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renfield23x5 09-13-2011 06:02 AM

Video driver trouble with 13.37 on MacbookPro
I am learning as I go. After struggling with the usual SNAFUs associated with MacBook's partition scheme and lack of BIOS, I was able to (as far as I can tell) install the operating system and boot into it.

Although I had intended to cause the installation to include the KDE environment, it does not seem to exist. Nor does anything associated with the X package. I am led to believe this because of the information provided to me by Pkgtools.

At some point during the installation (I think when running lilo after editing lilo.conf, from the installation cd) I was cautioned that an appropriate video driver had not been found and that the OS would have to run in text mode. So I wasn't surprised when it started up at the command line, but why weren't the packages themselves installed? Is it an issue of dependencies (a word that has very recently entered my vocabulary)? Ie, what i need to do is obtain the correct driver and then reinstall the GUI packages.

I have furthermore found several resources such as this one: ...which allege the ease with which all this information can be found. So I'm stuck in a recursive loop wherein my googling only yields the repeated advice to simply find the well-publicized information I seek through more googling. I don't mean to clutter the forum with redundant questions, but there it is.

Abbraxas 09-13-2011 11:53 PM

Maybe you should try to run the new Os as a virtual machine with your mac book? With virtual box (which i prefer, because it comes with the used drivers and everything works fine) this is able - maybe at a cost of efficency because it is not the "real" hardware on which Slackware runs. But I started this way and there is no problem. And I do not think that you do very exhausting things for your MacBook Pro, so that running it in VirtualBox would be useless.
I have got the next to last MBP and everyting worked fine.
And keep in mind, doing it this way, you never have to be anxious about loosing or destroying anything by writing new partition tables or whatever when installing slackware.
Of course I assume that you want to have MacOs parallely installed.

ReaperX7 09-14-2011 12:39 AM

Hmmm... Ren can you walk us through your installation from start to finish?

Not to say it but MACs should have some sort of BIOS like an EFI or CMOS. All PCs have some sort of BIOS that has to preload and start the system hardware before the OS can even begin to load (either a CMOS based BIOS or an EFI based BIOS).

renfield23x5 09-14-2011 02:20 PM

Thanks for the replies. As it turns out, all that was necessary was for me to configure my wlan0 and download series X via slackpkg.

I have written out a long and verbose account of my Slackware adventure so far. Perhaps it could be of use to others with similar goals, or maybe to giggle at my naivete. I do have to say that Slackware is extremely approachable/learnable...most of the snags I encountered were due to my own Linux illiteracy, and really 13.37 was able to configure itself appropriately for my hardware right out of the box. So far the monitor, airport, touchpad, and bluetooth seem to have full functionality with me having had to do anything besides learn how to interface with 'em.

I'll follow up tonight with a higher level of specificity.

Thanks again!

renfield23x5 09-15-2011 07:12 PM

This will probably be annoying because it's more prose/narrative than specific and technical.


I am a student of computer science and a tech hobbyist besides. I and my domestic partner use these computers: my MacBook Pro (osX 10.6), her Dell Inspiron, our HP Mini311(both Windows 7 Home), our Playstation3 (with current firmware/no linux). Also there is an older iMac (g4? g5?) running 10.4 or 10.5, hosting a network printer. The ancient MacBook Pro's days as a mobile computer are gone, the video inverter strip having been all but murdered through years of careless transport. I try to only interface with it using peripherals. It is to this machine that I will be installing Slackware.

Computer use is fairly typical: home office, media storage/influx, games, audio/video editing, computer science studenting. I write lots of quick scripts and mini-apps to experiment with algorithms or maybe solve some trivial real-life problem that I realize is within my power to solve by writing code. I also harbor delusions of concocting some killer, addictive GUI that does something fun, and play around quite a bit with Java in that capacity.

Why Slackware:

As my computer literacy increases, so does my desire to more effectively implement my computing environment. Networking between all these idiotic operating systems isn't impossible or even difficult, but it is done in such a way that seems annoyingly round-about, non-uniform, etc. And has its limitations. So I've been thinking about Linux for a while.

Then I read Neal Stephenson's essay about the OS conundrum and started feeling like a serious chump for pretending to be a computer guy and letting myself be enslaved to proprietary operating systems. Now, I've run Ubuntu, and I ended up interacting with it no differently than Windows/OS-X. This isn't a slant against Ubuntu, but it does allow you (me) to be lazy and circumvent learning the OS. I want to understand my OS in every facet and nuance, I mean, some day. So, given all this, anyone familiar with Slackware's reputation should find my choice unsurprising.

The Adventure:

Install prep:
I downloaded Slackware installation disc 1. As far as I could discern at the time, this disc contained all the essential packages I would need to get the operating system up and running. Sometime later, when selecting which packages were to be installed in the Slackware setup program, I fell victim to perhaps my stupidest blunder in the whole process: of course the 6.5 GB full installation could not be contained on a 650 MB CD. We will deal with this idiocy when it appears chronologically.

So I downloaded the install CD with packages A, AP, D, E, L, and N. I also downloaded installation discs for Gentoo and Debian. The next hurdle to clear was convincing my MacBook Pro to boot from one of these discs. It would not recognize any of the three as a bootable medium. Some searching led me to a rough understanding of the following related issues:
-Mac does not use RAM BIOS, it uses EFI
-rEFIt is a program for Apple OS/X that emulates a RAM BIOS on top of the native EFI
*OR rEFIt installs a BIOS somewhere on the HDD, and alters the EFI to boot to it?

Either way rEFIt became integral to the way I dealt with things from here on out. This resource was of great value to me.

The system now boots to rEFIt's bootloading menu. This menu indeed recognizes the Slackware CD and boots from it.

I have already partitioned the hard drive using Apple's DiskUtility. 550 GB for MacOS and 200 for slackware. All of my music/video editing projects are firmly embroiled in Apple's software, so Apple gets the bulk of the space. Hopefully this partition will not be formatting into oblivion during this process. Working from within Slackware install, I invoke fdisk -l and see the partition scheme as I had envisioned it.

fdisk informs, cautions me, that the partition scheme doesn't look the way it wants it to. I investigate more and find out about Apple having a stupid partitioning method that other systems don't like.

My linux partition is listed as sda3, so I go fdisk dev/sda3 and partition it into 198 GB and 2 GB swap. At this point I am supposed to activate the swap space somehow, but can't figure out how to make either makeswap or the setup GUI interact with or recognize the swap partition. I ignore this and proceed with the installation.


As noted, I tell the installer to install quite a few more packages than are contained on the CD. When the installer prompts me to insert more media so it can continue installing packages, I assume that it means I can pop in another disc, see another list of packages beyond those I already selected, and install those. I decline to do so since I possess no further discs.

I perform the rest of the configurations for which Slackware setup prompts, and then have to rummage about for an old usb keyboard with separate Del and Backspace keys (because I am unfamiliar with reboot command at this point).

Significantly, I installed Lilo in the Linux root rather than in the MBR. "Huh?" I said, "I don't even have an MBR, I have this weird Apple thing instead." The computer restarts, and rEFIt is now giving me four boot options: MacintoshHD, Linux on HD, Linux on Partition 3, and Linux on optical drive. Not sure about this dual appearance of linux on my hard drive, but, unphased, I proceed.

Neither of the linux options lead to bootable media. However there is an option at the rEFIt bootloader menu called Partitioning Tool. I'm not sure what exactly this did, but it seemed to reconcile Apple's partitioning table with the one I had created using fdisk. Partition 3 no longer appears as FAT but as LINUX.

I onced again attempt to boot. This time I get the charming:
Error: file not found
grub rescue>

I am pretty thrilled to have gotten a bit closer and annoy those present with a few witticisms about rescuing my grub. I google around and sort of learn some stuff: grub is a bootloader, lilo is a bootloader, lilo should have been installed to mbr. I edit lilo.conf, changing "sd3" to "sda" to indicate that it should locate itself in the MBR, and run the lilo command. I reboot and am in Slackware!

Here I spend a good several hours wondering what happened to the X windowing environment and KDE and all the good stuff that I have yet to realize never got installed. I become aware of slackpkg and attempt to use it to procure these missing packages. This of course necessitates configuring my wifi.

I struggled with iwconfig for a bit and couldn't get it to accept my security key. I found a lot of disconcerting advice telling me that I needed a different driver or a different kernel...then somebody mentioned that iwconfig can't handle a WPA key. A few minutes with wpa_supplicant and this, and I was good to go. I commmitted the steps needed to initiate the connection to a script.

Quite a rush is experienced as dhcpcd coughs up an ip address. A feeling of raw and potential power. Thanks to my ability to communicate with the web at large, slackpkg can now download and install more packages. I use this ability to install and start the KDE desktop.

This is pretty deflating because, of course, it's just another clunky window environment, and I'm not super enthusiastic about learning it's idiosyncracies. The desktop is pretty slow. Noticeable lag between when an object is clicked and when some graphical response occurs. Yet the lag does not seem to accumulate, seems the same whether one or several programs running or if I click on many things rapidly. The screen is running off the external display, has been ever since I got the CLI up and running. Every now and then the screen flickers...if the default display is also active, it flickers in synch with the external.

Next I turned my attention to Bluetooth. As mentioned I avoid using the laptop's keyboard and touchpad, so this high priority. Can't find anything Bluetooth related in KDE. I find out about the ... what are they, drivers? ... needed for Bluetoothing in Linux and discover that bluez is installed. I find command line tools for dealing with it: one command to turn on the Bluetooth receiver (I guess?), and another in which I have to manually enter in my BT keyboard's MAC address. Annoying! They were hcitools and hidd I believe.

At this point it becomes clear to me that I need to buckle down and learn shell commands and the KDE environment before I make a serious muckery of things or waste a lot of time chasing my tail. So that's my story.

ReaperX7 09-18-2011 10:35 AM

Hmmmm... Slackware should support most EFI BIOSes, unless Apple has the BIOS modified to only accept Apple bootable disks using a special BIOS lockout mode and have a special loader file on their own disks to allow their bootable disk to work as it should.

(It's an underhanded, nasty, and dirty trick some OEMs use to disrupt people from installing their own software onto a system. Dell is know to do this also to prevent a person from using a simple clean OS and forcing them to use their bloatware loaded OS instead, and I think Apple and a few other use this as well.)

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