In the final run-up to the Fedora 25 release, we slipped a week because there was a bug in installs on apple osx (now macos again) hardware. This was (and is) a use case the Workstation working group cares about, as they would love for folks with apple hardware to install Fedora and use it on that hardware. Sadly, we don’t have too many testers with this hardware to help our testing cycles, and many community members with this hardware also are using it day to day and cannot afford to reinstall and test at the drop of a hat.
I use my personal yoga 900 for my main machine, so my work laptop has always been for me a test machine or a backup in case of failure. There are a number of reasons for this: I prefer to pick and use laptops that aren’t standard corporate offerings, I like to know that I can do anything I choose with the laptop, and if (god forbid) I moved to a new job I wouldn’t have to give my primary laptop back.
So, when I was up for laptop refresh and I saw that a macbook pro 13″ model (12,1 apparently) was available, I decided to choose that and help out with Fedora testing efforts on this hardware. I do feel a bit bad about this as I am not a big fan of Apple and this does mean giving them money, but on the other hand, hopefully I can test Fedora and help avoid slips due to lack of hardware. Also, I can run rawhide on it and see if I can get everything working fully.
The macbook arrived the other day and yesterday I unpacked it and did some initial testing:
First, the hardware: Seems nice enough, but I am not sure why anyone would get one of these over a Dell XPS 13 or a yoga 900/910. It’s got a lower resolution screen than those, 8gb memory instead of 16, and only an i5 cpu instead of an i7. The feel is very solid, but it makes it just makes it seem too heavy to me. Otherwise the screen is bright and nice, the keyboard backlight is nice (The yoga 900 only has off, dim, bright for the keyboard backlight, but this macbook you can set it to whatever you like), the power connector is neat in that it has a light on it telling you if it’s charging (orange/amber) or fully charged (green). The keyboard and trackpad seem fine.
I decided I would go through the normal macos setup first and then try and setup Fedora to dual boot, as I imagine that would be a common setup. Part of the setup instructions that came from my corporate overlords was mention of enabling File Vault full disk encryption. So, I did that and got everything installed and seemed to be working fine (at least as far as I could tell, not being a macos user normally).
Still following what I would think would be the more traveled path, I went to https://getfedora.org and downloaded the Fedora Media Writer. Download went fine and it was no trouble to run it, but it did give me a warning that this was something I had “DOWNLOADED” from the internet. I don’t guess we have much way around that warning as we are signing the binary fine and it’s not saying it’s unsigned, just that it was downloaded and are you sure you want to run it. Download and burn to usb went just fine, no problems at all with FMW. It might be nice if there is an option to download Rawhide images if you really wanted them.
Hold down the option key and power on and you get the boot selector thing. Choose FedoraMedia and there’s the Fedora Live USB. Everything booted up nicely and I poked around to see what was working or not working. Turns out so far the only thing that doesn’t appear to be working out of the box is the webcam. It seems to be a broadcom model that some folks are working on reverse engineering, but haven’t gotten that done enough to merge into the mainline kernel ( https://github.com/patjak/bcwc_pcie ). I might try that out sometime down the road. The power connector activity seems a bit odd as well: when you plug or unplug the power it seems to take a minute or two before it notices and starts updating.
Next I pulled up the Anaconda installer and looked to install Fedora along side the existing OS. I needed some space to install in, so I selected the largest partition which I knew was the main macos volume (but oddly was showing up as Unknown), and told anaconda to shrink it. That seemed to work fine, and I installed Fedora in the newly freed space. The install finished fine and I rebooted.
On reboot, I now got grub and Fedora booted and worked fine. The macos entries however, errored and didn’t work at all. Turns out this is a long standing, known bug: https://bugzilla.redhat.com/show_bug.cgi?id=893179 I tried various things suggested in the bug to chainload, but with no luck. Luckily you can still hold down option and get the native bootloader.
So, I did that and tried to boot the macos install, but it would think for a while and then error with a picture that was a circle and crossbar and fail to boot. After poking around it seems I now hit: https://bugzilla.redhat.com/show_bug.cgi?id=1033778 ( https://fedoraproject.org/wiki/Common_F24_bugs#apple-core-storage-wipe ). So, my macos partition was unknown to anaconda, so it let me shrink it, but it messed it up completely and nuked all data that was on it. Had I not encrypted things it would have worked, but since I did it was gone.
Luckily apple has the advantage of controlling the hardware platform in this case, so I just needed to boot with option command r to get a network rescue. This let me wipe the drive, repartition it, reinstall macos, then boot the Fedora USB again and install Fedora in the space I left for it. So, it wasn’t the end of the world, but it would sure have been anoying if I had data there.
After all that installing, I moved the Fedora install from F25 to rawhide. No issues there, everything seems to work and be fine after that.
So, if we could somehow fix the two bugs I ran into for f26 I think it would help macbook folks a fair bit. If anyone needs me to install or test anything on this platform, just let me know. I plan to keep the macbook ready to (re)install most anytime and hopefully can provide more test coverage for upcoming cycles.