Sunday, June 4, 2017

Tips for Running Raspbian PIXEL on the Apple Macbook Air (2015 edition)

UPDATE: There is a new version of the Raspbian PIXEL desktop for Macs, personally verified to work fine on the latest Macbook Air:

Raspberry Pi Desktop


Great news! There is a GNU/Linux alternative to Mac OS X for older Macs, and i've finally found the right distro!

I've been able to create a viable alternative using Raspbian's PIXEL for my Macbook Air (2015 vintage) on a Samsung 64GB compact thumbdrive.

PIXEL 1.1 Dec 2016 w/md5sums

This is the *only* working distro with wifi, sound, printing, and persistence i've been able to put together for my little Apple notebook. I have tried a number of others - the only other one that comes close is a 64-bit version of Anti-X:

antiX for the Mac

(use the 64-bit version - the 32-bit version did NOT work for me!)

Live GNU/Linux distros are a great way to test before an install. However, the PIXEL distro at this point is only live - BUT, you can create a 'persistent' version on a USB boot stick (compact thumbdrive, sdhc in a carrier, etc.) by following the following directions:
 step-by-step to making a persistent USB boot stick

 Mousepad Tweak

Also, to make life nicer with the Macbook Air's trackpad, i created a file named (made executable by using chmod +x), containing:
/usr/bin/synclient TapButton1=1 TapButton2=3 TapButton3=2 ClickTime=1
The file is saved under /usr/local/bin - then in the file $HOME/.config/lxsession/LXDE-pi/autostart:

@lxpanel --profile LXDE-pi
@pcmanfm --desktop --profile LXDE-pi
@xscreensaver -no-splash

This will be used upon log in and provides:

1. button assignments
2. two-finger right-clicking
3. three-finger middle mouse button event
4. tap-to-click


Alas, the internal webcam/camera on the Macbook Air is not recognized. However, i plugged in an inexpensive Logitech C270, and it was recognized as /dev/video0 - which meant that it worked in VLC and Cheese. I have yet to explore video chat, aside from crashing firefox-esr when attempting a Facebook video chat (ain't gonna work - may try bumping up to the latest firefox outside of the Debian repos)

Even so, I am quite happy with PIXEL - best out-of-the-box experience!

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