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Old 11-26-2017, 05:20 PM   #1
Ignotum Per Ignotius
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Anyone Managed to Dual-Boot Linux on an iMac 5.1 Core2Duo?


Hi folks.

I bought an old 2006 iMac cheap, thinking that I could breathe new life into it with Linux, but I've had a nightmare with it. It has swallowed up endless hours of my time, and the stuff I've found online hasn't really helped much, unfortunately.

All I want to do is to install Linux on it to dual-boot alongside OSX.

However, the machine refuses to boot from a USB stick (doesn't even recognise a bootable USB stick), and even bootable CD/DVDs freeze before the ISOLINUX screen appears. I came across a way around this freezing (hold down the 1 key and press Enter twice as the screen turns black!), and managed thereby to boot an Arch installation CD.

I then partitioned the hard drive and have installed Arch on the machine (or at least I believe that I have), but I am at a loss as to how to set up the boot loader under the EFI system the machine uses. I'm new both to Macs and to EFI, and have had to do a lot of reading, but I'm still rather at sea and I can't say I really understand what's going on.

I've tried to follow the instructions on the Arch website, but I don't find them very clear and, quite honestly, I'm lost.

A further complication --- perhaps an insurmountable one, I don't know --- is that whilst the machine is 64-bit, the EFI is 32-bit.

I've reached the point where I don't even know whether it is possible to dual-boot Linux on this machine, hence the question in the title of this post: has anyone out there managed to do it?

Any help much appreciated...
 
Old 11-26-2017, 05:56 PM   #2
TB0ne
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ignotum Per Ignotius View Post
Hi folks.

I bought an old 2006 iMac cheap, thinking that I could breathe new life into it with Linux, but I've had a nightmare with it. It has swallowed up endless hours of my time, and the stuff I've found online hasn't really helped much, unfortunately.

All I want to do is to install Linux on it to dual-boot alongside OSX.

However, the machine refuses to boot from a USB stick (doesn't even recognise a bootable USB stick), and even bootable CD/DVDs freeze before the ISOLINUX screen appears. I came across a way around this freezing (hold down the 1 key and press Enter twice as the screen turns black!), and managed thereby to boot an Arch installation CD.

I then partitioned the hard drive and have installed Arch on the machine (or at least I believe that I have), but I am at a loss as to how to set up the boot loader under the EFI system the machine uses. I'm new both to Macs and to EFI, and have had to do a lot of reading, but I'm still rather at sea and I can't say I really understand what's going on.

I've tried to follow the instructions on the Arch website, but I don't find them very clear and, quite honestly, I'm lost.

A further complication --- perhaps an insurmountable one, I don't know --- is that whilst the machine is 64-bit, the EFI is 32-bit.

I've reached the point where I don't even know whether it is possible to dual-boot Linux on this machine, hence the question in the title of this post: has anyone out there managed to do it?

Any help much appreciated...
I will first say that no, I have not dual-booted on such hardware, nor have I tried Arch, but I do have a 2008 iMac that runs openSUSE just fine. The steps I followed were:
  • Hold down the Option key immediately after turning it on
  • Release the Option key when you see the Startup Manager
  • Select your boot disk
  • Perform installation
The only "gotcha" that I found was in partitioning the /boot/EFI slice. The install would proceed...but it would not boot afterwards, unless I booted manually from USB, THEN told it to boot from hard drive. I found that if I just let the openSUSE installer partition those things, and just carve up my / and /home myself, it worked fine. I run openSUSE Tumbleweed, and it runs VERY nicely. All the eye candy from KDE you could want, and dual-monitors too.

On a couple of old-iMac related notes, OSX will on recognize 4 GB on that machine, but Linux works with 6 very nicely. You can upgrade the Wifi easily, with your standard laptop-grade PCIE card (this one works nicely with the hardware and Linux: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1 , along with the bracket: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1), and removing the old 3.5" hard drive and shoving in a 2.5" SSD (two sided tape on the mounting bracket + long screw from Home Depot) made it run cooler and faster as well.

Wound up with 6 GB RAM/512 SSD, N-Speed wifi with a dual-channel bluetooth (one on the Mac, the other on add-on card; comes in surprisingly handy). Unless you have a burning need to dual-boot OSX, I'd just go openSUSE Tumbleweed. Your mileage may vary.
 
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Old 11-28-2017, 09:37 AM   #3
Ignotum Per Ignotius
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Thanks for your reply: I think that your machine is one of the later ones with a 64-bit EFI, so you would not have the same problems I have with mine.

I think that the main problem is finding what bootloader file(s) to put where --- I'll do a bit more reading...
 
Old 11-28-2017, 10:22 AM   #4
TB0ne
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ignotum Per Ignotius View Post
Thanks for your reply: I think that your machine is one of the later ones with a 64-bit EFI, so you would not have the same problems I have with mine. I think that the main problem is finding what bootloader file(s) to put where --- I'll do a bit more reading...
You may be able to use something like:
https://mattgadient.com/2016/07/11/l...e-2006-models/

...as he appears to have slain this particular dragon. You're right, though...I was able to use straight 64 bit across the board, but your hardware should be upgradable as mine was. I also remember you can hold down keys 6 and 4 (together) until you see the Apple logo and the spinning wheel, which **THEORETICALLY** enable 64 bit extensions. Do that as you press the power button. If you still have OSX loaded, try
Code:
ioreg -p IODeviceTree -w0 -l | grep firmware-abi
...in a terminal. If you don't get something like
Code:
*| | "firmware-abi" = <EFI64>*
..as a response, with EFI64 in double-quotes, then you're still at 32 bit. Worth a try at least.
 
Old 12-03-2017, 10:02 AM   #5
Ignotum Per Ignotius
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Thanks for the tips --- hadn't heard them before. I'll give them a try when I next get a chance (I've put it on the back-burner for a bit).
 
  


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