Apple's 2016 MacBook Pro & Linux Don't Mix
Written by Michael Larabel in Computers on 1 December 2016. Page 3 of 3. 39 Comments

Some quick benchmarks comparing Ubuntu 16.10 to macOS 10.2.1 on the 2016 MacBook Pro with Core i7 6700HQ Skylake CPU, Intel + Radeon Pro 450 graphics, 250GB Apple SSD, and 16GB of RAM.

Too bad no accelerated graphics on Ubuntu Linux with this laptop as it would make for a fun OpenGL comparison.

The results are generally close except for where the Apple decision to use Xcode with LLVM/Clang as the default compiler has slowdowns, such as with its OpenMP support.

For more Ubuntu vs. macOS 10.12 Sierra benchmarks, see my tests on better supported hardware: macOS 10.12 vs. Ubuntu 16.04 benchmarks as well as some FreeBSD 11 benchmark comparisons too.

I also uploaded more standalone benchmarks of this 2016 MacBook Pro running macOS 10.12 (since the Phoronix Test Suite continues to be supported on macOS after all) via this OpenBenchmarking.org result file. Or if you want to compare your Mac/Linux laptop's performance to these results, simply install the Phoronix Test Suite and run phoronix-test-suite benchmark 1612019-TA-MACOS102174. That easy with our open-source, cross-platform, fully-automated benchmarking software!

Those interested in the lspci output can find it here along with other system logs.

Long story short, don't buy the new 2016 MacBook Pro if you aren't planning on using macOS as for now the Linux support is a wreck.

While years ago I used Apple MacBook Pros with Linux as my main production system back when I was regularly on business trips, I haven't used one as my main system since Lenovo turned me back to the ThinkPad line-up with the successful Broadwell-based X1 Carbon. But these days I just use desktop hardware as my main system with not traveling. But even so, there are better alternatives now to the MacBook Pro that are Linux friendly while having great build quality compared to some years back. Dell's been producing quite good XPS 13/15 laptops now especially their new Kaby Lake model and can get it running on Linux, the Lenovo ThinkPads are still reliable and running with Linux (sans the occasional vocal issues over BIOS/UEFI problems), etc. If you are looking for Linux already preloaded on a modern laptop, System76 and ZaReason continue producing good devices although no specific recommendations I have as I haven't tested any of their new models in a few years. Future Linux kernel revisions will likely end up making the 2016 MacBook Pro more workable with future distribution releases, but could take some time and you are best off just buying a different laptop that will work better today and likely more affordable.

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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 20,000 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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