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This page should help you setting up ArchLinux on a MacBook Pro 10,1 with Retina display. Most of the steps are the same or very similar to the regular ArchLinux installation. However, because this is very new hardware, the setup requires a few different steps. The general installation guidelines are descibed in MacBook.

Note: To have all hardware supported, you should run this Notebook with Kernel 3.7 or newer.

Preparing for the Installation

Preparing the Hard drive

Assuming you want to dual boot with OS X, you have to shrink its partition with the Disk Utility. You can either create your Linux partition directly here, or do that later in Linux during the installation (using parted and mkfs).

Using the Thunderbolt to Ethernet adapter

The adapter should work out of the box if connected before booting. Thunderbolt hotplugging is not supported (yet?).

Getting wireless firmware

In order for the WiFi chip to work, you need to get the firmware for it. You can just copy it from another b43 enabled Arch, extract it from Broadcom's driver using b43-fwcutter or get them through the b43-firmwareAUR available in the AUR. In the end you should have a folder called b43 with lots of .fw files in it.


Booting the live image

Now, download the latest Archboot iso, write it to USB and boot from it by selecting it in the Apple boot loader. When it comes to the syslinux boot loader, press Template:Keypress to edit the entry and append noapic or nointremap to the end to prevent a kernel panic during bootup. Currently (Aug 4, 2012), you also have to add nomodeset.

Connecting WiFi

Note: You can skip this if you use the Thunderbolt to ethernet adapter for the installation.

After it has finished booting, enter a command line. Copy the entire folder with the firmware for your wireless card to (/usr)/lib/firmware/. Now you should be able to use wpa_supplicant to connect to your WiFi network.

The installation

Note: Refer to the MacBook page if you don't want to have a separate partition for GRUB but rather prefer to use rEFInd (or rEFIt).

Run the installation wizard. When asked to partition your hard drive, create a small HFS partition. This is where you put the standalone GRUB package after the installation. The rest of the installation is pretty much the same as usual. When choosing the bootloader, select GRUB and install it. Don't worry about any errors, we will create the bootable efi image on our own afterwards.

After the installation has completed, directly copy the WiFi firmware to the installed system to /tmp/install/usr/lib/firmware/.


Direct EFI booting

See: UEFI_Bootloaders


Another solution is to install GRUB. Edit /tmp/install/boot/grub/grub.cfg and edit the boot entry to load linux-mainline instead of the normal one. Also append noapic to the kernel line again.

Now cd into /tmp/install/ and create the GRUB image by calling:

grub-mkstandalone -o grub-standalone-x86_64.efi -d usr/lib/grub/x86_64-efi -O x86_64-efi -C xz boot/grub/grub.cfg

This will create file called grub-standalone-x86_64.efi which contains GRUB and the config file. It is important to cd into the right directory to make it pick up the config file and put it into the right place within the image. Copy this file to the HFS partition you have created earlier. Downside of this method is that you need to repeat this step whenever you want to change the GRUB config.

Reboot the machine and boot into OS X. The HFS partition should be mounted and the GRUB standalone image in there. Follow the steps on this page to create the files needed to make the Apple boot loader pick up GRUB: After creating the files, use bless on the GRUB image on the partition, if you want to boot automatically to Arch, append --setBoot.

After another reboot, you should be able to select your installed Arch Linux by keeping the alt button pressed while booting in case you haven't used --setBoot while blessing.

Post installation


The Laptop comes with an nVidia and an Intel chip. The Nouveau, the i915 (from 3.6-rc5) and proprietary nvidia (from 302.17) drivers work. You can install the nvidia driver through nvidia or the AUR package nvidia-beta-allAUR.

Since this device comes with a Retina (HiDPI) display, things are really small with native resolution. There are different ways to work around this "issue":

  1. Increase the DPI value to get larger fonts (other things like icons may not look great that way) OR
  2. Lower the screen resolution to 1680x1050 (works fine at least with nouveau drivers), but things look a little bit blurry, of course


On the MacBookPro10,2 you must use the 'snd_hda_intel' driver with the model option 'mbp101'. This model option goes in the modprobe configuration and is undocumented in the list of models available online, but it work admirably. (Until you do this, it will look it is working because you'll be able to get sound out through HDMI, but /not/ the built-in speakers.)


Because of the integrated button, the synaptics touchpad driver can cause some issues. Adjusting xf86-input-mtrack-gitAUR should lead to a better end result.

The following config uses a single touch for left, two for middle, three for right:

Section "InputClass"
    MatchIsTouchpad "on"
    Identifier      "Touchpads"
    Driver          "mtrack"
    Option          "Sensitivity" "0.65"
    Option          "IgnoreThumb" "true"
    Option          "IgnorePalm" "true"
    Option          "TapButton1" "1"  
    Option          "TapButton2" "2"
    Option          "TapButton3" "3"
    Option          "ClickFinger1" "1"
    Option          "ClickFinger2" "3"
    Option          "ClickFinger3" "2"
    Option          "BottomEdge" "25"

What doesn't work (early September 2012, 3.6-rc6)

  • Suspend mode on lid close with nouveau and i915 (does not come out of suspend; blank screen).


Here are a couple of interesting threads: