The PhoneBoy Blog


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MacBook Flickering Screen

I seem to have an issue with my MacBook, namely that when the screen goes from full brightness to as dim as possible, the screen will begin “flickering.” It may or may not stop on it’s own. This seems to be a relatively new problem–one that I think started happening shortly after one of the MacBook firmware updates from Apple.

When I called Apple and asked them about this last week, they said I needed to prove that this was a hardware issue by booting up on a CD and seeing if I could reproduce it from there. The installation CDs for MacOS proved unhelpful because the install CDs don’t give me a way to adjust the screen brightness.

Meanwhile, I turned to a Kubuntu CD that I had lying around. I was able to boot, but of course no
program built-in to change the screen brightness. However, I was able to download a .deb file that has a program to change the screen brightness. Fortunately, Kubuntu and presumably other Ubuntu variants allow you to install programs when booting from the LiveCD. I was able to do something like:

$ wget http://ubuntu.desrt.ca/macbook-backlight_0.0-1_i386.deb
$ sudo dpkg --install macbook-backlight_0.0-1_i386.deb
$ sudo macbook-backlight 255
$ sudo macbook-backlight 0

And lo and behold, the problem instantly reproduced. Yay. Now it’s time to call Apple and say “fix it, it’s a hardware problem.” Of course, that means potentially being without my Mac for several days while they do their magic. Too bad AppleCare doesn’t loan you a machine while yours is getting serviced.


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