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Linux Display Switching Support For Apple MacBooks

Linux Kernel

Published on 15 August 2012 12:09 PM EDT
Written by Michael Larabel in Linux Kernel
1 Comment

Canonical and others continue to hack on rudimentary support for graphics display switching for Apple MacBook laptops bearing multiple graphics processors.

Seth Forshee on Tuesday published his latest work in this area for Apple display switching support to the kernel mailing list. The patches build upon vga_switcheroo to support display switching with the GMUX. While these three patches allow for display switching, graphics drivers may still have issues with this support on Apple hardware due to missing/invalid vBIOS information on Apple computers. The patches at least fix a GMUX state restoration issue that some MacBook users have seen.
This series adds display switching support for Apple laptops. The first two patches contain preparatory changes to vga_switcheroo, and the third contains the changes to support display switching with the gmux.

While these patches will allow switching the display mux, most Macbook owners will not be able to switch GPUs in practice until the graphics drivers are updated to deal with missing or incorrect vbios information on Apple machines. These patches do fix an issue seen by some users of Linux on Macbooks, however. These users will switch to the internal GPU in OS X and then reboot into Linux to save power, but after S3 the gmux gets reset to the discrete GPU. Adding the display mux support will fix this problem by restoring the gmux state during resume.
Matthew Garrett has also been working on Apple GMUX support for the newer Apple Intel/NVIDIA graphics hardware per these patches from this week. Matthew Garrett's been playing around with an Apple Retina MacBook Pro and trying to better the Linux support, but from my testing thus far, I absolutely cannot recommend running any Linux distribution at this time bare-metal on Apple's newest notebook with its incredible display. There's many outstanding problems and all of the issues will likely not be all ironed out and found in tier-one distributions until early next year at least.

About The Author
Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the web-site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience and being the largest web-site devoted to Linux hardware reviews, particularly for products relevant to Linux gamers and enthusiasts but also commonly reviewing servers/workstations and embedded Linux devices. Michael has written more than 10,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics hardware drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated testing software. He can be followed via and or contacted via .
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