How to install Linux Mint on Mac Mini, Linux only, no OS X

Questions about Grub, UEFI,the liveCD and the installer
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How to install Linux Mint on Mac Mini, Linux only, no OS X

Post by fpa »

After going through a painful process to convert my Mac mini to a Linux only machine I decided to post how to do it.

ATTENTION: this is for people wanting to install Linux Mint 15 on a Mac Mini to become Linux only in SINGLE boot, without any Mac OS X alongside it. If you want to dual boot OS X and Linux Mint there are other tutorials out there that work, normally involving Boot Camp and rEFIt or rEFInd. I decided to make my mac mini Linux olny after installing in dual boot and then spending a few months without using Max OS X... decided to reclaim all the HD for use in /home.

My Mac mini model is A1283 (, YMMV if you have a different model.

Distro was Linux Mint 15 MATE 64bit. I originally experimented with Mint 14 XFCE due to limited RAM (1Gb) but after upgrading to 4Gb decided to go Mint 15 MATE.

So, here we go... I downloaded live DVD, booted into it then selected Install Linux Mint. Asked to wipe everything and install, then got an error informing automatic partitioning wouldn't be able to install the bootloader. Chose to do manual partitioning (an option named "something else" if I recall correctly).

I didn't get it right the first time, so to make a long story short, here is what the final partitioning that worked looks like:

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Number  Start   End     Size    File system     Name  Flags
 5      1049kB  10,5MB  9437kB                        bios_grub
 1      10,5MB  99,6MB  89,1MB  fat32                 boot
 2      99,6MB  12,1GB  12,0GB  ext4
 3      12,1GB  16,1GB  4000MB  linux-swap(v1)
 4      16,1GB  120GB   104GB   ext4
To pay attention: in MY case Linux Mint was installed on /dev/sda2 (partition number 2) and the boot loader on /dev/sda1 (partition number 1). Your case may be different, change /dev/sda1 and /dev/sda2 in the examples below if needed. My case is strange because the first partition was numbered 5, probably because I created it by spliting my partition 1 in two, when partitions 2, 3 and 4 already existed.

To do your homework to find out your partition numbers:

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sudo parted
You need to leave a small partition at the start, unformatted, with bios_grub flag on, then another one about 90Mb of size formatted with fat32 and with boot flag on. I don't recall now if it was possible to set those flags in the installtion procedure... but you'll be able to set them with gparted, which can be invoked from the command line.

I performed the installation, then at the end an error message came up informing it was impossible to install the boot loader. I chose continue without boot loader, finished and did NOT reboot.

Then in a terminal I forced the installtion of GRUB with:

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sudo mount /dev/sda1 /mnt
sudo grub-install --recheck --force --boot-directory=/mnt /dev/sda2
(remember, in MY case GRUB was being put in /dev/sda1 and Mint on /dev/sda2, adapt if your partition numbers are different).

Then, I rebooted. No, it didn't work automatically. I was greeted with a grub rescue prompt.

Next step, learned from this link ( was to manually get it to boot. In MY case where partition 2 was where Mint was installed, I used the commands below. If your Mint is in another partition, change 2 for that number:

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set root=(hd0,2)
set prefix=(hd0,2)/boot/grub
insmod normal
Then Mint from the HD came up, so the boot worked. Next step was to update Linux Mint just in case, then follow instructions in this thread ( and use boot-repair. Commands were:

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sudo add-apt-repository ppa:yannubuntu/boot-repair && sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install -y boot-repair
Then pressing the main button and telling it to continue despite my EFI partition being smaller than 100Mb, it repaired the boot loader and then everything worked.

I hope there are other mac mini owners out there who find this useful.

The mac mini is a nice piece of hardware, but the OS X that came with it is slow and cumbersome. Linux Mint 14 or 15 with XBMC and a simple Apple remote (properly configured so the buttons work good in xbmc) turned my mac mini into a formidable media center.

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Re: How to install Linux Mint on Mac Mini, Linux only, no OS

Post by KariJuhani »


and thanks for this How-To !

I managed to install Mint 64 Cinnamon on my Macbook 9,1 as only OS. Could not boot at first, but installing boot-repair from Live-USB made my MBP boot.

And if ---- for some unknown reason ---- i ever want to go back to OSX, internet rescue is still there. When i boot holding Option Key, i get it.



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Re: How to install Linux Mint on Mac Mini, Linux only, no OS

Post by uno »

I have a mac mini (2010) and wanting to get rid of macos and put mint only on it.
The question I have - would the exiting wired mac keyboard and wireless mac mouse I have work (I guess it will not).
If not , what keyboard/mouse would work on the new macmini mint install?
Also any issues with network config (nic driver) on mint?


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Re: How to install Linux Mint on Mac Mini, Linux only, no OS

Post by fpa »

If they work using a live CD I believe they will work normally. The Intel macs use very standard hardware.

I had no issues with the nic.

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Re: How to install Linux Mint on Mac Mini, Linux only, no OS X

Post by student123 »

1) create Live mint USB install, use any installer e.g. rufus, universal usb installer etc
2) mac disk utility make 2 partitions:
1 partition 22gb called LINUX as MSDOS FAT [size up to you]
2 partition 4gb SWAP as MSDOS FAT [size up to you]
restart + [alt] then select efi (mint usb install)
IMPORTANT: [error grub2 failed to install in location without usb wifi dongle]
3) INSERT USB WIFI DONGLE during install.
select SOMETHING ELSE at bottom of list.
select "CHANGE" partition 1 22gb to file ex4 format, partion and mount point [/]
select "CHANGE" partition 2 4gb to file swap format.
restart + [alt] into mac osx
4) mac terminal commands
"diskutil list" (to find the "EFI" partion its about 200mb roughly)
"diskutil mount disk0s1" (to mount the EFI partion)
5) 1st window explorer [mounted EFI partition]
select "EFI" disk
create "Boot" folder
6) 2nd window explorer [usb mint live]
select "efi" folder
select "boot" folder
copy "BOOTx64.efi" file
IMPORTANT: [installing grub2 linux bootloader, no blank screen on reboot]
7) 1st window explorer "EFI" partion,
select "BOOT" folder you earlier made.
paste "BOOTx64.efi" file here
IMPORTANT [installing linux icon for booting]
8) "refind.exe" download from a webbrowser internet explorer, firefox etc
double click to open zip folder.
9) 3rd window explorer
select "refind" disk
select "efi" folder
select "icons" folder
copy an ICON you like to use.
10) 1st window exporer ("EFI" partition disk)
select "EFI" partition disk[beginning; root of disk]
next to "BOOT folder" paste the linux "ICON" here.
["EFI" disk will now show 2 files: "BOOT" and the "ICON" side by side ]
reboot + [alt] select linux ICON when booted. finished dualboot install.

IMPORTANT [installing wireless drivers]
select menu, run Administration, run Driver Manager
select "bcmwl-kernel-source" driver
apply changes + reboot

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