2012 MacBook Air Isn't Trouble-Free On Linux
Written by Michael Larabel in Hardware on 11 August 2012 at 12:58 PM EDT. 20 Comments
While lately I've been busy with trying out the Retina MacBook Pro under Linux, which has been a big problem and I'm not recommending the rMBP for Linux users at this time (more details soon), it looks like the new MacBook Air might also have some Linux woes. Outside of Apple, the Sony Vaio Z Ivy Bridge laptop also has some Linux problems of its own.

The new MacBook Air has a 1440 x 900 native panel resolution, up to 256GB of flash storage, an Intel Core i5 "Ivy Bridge" processor with integrated graphics (or up to a Core i7 CPU model on the highest-end model), at least 4GB of DDR3L 1600MHz memory, and a weight of just over one kilogram while being extremely thin. It didn't look like the MacBook Air would have any Linux compatibility problems as it goes without the switchable/hybrid graphics, no retina display, and is based upon the Linux-proven Intel Ivy Bridge hardware. However, it doesn't seem to be absolutely trouble-free.

According to the Intel-gfx mailing list this morning, Fedora 17 will install on the 2012 MacBook Air when adding intremap=off to the kernel's boot arguments. However, when upgrading from F17's Linux 3.3 kernel to the 3.5/3.6 (or even the drm-intel-next kernel branch), the screen doesn't light up. If trying to boot the MacBook Air without the Intel kernel mode-setting support, the Linux kernel panics.

So if you have Linux running on the new MacBook Air right now, it might be best to avoid changing out the Linux kernel until all of the bugs/regressions get ironed out. At least though the new Apple MacBook Air is making it further along with Linux than the Retina MacBook Pro.

For those not into Apple hardware but rather the Sony Vaio Z series with their new Ivy Bridge laptops, there your mileage may vary too. Here's a blog post by Julien Danjou with information on a Sony Vaio Z laptop with Ivy Bridge CPU where USB booting is borked, the storage requires using fake RAID, graphics are unstable on pre-3.5 kernels, a sound bug, broken fingerprint reader, USB 3.0 does not work, and some WiFi quality issues.
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Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 10,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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