Apple's Late-2016 MacBook Pro Is Still A Wreck With Linux

Written by Michael Larabel in Computers on 10 November 2017. Page 1 of 3. 46 Comments

At the end of last year we had a brief encounter with the new at the time MacBook Pro with Touchbar to see how well it would run under Linux. It was a mess with SSD difficulties, non-working touchpad/keyboard, WiFi issues, and more. It's a bit better using the newly-released Ubuntu 17.10, but would still advise against Linux for the Apple MacBook Pro Late-2016 model / Mac-A5C67F76ED83108C / MacBookPro 13,3 model.

I got my hands on the Apple MacBook Pro Late-2016 Touchbar model again as was using it for some OpenGL macOS vs. Ubuntu benchmarks as already published but then diminished due to the poor gaming performance blocking any further comparison. While Ubuntu 17.10 was able to install to this MacBook Pro, it was a disastrous experience. First up, when booting Ubuntu 17.10 x86_64 off the Live USB image, one year later, the touchpad and keyboard still are not working under Linux... So it was on to plugging in a keyboard and mouse via USB-C adapter.

Like last year, while the Broadcom WiFi was detected, it was unable to connect to any of my wireless networks. It remains that way still with Ubuntu 17.10 in that I couldn't get any working WiFi so had to resort to using a USB-C wired network adapter or USB WiFi dongle.

One thing that did change though was no longer needing to boot with "intremap=nosid" to get the system cleanly booted.

After the installation, even when moving to Linux 4.14 Git, there was no improvement in the WiFi and the keyboard/touchpad were still not functioning. That's also when I discovered the onboard audio while detected isn't even working with the speakers on Ubuntu 17.10 either.

For getting the keyboard/touchpad to work there is this out-of-tree driver that I have not tested as it doesn't look like it will be mainlined anytime soon. There is also this out-of-tree Touchbar driver as well for Linux albeit doesn't appear to have any mainline ambitions.

Long story short, Ubuntu 17.10 even one year after the MacBook Pro 13,3 release, still doesn't work out nicely with Linux. Needless to say, I wouldn't recommend the newer MacBook Pro laptops for use bare-metal with Linux given all the shortcomings. But with having my hands on the Mac-A5C67F76ED83108C anyhow for a few days, I did run some additional benchmarks.

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