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

Apple Thunderbolt Display Presents Problems For Linux

Michael Larabel

Published on 6 August 2012
Written by Michael Larabel
Page 1 of 3 - 54 Comments

For the past few weeks I have been trying out the Apple's Thunderbolt Cinema Display under Linux. While this 27-inch Apple Thunderbolt Display is beautiful and delivers stunning quality, it does illustrate another area where the current Linux hardware support currently comes up short. There's both good and bad news about using a Thunderbolt-based display under your favorite Linux distribution.

Apple's latest display is the world's first Thunderbolt monitor. Thunderbolt, for those not up to speed, is the Intel technology formerly codenamed Light Peak. Thunderbolt pairs PCI Express and DisplayPort into a serial data interface and opens up some interesting possibilities like being able to daisy chain multiple Thunderbolt devices (including displays) over a single connection. Apple's Thunderbolt Display boasts a wonderful 27-inch 2560 x 1440 LCD IPS panel that from a single Thunderbolt port is able to drive the display at its large resolution, provide connectivity for three USB 2.0 ports, one FireWire 800 port, one Gigabit Ethernet port, and one additional Thunderbolt port for connecting other devices. The Thunderbolt port also provides connectivity for an integrated FaceTime HD camera with microphone and there's an integrated 2.1 speaker system; the technology allows for 10 Gbps transfers in both directions. The Thunderbolt technology and capabilities offered by it are certainly interesting and open up new possibilities.

This 27-inch display is built very well just like Apple's other products. The display is LED-backlit and for convenience does offer a MagSafe/MagSafe2 power connection for being able to charge an Apple MacBook Pro all from the same power plug as the monitor (85 Watt maximum for the MagSafe power connection while the max power draw overall is 250 Watts). Multiple Apple Thunderbolt displays can be daisy chained together for an even more impressive setup, but with a retail price of over $999 USD per display, they are out of reach to most individuals.

The 27-inch Apple Thunderbolt Display has a 178-degree viewing angle, ambient light sensor for automatically adjusting the display's brightness, a smooth-motion hinge for adjusting the viewing angle from -5 to 25 degrees, and the 2.1 audio system also isn't too bad for being integrated into a monitor. Other tech specs on this 2560 x 1440 Apple display include 375 cd/m2 brightness, 1000:1 contrast ratio, 12 ms response time, 64 x 49.1 x 20.7 cm dimensions, and 10.8-kilogram weight.

The LCD display looks great and offers some impressive features that make it one of the most advanced monitors available. Testing of this Thunderbolt display happened at Phoronix with the Thunderbolt-enabled Apple Mac Mini (Mid-2011; Intel Sandy Bridge) and the Retina MacBook Pro (Mid-2012; Intel Ivy Bridge). Using OS X 10.7 Lion and the brand new OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion operating systems both worked "out of the box" and were fantastic with the display, as would be expected for Apple products. However, under Linux it was a different story...

Latest Articles & Reviews
  1. Sub-$20 802.11n USB WiFi Adapter That's Linux Friendly
  2. The Lenovo T450s Is Working Beautifully With Linux
  3. Linux 4.0 SSD EXT4 / Btrfs / XFS / F2FS Benchmarks
  4. Linux 4.0 Hard Drive Comparison With Six File-Systems
  5. Lenovo ThinkPad T450s Broadwell Preview
  6. How Open-Source Allowed Valve To Implement VULKAN Much Faster On The Source 2 Engine
Latest Linux News
  1. Red Hat Joins Khronos, The Group Behind OpenGL & Vulkan
  2. NetworkManager Drops WiMAX Support
  3. Wine 1.7.41 Works More On Kernel Job Objects, MSI Patches
  4. Linux 4.1 Has Improvements For The Multi-Queue Block Layer
  5. X.Org Looks To Have Six Summer Projects
  6. DragonFlyBSD Pulls In GCC 5 Compiler
  7. OpenBenchmarking.org Now Ad-Free, Load Times, New Servers & More
  8. Rust 1.0+ To Focus On Better Windows Support, ARM, & Faster Compile Times
  9. Ubuntu 15.04 Now Under Final Freeze
  10. Linux 4.1 Should Work With GCC 6, Future Versions Of GCC
Most Viewed News This Week
  1. Nouveau: NVIDIA's New Hardware Is "VERY Open-Source Unfriendly"
  2. Linux 4.0 Kernel Released
  3. Microsoft Announces An LLVM-Based Compiler For .NET
  4. Linux 4.1 Brings Many Potentially Risky x86/ASM Changes
  5. Encryption Support For EXT4
  6. VirtualBox 5.0 Beta 2 Released
  7. Mozilla Start Drafting Plans To Deprecate Insecure HTTP
  8. Elementary OS 0.3 "Freya" Now Available