Using Ubuntu as a Tool

At work I recently inherited an older MacBook Pro (MacBookPro1,2).  After replacing the hard drive with a larger one, I installed Slackware GNU/Linux 13.37.

To my chagrin, the Atheros AR5001 wireless card driver didn’t work. The ath5k driver loaded, but no wireless networks appeared in wicd. After a bit of poking around, I found that there was no device listed for the wireless adapter from ifconfig.

I also had some problems with X and the ATI X1600 video adapter.

Instead of spending a lot of time looking for solutions, I decided to install Ubuntu 12.04 and see what happened.

The wireless driver worked out of the box with Ubuntu. The difference seemed to be Ubuntu’s 3.x kernel: Slackware 13.37 uses kernel version 2.6.37.6. X also worked well with the radeon driver. (I wasn’t surprised to see lots of errors using Compiz-Fusion with Ubuntu.)

While playing with Ubuntu Software Center, I discovered a super-groovy open-source video editor: Openshot. I was happy to find the SlackBuild for Openshot.

I took a break from the MacBook and installed Openshot on my Slackware workstation. Groovy!  Now I can edit videos using my favorite Linux distribution! Then, back to the MacBook.

I reinstalled Slackware on the Macbook and upgraded the kernel to 3.3.6. Sure enough, the wireless adapter came to life and X (with Compiz-Fusion) worked using the radeon driver! Woohoo!

After a false start, I got Openshot going. The only remaining issue is that video recorded from the iSight has a blue hue. NOTE: I’m using the isight firmware from a 15″ Macbook. I read somewhere that Linux kernel 3 has its own iSight firmware. I can’t confirm that, yet. I’ll play more and blog about Slackware on the MacBook Pro. Until then, I’ll learn, learn, learn.

Update 16 September 2013: I’ve played with several versions of Linux Kernel 3.x and now believe that the iSight firmware is not included. So it goes. As a further update, I retired this old, slow MacBook.  The larger screen wasn’t worth all the time spent waiting on the slower hardware.

For me, Ubuntu is a tool rather than a day-to-day OS. That being said, I strongly suggest Ubuntu for those wanting to try the Linux experience!