MacBook Air crunchbang linux install continued: notes on wireless drivers, overheating

Hello all you nice linux people! Probably you are not here for the poetry? I did intend to write a follow-up on what does and does not work on my MacBook Air crunchbang install but intentions are about the most unreliable predictors there are so here is a skeletal What I Have Done So Far.

I have not booted the #! install in more than a month and so not only is this is from notes and memory (and after a few more lines it will just be notes!) but this is pretty much as far as I have gotten. My record with finishing projects is not all that impressive, but I am hoping to do better at sharing how I get things started, as I do lots of that! Hope this bit is useful in some way.

So. Most things work reasonably well out of the box. The graphics seem a bit quirky but serviceable–mostly a few flickery window drags–so looking for driver specifics is on the list. I am not much of a gamer, but I do create graphics both moving and not, so if I aim to convert to linux throughout the house–and I kind of do, but it is not the most important thing in my life at the moment–I will have to find ways to get them up to snuff. But the biggest problems after install, according to my own idiosyncratic hierarchy of technological needs were:

1. Wireless did not work.
2. Machine seemed to run hot, and the fans would stay quiet until all at once they were trying to fly the computer off the tv tray.
3. Trackpad right click was very fickle and multitouch gestures were few and far between.

The good news: wireless was easy to fix.

The still working on it news: lm-sensors worked to get me some information and while the heat is not overwhelming if I confine my work to mostly text, browsing graphic-intensive websites with iceweasel will run the cpu past 80C way too quickly. And when I tried to use Dropbox the long first sync also sent the temps soaring, so I disabled the app for later recommissioning. And the fans just sit there (almost) the whole time. So that will be the next puzzle to solve.

The bad but probably not crucially so news: my notes reveal nothing as to whether the trackpad clunkiness has been resolved in any way. I think I remember getting a consistent right click out of it at some point but I did not record what I had changed. When I next have a moment to boot up and do some forensics, I will write down what I find out.

So the rest is directly from my notes and free of narrative excess (mostly), but if you are attempting to put crunchbang on a MacBook Whatever, I suspect you will be able to follow them without much problem. If something makes no sense, leave a comment and I will try to clarify.

And hey, do you like poetry, cultural theory, history of ideas, experimental prose? Click some of the links I have up! I am of the rare art-lit-nerd-geek species. These crunchbang posts were almost absolute in their randomness but I might do more anyway because there should be more randomness in general.


Code Legend

'$' denotes command line input as normal user
'#' denotes command line input as root


Notes on wireless:

$ iwconfig
lo no wireless extensions.

$ lspci -vvnn | grep 14e4

Network controller [0280]: Broadcom Corporation BCM43224 802.11a/b/g/n
[14e4:4353] (rev 01)
links to several drivers that provide support for Broadcom devices

this one worked first and immediately


Update the list of available packages and install the firmware-brcm80211 and wireless-tools packages:

# aptitude update
# aptitude install firmware-brcm80211 wireless-tools


[I downloaded packages from
as well as from
but have not needed this package so far]


As the driver may already be loaded, reinsert the module to access installed firmware:

# modprobe -r brcmsmac ; modprobe brcmsmac

crunchbang froze here but after restart
wireless found local network immediately so I stopped doing things.

After restart:

$ iwconfig
lo no wireless extensions.

wlan0 IEEE 802.11abgn ESSID:"myfriendswifi"
Mode:Managed Frequency:2.457 GHz Access Point: ss:aa:ff:ee:tt:yy
Bit Rate=65 Mb/s Tx-Power=19 dBm
Retry long limit:7 RTS thr:off Fragment thr:off
Power Management:off
Link Quality=70/70 Signal level=-39 dBm
Rx invalid nwid:0 Rx invalid crypt:0 Rx invalid frag:0
Tx excessive retries:45 Invalid misc:190 Missed beacon:0


Notes on motherboard sensors, temps:


check if lm-sensors is installed. if not:
$ sudo apt-get install lm-sensors
or install from synaptic/aptitude
$ sudo sensors-detect

followed directions at web page
got results!
not sure what to do with them...
but everything looks cool enough except for the group
returning 200+C; suspect their scaling factors are borked since nothing is
boiling as far as I can tell


useful information?:
# sensors-detect
Intel digital thermal sensor... Success!
(driver `coretemp')

Client found at address 0x4b
Probing for `National Semiconductor LM75'... Success!
(confidence 3, driver `lm75')
Probing for `National Semiconductor LM75A'... No
Probing for `Dallas Semiconductor DS75'... Success!
(confidence 3, driver `lm75')
Probing for `National Semiconductor LM77'... Success!
(confidence 3, driver `lm77')

Client found at address 0x4c
Probing for `National Semiconductor LM75'... Success!
(confidence 3, driver `lm75')
Probing for `National Semiconductor LM75A'... No
Probing for `Dallas Semiconductor DS75'... Success!
(confidence 3, driver `lm75')

Client found at address 0x4e
Probing for `National Semiconductor LM75'... Success!
(confidence 3, driver `lm75')
Probing for `National Semiconductor LM75A'... No
Probing for `Dallas Semiconductor DS75'... Success!
(confidence 3, driver `lm75')


root@machine:/home/pseudonym# sensors
Adapter: ISA adapter
Physical id 0: +56.0°C (high = +86.0°C, crit = +100.0°C)
Core 0: +56.0°C (high = +86.0°C, crit = +100.0°C)
Core 1: +55.0°C (high = +86.0°C, crit = +100.0°C)


Adapter: ISA adapter
Exhaust : 1997 RPM (min = 2000 RPM, max = 6500 RPM)
TB0T: +32.5°C # Enclosure Bottom 0 / [Battery TS_MAX Temp]
TB1T: +32.5°C # Enclosure Bottom 1 / [Battery TS1 Temp]
TB2T: +31.0°C # Enclosure Bottom 3 / [Battery TS2 Temp]
TC0C: +51.8°C
TC0D: +50.8°C # [ CPU 0 Die Temp ]
TC0E: +53.8°C # ? CPU ?
TC0F: +55.5°C # ? CPU ?
TC0P: +47.8°C # [ CPU proximity ]
TC1C: +48.0°C # CPU ?
TC2C: +48.0°C # CPU ?
TCGC: +48.0°C # GPU ?
TCSA: +49.0°C
TH0F: +249.0°C
TH0J: +249.0°C
TH0O: +249.0°C
TH0o: +28.0°C
THSP: +48.2°C
TM0P: +47.2°C # Memory Bank A1
TPCD: +57.0°C
Ta0P: +50.8°C # Ambient
Th1H: +34.5°C # Heatsink
Tm0P: +48.8°C # Memory Controller
Tm1P: +51.2°C # Memory Controller
Ts0P: +29.0°C # Palm Rest Temp


[ codes looked up in ubuntu macbookair 4,1 monster thread--recent if not especially authoritative ]

As you can see, lm-sensors finds lots of temperature readings but unless you know exactly what each code means, discerning what they are is not always easy. I have looked for a straightforward list of sensor codes but have yet to find one. I do not know if these are particular to Apple–or even particular to the MBA 4,1–or if these codes are at all standardized. If someone else can enlighten us, please do so in the comments!


4 thoughts on “MacBook Air crunchbang linux install continued: notes on wireless drivers, overheating

  1. Hey,
    Thanks very much for your install notes. I’m triple-booting #!, OSX, and Windows 7 on my Macbook Air and your notes (especially w.r.t wireless drivers) were instrumental in getting the linux partition up and running. If you manage to improve the trackpad performance, I would love to hear about it; the trackpad is really clunky for me too.

    • Hi Jay,
      Thanks for letting me know–I’m glad this has been of use to someone besides myself! If I had any reason to use Windows I would probably try to get that going too, but being neither a gamer nor a business-y person, I think my foreseeable computing future is going to be Linux-heavy.

      I have made a note to myself to check out the trackpad soon. I could have sworn it got better before I packed everything up to return home from Salt Lake City! (Which is where I did most of this in a friend’s livingroom while also enjoying some time out of town– at least, out of this town.)


    • I will take a look within the next week and let you know. I have not used the laptop in a couple of months but I am just about to wipe the drive and put OS X on the whole thing (I know, I know. I’m going out of town and need a non-experimental portable box for a little while. I will go back to figuring this all out sometime after I return).

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