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Tech Life of Recht » archive for 'macbook pro'

 DVI adapter with Macbook Pro and Linux

  • December 29th, 2007
  • 2:36 am

I recently discovered that using the DVI adapter with the Macbook Pro wasn’t as easy as I thought. The MBP comes with a DVI connector, which is great, and it works just fine when you plug a DVI monitor into it. However, when doing presentations, you almost always have to use a regular VGA connector. Even though the driver (nvidia) could see the screen, it refused to display anything.
Now I’ve finally worked out a solution, and luckily it’s not that complicated. The trick is that even though the monitor is recognized, it is still treated as a DVI monitor. In order to get the driver to treat it as a normal VGA monitor, add this to xorg.conf:
Section “Device”

Option “ConnectedMonitor” “DFP-0,DFP-1,CRT-0”
Option “MetaModes” “DFP-0: 1440×900, DFP-1: 1680×1050; DFP-0: 1440×900, CRT-0: 1280×1024”

Of course, the modes should be adjusted according to the setup. The MetaModes line should contain the valid combinations, separated by ;. In this case, I’ve specified that the internal display should always run at 1440×900, and then I either have a DVI monitor connected at 1680×1050 or a VGA monitor at 1280×1024. Of course, it’s also possible just to specify one monitor if you’re not using TwinView.

The trick now is that when running in X, xrandr can be used to switch between the monitors. When running xrandr, it should display something like this:
Screen 0: minimum 1280 x 900, current 1440 x 900, maximum 2720 x 1024
default connected 1440×900+0+0 (normal left inverted right) 0mm x 0mm
1440×900 50.0* 51.0 54.0
2720×1024 52.0 50.0
2464×900 53.0
1280×1024 55.0

The tricky part now is that the nvidia driver “hides” the monitor configuration in the refresh rate. For example, the 1280×1024 resolution has only one rate, which means that this resolution is unique to one monitor. Switching to this mode with ‘xrandr -s 1280×1024’ will enable the VGA monitor and disable the internal display.
However, the mode 2720×1024 has two refresh rates, 52 and 50. Unfortunately there’s no easy way of telling it, but the 52 rate is with the internal display and the VGA monitor on, while the 50 is with only the internal display on (and a larger desktop, something you probably don’t want to use). Switching on the VGA monitor then requires two arguments: xrandr -s 2720×1024 –rate 52.

This isn’t the easiest to work with, so I’ve created a small Perl script which can query the nvidia driver directly to find the available modes, and then call xrandr. Download the script here. To use it, the X11::Protocol Perl package must be installed, and of course xrandr and the nvidia driver. To use the script, simply call it without any arguments to get a list of the supported resolutions and monitors. Select a configuration by calling the script with -s where id is one of the numbers in the first column. That’s about as simple as it gets.

 Remote control with MacBook Pro and Ubuntu

  • October 28th, 2007
  • 5:44 pm

I managed to get the remote control to work with my MacBook Pro and Ubuntu. It should work out of the box according to almost everybody when you google for it, but it just didn’t. I know, I said ealier that I didn’t know what to use it for, but that doesn’t really matter. What matters is that I had a piece of hardware which didn’t work, and that’s just not good enough.
After digging around a little in lsusb and the module source code, I found out that on the most recent MacBooks, the IR receiver has been assigned a new device id. The original receivers had id 0x8240 while mine has 0x8242. It doesn’t look like anything else has changed, and after recompiling the module with the correct device it, it suddenly worked like it should.

Compiling the module isn’t exactly for the faint of heart, so I won’t describe the details here – let me know if you want it, and I’ll post it. However, it does include “apt-get source linux-ubuntu-modules-2.6.22-14-generic”.

Also, remember that the appleir module must be loaded before usbhid. To do this on a running system do
“rmmod appleir usbhid; modprobe appleir; modprobe udbhid”
Remember to do it on one line, or you will lose keyboard input after running rmmod.

Other than this, follow this guide to configure the remote control. So far, my .lircrc contains the following, supporting slide change in OOImpress and Amarok:

prog = irxevent
button = KEY_MENU
button = KEY_PP
config = Key space amarokapp
flags = quit
prog = irxevent
button = KEY_MENU
button = KEY_N
config = Key ctrl-alt-b amarokapp
flags = quit

prog = irxevent
button = KEY_MENU
button = KEY_MENU
config = Key Escape CurrentWindow

prog = irxevent
button = KEY_P
config = Key Page_Up CurrentWindow
prog = irxevent
button = KEY_N
config = Key Page_Down CurrentWindow

Btw, I’ve filed a bug with Ubuntu, so hopefully the module will be fixed at some point.

 Suspend success

  • October 27th, 2007
  • 12:37 am

as I wrote about yesterday, I had some problems getting software suspend to work with Ubuntu and my MacBook Pro. Well, it looks like the problem has been solved. As reported here, it looks like there’s a bug in the kernel, so downgrading a little should fix it. However, in my case I also had to disable gnome-power-manager – not really an issue. After changing these two things, I’ve been able to suspend and resume without problems – at least for now.

 My xmonad start script

  • October 25th, 2007
  • 10:54 pm

After reinstalling xmonad on my laptop using Ubuntu as the base distribution, I’ve finally got a setup I like, so I thought I’d share it. So, here is my script which starts xmonad:

ssh-add ~/.ssh/id_dsa /dev/null

Esetroot /usr/share/backgrounds/warty-final-ubuntu.png
unclutter -idle 2 &

urxvtd -f -o

gnome-settings-daemon &
gnome-volume-manager &


export PATH=$PATH:`dirname $0`

# create a pipe for xmonad to talk to
rm -f $PIPE
mkfifo -m 600 $PIPE
[ -p $PIPE ] || exit

# and a workspace status bar, reading’s xmonad’s stdout
dzen2 -e ” -w 680 -ta l -fg $FG -bg $BG -fn $FONT -h 15 < $PIPE & `dirname $0`/status & xmonad > $PIPE &
wait $!

pkill -HUP dzen2


This script is launched from ~/.xsession. It uses dzen and some of the dzen gadgets (which must be compiled separately from dzen/gadgets). It also starts some of the Gnome daemons which normally run under Ubuntu. This means that power management and sound volume goes through Gnome, and devices are mounted automatically when they are added to the system.

Two dzens are launched: One for displaying workspaces and one for general status. The general status script looks like this:



while :; do
MEM=`awk ‘/MemTotal/ {t=$2}; /MemFree/ {f=$2}; END {print t-f ” ” t}’ \
/proc/meminfo | dbar -s ‘:’ -l ‘Mem:’ -w 10`
CF0=$(echo `cat /sys/devices/system/cpu/cpu0/cpufreq/scaling_cur_freq` \
`cat /sys/devices/system/cpu/cpu0/cpufreq/scaling_max_freq` | dbar -w 7 -l ‘CPU0:’)
CF1=$(echo `cat /sys/devices/system/cpu/cpu1/cpufreq/scaling_cur_freq` \
`cat /sys/devices/system/cpu/cpu1/cpufreq/scaling_max_freq` | dbar -w 7 -l ‘CPU1:’)
DATE=`date +”%d-%m %k:%M”`

REM=`grep ‘remaining capacity’ /proc/acpi/battery/BAT0/state | awk ‘{print $3}’`
LAST=`grep ‘last full’ /proc/acpi/battery/BAT0/info |awk ‘{print $4}’`
STATE=`awk ‘{print $2}’ /proc/acpi/ac_adapter/ADP1/state`
if [ “$STATE” = “on-line” ]; then
BAT=$(echo $REM $LAST | awk ‘{printf “Bat: %.1f%%, AC”, ($1/$2)*100’})
PRESENT=`grep ‘present rate’ /proc/acpi/battery/BAT0/state | awk ‘{print $3}’`
BAT=$(echo $REM $LAST $PRESENT | awk ‘{printf “Bat: %.1f%%, %d min”, ($1/$2)*100, ($1/$3)*60}’)

LOAD=`awk ‘{print $1 ” ” $2 ” ” $3}’ /proc/loadavg`

echo “$CF0 $CF1 $MEM | $DATE | $BAT | $LOAD”
sleep 5
done | dzen2 -e ” -x 440 -w 1000 -fg $FG -bg $BG -fn $FONT -h 15


The script is made for a MacBook Pro with a two core processor and acpi. It displays the CPU frequencies in a dbar, memory usage, battery status, and load. I would like to display network status too, but I can’t figure out how to dig around in dbus efficiently, so that’s still missing.

 MacBook Pro

  • October 24th, 2007
  • 11:04 pm

Last week, we had some of the local drugheads come into the office at night, and they ran off with my laptop, and 6 other laptops. I had a trusty Lenovo Thinkpad z61m with Ubuntu (and xmonad, of course), which is now gone, together with whatever I had on it. Naturally, I didn’t have backup of everything, but at least all of my code was checked into Subversion, so the most critical I’m missing now are some course material.
Luckily, it didn’t take long before we got permission to go out and buy some new laptops (this is one of the great things when you’re working for a small company: no company procedures which have to be followed). We were told that we should probably go for a IBM, HP or Apple laptop. Now, I don’t know about you, but when I buy new hardware, I can’t just decide. It takes a couple of days (or even weeks), so deciding what to buy and live with for the next couple of years in half an hour certainly wasn’t easy. In the end, I got a MacBook Pro with a 15″ display – but only after confirming that it could run Linux, in case OS X got on my nerves too much.
Having lived with xmonad for a couple of months, it didn’t take long before I decided that OS X might be pretty nice, but there’s just too much focus on the looks, so I installed rEFIt, downloaded the new Ubuntu 7.10 and installed it.

I had anticipated some problems installing, as some of the experience reports on the net indicated that some things might go wrong, but that didn’t really happen. Everything just installed ™ – almost: The wireless driver had to be compiled from Subversion. Other than that, everything works: X, accellerated graphics, Xinerama/TwinView, sound, webcam, temp. sensors, keyboard lights, and touchpad with different zones. Only two things aren’t working: The remote control and suspend to ram.
I can live without the remote control (actually, I can’t really imagine what I should use it for if it worked), but the missing software suspend is not exactly optimal. It doesn’t help that it’s not consistent: Sometimes it can actually suspend and resume correctly. Using ‘pm-suspend –quirk-post-vbe’ seems to increase the number of times it works.
At other times, it doesn’t suspend. Sometimes, it just blanks the screen, and nothing else happend. It can also switch to console with a blinking cursor, and then nothing else happend. Sometimes bliking the cursor is so hard it has to turn on the fans. No matter what, a cold boot is the only way forward.
If it manages to suspend, resume often fails. When this happens, the disk turns on, but the screen doesn’t, and there’s no response to any keypresses. Again, cold boot is the way forward.
I haven’t managed to identify why software suspend doesn’t work. The only hint I have is that if the network cable is unplugged when I suspend, it seems to suspend successfully more often than else. Acpid should unload the network drivers before suspend, so I can’t see why this has anything to do with it. I’m hoping a kernel upgrade will fix it at some point.