challengeredhatrhelmacbookairsetup night

What?

Trying to setup a sort of normal distro on Macbook is itself demanding task, but stepping up the game and putting RedHat on a tiny Air is another fun.

Older Macbook of mine survived with Ubuntu for a fair time. Common issues takes time, like network connection setup and small polishing details, which is logical. Network issues are present because of large amount of devices, standards and small number of developers who contribute. Another thing to point at is security, for which we hear and horror stories every now and then on /r/netsec, hn and alike.

What I'm trying to show is issue you will mostly face if you try this. At the end you'll have something unique and stable.

Currently typing this on Macbook Air from 2015 running a fully-supported RHEL.

How?

First and foremost, RH is enterprise distribution, which means you'll have to be subscribed to their SPM system which allows you to have all these toolsets they offer. Not having that will result in a non-working environment and unsupported system. You may be allowed to use Developers Edition or something like that which is offered for free and in what you get is only a basic toolset to build your machine.

Me, I'm subscribed to a desktop oriented system with support of security and development edition. Preffered choice for my daily usage which is devOping such system at large.

Most basic dd and a 16GB USB3.0 will do it fine with your new shiny USB already inside your Mac. Holding (Apple) Option key will result your boot to jump in device selection. Of course continue with installation through EFI Boot as with any other distribution. No problem arises.

Through installation you may be asked to set installation media, which needs to say Auto-detected installation media. If it's not working, try rewriting image to your USB again.

Set the root password and reboot the system.

Status

Once you boot in, you will have the most basic GNOME & KDE installed and ready for use. This is of course if you subscribed already to repositories you have to and registered your machine. But first.

What works:

What doesn't work:

I'm not sure about camera, and as seen here I'm having different setup issues which is not strange since I'm working on different RH version.

Moving on, one night was spent fixing network, one night fixing audio, and one night fixing audio/mic.

Network (Wireless)

Thankfully, my friend @e_mouse had given me a USB to Ethernet cable just the other day. This worked out of the box and I started furiosuly working on solution.

If you try to follow blog post above, and the fix presented here you will see that it isn't working. I didn't figure out what the problem was but perhaps the given repository might work.

As of me, I followed the instructions given on elrepo.

$ lspci| grep Network
03:00.0 Network controller: Broadcom Limited BCM4360 802.11ac Wireless Network Adapter (rev 03)

# support
14e4:43a0    no    BCM4360

Out of the box, this wireless card is not supported. Alternative is to use wl, solid choice for me since I had experience with it. RedHat team also have great support for these stuff so that is a huge plus.

So lets get all stuff necessary to compile wl for our fresh install.

# Root

$ yum group install -y 'Development Tools' # for compiling
$ yum install -y redhat-lsb kernel-abi-whitelists # std base & kernel symbols
$ yum install -y kernel-devel-$(uname -r) # kernel dev libs

# User

$ mkdir -p ~/rpmbuild/{BUILD,RPMS,SPECS,SOURCES,SRPMS}
$ echo -e "%_topdir $(echo $HOME)/rpmbuild\n%dist .el$(lsb_release -s -r|cut -d"." -f1).local" >> ~/.rpmmacros

We also need wl-kmod (tool used to manage wl module) and Broadcom drivers. You can get both of these from their public repos.

To get Broadcom drivers link - linux STA 32/64

$ cd ~/rpmbuild/SOURCES/
$ wget https://docs.broadcom.com/docs-and-downloads/docs/linux_sta/hybrid-v35_64-nodebug-pcoem-6_30_223_271.tar.gz

Build and prepare wl-kmod for install:

$ cd ~/rpmbuild
$ wget http://elrepo.org/linux/elrepo/el7/SRPMS/wl-kmod-6_30_223_271-4.el7.elrepo.nosrc.rpm 

# Build
$ rpmbuild --rebuild --define 'packager James Madison' ~/rpmbuild/wl-kmod-6_30_223_271-4.el7.elrepo.nosrc.rpm

Now lets clean up the mess:

$ yum remove \*ndiswrapper\*

# Install
$ rpm -Uvh ~/rpmbuild/RPMS/[architecture]/kmod-wl*.rpm

Important notice:

For some reason, I was getting network hiccups as seen in kernel logs. This was up to other drivers taking place at packdrop. To fix this, just disable what you don't need.

$ modprobe -r b43 b43legacy ssb wl lib80211
$ modprobe lib80211_crypt_tkip
$ modprobe wl

You can now grab a beer since this night is over.

$ rm -rf ~/rpmbuild