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Old 30th August 2015, 06:44 AM
Thetargos Offline
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linuxfedorafirefox
MacBook Pro 7,1 (nVidia based); Dual boot

Hello all...

It has been a WHILE since I have written in these forums, and not because I have moved away from Fedora (far from it, actually), only life caught up with me and left me with very little time to chat and lurk in these here forums.

I have a Mack Book Pro from late 2010 (model 7,1), which is based on an nForce motherboard, with nVidia 320M (not to be confused with GT 320M) graphics. Installing on this machine has been a major Pain in the REAR for the last SIX fedora releases I've thrown at it.

In this last iteration of my (almost semestral) effort to have Linux installed on it, I have tried loading it with Fedora 22, only to be bitten by few bugs that I have mostly sorted out:
  1. EFI Install. So firstly, installing in EFI mode has usually been a bumpy ride, in the early days I used a tool called rEFInd and rEFIt, which aimed at attempting to make it easy to install in this way. Later versions of Fedora have been a much smoother experience, however, this latest iteration would not allow me to use the Mac EFI partition for its bootloader, but instead insists on creating a secondary ESP formatted in HFS+ (instead of the Mac's FAT32), and as most of you already know, installing in this mode carries with it a MAJOR drawback: You cannot install the proprietary nVidia driver, as the screen would be all black, and the system unresponsive... This time I thought "Oh, that's OK; I'll use nouveau instead", but then... BAM! booting with Nouveau causes the system to halt... literally, to shut down, only a few seconds after Plymouth has started, the machine powers off, but if I boot with nomodeset, then it does boot (both live media *and* installed system).
  2. Sluggish deskotp. Related to the above issues, I cannot boot into a smooth system, be it live session (DVD/USB) or installed session, the user experience is very sluggish, and the hardware the system has should offer a much better experience, I know (I've done it in the past!)
Sadly, use of MacOS X is still mandatory for me, in lack of Windows, for things as basic as doing my taxes, but also for work related applications, so while I could use a VM to run an instance of Windows with SilverLight on it to do my taxes, there are other applications that I require for work related tasks, sadly. However, I'd very much prefer to use Linux for general purpose computing (and gaming) at home.

Some reported workarounds I've found around the interwebz state that for the video problem in EFI mode there does seem to be a way to get the proprietary nVidia driver installed without it
bricking your machine, alas, I have not been able to apply the same workaround to Fedora (or Korora),

In summary the problem with the nvidia drivers apparently are due to the EFI boot process not enabling for some reason two devices critical so the driver would work: The PCI Express Graphics Bridge and the Master Graphics PCI-E device (identified as devices 00:17.0 and 04:00.0, respectively). While meddling with this, I also found that for instance Manjaro, does boot into Live USB with the proprietary driver enabled. But also failing miserably with nouveau. And when installed, this very same live image would also fail to boot with the nVidia driver installed!

Apparently my problem stems from Grub2 not applying the setpci as indicated, as (just like the OP in that workaround) the information on my system is pretty much identical. I've been refraining myself from installing Ubuntu only to try this, but I might just do that in the next couple of days and see if this workaround indeed works there, and see if I can find out why I cannot make it work in Fedora (I suspect that the script is not being applied when invoking grub2-mkconfig).

I also noticed that unlike Vanilla Fedora, Korora boots with the Gallim LLVMPipe driver, which is a tad faster than VESA, since it does make use of GL (albeit through the CPU, hence high CPU usage and high temperature). Also secondary displays do not work, as these require the proprietary driver for the DisplayPort to be usable, and to have sound passthrough, for instance for HDMI.

I know this is all is on me to blame, as Apple is not to blame for making their systems so tightly integrated to their stuff, and for insisting on using EFI instead of resorting to CSM (which doesn't work when bootking from USB media, due to Apple's crippled Franken-EFI implementation). Serves me right to not buy another Appler product... EVER.
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  #2  
Old 30th August 2015, 07:26 AM
Thetargos Offline
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linuxfedorafirefox
Re: MacBook Pro 7,1 (nVidia based); Dual boot

Ugh... Only an hour with Ubuntu was enough to remind me why I utterly hate its guts, plus I was not even able to install it before the system halted and spew a ton of errors... Will take a look tomorrow, for the time being, I'm off to bed.
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  #3  
Old 2nd September 2015, 10:34 PM
Atsuri Offline
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linuxfedorafirefox
Re: MacBook Pro 7,1 (nVidia based); Dual boot

I am in the very same situation as you, sir. In fact, I have the same model of MacBook Pro with the same graphics card. However, I can confirm Fedora 22 installs without a hitch and the nouveau drivers work and only on heavy load the X server can crash occasionally.

The workaround presented in the linked thread does NOT work, because Fedora for some reason ignores the script part when it's incorporated into grub.cfg. From there you have two options:

1. Modify the grub2 entry for your kernel and put the setpci command there or...

2. Write a systemd service or init script that would use the setpci command.

I can confirm again that solution #2 (and the original workaround) works on at least several other Linux operating systems (notably, Debian, Lubuntu, Manjaro and Arch Linux) and should work on Fedora as well .

EDIT: I'm sorry if I have confused anyone, but after several thorough tests on Fedora and openSUSE it turns out that applying the workaround fails. Even when the bridges are addressed properly the effect is exactly the same. The nvidia drivers fail to support the X server and the last one sees is a white flash and a black screen afterwards while launching X. Xorg.0.log stops abruptly after enabling 2D acceleration, suggesting that 3D acceleration fails and X is left in a half-running unusable state. All of the problems seize when one uses the vesa driver without any 3D acceleration (hence, no GLX for applications ).

Still, I feel that the current nouveau is more than sufficient for my dated machine .

Last edited by Atsuri; 5th September 2015 at 08:20 AM.
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  #4  
Old 13th September 2015, 04:33 PM
Thetargos Offline
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linuxfedorafirefox
Re: MacBook Pro 7,1 (nVidia based); Dual boot

I think the GPU on my MacBook is dying... For starters it began showing a checker board effect (with horizontal lines) soon after the latest MacOS update (10.10.5), I assumed the drivers might have done something to the underlying electronics in the lines of enabling a pipeline that wasn't supposed to be enabled for these chips. When booting Manjaro which does use the 340x driver in a Live environment successfully in this hardware, it is less noticeable, but still there.

My main gripe with Nouveau is that for some odd reason, it would cause the machine to shutdown (completely poweroff) as soon as they are loaded during boot up, it doesn't matter if it is during a live session or installed, with every distribution I've thrown at this machine the same happens.

And to make things worse, the checker board effect is getting ever worse in MacOS

Guess it is time to get a new laptop. Not another Mac anymore, though. If only there would be a decent DICOM workstation package for Linux available!
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  #5  
Old 13th September 2015, 06:01 PM
Atsuri Offline
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linuxmidori
Re: MacBook Pro 7,1 (nVidia based); Dual boot

I am truly sorry to hear about your recent mishaps .

I remember that old versions of nouveau would give some problems, including a major freeze during boot, accompanied by a line of purple dots in the upper section of the screen. However, this is an entirely known issue with integrated nVidia graphics on MacBooks.

I'm afraid that what is happening in your case is the nVidia graphics chip loosing its soldering. There was a series of old MacBooks with a discreet GeForce 8600M GT as the sole graphics. Those chips would overheat quickly and either loose their soldering or even burn.

I can suggest 2 things:
1. Get yourself a heat gun and try to re-solder the chip.
2. Get a new laptop.

Last thing, though. As GeForce 320M uses system RAM, how much RAM do you have? I noticed major, nonspecific issues when having 2 x 4 GB 1066 MHz or any 1333 MHz sticks. For some reason this model is very finicky when it comes to RAM...
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Old 13th September 2015, 07:40 PM
Thetargos Offline
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linuxfedorafirefox
Re: MacBook Pro 7,1 (nVidia based); Dual boot

I have the default factory configuration, 4Gb RAM 2 x 2 GiB sticks 1066 MHz. The theory about soldering might be the cause...
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  #7  
Old 14th September 2015, 12:48 AM
Thetargos Offline
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Re: MacBook Pro 7,1 (nVidia based); Dual boot

This is utterly frustrating. Typing this from Manjaro XFCE 0.8.13.1 Live session, where to no surprise, really, both the Bridge and the Display are set correctly and the system works pretty well, until I install it, and try to run from HDD, as then, even with the correct values for Bridge and Display, I'd be greeted by the infamous black screen.

However, I have still seen the dreaded checker board effect (hence my fear of dying GPU), while I do have the gear, I lack the skill to check and see if indeed the GPU is losing its soldering.

For some reason, when booted with Linux (kernel 3.18.18-1-MANJARO) and the 340 driver, this effect is less obvious than when booting MacOS X 10.10.5.

I still need a copy of MacOS installed as I require it for some work related applications, and have not been able to run it in a virtual environment successfully and to the defree where the required applications would actually run.

I'm banging my head into the wall. I'm not sure why once installed, the system will not be able to run X at all.

I'm reaching the point where I'm about to abandon my effort to install Linux into this computer and simply go out and buy a new one, install a working copy of whatever distribution that might actually run well enough.

Really, really frustrating.
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  #8  
Old 14th September 2015, 07:30 PM
Atsuri Offline
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Re: MacBook Pro 7,1 (nVidia based); Dual boot

Quote:
Originally Posted by Thetargos View Post
This is utterly frustrating. Typing this from Manjaro XFCE 0.8.13.1 Live session, where to no surprise, really, both the Bridge and the Display are set correctly and the system works pretty well, until I install it, and try to run from HDD, as then, even with the correct values for Bridge and Display, I'd be greeted by the infamous black screen.

However, I have still seen the dreaded checker board effect (hence my fear of dying GPU), while I do have the gear, I lack the skill to check and see if indeed the GPU is losing its soldering.

For some reason, when booted with Linux (kernel 3.18.18-1-MANJARO) and the 340 driver, this effect is less obvious than when booting MacOS X 10.10.5.

I still need a copy of MacOS installed as I require it for some work related applications, and have not been able to run it in a virtual environment successfully and to the defree where the required applications would actually run.

I'm banging my head into the wall. I'm not sure why once installed, the system will not be able to run X at all.

I'm reaching the point where I'm about to abandon my effort to install Linux into this computer and simply go out and buy a new one, install a working copy of whatever distribution that might actually run well enough.

Really, really frustrating.
I know that this is somewhat outside of the topic, but I did have similar peculiarities with Manjaro as you. In the liveCD environment, even the Broadcom 4322 wifi chip would work with the libre b43 kernel module! I could positively reproduce it regardless of the desktop selection and software set (XFCE, Openbox, i3, etc.). Installing to the HDD would cause problems with both Nvidia and the wifi.

This however gives me a certain idea. Linux nvidia drivers rely on traditional CMS BIOS components, hence the general problems on MacBooks. Apple's EFI implementation is simply dreadful and lack of high-level user access to it (via the blue-screen GUI from normal PCs), makes it even more demanding.

However, I once read that you can force a MacBook into CMS-mode. Alas, as far I know, this was done with a bootloader other than GRUB2.

I believe this would solve the driver issues at least .

EDIT: Here is a bit more information on a CSM-mode Linux setup from Arch Linux wiki: https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/MacBookPro7,1
Since this is fairly non-standard, most distributions don't offer this setup during installation and someone at the Arch's forum mentioned that the overall performance is lower than in EFI-mode.

What could potentially work well would be to place the EFI partition on a USB stick or SD card. This is actually recommended during Debian installation when an EFI-compliant BIOS is detected and would entirely explain why Manjaro's liveCDs 'just work'.

Sorry I cannot be of much more help, but the hardware is very limiting in our common case .

Last edited by Atsuri; 14th September 2015 at 11:56 PM.
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