1. Computers
  2. Display Drivers
  3. Graphics Cards
  4. Memory
  5. Motherboards
  6. Processors
  7. Software
  8. Storage
  9. Operating Systems


Facebook RSS Twitter Twitter Google Plus


Phoronix Test Suite

OpenBenchmarking Benchmarking Platform
Phoromatic Test Orchestration

Linux Is A Lemon On The Retina MacBook Pro

Michael Larabel

Published on 16 August 2012
Written by Michael Larabel
Page 1 of 4 - 37 Comments

If you are planning to buy one of the new Apple MacBook Pro notebooks with a Retina Display for use under Linux, hold off on your purchase. Running the Retina MacBook Pro with Linux isn't a trouble-free experience and after using even the latest development code and jumping through various hoops, Linux on the latest Apple hardware is still less than an ideal experience. Linux support will improve for the Retina MacBook Pro in the coming months, but it's not likely to see any proper "out of the box" experience until next year.

A few weeks back I ordered the Retina MacBook Pro to see how well it would work out with Linux. Unfortunately, it's been a disappointing experience getting Linux to run on the hardware. Like many, I was attracted to the Apple MacBook Pro with Retina display over its impressive 15.4-inch 2880x1800 display that packs in more than five million pixels. The weight of just 2.02 kilograms and height of 1.8 centimeters are also very attractive attributes to this new laptop. Aside from the Linux troubles encountered, the only other negative point about this high-end laptop is its price, which for the 2.3GHz Ivy Bridge model is $2199 USD or $2799 for the base price on the top-end model and not counting optional upgrades.

The 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display at 2.3GHz is powered by an Intel Core i7 3615QM "Ivy Bridge" processor. The Intel i7-3615QM is a quad-core processor with Hyper Threading that can Turbo Boost from 2.3GHz to 3.3GHz. This Ivy Bridge processor has integrated Intel HD 4000 graphics (Gen7) while the Retina MacBook Pro also has a discrete NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M "Kepler" graphics processor with 1GB of dedicated video RAM for handling more demanding graphics. NVIDIA Kepler GPUs work under Linux with the binary blob, but their open-source support comes up short.


With Apple OS X and Microsoft Windows drivers, the system can dynamically switch between the Intel and NVIDIA GPUs but these hybrid graphics are currently broken under Linux -- at least there's progress in the right direction. This MacBook Pro also has 8GB of DDR3L-1600MHz memory, 256GB of SSD storage, and a 720p FaceTime HD camera. The notebook measures in at 1.8 x 24.71 x 35.89 cm while weighing just 2.02 kilograms. Connectivity on the notebook with Retina display includes two Thunderbolt ports, two USB 3.0 ports, HDMI port, headphone port, and SDXC slot.


The Retina MacBook Pro does away with any DVD drive and there is no Gigabit Ethernet or Firewire on the unit itself, although Apple is now making Thunderbolt adapters to offer these connection interfaces. In terms of the Thunderbolt support under Linux, Apple Thunderbolt has Linux problems as I noted a few weeks prior when testing the 27-inch Apple Thunderbolt Display. Wireless support on the Retina MacBook Pro includes 802.11n WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0.

Latest Linux News
  1. Phoronix Turns 11 Years Old Next Week: How Should We Celebrate?
  2. Ubuntu Community Council Reaffirms Its Decision Against Kubuntu's Leader
  3. Future Plans For Changing Fedora's Installer
  4. Confusion Mounts Over Wayland's Actual License
  5. GNOME's Mutter Now Supports Drag-n-Drop To/From Wayland & X11
  6. Wine 1.7.44 Works On More 64-bit ARM Support
  7. Phoronix Test Suite 5.8 Milestone 5 Brings Near Final "Belev" Experience
  8. For AMD Users, Linux 4.2 Will Bring The New AMDGPU Driver & VCE1 For Radeon
  9. Atomic Mode-Setting Still Baking For Samsung's Exynos DRM Driver
  10. Ubuntu Phone Update This Month Brings Many Improvements
Latest Articles & Reviews
  1. Btrfs RAID 0/1/5/6/10 Five-Disk Benchmarks On Linux 4.1
  2. Opening The Gates To Our Daily Open-Source Linux Benchmark Results
  3. The Latest Features For Linux Performance Management + Benchmark Monitoring
  4. Noctua NH-U12DX i4 + NF-F12
Most Viewed News This Week
  1. NVIDIA's Proprietary Driver Is Moving Closer With Kernel Mode-Setting
  2. Zapcc Claims To Be A "Much Faster C++ Compiler"
  3. OpenWRT 15.05 Preparing Improved Security & Better Networking
  4. Features Added To Mesa 10.6 For Open-Source GPU Drivers
  5. Ubuntu's LXD vs. KVM For The Linux Cloud
  6. The Latest Linux Kernel Git Code Fixes The EXT4 RAID0 Corruption Problem
  7. Friction Building Around An Ubuntu Community Council Decision
  8. Fedora 22 Is Being Released Next Tuesday