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Re: Installing Linux on a Mac Mini without OSX

> I was recently given a Mac Mini (Intel Mid 2007) that had been wiped.
> I tried to install Debian (Wheezy) on it, and the installer reported
> success, but  when it came time to eject and reboot, Debian didn't
> boot from the hard drive.
> Is there a way to install Debian/Linux on this machine that doesn't involve
> buying or borrowing (or "borrowing") a copy of OSX?

If you managed to boot a plain-normal Debian CDROM installer, then your
machine's firmware has full BIOS support and you can boot a plain-normal
Debian install on the harddisk as well, as if the machine were
a normal PC.

> Is it easier to install linux on a USB disk and run it off of that?

Nope.  Most of the Apple machines of that time are simply unable to boot
from USB unless you're using an EFI boot.

> Two particular subtasks that I may need to do that seem to require OSX:
> 1) "Blessing" a partition

AFAIK the only tool for that is `hfspbless' which is not widely
distributed, but if you look hard enough you should be able to find it.

See also https://bugs.debian.org/cgi-bin/bugreport.cgi?bug=427492.

Note that this is only need if you want to boot via EFI rather than via
the BIOS.

> 2) Checking what version of firmware it has (some versions have BIOS
>    compatibility)

Indeed, the BIOS compatibility was not available in earlier machines's
firmware (tho available as a firmware upgrade).  But since you seem to
have booted Debian's installer, it seems your firmware is already able
to handle BIOS.

One more detail: IIUC when booted via EFI your machine's video hardware
might not be initialized the way Linux and Xorg expect it to be, so Xorg
may fail to start (at least that's the case for my Mac Mini of around
2006).  You can fix that by adding some commands in the grub.cfg
(assuming you use grub-efi) which preload some vesa-bios to your video
hardware (something like "loadbios /boot/vbios.bin /boot/int10.bin" tho
you also need to put those corresponding files in your boot partition).


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