Apple Touch Bar Linux Driver Hopes For Upstream In 2021

For more than four years Apple’s MacBook Pro has featured the Touch Bar as a display / control bar input device above the keyboard on these laptops. While there have been reports of Apple potentially phasing out the Touch Bar in future models, an open-source Linux driver for the component is still working its way toward the mainline kernel.

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Sent out on Saturday by independent developer Ronald Tschalär was the latest reverse-engineered, open-source driver code that gets the Touch Bar and ALS support working for MacBook Pro 13,* / 14,* / 15,* models. The Apple Touch Bar driver code was previously sent out on the kernel mailing list while now the Apple MBP 15,* models are supported and various code improvements made as a result of prior comments.

The Apple iBridge (T1 security chip) driver is also needed for interfacing with the iSight web camera, light sensor, and fingerprint sensor. At the moment the Linux driver coverage is focused on the Touch Bar and Light Sensor / ALS support.

This effort for supporting the Apple Touch Bar on Linux has been going back years albeit at a slow pace given the limited developers involved and without any support from Apple. Those interested in trying out this Apple Touch Bar + Light Sensor support for newer MacBook Pro hardware can find the new patches on the kernel mailing list.