Archive for January, 2007

Macbook Intel Core 2 Duo wireless using Ubuntu?

Wednesday, January 31st, 2007

It appears that the wireless chipset used in the Macbook Core 2 Duo is different from those used in the Core Duos… (which makes sense, as Apple just announced 802.11N support for Core 2 Duo based machines). So, how does one get wireless working under Ubuntu?

Well, the answer is to use ndiswrapper which lets one use wireless drivers desiged for Windows to operate under Linux. The first mistake is to use the version from the Ubuntu repository, at the time of this writing v1.22.  It turns out that v1.33 or higher is needed, so it’s best to go to the sourceforge site and get the latest version and compile yourself.

Next, where does one find a Windows driver that works with this chipset?  Well, doing a lspci command shows the chipset is an Atheros, and it turns out to be the same one used by DLink’s DWA-645.  So, simply go to DLink’s website and download the WinXP drivers for the DWA-645.

Following the installation directions at ndiswrapper.sourceforge.net worked great! I am now surfing wirelessly with Ubuntu on the MacBook!

Good Ubuntu notebook?

Wednesday, January 31st, 2007

So, what is a good notebook that can run Ubuntu well, supports Beryl 3D eyecandy, offers integrated web-cam, decent amount of RAM, larger SATA hard drive (120GB or more) and sports at least a 2Ghz Intel Core 2 Duo?

Well, you could go the traditional route and get a Dell or HP machine, but many of those systems contain ATI graphics which are a pain getting Beryl to work.  Some vendors offer an upgrade option to Nvidia. As for CPU, if planning to run any virtualization apps like VMware / Parallels / VirtualBox, you really want to get a CPU that supports virtualization. Currently, the Intel Core 2 Duo 2.0Ghz is at the sweet spot, the cost for anything faster is unreasonable for the minor speed increase you get.

How about all of this for under $1200? No way you say?  Well, you can if you don’t mind finding a good used machine in your local newspaper or via craigslist.org. I just purchased a 1 month old white MacBook, 2.0Ghz Intel Core 2 Duo, 120GB drive, 1.5GB RAM, Mighty Mouse, Superdrive with all the original packaging, etc. for $1150.  No tax. New, this  setup would run $1700 ($1570+tax) at the local Apple store.

I’ve just finished doing a clean OS X install, partitioned the drive with Bootcamp, installed reFit, and installed Ubuntu 6.10 complete with 3D eyecandy using Beryl. The built-in Intel graphics chipset won’t claim any gaming performance records anytime soon, but works amazingly well for the 3D effects offered by Beryl. The other good thing is that there is a very active community working on drivers for webcam support, sleep/suspend, keyboard, etc.

So, do your homework and keep your eyes open for deals on slightly used machines. You might be surprised at what you can find.