Debian on mackbook pro 8.2

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About efi install

  • NOTE: the actual efi installation results in a not working discrete (AMD) graphic card. However there is something new there for direct boot using efistub and get AMD work:




(The used references are at the end of the article)


  • The follow partition scheme was prepared using the Disk Utility of OSX:
|name         |type   |size |
|CROSSMOUNT   |vfat   |25GB |
|ROOT         |xfs    |25GB |
|SRV          |xfs    |25GB |
|SWAP         |swap   |4GB  |
|HOME         |xfs    |219GB|


  • At installer boot, no changes to grub menu are needed, but is convenient to choice the non graphical install mode
  • WARNING: in my tests, Grub efi boot loader will be installed without asking, overriding the default OSX boot loader (but that is what I want to do)
  • NOTE: Grub menu will appears freaky

WARNING: problems with AMD discrete card

Please note: if you have any (future) problems with AMD discrete card, you can disable it for macOS from linux command line:

trick from 1, 2 3

  • 1, from linux, set to disable the card before boot
# do the follow (USING LINUX) ONLY if you have problems booting MACOS with discrete card
printf "\x07\x00\x00\x00\x01\x00\x00\x00" > /sys/firmware/efi/efivars/gpu-power-prefs-fa4ce28d-b62f-4c99-9cc3-6815686e30f9
chattr +i "/sys/firmware/efi/efivars/gpu-power-prefs-fa4ce28d-b62f-4c99-9cc3-6815686e30f9"
  • 2, from mac (starting in single mode), disable amd extensions
# do the follow (USING MACOS in single mode) ONLY if you have problems booting MACOS with discrete card
mount -uw /  (to be able to move System files)
mkdir /System/Library/DisabledExtensions/
mv /System/Library/Extensions/ATI* /System/Library/DisabledExtensions/

First boot

  • At first system boot, edit the Linux item of the Grub prompt disable 'modeset' features and switch off discrete graphic cards, adding:
- Follow lines just before the "Loading Linux" line:
        outb 0x728 1
        outb 0x710 2
        outb 0x740 2
        outb 0x750 0
- Follow parameters just before "ro quiet" ones (usually I remove the "quiet one too")
i915.modeset=1 i915.lvds_channel_mode=2 i915.lvds_use_ssc=0
- In my case, the result was like the follow:
        outb 0x728 1
        outb 0x710 2
        outb 0x740 2
        outb 0x750 0
        echo    'Loading Linux 4.9.0-3-amd64 ...
        linux   /boot/vmlinuz-4.9.0-3-amd64 root=UUID=a300f00d-de7e-42cd-ae2e-6fbb40bf2096 ro i915.modeset=1 i915.lvds_channel_mode=2 i915.lvds_use_ssc=0
        echo    'Loading initial ramdisk ...'
        initrd  /boot/initrd.img-4.9.0-3-amd64


Etckeeper [optional]

  • OPTIONAL install etckeeper to keep tracks /etc config changes
- It is not in the install DVD, and it needs git package, so you will need to download etckeeper package and use the install DVD to install its dependencies)
- Configure it like Git server config backup


  • Persist Grub config to boot Debian with discrete card disabled
cat /boot/grub/grub.cfg >> /etc/grub.d/40_custom
nano /etc/grub.d/40_custom
- Keep only the last item of the menu, the result must like the follows?
exec tail -n +3 $0
# This file provides an easy way to add custom menu entries.  Simply type the
# menu entries you want to add after this comment.  Be careful not to change
# the 'exec tail' line above.

menuentry 'CUSTOM Debian GNU/Linux' --class debian --class gnu-linux --class gnu --class os $menuentry_id_option 'gnulinux-simple-a300f00d-de7e-42cd-ae2e-6fbb40bf2096' {
        insmod gzio
        if [ x$grub_platform = xxen ]; then insmod xzio; insmod lzopio; fi
        insmod part_gpt
        insmod xfs
        set root='hd0,gpt3'
        if [ x$feature_platform_search_hint = xy ]; then
          search --no-floppy --fs-uuid --set=root --hint-bios=hd0,gpt3 --hint-efi=hd0,gpt3 --hint-baremetal=ahci0,gpt3  a300f00d-de7e-42cd-ae2e-6fbb40bf2096
          search --no-floppy --fs-uuid --set=root a300f00d-de7e-42cd-ae2e-6fbb40bf2096
        # Switch select:
        outb 0x728 1
        # Switch display:
        outb 0x710 2
        # Switch DDC
        outb 0x740 2
        # Power down discrete graphics:
        outb 0x750 0
        echo    'Loading Linux /vmlinuz ...'
        # Adding options to enable the use of intel for Xorg
        linux   /vmlinuz root=UUID=a300f00d-de7e-42cd-ae2e-6fbb40bf2096 ro i915.modeset=1 i915.lvds_channel_mode=2 i915.lvds_use_ssc=0 i915.enable_gvt=1 i915.enable_guc_loading=1 i915.enable_guc_submission=1
        echo    'Loading initial ramdisk /initrd.img ...'
        initrd  /initrd.img



  • NOTE: until 2018/03/07 I'm using b43 wireless module, experiencing some problem with the wireless device working intermittently as related here and here, so I'm testing a new kind of installation that is currently working:
- NEW firmware installation step-to-step (broadcom-sta-dkms), from here:
apt-get update
apt-get install linux-image-$(uname -r|sed 's,[^-]*-[^-]*-,,') linux-headers-$(uname -r|sed 's,[^-]*-[^-]*-,,') broadcom-sta-dkms
modprobe -r b44 b43 b43legacy ssb brcmsmac bcma # unload conflicting modules, they was blacklisted from the previous apt command
modprobe wl # load the wl module, however in my case I need to restart!
echo NOTE, the wireless device name can change, in my case from 'wlp3s0b1' to 'wlp3s0'
- OLD firmware install step-to-step (b43), from here:
apt-get install firmware-b43-installer
rmmod b43
modprobe b43
  • Now, you can test the wireless using 'nm-applet' tray icon program in a X session to configure a wireless connection

Remote APT repository

Install others non-free firmware drivers

apt-get install firmware-linux-nonfree


  • To have the touchpad configured, you may just install the synaptics X module with this command
apt-get install xserver-xorg-input-synaptics

and set your configuration in .xsession config file using the follow command

synclient VertTwoFingerScroll=1 HorizTwoFingerScroll=1 TapButton1=1 TapButton2=3 TapButton3=2
  • To have the proper keymap configured under X, you can use the command 'setxkbmap' in the ~/.xsession file like follows:
setxkbmap en, it, br


  • To have control of backlight, volume and keyboard light, use pommed
apt-get install pommed

Note, backlight control is very slow, you can edit the /etc/pommed.conf to speed up the backlight changes, editing the respective section as follows

lcd_sysfs {
        # The sysfs backlight control is a generic interface provided
        # by the Linux kernel for backlight control on most graphic cards.
        # The brightness range can differ depending on the hardware.

        # initial backlight level [12] (0 - 15, -1 to disable)
        init = -1
        # step value (1 - 2)
        step = 2500
        # backlight level when on battery [6] (1 - 15, 0 to disable)
        on_batt = 2500



Installed from Debian 8 dvd using efi dvd boot:

  • MacbookPro EFI partition must be mounted
  • no need of rEFIt
  • Grub EFI installed
  • At first boot, edit Grub boot option and add the boot parameters 'nomodeset', or a video problem will halt the system
  • Install etckeeper, to keep track config changes
  • Reconfigure grub with 'nomodeset' option in /etc/default/grub, run update-grub to fix the changes
  • Install firmware-linux-nonfree xserver-xorg-video-ati for video and b43-fwcutter firmware-b43-installer for wireless
  • WARNING: suspend cause blank monitor on wake up!

Wheezy-stable tested


install rEFIt
use dvd to install debian
install until boot loader installation
boot loader installation
 go back
 continue without
 stop! go to ctrl+alt+F2
 chroot /target
 grub-install /dev/sdX --force

continue until reboot
on rEFIt prompt, start Partitioning Tool
say yes to update MBR and hit enter
shutdown your mac
boot your debian

First boot



add this rows:

Section "Module"

    # This loads the 3d extrnsion drivers
    Load    "glx"        # OpenGL rendering;
    Load    "dri"        # direct rendering (NOT nvidia)
    Load    "vbe"        # BIOS VESA extensions (get info from board)
    Load    "ddc"        # Data Display Chanel (get info from board)
    Load    "int10"        # real-mode x86 emulator useful for "vbr"
    Load    "dbe"        # Double buffer extension

    #    Load    "GLcore"    # OpenGL support
    # OBS: Per quelli che intendono usare aiglx, e' necessario (tra le altre cose)
    # disabilitare proprio l' estensione GLX dalla configurazone di Xorg.

    Load    "v4l"        # Video4Linux

    # This loads the extension drivers
    Load    "extmod"    # Misc. extensions

    # This loads the font modules
    Load    "freetype"
    Load    "bitmap"


Section "Extensions"
    Option    "Composite"    "Enable"

Section "DRI"
    Mode    0666

ATI proprietary driver


apt-get install  fglrx-control fglrx-driver

add this basic xorg.conf rows

Section "Device"
    Identifier  "ATI"
    Driver      "fglrx"

Section "Screen"
    Identifier "Default Screen"
    DefaultDepth     24
    SubSection "Display"
        Viewport  0 0
        Virtual   3360 1980
        Depth     24

test with

xrandr --auto --output LVDS --primary --mode 1440x900 --output DFP1 --mode 1920x1080 --right-of LVDS



Section "InputDevice"
    Identifier     "Mouse0"
    Driver         "synaptics"
    Option         "SendCoreEvents"        "true"
    Option         "Device"                "/dev/input/mice"
    Option         "Protocol"              "auto"

    # use two finger scrolling 
    Option         "VertTwoFingerScroll"   "1" 
    Option         "HorizTwoFingerScroll"  "1" # set to 0 if you don't want horizontal scrolling

    # minimum pressure motion factor 
    #Option         "PressureMotionMinZ"    "10"

    # touch and untouch thresholds, higher numbers if you like to push hard 
    Option         "FingerHigh"            "60" # change to 30 or 40 if you like
    Option         "FingerLow"             "20" 

    # FingerPress (Integer) : Above which counts as press 
    #Option         "FingerPress"           "130"

    # borders based on output from synclient 
    Option         "LeftEdge"              "100" 
    Option         "RightEdge"             "1100" 
    Option         "TopEdge"               "50" 
    Option         "BottomEdge"            "700"

    # speeds, smaller number for a slower mouse 
    Option         "MinSpeed"              "0.94" # 0.5 is very slow, 1.5 is very fast 
    Option         "MaxSpeed"              "1.0" # up to 1.5 works ok 
    Option         "New AccelFactor"       "0.03"
    Option         "AccelFactor"           "0.0015"

    # tap times, change to suit your tapping habits 
    Option         "FastTaps"              "0" 
    Option         "MaxTapMove"            "100" 
    Option         "MaxTapTime"            "180" 
    Option         "MaxDoubleTapTime"      "200"

    # don't change these or two finger tap stops working 
    Option         "TapButton1"            "0"
    Option         "TapButton2"            "3" 
    Option         "TapButton3"            "2"

    Option         "VertEdgeScroll"        "0"
    Option         "HorizEdgeScroll"       "0"

    # scroll speed, lower is faster 
    Option         "VertScrollDelta"       "20"
    Option         "HorizScrollDelta"      "20" 

    # Right Bottom Corner Button as right click 
    Option         "RTCornerButton"        "0" 
    Option         "RBCornerButton"        "2"

    # Left Bottom Corner Button as middle click 
    Option         "LTCornerButton"        "0" 
    Option         "LBCornerButton"        "3"

    # Palm Detection: Useful while typing 
    Option         "PalmDetect"            "on" 
    Option         "PalmMinWidth"          "10" 
    Option         "PalmMinZ"              "200"

    # needed for disabled while typing fix 
    Option         "SHMConfig"             "on"


Manual firmware install

apt-get install b43-fwcutter firmware-b43-installer
modprobe -r b43
export FIRMWARE_INSTALL_DIR="/lib/firmware"
tar -xjf broadcom-wl-5.100.138.tar.bz2
b43-fwcutter -w "$FIRMWARE_INSTALL_DIR" broadcom-wl-5.100.138/linux/wl_apsta.o
rm -rf broadcom-wl-5.100.138 broadcom-wl-5.100.138.tar.bz2
modprobe b43

Suspend with wireless working after resume [needed in Squeeze, maybe in wheezy too]

from Linux support for Broadcom 4331 wireless chip (Macbook Pro 8,1) | Raimar Sandner and Fix Suspend on Macbook Pro 8,1 and 8,2 « BITONIC BLOG

echo SUSPEND_MODULES=\"b43\" >> /etc/pm/config.d/default