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Template:Article summary start Template:Article summary text Template:Article summary heading Template:Article summary wiki Template:Article summary wiki Template:Article summary wiki Template:Article summary wiki Template:Article summary end 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 (there's a good description of why on a RedHat developer's blog,, circa August 2012); if you want hotplug wired Ethernet, the USB adapter is your best bet.

Note: Thunderbolt is seen as a PCIe device to the kernel, all of it being handled by the boot loader. In the case of the MacBook however, they handle Thunderbolt as part of their OS. This means that hotplug support isn't what's missing, a reimplementation of Thunderbolt->pcie interface in Linux is missing. GKH was working on some thunderbolt support last year, but if anyone has more recent information, please add it here.

Getting wireless firmware

In order for the Wi-Fi chipset 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 the firmware through the b43-firmwareAUR package available in the AUR. In the end, you should have a folder named b43 with a lot 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 Tab 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 Wi-Fi

Note: You can skip this if you use the Thunderbolt or USB-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 Wi-Fi network.

The installation

Note: Refer to the MacBook page if you do not 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. Do not worry about any errors; we will create the bootable EFI image on our own afterwards.

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

Alternatively, install broadcom-wl-dkmsAUR from the AUR to improve Wi-Fi.


Direct EFI booting

See: UEFI_Bootloaders

As of August 2013, refind can autodetect the Arch kernel, removing the need for copying the kernel into the EFI partition. Simply install refind and enable the "scan_all_linux_kernels" and "also_scan_dirs" options in refind.conf (see link above for instructions.)


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.

    • Note** that as of September, 2013 the current nvidia driver (325.15-5) does not work with the current 3.10 series kernels; X will die with an error about "Failed to allocate EVO core DMA push buffer" and leave you with a black screen (but able to SSH in to the machine). Your best current bet is to use a 3.9-series kernel and the older 319.32-series nvidia driver.

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)
  2. Some desktop managers like KDM offer fine grained control over the size of icons, fonts, window controls, panels, etc...
    • KDM is a great choice because the stock UI elements are vectors (not rasters which look terrible on Retina and don't scale infinitely). In addition the KWin compositor does a remarkable job on the Retina display.
  3. Lower the screen resolution to 1680x1050 (works fine at least with nouveau drivers), but things look a little bit blurry, of course
  4. Use xrandr scale option with nvidia driver to scale the resolution down to what you want. Take a look at:
  5. See HiDPI for more tweaks.


On the MacBookPro10,2 you may need to 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.) (**As of September 2013** this no longer appears to be required; this should work automatically.)


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" "3"
    Option          "TapButton3" "2"
    Option          "ClickFinger1" "1"
    Option          "ClickFinger2" "3"
    Option          "ClickFinger3" "2"
    Option          "BottomEdge" "25"

What doesn't work (early August 2013, 3.10.3-1)


  • Thunderbolt ethernet controller is not hot pluggable as of the 3.10.3 kernel. The controller cannot
    • be connected and used after boot
    • be used if the controller is logically or physically disconnected and reconnected during an active session
    • survive suspend and resume states because the kernel is not able to successfully change the power state
    • This is caused by a non-compliant UEFI implementation by Apple. No known workarounds exist at this point.
  • see for further information (circa August 2012)


  • Using vgaswitcheroo to switch between iGPU / dGPU on the 15" version will result in a black screen. The system is still running and can be rebooted safely.
    • The dGPU/nouveau is active on boot. As of 3.10.3-1, the only known way to switch to the iGPU/intel is to force this through gfxCardStatus v2.2.1 on MacOS (later versions of gfxCardStatus do *not* work.) This setting will survive reboots. To revert it, you must reboot into MacOS *twice* and/or reset the SMC (shutdow and press shift+control+alt+power at the same time. Press power again to boot.)
    • "rmmod nouveau" will crash if the dGPU is manually powered off via vgaswitcheroo. Once this happens, it will be impossible to shutdown / reboot cleanly. Fresh patches (2 August) will hopefully fix this in the future. (Note: to enter this failure state, you must use gfxCardStatus to force the iGPU, then use vgaswitcheroo explicitly. This is rather uncommon.)
    • The dGPU / iGPU issues do not affect the 13" rmbp, which only has an intel adapter. Much simpler!
  • Nvidia drivers 319.32 fail to suspend / resume or control the backlight out of the box.
    • Nouveau and intel work fine.
  • If you are experiencing problems with Nvidia drivers, try using emulated BIOS boot instead of EFI boot.


  • The default b43 driver works. Open issues (as of 3.10.3-1):
    • You need proprietary firmware (see installation section above)
    • Power management is not supported
    • Connection may be unstable on some access points
    • Performance is relatively low (I get double speed on the same network using an external ath9k chip)
  • broadcom-wl-dkms from AUR offers a better experience.
    • If you have a screen flickering issue when WiFi is active, then switching to this driver should help.


Here are a couple of interesting threads:

See Also