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Old 09-15-2016, 08:45 AM   #1
a4xlbear97123
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Re-vitalizing an old 2006 Mac mini


I have noticed that I am slowly being obsoleted out of the Mac OS market. The next version of OS X will most likely be the last my iMac will support. I can not afford to be buying a new mac, they cost way too much. But I do have an old 2006 Mac Mini I would like to make more usable. My problem is that it has been hacked, from a 1.83 to a 2.0 ghz processor, and it refuses to "see" most of my install disks, they being "model specific". even so, it's hard to find useful apps for it to run. So I thought I would look for a Linux distro, that it might run. General specs are...
2.0 ghz (intel)
2 gigs of ram
60 gig hard drive
CD RW / DVD read optical drive.
Currently running Mac OS 10.7.5 (a hacked version so it could run "KODA" free TV.

I am a Linux "newbie" and not the most "savie" when it comes to the tech end of linux.

Any suggestions would be helpful, thank you for your time
 
Old 09-15-2016, 10:12 AM   #2
IsaacKuo
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2.0Ghz Core 2 Duo and 2GB of RAM? That will run nicely with Debian and XFCE desktop (the Debian installer gives you several options for what desktop environment you wish to install).

The main thing that will make that Mac Mini feel sluggish is the slow spinning hard drive. But since it's not so easy to replace that hard drive, an alternative is to do network booting - if you have another computer which also has a gigabit ethernet port and an SSD (or at least, a faster 3.5" hard drive). Setting up network booting is somewhat complex, but the interesting thing is that you wouldn't have to modify your Mac Mini at all.

I have a 2011 Mac Mini which has much the same basic issue. I connected it via gigabit ethernet to a laptop with an SSD, and set it up to boot off of an nfs share on the SSD. The result is nice and zippy!

But of course, that's more complex than a standard install. I started off with a normal Debian install to the sluggish built in hard drive before messing with network booting for performance. But since I didn't want to mess with the existing OSX install other than shrinking it, I put the Debian bootloader on a small USB thumbdrive (leaving the OSX bootloader intact). My steps were:

1) Shrink the OSX partition, so that 10GB of free space is now unallocated on the hard drive.

2) Run Debian netinstall disc. Use wired ethernet to do the install; it's generally more complicated to do it with wifi.

3) Select "Manual Partitioning".
3a) delete the partition on the USB thumbdrive (or just shrink an existing partition...only 100MB of space is required for /boot).
3b) create 9GB ext4 partition on hard drive. This will default to be mounted on "/" - leave that as is.
3c) create ~1GB swap partition on the rest of the hard drive's available space. Technically, this is not required. The Debian installer will warn you if you don't make a swap partition, though.
3d) create a 100MB ext4 partition on the USB thumbdrive. Set it to be mounted on "/boot".

4) Continue with the install, selecting Debian Desktop XFCE packages, as well as Print Server (I don't know whether you'll want to install a shared printer, but you might as well just install it now so you don't have to figure it out later). Also select "ssh server" ... this will let you remote into the system later on. Maybe it will never come in handy. But if it does, you'll be glad you installed it now.

5) When it gets to the bootloader step, it will probably NOT auto-detect the OSX install. This is okay. You will not be overwriting the OSX bootloader. Tell it to install the GRUB bootloader to the MBR of the USB thumbdrive (probably /dev/sdb).

After all this, you'll have a working Debian 8 system. The only annoying thing is convincing a Mac to boot off of the USB thumbdrive. To do so, you need to press and hold the Option key immediately when you power on the Mac and hear the chime. The Mac will give you a boot menu, labeling the USB thumbdrive option as "Windows". It's annoying that you have to do this each and every time, but that's Apple for you.
 
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Old 09-15-2016, 10:12 AM   #3
IsaacKuo
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[duplicate delete]
 
Old 09-15-2016, 10:14 AM   #4
Habitual
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I have one also, maybe a different year sitting here on my desk.
I hooked it up to my Shiny new ASUS 21" and I see "something" for a minute and then all grey.
Since I believe it works, I'm keeping it.

It's a Relic, like me.
 
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Old 09-15-2016, 10:32 AM   #5
a4xlbear97123
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Thanks for the info so far, not able to sit and deal with the issue today, but have saved out the text so I can read it later. I tried to open the mini in question to upgrade the HD, but found an antenna (not sure which one) that seems to be stuck, didn't want to risk breaking it off, so I just put it back together for now.
 
Old 09-15-2016, 03:24 PM   #6
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I couldn't figure out how to "open it".
I haven't the need to get inside it, yet.
 
Old 09-15-2016, 04:27 PM   #7
IsaacKuo
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Before trying to "open it", try to see if you can boot from a USB thumbdrive or LiveCD. Maybe it's just that the OSX install is messed up. Hold the Option key (or Alt key if you're not using an Apple keyboard) immediately after turning on the Mac Mini to see a graphical boot menu.
 
Old 09-15-2016, 04:34 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IsaacKuo View Post
Before trying to "open it", try to see if you can boot from a USB thumbdrive or LiveCD. Maybe it's just that the OSX install is messed up. Hold the Option key (or Alt key if you're not using an Apple keyboard) immediately after turning on the Mac Mini to see a graphical boot menu.
Thanks. But I do see a "splash"/"hiccup"/"artifact" of "something" when it boots and the audio being played is unmistakably Mac.
"Da Dum...."

Sorry, I can't even hum a few bars.
So, the BIOS/CMOS may actually be accessible....
and then a Display setting... I haz McKeyboard

I love a Mystery.
 
Old 09-15-2016, 04:39 PM   #9
IsaacKuo
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That chime is the power on indication. Press and hold Option at this time to get to a boot menu. If you do nothing, then it will very soon try to boot OSX off the internal hard drive (or whatever OS is installed...I am assuming it has an OSX install, but it could be Windows or Linux).

If it gets as far as displaying an Apple logo with a progress bar underneath it, then that's OSX starting to boot. It's too late at this point to get to the boot menu. But if it gets this far, then that means there's at least a minimally functional OSX install trying to boot. But the chime you describe is from before it even starts trying.

Hard to say about the splash/hiccup/artifact, since that could be just about anything.
 
  


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