Another Attempt Made To Upstream An Apple Touch Bar Linux Driver


Apple introduced the Touch Bar to their MacBook Pro laptops a half-decade ago as a dynamic touchscreen to replace the function keys on the keyboard. While some MacBook Pro models have already dropped the Touch Bar for not catching on, some community developers in the open-source Linux community continue work on enabling the functionality for the upstream Linux kernel.

Two years ago an Apple Touch Bar driver was proposed for the Linux kernel but code issues were raised and no updated driver patches materialized. Two years later the crew that work to support Linux on Apple devices with the T2 security chip have taken to working on this Touch Bar driver as well as supporting the keyboard backlight for some Intel-based Macs currently not having the functionality working under Linux.

Apple MacBook Pro with Touch Bar keyboard.

New patches sent out this morning address the earlier code comments on the Touch Bar driver. Some improvements to this Touch Bar driver were also made to benefit T2 Macs. Plus the backlight support should be working for T2-based MacBooks with the Magic Keyboard. However, they are still working on a Linux driver for interfacing with Apple’s T2 security chip. That T2 Linux driver is needed with the Touch Bar, internal keyboard, camera, trackpad, ambient light sensor, headphone controls, and other functionality are behind this security chip. The «apple-bce» driver provides work-in-progress support there or using USB device pass-through to a Linux VM guest on a Windows host with Apple Bootcamp drivers is another way to test out the functionality.

Those interested in this Apple Touch Bar driver work that ultimately wants to go upstream into the Linux kernel and the other activities around improving Linux support for Macs with the T2 security chip can see the new kernel patch series.