problem.
It's too bad Wine/Crossover Office doesn't support the latest versions of iTunes...
     
tavin64
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Aug 10, 2007, 11:37 AM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
It's too bad Wine/Crossover Office doesn't support the latest versions of iTunes...
Yeah I guess its true that OSX is locked at 64mb of vram for the gma950 because I can have so many more windows open with beryl and it doesn't skip a beat. If you try the same with expose it just slows down to a craptacular slowfest.
     
monkeybrain
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Aug 11, 2007, 09:57 AM
 
How many windows are you talking about tavin? Maybe a lot, but what sort of programs? I just had 20 open on my first gen Macbook (including Azureous and Word - which do really slow things down, I admit) and it wasn't any slower than I would expect.

Also, what can you do with beryl? Does it include an exposé clone? Screenshots please!
     
besson3c
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Aug 11, 2007, 11:40 AM
 
monkeybrain: Beryl has merged with the Compiz project. They are tentatively calling the project Compiz Fusion now. I was playing with Compiz Fusion on Friday...

Do a YouTube search of Compiz Fusion and you'll see that there is an exposé clone called "expo". There are also a number of other effects which are better seen than described...
     
tavin64
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Aug 11, 2007, 03:39 PM
 
Yeah if you think OSX has cool 3d effects you need to check out Beryl/Compiz Fusion, it's in a totally different league.
     
eviltandem
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Oct 22, 2007, 10:08 AM
 
I just finished moving my macbook to ubuntu gutsy. It's a fairly painless experience, and there are ubuntu forums that actually assist a great deal (https://help.ubuntu.com/community/MacBook)

I actually got the trackpad working better in ubuntu than I ever did in osX. I even have it so that taping on the lower left hand side of the pad generates a right mouse click. No more pita trying to generate right mouse clicks.

The battery life is descent... somewhere between 1.5-2 hours. Which is better than I was getting under feisty. EFI is still the real pain for this whole thing. I installed rEFIt (or something like that). It's a grub like boot loader that starts when osX starts booting. You can use this as a second boot menu after bootcamp, which allows you to boot into whatever you want on start up with a nice little menu that looks and behaves exactly like the bootcamp one.

All the hardware, like: wireless, sound , video, bluetooth worked right out of the box. Enable the ati drivers in "restricted drivers" and all the swooshy bells and whistles begin working too.

My only complaint is that I have to keep the 30gig osX partition around to make it boot.

After my first few hours playing with gutsy I really can't come up with a reason to use osX at all anymore. It's the opposite of windows. Linux has many more apps than osX does. Apt-get is awesome, and all that open source stuff that was a real pain to get working in osX's X11 layer just works now.

Then you have wine. I can run ms office, 3 versions of ie, dvdshrink, windows games (albeit slower than windows xp by about 1/2) and a ton of other apps that I never did manage to find good replacements for in osX.

Virtualbox is a great virtualization tool for running other os's on your new multiple-desktops. Virtualbox is free and contained in the gutsy repositories, so no fuss setup there either.

All in all Ubuntu is shaping up to be a great OS.
     
besson3c
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Oct 22, 2007, 10:39 AM
 
Very cool!

How does VirtualBox compare in performance to VMWare Player or Workstation?

Why is it that WINE games are that much slower for you? Crappy ATI driver? It's too bad one can't replace the stupid $20 video card in the Macbook with something better.
     
Rowen
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Oct 31, 2007, 12:52 AM
 
Don't forget to make sure your ubuntu is genuine.


Ubuntu Certificate of Authenticity | Ubuntology
     
   
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