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Re: Installing Linux on a Mac Mini without OSX

On Thu, 4 Dec 2014 13:25:37 -0500
Brian Sammon <debian-users-list@brisammon.fastmail.fm> wrote:

> I was recently given a Mac Mini (Intel Mid 2007) that had been wiped.
> Is there a way to install Debian/Linux on this machine that doesn't involve 
> buying or borrowing (or "borrowing") a copy of OSX?  Is it easier to install 
> linux on a USB disk and run it off of that?

As a followup, I got Linux installed on it, but not (quite) Debian.
I burned a CD of the Ubuntu Trusty "+mac" image.  It booted and installed Linux and Grub successfully on the first try.
Some things I noticed:
  It used version 2.02 of grub, which is newer than that used in the Wheezy I
  The Ubuntu installer (somewhat strongly) encouraged me to create a
  "Reserved BIOS boot area" partition.  I followed that advice.
I wouldn't be surprised to learn that most/all of the features that helped with Trusty are also found in Jessie.

Now that I have a bootloader installed, I think I'll have more success installing Debian on it.

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

Recent versions of GRUB come with a "grub_macbless" command, but I haven't tested it.

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

The Boot CD for rEFInd (http://www.rodsbooks.com/refind/) reported a firmware version number, but it was a very different format from the firmware versions on Apple's site.
For upgrading firmware without MacOSX, the "Firmware Restoration CD" might be the thing: http://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201518
This was apparently moot for my Mac Mini, as Apple's website doesn't list any available firmware updates for my model.

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