mattgadient.com

Linux DVD images (and how-to) for 32-bit EFI Macs (late 2006 models)

Some time ago, Apple Mail on my white MacBook stopped communicating with gmail. As I recall, it was some error message that translated to “your mail client is horribly old and uses outdated security protocols“. Unfortunate, because OS X Snow Leopard was my favorite version of OS X. Anyway, I decided it was time to throw Linux on it.

At the time, I was having trouble getting the latest 64-bit Linux distro DVDs to boot. Eventually I came across ubuntu-14.04.3-desktop-amd64+mac.iso which actually did boot and install. Unfortunately, these mac-specific images seem to have fallen by the wayside as of late.

I figured it was time to look for a method to get this stuff running.

Before reading further: Make sure you’re in the same boat!

To be clear, this applies to the 64-bit Macs that use a 32-bit EFI. These tend to be all of the Core2Duo models from late 2006. More specifically:

  • iMac 5,1 – iMac 5,2 – iMac 6,1
  • Macbook 2,1
  • MacBook Pro 2,1 – MacBook Pro 2,2
  • Mac Pro 1,1
  • Xserve 1,1 (maybe)

If you’ve got an earlier Mac which is a CoreDuo (not a Core2Duo), it can’t run 64-bit anyway. If you’re on a later Mac, you’ve probably got a 64-bit EFI anyway so most Linux distros should install and run.

If you’re on some other (non-Mac) 64-bit machine that uses a 32-bit EFI, well… I have no idea. It could be worth a try.

Note that the MacBook Air 1,1 doesn’t have a DVD drive which makes things more complicated.

64-bit DVD Images for the 32-bit EFI models listed above

Warning: You’re best to skip below and create the disk image yourself. For all you know, I could be a botnet kingpin and you could be downloading the Botnet Linux 16.04 ISO. Or maybe the actual botnet kingpin hacked their way into the server and quietly replaced my ISO with their own. Beyond that, it’s also going to be really helpful for you to understand what problem you’re actually solving so that when new versions of your favorite distro come out in the future that you want disk images for, you’re capable of effortlessly handling it on your own.

Alright, so I’ve started small – a disk image for 2 distributions that’s been modified to boot on your 64-bit-with-32-bit-EFI Mac. Both were tested on my MacBook.

If you want another distribution, leave a comment and I’ll try to create the image and put it up (you’re the one who gets to test it though). Keep in mind that while it only takes a couple minutes to do, the cost of server diskspace and bandwidth is a factor for me here – I can’t offer every version of every distro out there.

64-bit Linux ISO for Mac with 32-bit EFI

Fedora 25 Workstation Live (64-bit Mac) – untested
Fedora-Workstation-Live-x86_64-25-1.3-mac-mattgadient.com.iso ( md5: 80a6c458bf255e46f22ac984303aad14 )

Fedora 24 Workstation Live (64-bit Mac) – tested by me
Fedora-Workstation-Live-x86_64-24-1.2-mac-mattgadient.com.iso ( md5: 964626a09f2ce01b15c2a79153d46323 )

Ubuntu 16.04 Desktop (64-bit Mac) – tested by me
ubuntu-16.04-desktop-amd64-mac-mattgadient.com.iso ( md5: f823cbabdd624c8394f7927e501807de )

Elementary OS 0.4 (64-bit Mac) – untested
elementaryos-0.4-stable-amd64.20160921-mac-mattgadient.com.iso md5: 280d814c80699cc2d06618c5870c6784 )

Elementary OS 0.3.2 (64-bit Mac) – untested
elementaryos-0.3.2-stable-amd64.20151209-mac-mattgadient.com.iso ( md5: 3ce983db17349f204379e066d3898dc3 )

openSUSE Leap 42.1 (64-bit Mac) – untested
openSUSE-Leap-42.1-DVD-x86_64-mac-mattgadient.com.iso ( md5: d3795bd2b648d49706c6148ba1d21def )

Linux Mint 18.1 Cinnamon “Serena” (64-bit Mac) – untested
linuxmint-18.1-cinnamon-64bit-mac-mattgadient.com.iso ( md5: f5e671d5f5eb5a6ae1c1b508ab0d9bf2 )

Linux Mint 18 Cinnamon “Sarah” (64-bit Mac) – untested
linuxmint-18-cinnamon-64bit-mac-mattgadient.com.iso ( md5: 43a6b48bd844ef3620f768863a2d17ea )

Korora 25 Live Gnome (64-bit Mac) – untested
korora-live-gnome-25-x86_64-mac-mattgadient.com.iso ( md5: 94b9c5581c6652d9bb247188e9f8371c )

Korora 25 Live Xfce (64-bit Mac) – untested
korora-live-xfce-25-x86_64-mac-mattgadient.com.iso ( md5: 8784dc32e79d69da8fe60c2569d08c17 )

CentOS 7 DVD (64-bit Mac) – untested
CentOS-7-x86_64-DVD-1611-mac-mattgadient.com.iso ( md5: d5baaee01ab9d64c5a88c779a711cd78 )

CentOS 7 Minimal (64-bit Mac) – untested
CentOS-7-x86_64-Minimal-1611-mac-mattgadient.com.iso ( md5: da06627fe82cd6a828325b0241bb73bc )

Parrot Security OS / ParrotSec (64-bit Mac) – untested
Parrot-full-3.4.1_amd64-mac-mattgadient.com.iso ( md5: f77a3b8224f3c75ba7a150a35aa10ebd )

PCLinuxOS KDE5 2017.03 (64-bit Mac) – untested
pclinuxos64-kde5-2017.03-mac-mattgadient.com.iso ( md5: e9b11ef4628381de3499d3a58050497a )

Debian Jesse 8.7.1 non-free including firmware Net Installer (64-bit Mac) – untested
firmware-8.7.1-amd64-netinst-mac-mattgadient.com.iso ( md5: 03edd1786823a32da5f6d281615e2b92 )

Kali Linux Light 2016.2 (64-bit Mac) – untested
kali-linux-light-2016.2-amd64-mac-mattgadient.com.iso ( md5: 20bc41b6abcc7487d26edd994d09bf4a )
Note: To upgrade to Kali Linux Full run “apt-get -y install kali-linux-full” after install.

Notes:

  • Burn to a DVD. I don’t believe it’ll work via USB (though you could try I suppose). Hold the “option” key on your Mac during boot and select the image. It might be detected as “Windows” or something by the boot menu.
  • When you format/install, you’re best to use MBR for the hard drive (not GPT). Most distros will automatically use MBR as part of their “auto format/install” when you use these disk images, but if you do some custom partitioning, you’ll want to keep an eye out.
  • I haven’t tested to see if it works with a dual-boot system. The MBR bit might cause complications here.
  • If you redistribute the images, please either leave the “mattgadient.com” bit in the file name or replace it with something that clearly indicates it isn’t an official ISO. That way if there are problems with it, people won’t think it’s an official ISO that’s broken.

If you’d like to help offset the bandwidth costs, note that I do have a game on Steam called Alarameth TD. And yes, it supports Linux (linux-specific notes are in the forum). Most of the 2006 macs don’t have the jam to play it mind you (Intel GMA950 is a bit weak), but purchasing for your main rig or as a gift for a friend who might be a tower defence fanatic is always appreciated!

How-to: Making a standard Linux distro ISO compatible with 32-bit EFI Macs

The “problem” with the 32-bit EFI macs (as I understand it) is that they fall apart when they try to load a “multi-catalog” disk image. Most linux distros use multi-catalog images so that they support both BIOS and EFI. When the Mac tries to load the disk image, you get the cryptic “select CD-ROM boot type” text. Since the mac hasn’t loaded any keyboard stuff yet, you can’t actually choose any of the options.

The cleanest solution (I’ll go into alternative solutions in following sections) is to change the disk image to be BIOS-only (non-EFI). Basically, remove other items from the El Torito catalog. That’s what the old Ubuntu amd64+mac ISO’s did. The 64-bit BIOS linux bootloader kicks in, and all is well. A more detailed explanation can be found here.

Converting the ISO

This is done via a very simple C program. Credit goes to the poster here. A lot of extra info if you expand that thread’s bug discussion. Here’s the code (slightly modded to let you provide the file name instead of hard-coding it):

isomacprog.c.txt

Saved it as “isomacprog.c” (remove the “.txt”), and compile it with:

cc -g -Wall isomacprog.c -o isomacprog

After that, make a COPY of the original ISO for your linux distro and run it against the copy. Something like:

cp original.iso macversion.iso
./isomacprog macversion.iso

This isn’t guaranteed to work on every Linux ISO image out there, but it’s worth a shot, and is what I’ve used for the images above.

The same notes apply as with the ISO’s I provided above. Burn to DVD, use MBR, etc.

Alternative Options

I’ll be honest: I prefer the above solution for the following reason:

  • Simplicity – it’s the least complicated option.
  • Robustness – as long as you partitioned as MBR, it should survive most distro version upgrades since they tend to equate MBR with BIOS, and GPT with EFI. This can matter if it updates the bootloader (I’ve had a GPT bootloader get borked by an upgrade before).

If you’ve got a bad DVD drive or MacBook Air, I’d be inclined to try pulling the drive first and install Linux via another machine (swap the drive back in after and hope for the best).

But if forced to use USB or intent on going the EFI32 route, here are a few places I’d start:

  1. Thread: Ubuntu 15.04 on Mac Mini 2,1 with EFI boot (2007 Intel) – The guide uses rEFInd on one USB stick. On a 2nd USB install disk it uses a Ubuntu USB install, but adds a bootia32.efi to the /EFI/BOOT folder. When starting up the Mac, uses ALT to bring up the manager and chooses rEFInd. Then once rEFInd has loaded, selects the option that contains “bootia32.efi”.

    Once the Ubuntu install is complete, grub fails to install, but there are steps listed to manually install a grub-efi-ia32. Much of it is based on the steps that Jason Heeris provided on his blog. This is a very “EFI-native” solution, but I’d personally still be a little concerned about the potential for major release upgrades to overwrite the bootloader with a new 64-bit EFI.
  2. Hackintosh bootloader solutions – The hackintosh community has been finding solutions for Apple’s EFI compatibility limitations for years. If you’re looking for something very Mac-specific, search for Mac Pro 1,1 and add ML/MountainLion/10.8/10.9/etc to the search. Otherwise you can peek into various bootloaders like Chameleon, Pike’s bootloader, etc., but your are more likely to hit some trial-and-error bits there since every guide looks at a different purpose (some for just intented for having a different bootloader, some aimed at hackintoshing, etc).

The End

If something above worked (or didn’t work) well for you, leaving a comment below might help the next person out. Also helpful for letting me know if the server I rented to host the ISO’s on went down, or if you’re not comfortable compiling an image yourself and need a specific ISO provided.

 

  • Glen

    Thank you Matt — this worked great with my macbookpro2,2

  • Clemens

    Many thanks Matt for the converted CentOS 7 image! 🙂 Does anybody know here if CentOS 7 run’s in desktop mode well on these old Apple iMac computers? I think CentOS 6.8 would be somewhat less hardware hungry? Whatever, will try CentOS 7 the next days. 😉 Again a BIG thanks Matt for yours effort in this topic. I tried some times ago to build a corresponding 64bit OS @ 32bit Apple EFI install media but was never successful….

    • Clemens

      It seems that I have understood here something totally wrong. 🙁

      Is it right, that this method will install a 64bit Linux OS which runs effectively in legacy EFI CSM (BIOS) mode? So, with this solution I will NOT have any AHCI support at my Samsung 840 pro SSD, right? If that’s true then this workaround will have the same limitations like a 64bit Windows 7 OS which is installed in legacy CSM mode. 🙁 Very unfortunate…

      Therefore it can be said, that in native EFI mode only a 32bit Linux install is possible but NOT a 64bit one.

      Well, there exist the theoretical possibility to install and run a native 64bit EFI Linux OS at a (compliant) 32 bit EFI system through a “64bit to 32bit EFI wrapper”. However, for Linux (and Windows) this is currently only a hypothetic option. Interestingly this seems to be possible with more recent (64bit only) Mac OS X versions which are modified with a special boot loader (from MacRumors user Tiamo). MacPostFactor uses this way to install newer 64bit OS X editions on 32bit EFI Apple computers. 🙂

      Whatever – someone should really try to build a independent “64bit to 32bit EFI wrapper” which can be used “OS independent”. 😉 😀

      • Hey Clemens,

        Yeah it’s in BIOS mode. And yes, Apple disables AHCI when booting this way, which as you indicated hits nearly everyone installing Windows on their Macs too. If you’re intent on enabling AHCI though, a few threads to look at:
        http://www.insanelymac.com/forum/topic/126089-howto-boot-macs-with-intel-chipset-in-ahci-win7-vista-xp-linux/
        https://web.archive.org/web/20120118082046/http://forum.onmac.net/showthread.php?t=2739
        https://neosmart.net/forums/threads/support-for-patching-bootloader-to-enable-ahci-support-in-macintoshes.9010/

        …it’s a bit on the complex side. You can choose between either trying to patch the first part of the MBR to flip AHCI back on before the boot loader starts (main focus of first link), patching GRUB to write to the PCI config space to do it (main focus of 2nd link), or enabling AHCI at boot time (3rd link but you’ll want to “lspci” to find your device and search around to confirm the setting). It’s possible that there may be other alternatives too (via rEFInd etc), but I haven’t looked too heavily into it.

        Note that most of the guides out there tend to be Windows-centric to the point where they’ve even got a 440byte “patchcode.bin” floating around that can be quickly written to the drive for Windows booting with AHCI (although sleep apparently ends up broken). Nothing quite like that for Linux that I could find, but manually patching the MBR should be possible anyway.

        • Clemens

          Hi Matt

          Many thanks for your detailed answer and thanks for these links. Well, – all these tweaks to enable AHCI in legacy BIOS mode at an older Apple computer are not really reliable. Especially not under Windows. That’s the reason why it is (strongly) recommended to install on newer (more UEFI compliant) Apple computers also Windows in (U)EFI mode. 😉
          However, regarding my legacy iMac I am now back on 64bit OS X Mountain Lion 10.8.5. 😉 It runs (in native EFI mode) thanks to MacPostFactor (and the Samsung 840 pro SSD) awesome on my late 2006 (32bit EFI based) iMac. The built-in “64bit to 32bit EFI wrapper” makes it possible. No limitations regarding AHCI. 😀

          I think because of its open source concept such a wrapper solution will work even better with Linux. All the corresponding EFI related drivers are included. Will ask MacRumors user Tiamo how much of work will it be to port his “64bit to 32bit EFI wrapper” to Linux. 😉

          Many thanks Matt for all your efforts in this topic here!

          Kind regards
          Clemens

  • VP FlutterShy

    I can confirm this method works with ubuntu server 16.04.1

  • Seth Forgosh

    I’d love a working copy of Centos 7. Thanks for the ISOs that you’ve done so far.

    • CentOS 7 should be up now. Shift-refresh the page if it doesn’t show up right away. They should currently be found at the end of the list.

      I wasn’t sure which you wanted – I usually assume minimal would be used for a CLI server and DVD for a GUI Desktop, but lots of possibilities here so I did both the Minimal (~700MB) and DVD (~4.1GB).

      Edit: let me know if you’d prefer the Live GNOME or KDE.

      • Seth Forgosh

        You rule! Thanks for the quick response. I’ll try the DVD version,

      • Seth Forgosh

        I got impatient and burned minimal…. It’s working perfectly. Thanks again

  • NoseyNick

    THANKYOU for this tool. I can confirm it works great on both openSUSE-Leap-42.1-NET-x86_64.iso and openSUSE-Leap-42.2-NET-x86_64.iso on MacBook2,1.

  • Nadie

    I’m planning to upgrade my Mac to quad-core processors, Is the same process or I do have to do something else?

    Greetings.

    • coarist

      Take care in these points when upgrading processor:
      Clean both surfaces very carefully. I use alcohol wipe many times until no residual and no contaminant is visible on the heat sink and on the processor. Stanley knife blade helps and use with care. Use pressure air to help cleaning where possible. Make sure also the contact side is clean. Apply heat transfer compound to the interface on one side with an “X” pattern. Do this step carefully to prevent subtle problems relate to heat dissipation which will be difficult to trace and will need redoing the installation process.
      For Mac OS on the MacPro 1,1 with or without processor upgrade, OSX El Captan 10.11.6 is possible.
      For Linux, with or without processor upgrade, download the iso here and make bootable installer disc. Boot from it and install as you would on normal PC.

  • Steven Narmontas

    This process worked on a late-2006 iMac 5,1 . I used the provided isomacprog to modify ubuntu-16.04.1-desktop-amd64.iso, which was freshly downloaded from Ubuntu.com and it booted and installed perfectly. Thanks!

  • coarist

    I have MacPro 1,1. This image is to make bootable Ubuntu 16.04 installer DVD. Works well for me.

    -> ubuntu-16.04-desktop-amd64-mac-mattgadient.com.iso

    MacPro 1,1 has 32-bit EFI. Without this iso image only 32-bit OS can be installed which limits RAM access to 4GB. With Matt’s iso file I can boot, intall and run 64-bit Linux on this 32-bit EFI machine.

    Before upgrading to 16.04, my MacPro 1,1 was already on 64-bit Ubuntu but it was only 14.04. To upgrade it, the iso file makes everything simple the same way as we would downloading and installing Linux on any other computer.

    For Ubuntu 14.04 there was a MacPro 1,1 (32-bit EFI) x64 distro available. For Ubuntu 16 and Fedora, there aren’t any otherwise as far as I know.

    Here the spec of the Mac for reference:

    – Model early MacPro 1,1 2006
    – Memory 32 GiB
    – Processor Intel Xeon(R) CPU X5365 x 8 (2 x 3GHz Quad-Core)
    – OS type 64-bit

    This is valuable. I offer great thanks to the author.

  • Worked great on my Macbook mid 2007 (Core 2 Duo) – Thank you so much!!

  • George

    I have compiled the ISO for openSUSE Leap 42.2 and can confirm it installs nicely on a 2007 Macbook 2,1 (2006 version with newer CPUs, see Wikipedia)
    I had to “parted” the disk back to empty and then let Leap install a its bootloader into MBR.

    A first attempt where the bootloader went into its own partion failed to boot, I could only boot from disk indirect by the DVD ISOlinux bootloader from the SUSE install DVD. It then gives the option to boot from disk which works that way.

  • kimtoufectis

    So no love at all for my 32-bit processor Intel Core Duo (early 2006) iMac? It would have been nice for the 64 bit requirement to have been mentioned before I bought a stack of DVD’s so I could burn the image onto one…

    • The 64-bit stuff (and Core2Duo list of machines) are mentioned pretty early on in the writeup!

      That said, I suspect the 32-bit installer for most distros will probably boot and install fine on your machine without any needed tweaking (I’d guess they use a 32-bit BIOS/EFI loader which the Mac hopefully shouldn’t struggle with). So it’s probably worth burning a standard 32-bit ISO from your favorite distro’s page and giving it a try.

      • kimtoufectis

        I appreciate your reply. To be clear, I was remarking not of your lucid post but of the announcement on the Raspberry Pi site that “Because we’re using the venerable i386 architecture variant it should run even on vintage machines, provided they have at least 512MB of RAM.”

        Given that my iMac has 2GB of RAM (and finding no mention of other hardware requirements) I bought the shortest stack of DVDs I could find (ten) to try it out, burned one with the image, and got nowhere…as you are aware I was wasting my time with a 32-bit Intel iMac.

        • Actually, assuming you’re talking about the PIXEL (or whatever they called it)… the i386 variant should be 32-bit (64-bit is often referred to as amd64). So it *should* be possible to get it to work on your 32-bit iMac, assuming somebody didn’t mis-speak/mislabel it.

          Took a quick peak just now and it looked like PIXEL might be distributed as .img images – they may not be able to be burned directly to a DVD like the .iso variants are. They may be intended for some form of USB install, but like I said, I only took a quick peek. Throw the typical possible-Apple-trickery on top of things and there may be a couple more headaches in store. But at some point I suspect someone *should* be able to get it working. May be worth experimenting with trying to get it going over USB in the meantime (save your blank DVD’s for when someone else has a reliable DVD method available).

          • kimtoufectis

            Yes, I was hoping to give Pixel a whirl. I’d be glad to try the USB approach, but my sole guidance is that same article on Pixel for PCs and Macs (that had me burn a DVD just for practice), instructing me to “Download the image, and either burn it to a DVD or write it to a USB stick. For the latter, we recommend Etcher.”

            I know how to burn a DVD, but what does writing it to a USB stick entail? Etcher doesn’t seem to have ever run on a 32 bit Mac, and when I click on the downloaded .iso file my Mac says it couldn’t be opened because it has no mountable file systems. I browsed the web for alternatives, but found nothing that my Mac will run…

          • If it’s an .iso I usually end up using “dd” when on OS X and Linux distros, but since a typo can easily wipe your system, searching for a safer way through a utility/program is probably ideal.

            If you don’t come across something in a reasonable time frame, you could try out Fedora’s media writer via another machine if you happen to have one around – the Windows and Mac OS X versions should let you write a custom .iso file. I say “on another machine” though because it looks like the Mac version of the utility might be 64-bit. It can currently be found at: https://getfedora.org/en/workstation/download/ . Again, this is assuming you were provided with a .iso – I don’t believe it supports .img .

          • kimtoufectis

            My other computers are :
            – an even older G4 iMac (“sunflower” design) running OS X 10.5;
            – a ChromeBase (an all-in-one desktop verson of a Chromebook)
            – a current-era MacBook Pro for work that I can’t install software on
            – an OLPC XO laptop (with an early version of Fedora deep inside)

            Are there any viable alternatives for this task, in that list?

          • Just peeked around a bit. UNetbootn http://unetbootin.github.io OS X version seems to be 32-bit (just tried it and unless activity monitor is lying, it’s 32-bit). Maybe give that a try on your current OS X machine. Might get *really* lucky and it could be a Universal Binary (both PPC and Intel) – haven’t seen those in a long time, but then again… haven’t seen a 32-bit program for OS X in a long time either. If it *is*, then it might work on your older G4 also.

            If for whatever reason that *doesn’t* work, possibly the Fedora writer on the MacBook Pro. The Fedora utility doesn’t have to be installed on the machine in OSX- it can be run from it’s disk image and simply ejected afterwards. Unsure if it needs name/password to write to the USB drive though (a number of tools do since it’s a pretty low-level disk operation).

            Don’t know about the others… the only tools I really use are Rufus (Windows) and “dd” (OSX/Linux) – “dd” is my go-to because it’s reliably always-there and just plain works, but like I said… a typo can be really bad. Only used the Fedora utility out of curiousity.

            That’s really about all I can think of right now. Hopefully something there helps, but if not, maybe someone else can chime in.

          • kimtoufectis

            Thanks again.

            I tried this program before asking for help, and tried it again today. It fails on startup. I tried restarting, tried ignoring the failure and retrying, all to the same end.

            Should it reveal anything to you that would suggest a course of action, here’s the top of the report of the failure:

            Process: unetbootin [366]
            Path: /Applications/unetbootin.app/Contents/MacOS/unetbootin
            Identifier: com.yourcompany.unetbootin
            Version: ??? (???)
            Code Type: X86 (Native)
            Parent Process: launchd [134]

            Date/Time: 2016-12-30 12:47:36.254 -0500
            OS Version: Mac OS X 10.6.8 (10K549)
            Report Version: 6

            Interval Since Last Report: 1493273 sec
            Crashes Since Last Report: 28
            Per-App Interval Since Last Report: 15 sec
            Per-App Crashes Since Last Report: 6
            Anonymous UUID: (I redacted the long ID code recorded here)

            Exception Type: EXC_BAD_ACCESS (SIGBUS)
            Exception Codes: KERN_PROTECTION_FAILURE at 0x0000000000000000
            Crashed Thread: 0 Dispatch queue: com.apple.main-thread

            In the meantime I’ll see what I can do on my late-model MacBook Pro sans admin rights…

          • kimtoufectis

            After failing with unetbootin on my Early 2006 Core Duo iMac (installs but won’t run) I downloaded the Fedora Media Writer.app to my work MacBook Pro (your fallback suggestion).

            Next I failed with my 2003 G4 iMac (it wouldn’t install because it isn’t a Universal Binary as hoped).

            When I try to run it from the disk image I get a message box that says it “can’t be opened because it is from an unidentified developer. Your security preferences allow installation of only apps from the Mac App Store and identified developers.” And as you might imagine, can’t change those security preferences…

            Hey, can’t fault me for being unduly wedded to any single approach…

  • Przemysław Gast

    Hi Matt!
    Thanks for Fedora 25 🙂 I wish I could run Korora 25 (Gnome and XFCE) on my Mac Mini (2.1). Could you compile it, as I am unable to do such magic on my own. 🙂

    • Both the Gnome and Xfce Live CDs for Korora 25 should now be up in the list now (shift-refresh this page if they don’t show up right away). Good luck!

      • Przemysław Gast

        THANK YOU! 🙂 BTW I have installed Fedora 25 on my mac mini. It does not pass ISO check at startup, you have to bypass it (ESC key). Then it installs fine (default partitioning).
        I will let you know how is Korora doing. Thanks again!

        edit:
        I have successfully installed Korora 25 XFCE in first attempt. Due to the HW limitations I would probably not install gnome version of Korora. Korora 25 XFCE is working. 🙂 Thank you.

  • A. Styrmo

    Hi Matt,
    I’ve been considering putting Linux Mint 18.1 Cinnamon on my 5,1 iMac as mine seems to not have some of the issues that were common with this model (screen problems). It’s a good computer but really pokey on OS10.6.8. I just use it for browsing using an older version of Firefox.
    I’m totally new to Linux but is sounds like a cool way to extend the life of this computer.
    So the above information is for totally wiping out OSX and replacing it with Linux?
    I’ve reduced what I have on this system so I could do two partitions of 250MB, one for OSX and one for Linux and have seen other tutorials on dual booting a mac but they were using newer machines that don’t have the 32bit/64bit issue of the 5,1.
    Another question is if I partition, do I need to do a swap partition at that time or does the installation take care of that for me?
    Also, should I get a usb to ethernet adapter first? Other tutorials suggested that this was needed.
    Thanks in advance for any help.

    • Hey A. Styrmo,

      The above has only been *tested* as a full-on replacement (wipe + install linux). If you’re looking to dual-boot and 64-bit isn’t an absolute necessity for you I’d actually be inclined to try using the official 32-bit ISO from the linuxmint.com site (which should hopefully need no modification at all!). The reason has to do with the MBR/GPT bit: the Mac has the disk partitioned as GPT, whereas in the above 64-bit instructions I’ve really put an emphasis on using MBR – the emphasis is there because in the distant past (back when they made the official “mac” ISO) I had OS upgrades try updating the bootloader to the 64-bit EFI one. Mind you, I may have had some wonky config, but in any case, using MBR is intended to encourage the bootloader to persist as the BIOS variant across updates/upgrades.

      That said, you *could* try using a modified 64-bit ISO (as above). It’ll probably work. But be aware that there’s the chance an OS upgrade might bork things: if that does happen, you’re probably going to have to boot from a LiveCD and try to repair the boot loader manually.

      As for the swap partition, most distros have an automatic partitioning scheme that takes care of adding swap – however, some of the automatic partitioning schemes don’t really do dual-boot (and may insist on wiping everything). Chances are you’ll be following a tutorial for dual-booting and doing “manual partitioning” where you’ll want to make a swap partition. Alternately you could skip the swap partition and make a swap FILE after installation (do a quick search for this) – caveat is that not every file system supports swap files, so you must be partitioning as something standard like EXT4 (nothing fancy like BTRFS).

      To the USB ethernet adapter: Personally I wouldn’t get one beforehand. Linux distros have recognized nearly every ethernet adapter I’ve thrown at them. Boot from a LiveCD and make sure you can browse the web. If it works fine I’d only look at getting a USB ethernet adapter if the ethernet adaptor was being flaky (randomly drops out, doesn’t recover after wake from sleep, etc).

      One last thing: DO A TIME MACHINE BACKUP first (external USB hard drive is fine if you don’t have a Time Capsule) and make sure your original OS X installation media still works. That way if something goes horribly wrong you can get your system back to the state it’s currently in.

      In case you do decide to try the 64-bit route and aren’t keen on manually modifying the official ISO, I’ll try to get a modified Mint ISO up on this page within the next hour (try a shift-refresh of the page if it doesn’t show up). Edit: it’s up!

      Good luck!

      • A. Styrmo

        Hi Matt,
        I’m typing this on my new Linux Mint 64bit iMac. =^] The iso you provided worked flawlessly. I was so impressed with Linux even running on the LiveCD that I decided to just do the full wipe and install. Of course before starting I did both a Time Machine backup and a clone backup with SuperDuper and I know my Snow Leopard disk still works but I don’t think I’m going back. The Mint installer took care of everything, very painless. Everything seems to work, network, bluetooth, etc. I can access all files in my MacMini. Can I write files to the drive in the MacMini? Is it safe to write files or move (universal) files (wav, pdf etc) from a Linux machine to a Apple formatted system?
        I was having problems accessing a USB drive attached to the Apple Airport Extreme directly as I’m not sure what username and password it’s looking for. I just moments ago discovered I could gain access indirectly via the MacMini under Volumes. I would like to be able to access it directly though so that the MacMini doesn’t have to be on just to get to it and keep music files on it so the files are available to all computers on my network and just point Rhythmbox to there.
        Thanks for your help so far!

        • If you’re copying files over the network (shared folder on the Mac Mini), there generally shouldn’t be any issue – network protocols are the only thing in play and clients don’t have to care about what the underlying file system is. On the other hand, if you’re moving around a physical hard drive between machines though (whether internal or USB/external), sometimes things go flawlessly and other times you can run into quirks depending on the file system used.

          As for the Airport Extreme, fire up “Airport Utility” on your mini (or another machine in the home running OS X). Alternately there should be an “Airport Utility” from Apple in the app store for iOS devices (iPhone/iPad/etc). I know for the Time Capsule it’ll let me configure username/password stuff for the internal drive, so I’m assuming a USB on an Airport Extreme is probably handled in a similar way.

  • PsychoSync

    Hi Matt

    Really cool that you are giving some more life in these old macs! I have been trying to make an OpenELEC install on my mac mini 2007 for a while now but with no luck… It is a linux “just enough OS” that runs Kodi. Can you maybe try to make a compatible usb install? Thanks.

    http://openelec.tv/get-openelec/category/53-x86-generic-intel-amd-nvidia-builds?download=76:x86-generic-intel-amd-nvidia-diskimage

  • TehFalcon

    Any way you can do an ElementaryOS 0.4 one?

    • It should be up now! Shift-refresh if it doesn’t show up on the page immediately.

  • Nathan Hanson

    Thanks for these images! I was successful in loading Freya onto a macbook 2,1 and an iMac 5,2. On the iMac (without a working optical drive), I used an external DVD drive (USB) and after a full shut down, started up holding down both cmd and alt. After some time, all the while holding down those keys, it loaded to the installer.

    Thanks again! I’m so happy to keep these machines running, while I start exploring Elementary.

    • Nathan Hanson

      Clarification: I first put on a fresh install of OS X, then ran Boot Camp Assistant (partition, clicked the option that didn’t include downloading anything, then quit). Then shut down, then startup with cmd + alt keys.

  • Kenneth

    Ok I’m in need of some help. I’ve burned the Ubuntu image to a DVD but I can’t get it to boot on an xserve 1,1 holding the alt key on boothe just ejects the disk eventually or if there’s a hard drive it just shows the hard drive to boot from. What am I missing?

    • Hey Kenneth,

      A couple possibilities off the top of my head:

      1) When I wrote this up and went through the various Mac models, I put a “maybe” in the list above beside the Xserve 1,1. I don’t remember why specifically, but something I came across must have brought some uncertainty when it came to the Xserve as opposed to the other Mac models in the list. So it could be that it just *won’t* work on the Xserve.

      2) A bad DVD burn, or a picky DVD reader in the Xserve is always possible. A couple of our older macs from that era have optical drives that have started getting really finicky.

      If you are determined to give it another shot, I’d try burning the image to a different DVD-R brand from a different burner than what you’d used the first time. Temporarily hooking up a SATA optical drive to the Xserve could be worth a try as well (then try both your previous DVD and the freshly burned one).

      But if all that fails, like I said, it’s within the realm of possibility that the Xserve is just going to be a no-go from the start.

      • Kenneth

        Thanks for the reply. I’ll give it a go on new dvd’s as these are almost a decade old and did give issues with playing movies. Also I see the problem with those macbook drives and it makes sense. Had to use an external drive on an old macbook to get the install to work. How do you recommend using a sata DVD drive on the xserve? Will it boot from the drive through a USB sata setup you think? Like an external DVD drive? Or is there a sata port I’m missing somewhere inside? Thanks again.

        • Not sure on the USB – for some reason I’ve been under the impression that it needed to load the UEFI stuff to access that which might throw a wrench into booting from a non-UEFI disk. Could be worth trying though. As to the SATA, the specs I had pulled up indicated that the Xserve 1,1 had support for up to 3 SATA drives – if that’s the case, and if it uses the typical SATA cable/connector it should be possible to yank an optical drive out of a typical PC (or another you’ve got laying around) and put it in temporarily for the install.

          • Kenneth

            sorry to be a nuisance but what would you recommend burning the disc with and what settings if any specific? just want to make sure i cover all possibilities. thanks for all the help.

          • I’m usually not picky about the burning program and just use whatever’s handy. My go-to’s tend to be CDBurnerXP on Windows and Burn on OS X, but burning a disc image is a pretty basic task so just about any program should do it without issue.

            As far as drives (if you’ve got choices), the standard internal drives that fit in a 5.25″ bay have been the most reliable for me over the years. Laptop drives, and internal slot-load drives have failed me on many occasions. Very limited experience on external USB drives.

            As for specific settings, when I’ve got an optical burner that I *know* is flaky I’ll tend to try a slower burn speed – in the past I’ve had dying drives that only worked reliably at a specific speed setting (some max, some the slowest, and some a specific one in between).

  • Jim Banes

    Does this actually boot into EFI mode? I have tried this a few times with an Elementary DVD I created. It does boot into 64 bit Elementary using this method but its using BIOS to boot not EFI.

    • Hey Jim. The 64-bit BIOS is the intended behavior, akin to the amd64+mac ISO’s that they used to provide for Ubuntu. It basically removes the 64-bit EFI item from the disk catalog so that a 32-bit EFI machine doesn’t try to use it (which causes a hang), and instead uses the 64-bit BIOS item on the disk catalog.

      (edit: if looking to use an EFI bootloader for a particular reason, I do have a couple links listed under “Alternative Options” which might provide some help there)

  • doctor john

    If i m not mistaken i read that Elementary OS Loki supports 32bit EFI but i can’t find something
    like Etcher running in 10.6.8 to make the usb.
    If you have any idea i ll be happy to check it.

  • Rob

    These images are great – thanks Matt. On a side note (seeing as we’re all using this era of Mac) – does anyone else have a problem with the display backlight not coming back on after the display has shut off to save power? It works fine coming back from a Suspend on my Macbook Pro 2,1, just not when the display has switched itself off.

  • Javier

    Thank very much Matt. Now it is installing…
    I don´t know why my CentOS 6.5 return error when execute isomacprog rutine.

  • Javier

    Hi Matt, I try to “openSUSE-Leap-42.1-DVD-x86_64.iso” but doesn´t work and return error data type. Can you help me please??? Thank in advance.

  • michaelconner

    I take it back — while the elementary OS (Loki) disc booted after running the C program on it, it crashes upon installation; it’s also very sluggish.

    Linux Mint 18 (Cinnamon) works flawlessly, however. Again, many thanks for having this page and the program to convert ISO images up.

  • michaelconner

    Was able to get elementary OS Loki to boot on my iMac5,2 using the C program. Many thanks!

  • c_b

    Thank you! Very much appreciated!

  • c_b

    Any chance you’d be interested in creating an iso for Elementary OS?