Ubuntu/Xubuntu 8.04 Macbook Pro Sound and Keyboard Fixes

After getting the wireless card (Wi-Fi) working in Xubuntu Hardy Heron on my Macbook Pro (Penryn), I went on by fixing the keyboard (special keys) and the sound.

The keyboard fix is actually very simple. I haven't seen a detailed tutorial on fixing the special keys for the MBP (Penryn) anywhere, so I'm writing this as a guide to others that might also need help.

A package called "pommed" is all that is needed to get the special keys (like brightness and volume controls and eject button) to work. However, the pommed version 1.15 that is currently available from Ubuntu repo doesn't work at all on the Penryn Macbook Pro. You will need the version 1.17. Where to get it? Thanks to Debian for already including pommed 1.17.deb binary installer from their repo, so you don't have to compile it from source. All you have to do is this:

1. Open Synaptic Package Manager.

2. Go to "Settings", and then "Repositories".

3. Click on the "Third-party software" tab, then click add...

4. Copy and paste this:

deb lenny main

5. After adding, you have to "Reload".

6. Search for pommed 1.17 and install it.

7. You are done.

Fixing the audio problem is a lot easier. In fact, sound is supported in Macbook Pro, but it has detection glitch. You can resolve this by simply adding:

options snd_hda_intel model=mbp3 to /etc/modprobe.d/options.

Here's how:

1. open /etc/modprobe.d/options in a text editor, or just use this command in Xubuntu:

sudo mousepad /etc/modprobe.d/options

2. Simply paste this at the bottom:

options snd_hda_intel model=mbp3

3. Save and reboot.

4. Open the "volume control" and make sure to put the volume level up when testing the sound.

5. You are done.

My Macbook Pro and Xubuntu Hardy Heron are getting along quite well now. However, I'm still in the process of tweaking because there are still some minor issues that need to be addressed. Like the CPU temperature is several degrees hotter when running extensively in Xubuntu than when in OS X. Any suggestions?

That's all for now. See you later.


  1. AnonymousJune 08, 2008

    yes I have suggestions about cpu temperature,
    (which means power consumption).
    I asked you before about battery life but I understand you did not care too much.

    I'm about to buy a mbpro, and i'd like to investigate the this w/ you. Are you on IRC, MSN, AIM or something ?
    contact me pls dade _at_ dadeb.t

  2. @Davide
    I'm on vacation right now. I'll email you as soon as I can regarding my MPB.

  3. Thanks for the tips, I'm going to reboot to Hardy in a min and try it out. I've also noticed the heat thing which is a BIG issue for me right now since I'm on contract in Mali, and today it was easily 50C. (40C in the morning when I checked). Anyway, drop me a line because I'd love to dig in and figure out what the CPU deal is. Have fun traveling. Cheers

  4. Hi Davide,

    I have no problems right now using Xubuntu Hardy Heron on my MBP. Everything is just flawless. The temperature is just about the same really when using it in OSX. I was wrong when I said that it's running hotter in Xubuntu because I just guesstimated it. Battery consumption is also just the same when in OSX, and I get extra minutes when I ran powertop.

    Overall, I'm honestly very pleased with my MBP's performance under Xubuntu 8.04. I think you should also go for it. If you have anymore questions, feel free to email me.



  5. Re: pommed via synaptics- I tried that and got the following error:
    W: GPG error: lenny Release: The following signatures couldn't be verified because the public key is not available: NO_PUBKEY A70DAF536070D3A1

    Do I need to install a public key package?

  6. @Rob:
    No need. Just follow the instructions above.

  7. Thanks for the sound tip, saved me big time.

    This worked on my MBP for running cooler, I had an overheat problem too:

    Followed these instructions in attempt to run cooler:
    1. Install Powersaved
    2. sudo gedit /etc/init.d/rc
    3. Change then Concurrency=none for Concurrency=shell

  8. Followed these instructions in attempt to run cooler:
    1. Install Powersaved
    2. sudo gedit /etc/init.d/rc
    3. Change then Concurrency=none for Concurrency=shell

  9. Thanks for this, you just helped me get sound working in my MBP SantaRosa 4,1 with Ubuntu Ibex 8.10

    I should note, above you show a command as "sudo mousepad /etc/modprobe.d/options", "mousepad" is not a text editor ;) actual command should be "sudo gedit /etc/modprobe.d/options" or similar (nano, pico, joe, et al)

    Sound does seem a little low to me, I read elsewhere that there is a problem with the center speaker kicking in, but not sure.