MacBook 5,1 and Ubuntu 11.04 (Natty)

This page aims to describe the steps needed, to fully enable all features of the 1st Generation MacBook Unibody (release date: late 2008) when using Ubuntu 11.04, Natty.

IconsPage/terminal.png You can find out, what model you have by typing at the terminal:

sudo dmidecode -s system-product-name
  • If you have a different model, please go here and find the right wiki.


Anything not mentioned here probably already works out of the box. If not, please refer to the Ubuntu Apple Users forum.

  • Feature

    Support status

    Wireless (AirPort)


    Desktop Effects (Unity)


    Touchpad (appletouch)

    IconsPage/ok.png IconsPage/info.png

    Keyboard functions (Brightness,volume,...)






    Suspend & Hibernate

    IconsPage/ok.png IconsPage/info.png

    CD/DVD Writing




    External Monitor




    Apple USB 56K Modem


    Apple Remote Control


IconsPage/ok.png (works out-of-the-box)
IconsPage/ok.png IconsPage/info.png (works, with remarks)
IconsPage/warning.png (needs manual install)
IconsPage/dont.png (won't work)
IconsPage/question.png (not yet documented)

Basic Installation Instructions

Common things about installing and maintaining Ubuntu on Intel-based Macs: Intel CPU-based Macintosh Generic Installation Instructions, but remember that rEFIT supports this MacBook only from 0.12. If booting the installer fails with and you just get some kind of graphic corruption. booting into OSX, and toggle the power management mode for your display card so its performance/ powersave or vice versa. This seems to be because Xorg will pick the first card, which doesn't have to be the one actually connected to the panel. If you don't get the option to install grub to /dev/sda3 during the installation as suggested in the installation instructions see this thread: If the system does not boot via the refit menu, try using the built-in bootcamp chooser (reboot while holding the alt-key down).

Wireless (AirPort)

To enable wireless you need to install the restricted Broadcom STA driver.

Open and choose Broadcom STA in:

  • System -> Administration -> Additional Drivers

if you already chose to install restricted software during Ubuntu's installation, the wireless card is automatically working.

Desktop Effects (Unity)

You probably want to enable the proprietary graphics driver.

Open and choose the NVIDIA accelerated graphics driver (version Current) in:

  • System -> Administration -> Additional Drivers

If you find that the screen never comes back awake after suspending, you should try other versions of the drivers.


Left-click, right-click (two finger)use and basic trackpad work out of the box.

2 Finger drag-clicking, i.e. click with thumb, drag with finger as in OSX, doesn't work. This is a limitation with the driver as far as I know.

To enable two finger scrolling and tap to click:

  • System -> Mouse -> Touchpad

Keyboard functions

Adjusting the screen brightness works out of the box with the default "nv" graphics driver. ¿?

Using restricted NVIDIA graphics driver(Current Version) need to edit /etc/X11/xorg.conf and add to device section:

        Option  "RegistryDwords" "EnableBrightnessControl=1"


According to this thread Macbook (5,1) hotter in linux than in OSX Macbooks running Ubuntu get hotter than in OS X. Swedishwings (Fan control for mactel-support repo) has created the following solution (from the Mactel PPA repository Mactel PPA repository):

sudo apt-get install macfanctld 


Stereo sound works out of the box.

Optical Audio Output

Optical Audio Oputput is always on (battery consuming??). If you look INTO the headphone jack-hole, you'll see a red light.

To disable it, run 'alsamixer' in a terminal. There should be a switch called S/PDIF that you can turn off.

To save the profile:

$ sudo alsactl store

To restore the profile:

$ sudo alsactl restore

As highlighted on this thread Volume problems we will need to launch restore command on startup.

Open and choose 'Add' in:

  • System -> Preferences -> Startup Applications

Then enter the following details for each field:

Name: alsactl

Command: alsactl restore

Comment: fix for pulse

Click 'Save'.

this will not help when you suspend the laptop and then resume it. Adding the command above to a script under /etc/pm/sleep.d/ will make sure the setting is re-applied on resume


Suspend works out of the box, lifting the clamshell does auto-wake.

Hibernate not tested Hibernate does not work in comination with rEFIt (or at all?), because the resume code doesn't get triggerd and it boots normal. Certain versions of the proprietary video drivers can also prevent the screen from showing anything after waking up, so try downgrading if you find this affects you.

Remote Control

Works with the small Apple Remote and LIRC (although auto-repeat appears to be broken, and you have to leave a second or so between repeated key presses). Install the lirc package. There are many possible configurations, here is one that simply injects standard keys into X when pressing the keys on the remote.

Edit the file /etc/lircd.conf to contain the following text:

begin remote

  name  AppleRemote
  bits            8
  eps            30
  aeps          100

  one             0 0
  zero            0 0
  pre_data_bits   24
  pre_data        0x87EE81
  gap             211982
  toggle_bit_mask 0x0
  ignore_mask     0x0000ff01

      begin codes
          KEY_VOLUMEUP       0x0B
          KEY_VOLUMEDOWN     0x0D
          KEY_PREVIOUSSONG   0x08
          KEY_NEXTSONG       0x07
          KEY_PLAYPAUSE      0x04
          KEY_MENU           0x02
      end codes

end remote

Edit the remote section of the file /etc/lirc/hardware.conf to contain the following text:

#Chosen Remote Control
REMOTE="Apple Mac mini USB IR Receiver"

Restart and enjoy remote controlling the master volume and rhythmbox. Smile :-)

Known Issues

Battery Life

The battery under Ubuntu is much shorter than in OS X. If one boots in EFI-mode Enabling laptop mode has been reported to increase battery life. To enable laptop mode

EFI Mode

* no brightness control. This has been a long standing issue. No real solution in sight. * the display sometimes flickers for a second or so doesn't seem to happen often enough to hinder actually work.

sudo apt-get install laptop-mode-tools 

Please note that enabling laptop mode will uninstall "pm-utils" which will prevent Suspend mode from working when the lid is closed. See here for more information Macbook 5.5, Maverick, Suspend not working


Please update this page, if you have figured out anything, that is not mentioned here!

The MactelSupportTeam is about to restructure and reorganize the documentation for Intel-based Macs. If you are interested in helping, please visit our team page for information. For all Mactel wikis, there is a starting place here. There is also a thread about planning the Mactel docummentation going on.

MacBook5-1/Natty (last edited 2013-12-14 01:38:52 by knome)