[NBLUG/talk] Concerning Linux compatibility with the new MacBook Pro

David shadoweyez at hotpop.com
Sat Jan 14 09:30:08 PST 2006

>From what I have heard/read, because the new Mac's (and Intel's
Itanium) only use EFI instead of the traditional BIOS, knoppix and
other live-cd's will not boot on those machines.

However, there is an option in the new 2.6 series linux kernels to
support booting from EFI into an EFI partition, although not having
access to EFI hardware myself I have not verified such an option :-(
 From what I've read in the kernel help files, this can detect the
presence of EFI or not:

<Taken from:
"Note, this patch enables one to use the same kernel on systems with
either legacy BIOS or EFI. This capability is provided via a
mechanism that determines whether the kernel was booted from EFI,
based on the presence of EFI boot parameters passed by ELILO.  If
the efi boot parameters are present, then the global flag
efi_enabled" is initialized, which determines the code path during
early initialization.  Therefore, the addition of the EFI enabling
code path does not affect the current initialization code path, but
extends it."

Therefore, future versions of knoppix and other live-cds that intend
to run on these intel-macs should enable this option in the kernel,
as should people compiling the kernel for machines with EFI.  This
would (in theory) allow live-cds(and dvds) to run on machines with
the traditional BIOS and EFI.  Maybe someone with access to an EFI
machine could re-master a knoppix with this to test it ;-)


Lincoln Peters wrote:
> (Just in case anyone's interested...)
> For those of you who have been hiding under a rock since Tuesday, Steve Jobs 
> has unveiled two new Macintosh computers that are powered by Intel 
> processors: a new iMac, and a new line of laptops called the MacBook Pro.  
> Apple's shift to Intel chips has led quite a few people to speculate that the 
> new Macs could dual-boot MacOS X and Windows.  Of course, I'm sure that any 
> Mac fans on this list would only think of dual-booting MacOS X and Linux.
> Anyway, I was at the Macworld Expo this week, and was able to convince one of 
> the Apple representatives to let me try to boot a MacBook Pro from a Knoppix 
> CD (v4.0.2 for PC, burned by myself to a CD-RW the previous day).  While the 
> MacBook Pro recognized the CD when I put in (i.e. it appeared on the 
> desktop), it was unable to boot from it.  I restarted the computer, holding 
> down the 'C' key after it made the start-up chime (which is how you tell a 
> new-world Mac to boot from a CD), and it STILL booted from the hard disk.  
> And unfortunately, there was no indication as to WHY it didn't boot from the 
> CD, although the information I've dug up thus far via Google suggests that 
> it's because the Intel Mac's boot sequence uses EFI 
> <http://www.intel.com/technology/efi/> instead of a traditional BIOS.
> Obviously, it's virtually impossible to draw any conclusions from such a 
> simple experiment, but it looks like installing an OS other than MacOS X on 
> one of these Intel Macs is NOT going to be as easy as some people had hoped.  
> It should still be possible, though, as EFI was originally developed for 
> Intel's IA-32 processor, and Linux does support the IA-32.  We'll probably 
> learn more once these new Macs start shipping next month.

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