Linux on MacBook Air with NVIDIA drivers

In order to use the proprietary NVIDIA driver on a MacBook Air 3,1 (11-inch, late 2010) with the NVIDIA GeForce 320M chipset booting openSUSE Leap 42.1 in EFI mode, create the file /etc/grub.d/01_enable_vga.conf with the following content:

set -e

# Initialize the PCI-E registers of MBA 3,1 for the nvidia driver

cat << EOF
btrfs-mount-subvol /dev/sda3 /boot/grub2/x86_64-efi /@/boot/grub2/x86_64-efi
insmod setpci
setpci -s "00:17.0" 3e.b=8
setpci -s "02:00.0" 04.b=7

and run grub2-mkconfig -o /boot/grub2/grub.cfg to update the bootloader configuration. Be aware that you might need to determine the PCI bus ids for your machine first by running lshw -businfo -class bridge -class display as described in this post on askubuntu. (Please note that using only the setpci command as suggested in that post for Ubuntu systems does not suffice on openSUSE systems, because on this system the setpci functionality is provided as a separate GRUB module and must be loaded explicitly with the insmod command; since the GRUB modules are not installed on the boot partition, their location has to be mounted first using the btrfs-mount-subvol command.)

Reboot and verify that the settings have actually been applied by running the setpci command on the command line as root without the part after the equal sign (e.g. setpci -s "00:17.0" 3e.b). This should return the values assigned before, i.e. 8 or 7 respectively.

Then proceed installing the nvidia driver by choosing the appropriate package on the openSUSE Community website. In my case (NVIDIA GeForce 320M), that means choosing the „Geforce 8 series and later“ option.


Fedora Live USB with GRUB

As already mentioned in my last post, my laptop won’t boot from a USB stick prepared using a binary copy of an ISO (by means of dd). Here is the method I use to boot the Fedora Live images off my USB stick using GNU GRUB2. The device node of the USB driver is denoted /dev/sdX in the following and must be replaced with the actual device node (e.g. /dev/sdc).

  1. Prepare a partition on the USB stick and/or make sure there is enough space on it (it must be slightly larger than the ISO image).
  2. Make sure it is flagged bootable. ( fdisk -l /dev/sdX is your friend)
  3. Remember the name of the USB partition you’re going to use or if unlabelled, label it.
  4. Loop-mount the ISO image using something like mount -o loop /path/to/iso /mnt/loop
  5. Copy the content of the ISO over to the USB
  6. Install GRUB on the USB by issuing grub-install --no-floppy --root-directory=/mnt/usb /dev/sdX
  7. Create a /mnt/usb/boot/grub/grub.cfg with the following content
    menuentry "Fedora Live" {
     linux /isolinux/vmlinuz0 root=live:LABEL=XYZ rootfstype=auto ro liveimg quiet  rhgb rd_NO_LUKS rd_NO_MD rd_NO_DM
     initrd /isolinux/initrd0.img
    menuentry "Fedora Live (Basic Video)" {
     linux /isolinux/vmlinuz0 root=live:LABEL=XYZ rootfstype=auto ro liveimg quiet  rhgb rd_NO_LUKS rd_NO_MD rd_NO_DM xdriver=vesa nomodeset
     initrd /isolinux/initrd0.img

    where XYZ must be replaced by the actual partition name of your USB partition.

  8. Unmount and boot