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I will add more to this post a bit later, however if you own an older Macbook Pro and OSX is just getting too long in the tooth. You’ve tried Ubuntu but the heating issues and terrible mouse control its almost impossible to use.
Take a look at Sabayon Linux 11. Rolling release schedule, works with EFI out of the box, no over heating, Gnome 3 interface is great.
I’ve posted about getting Ubuntu 12.10 on the Macbook Pro previously at http://blog.projectz.me/2012/10/21/setting-up-ubuntu-12-10-on-a-macbook-pro/ however as much as I like Ubuntu the distro even in it’s guise as a mac ISO download has many flaws. The primary of which is its terrible touchpad support on this hardware and it’s tendency to run hotter than a dragons bowels..
There however are other Linux distros out there and some are actually very good on the Macbook Pro, chief of which is the titled Sabayon Linux. An interesting distro which has been around for a while and as a long term user on PC’s I’ve always been very impressed with the distro as a whole even if it has had some flaws over the years many of these have been ironed out over the last few releases.
Other than the rather well done implementation of a handful of good desktop choices from Gnome 3, KDE, XFCE or Mate there are a few other things this distro has going for it.
While canonical debate and discuss there are other distros which just get on with this wonderful concept, basically mark a point in the sand download the ISO and install, from that point forward updates are rolled out as and when they are needed and as such you don’t need to update to the “next release” as you essentially already have it because of the updates you have already installed.
While this might not sound like much it’s great if you don’t want to keep uploading from scratch every 6 months because a distribution update fails and it’s easier to just re-install. This also means it’s quicker to roll out patches for exploits or bugs which isn’t a bad thing.
The wonder that is Microsoft has had its way and caused a disturbance in the Linux world by UEFI and Secure boot, the ins and outs of why are irrelevant, a new method of booting was much needed and could have been done better and should have been done open. Instead we have vendors locking down devices as Windows 8 only. Ubuntu and many other distros have a work around for this. Sabayon implements theirs in version 11 of this distro and it works well. This is important as the Mac uses EFI to boot and as such its possible to get this distro working easily without needing to change the way the disk’s boo sector is formatted which equals one less hurdle.
It’s taken a while and a few missteps however the Sabayon team have got close to apt-get and ubuntu style ease of use package management. Using eqto and Rigo its possible to install most of what you want without needing to drop back to the Gentoo based emerge which the distro is based on.
The sell of Sabayon is that it makes use of as up to date software that it can, this occasionally means a few glitches usually however the drivers for Nvidia, ATI and Broadcom are up to date and working, more so than even the latest Ubuntu. This is important if you are installing on a Mac as it makes use of several propitiatory drivers and they all work fresh from install.
And thereby hangs the moral of this post. From booting the CD, running the install and rebooting everything works, Wifi, Trackpad, graphics, battery, bluetooth it’s all there ready to go on your chosen desktop. Most of the software you will also need Office, Chrome, Java, Flash etc is all ready to go. This means for a 2Gb ISO instead of the 700Mb ISO which Ubuntu ships with however it also means you will be up and running without installing anything else.
Why bother? OSX isn’t that bad? well realistically no its not, however as older hardware becomes end of life quicker you may find a 2010 Macbook pro is not able to get that latest update. This shouldn’t have to render perfectly good hardware useless. Gnome 3 is my preference i love the desktop (and think i’m in a minority for some reason) and it feels like it did when I was running leopard. As an alternative to Ubuntu, Sabayon is a slid distro only slightly let down by its support which needs a Wiki clean up and a few more less complex answers on it’s forums. The underlying Gentoo history does rear its head very occasionally, but not enough for an average user to notice.