Install on iMac

Questions about Grub, UEFI,the liveCD and the installer
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borgward
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Install on iMac

Post by borgward » Thu Jul 12, 2018 1:31 am

I am planning on installing Mint on a iMac (27-inch, Mid 2011)

I currently run Mint 18.0 64bit Cinnamon on my Dell Laptop. I will probably put the latest version of Cinnamon on the iMac. What bugaboos can I expect installing on the iMac? I had to install 32bit version of Mint on a 64bit mid 2007 iMac, as was it geared toward older 32bit mac OS and software. You can install 64bit Linux if you want to go to too much trouble. Will I run into any similar surprises with this install?

How to I find the Model and serial # on the mid 2011 iMac? It was under the foot of the aluminum stand on the 2007 imac, but did not see it there on the 2011. It does not boot to the OS.

It is a freebee. Can I use a mechanical HDD in it if the solid state one is toast. I don't have enough money for a solid state one, but do have a regular HDD that I can use.

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Tomgin5
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Re: Install on iMac

Post by Tomgin5 » Thu Jul 12, 2018 1:53 am

The mechanical HDD will be a timebomb. and will be much slower than a smaller SSD ( $57 U,S,D for a 240 GB ) Make sure you move the old thermostat out of the old HDD and save it. Some of the Imac BIOs requires the thermostat. Most of the newer SSD's have a thermostat built in that reports through the SATA bus and is recognized by LM 19 Cinn 64. I converted 2 trashed IMacs last week.

fabien85
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Re: Install on iMac

Post by fabien85 » Thu Jul 12, 2018 6:09 am

Following your infos, the machine is probably this one : https://everymac.com/systems/apple/imac ... specs.html
(or the variant at 3.1 GHz or 3.4 GHz)

This is perfectly compatible with Mint 64 bit.

Following this page, most hardware works out of the box on Ubuntu 11.04, with the notable exception of the wifi (and thunderbolt). A lot of progress has been made since then (Mint 19 is based on Ubuntu 18.04), so I would expect the wifi to work now. You may need to temporarily connect it to internet via a ethernet cable after install, in order to download the driver for the wifi card (with Menu > Driver Manager). Or use another computer to download the driver in .deb form and then transfer it to the iMac.

borgward
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Re: Install on iMac

Post by borgward » Thu Jul 12, 2018 7:30 am

Any advice about booting with live session? I will probably boot w/18.0 just to check out the machine. I have EDIMAX USB wireless dongle. They are marketed for Raspberry Pi. $10 at Fry's. I was surprised that CentOS liked it out of the box.

fabien85
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Re: Install on iMac

Post by fabien85 » Fri Jul 13, 2018 4:28 am

To burn the live USB, you can use etcher from macOS. From Mint there is a default utility mintstick (Menu > Accessories > USB Image Writer), and from windows use Rufus.

To boot the USB, plug it, power on the iMac and press alt/option ; after some seconds you should see the built-in apple bootmanager with an option to boot macOS, and an option called "EFI Boot" with the icon of an external drive. Select this second entry (with arrows and pressing enter), and you should boot to the grub menu of the live USB.

Yes the edimax USB should work out of the box, I tired one once on Mint 17 and it worked just by plugging it.
Basically for hardwares which have been present for a long enough time, the driver is integrated in the Mint kernel.
If Mint 19 works on the machine, it's good to install it because it will be supported until 2023, vs 2021 for Mint 18.

borgward
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Re: Install on iMac

Post by borgward » Fri Jul 13, 2018 7:49 am

fabien85 wrote:
Fri Jul 13, 2018 4:28 am

To boot the USB, plug it, power on the iMac
I can boot from DVD? Does the iMac even have an internal optical drive?

If no optical drive, can I boot from external optical drive?

fabien85
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Re: Install on iMac

Post by fabien85 » Fri Jul 13, 2018 8:18 am

borgward wrote:
Fri Jul 13, 2018 7:49 am
Does the iMac even have an internal optical drive?
you have the machine, so you should tell us. But following the specs on everymac.com that I liked to, yes the machine has an optical drive.

Yes you can boot from DVD, either with an internal or external drive. It's the same process as for a USB stick : boot pressing alt/option. The main change is that the icon in the boot manager will be a DVD icon, and you will boot in Legacy mode instead of EFI mode, which will make your life more complicated.

The interest of using a USB stick is that it's faster, and you can reformat and reuse the stick afterwards.

borgward
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Re: Install on iMac

Post by borgward » Fri Jul 13, 2018 1:30 pm

I do not know anything about EFI mode. My Dell laptop that I am using is 11 or 12 years old and works just fine w/Mint 18.0. Does the mac have a BIOS chip like other machines, or is it's BIOS stuff on the HDD like the old Compacs? If the iMac won't boot to it's HDD, will I still be able to boot to EFI Mode from an USB stick?

I do not physically have the IMac at the location where I am at right now. I am trying to get as well prepared as I can before I get there. I did read an article that inferred that there would no longer be optical drives in the iMacs:

https://www.macworld.com/article/201314 ... drive.html

fabien85
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Re: Install on iMac

Post by fabien85 » Fri Jul 13, 2018 3:19 pm

Yes the imac can boot an external drive (USB or external hard drive or CD/DVD) even if the internal hard drive is corrupt.
If your intent is to single-boot linux (no dual-boot with macOS), then you can install with whichever mode you prefer, Legacy or EFI, and that will make no difference. (if you want to dual-boot with macOS (which is in EFI mode), then it becomes more difficult to have linux in Legacy mode)

The specs on everymac.com states there is an optical drive, I guess you will need to wait to have the machine in hand to check it's indeed there, and whether it still works.

borgward
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Re: Install on iMac

Post by borgward » Fri Jul 13, 2018 3:35 pm

Thanks. Yes indeed the iMac in question does have an internal optical drive. The guys brand new one does not.

It will be Linux only, so no problem installing or booting to live using DVD or stick - correct?
Last edited by borgward on Sat Jul 14, 2018 1:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.

fabien85
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Re: Install on iMac

Post by fabien85 » Sat Jul 14, 2018 11:35 am

borgward wrote:
Fri Jul 13, 2018 3:35 pm
It will be Linux only, so no problem installing or booting to live using DVD or stick - correct?
Correct

chiefjim
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Re: Install on iMac

Post by chiefjim » Sun Jul 15, 2018 8:25 pm

Will the Apple wireless keyboard and mouse pad work? I played with one for a very, very short period of time today and wasn't able to get them working. Based on the age could have been tired batteries.

When the owner turned the iMac on without the flash drive present a fair amount of setup was required. Normal? Or might she have been tapping too many keys with weak batteries with those input devices?

borgward
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Re: Install on iMac

Post by borgward » Sun Jul 15, 2018 9:08 pm

I used a Logitec wireless keyboard and mouse with an mid 2007 iMac. No problem. I really hated the way mac keyboards don't have a backspace key, something else also, but don't remember.

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CaptainKirksChair
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Re: Install on iMac

Post by CaptainKirksChair » Sun Jul 15, 2018 10:42 pm

My everyday driver is an iMac 9.1 with Mint 18.2 Cinnamon. Make sure you have a wired keyboard when you boot to the LiveUSB because you have to hold down the Alt key (I use a normal keyboard, not a Mac keyboard) to get to the boot loader. You can then choose the USB drive to boot. With a wireless keyboard you have be exact with when you press the Alt key. It's just easier with a wired keyboard. You can replace the wired with a wireless after the build.

Here is the recommendation I make to everyone installing Mint on any Intel-based Mac. Use the macOS DVD that came with the computer and fully install whatever OS version it is. I know this sounds weird but trust me, you WANT to do this. The macOS installer will create the required EFI partition, a system & file partition, and a recovery partition. It will also create a GPT partition table and not an MSDOS MBR partition table. My EFI and Recovery partitions don't even take up 1GB on a 320GB hard drive.

After that is done, boot to the Mint LiveUSB and choose the Something Else option when you install. Blow away the Mac system partition but leave the EFI and Recovery partitions. The advantage will now be clear. You have the requisite EFI partition and you can boot into the Mac Recovery partition if you ever need to. Good to have it because you never know.

My recommendation is to partition the free hard drive space like this:

Root (/) partition - EXT4 - 50GB
Home (/home) partition - EXT4 - Remainder of drive less swap.
Swap partition - 1.5 or 2 times your RAM (your call). I have 8GB RAM so I have a 16GB swap. It's not that big of a hit to the drive space. If you have 4GB of RAM, make it 6 or 8GB. Which means the /home partition will be the remainder of the drive less the swap. You have to determine that on the fly. Mine is 260GB. Plenty of space for files.

The advantage of the separate /home partition is that you can re-install over the root partition with any newer version of Mint without losing your home data. Just don't format the /home partition when you install the newer version! It will also be easy to know what to backup. The /home partition will backup ALL user files. So anyone who has a login account will be backed up. Good to know.

At the bottom of the Something Else install window will be a drop down box listing where you want to install GRUB. Choose the EFI partition or Mint won't boot.

To connect to the network for the install (while in the LiveUSB), open Driver Manager and let the cache update fail. If you have a Broadcom wireless card, choose the bcmwl-kernel-source driver. When the driver is in use, you can connect to your wireless network. If you have a network cable, I recommend connecting wired and do the wireless connection after the build.

borgward
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Re: Install on iMac

Post by borgward » Mon Jul 16, 2018 1:59 pm

I finally downloaded the .iso, did the integrity check and the authenticity check. I used the USB Image Writer to put the .iso on a USB stick. How do I go about confirming the the image on the stick is correct? I used to use a dd command to check a burned DVD for errors before installing. Something like:
dd if=/location of file/name of file bs=2k | md5sum
dd if=/location of file/name of file bs=2k | sha256sum
What do I do now days?
I will also be burning a disk. Will I use the same process for checking USB stick and DVD for writing errors?

fabien85
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Re: Install on iMac

Post by fabien85 » Mon Jul 16, 2018 2:28 pm

When you boot the USB or DVD, on the first menu you get there is an option "check integrity of the medium" which will compare the checksums of all files on the medium.
Without booting the medium, I dont know how you would check, but probably someone else knows and I'm interested to learn.

borgward
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Re: Install on iMac

Post by borgward » Mon Jul 16, 2018 2:32 pm

With a CD or DVD I used to check from the command line. Don't quite remember how I did that. Been a really long time ago.

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