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Old 09-24-2019, 12:08 PM   #1
Snickle-Fritz
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Apple iMac 8,1 2GB RAM, circa 2008


Just wanted to share a victory.

Managed to get Linux as the only OS on a late 2008 iMac - 8,1 2GB RAM

Running Manjaro 18.1.0 XFCE

I tried Linux Mint initially with no success, as I’m more of a Debian-based booster and it’s my typical go to for older machines.

Following issues with usb bootability for install (Mac EFI the culprit?), solved via using good old Physical DVDs to boot for compatibility. Also replaced the OS X bootloader (to the best of my understanding) - using rEFInd

Boots into a usable state in 2 minutes.

Runs a little RAM heavy out of the box - around 670MB approx. The core duo processor in this model is doing fine while playing 4K YouTube.

Great looking Kitchen PC. Now I need to tweak the Bluetooth to get it working with my speakers and get my joystick recognized for some classic games.

Update: WiFi is showing networks but I haven’t got it to associate to an AP yet. Also, I turned the screen brightness down with XFCE to 0 and now I can’t view the screen at all lol. Booting from a live cd to see if I can sort that out.

Last edited by Snickle-Fritz; 09-24-2019 at 12:10 PM. Reason: Update
 
Old 09-24-2019, 12:30 PM   #2
Lucko666
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I have an iBook, also 2008, 2gb ram, and after a lot of hair pulling worked out getting Mint and elementary to work on it and also have the OSX Yosemite still working, triple-boot. As for the WiFi I needed to hand update the drivers before it would work, exactly what I used is forgotten, but info wasn't hard to find. Bluetooth, wireless, etc. all work fine. I didn't use rEFInd. If I try to update the video drivers, it's back to the install! If you figure that out, yell.
 
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Old 09-24-2019, 02:21 PM   #3
Snickle-Fritz
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Do you mind checking the Linux Mint version and kernel version for me?
 
Old 09-24-2019, 03:24 PM   #4
Lucko666
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It's Mint 19.1, Cinnamon
Kernel is 4.15.0-20
Cinnamon 4.0.9

It's reporting an Intel Core 2 Duo T 9300 processor at 2.5 GHZ
Claims 1.9 GB of RAM

Somewhere I have a few notes about how I loaded all that, but can't seem to find them.
 
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Old 09-24-2019, 03:28 PM   #5
Lucko666
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Just found actually... this is just what worked for me...

A Few Notes About Loading Linux on a 2008-era Mac PowerBook

To boot from a USB drive hold down “Option” key during boot, choose “EFI disk.”

When the USB presents you with a GRUB screen, highlight main entry and hit “e” for edit.

Add the string “nomodeset” between ro and splash in the text then F10 to continue. If you don’t edit this, it won’t start!

Best to install with the wired network.

When you reboot the first time to new install, you will have to do the nomodeset thing again.

After install, IMMEDIATELY add an apple fan controller by opening a terminal and typing:
• sudo apt-get install macfanctld

Then edit the grub.cfg file (in /boot/grub; edit as root) to include the nomodeset so you don’t have to keep doing it.

Must use “additional drivers” to get the driver for the internal Broadcom WiFi card.

Don’t try using the third-party graphics drivers!

Useful to install soon if not in your distro:
• Grub-customiser
• Gparted
• Synaptic

For making it boot easily to Mac OSX, the utility rEFInd may be used.

Otherwise, to boot as OSX hold the Option key during boot, choose the OSX partition to boot from.
 
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Old 09-24-2019, 03:29 PM   #6
Lucko666
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Now if I can just get any GUI version of Linux running stably on a 2004-era iMac with PowerPC chip!
 
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Old 09-27-2019, 06:17 AM   #7
Snickle-Fritz
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Much appreciated. I ended up installing Mint 19.2 - everything seemed to work, but after reinstalling rEFInd I could get it to boot. It’s tossing all sorts of hdd errors on an attempted reinstall. Haha. Oh my - ran perfect for a day or two (as I didn’t reboot it).

However, I’ll add the Mac fan utility immediately next time. Do you think that I overheated this sucker? I was noticing the aluminum case was warm. Your iMac has the same stats as mine for sure.

I also used DVD installation media instead of USB. I spend a day or so previously on working out how to make bootable usb for imac from MS Windows with no great results. Was having issues with usb showing in the “hold alt” Mac boot selection menu.

Lucko, do you mind describing your partitioning scheme? For me, I was doing total replacement of OS X with Linux. I had an “EFI” part at the beginning of the disk (approx 300mb) preceded by 2mb unpartitioned, The my linux part (ext4 /), then a swap, the another weird 2mb of unpartitioned on the end of the disk. It’s odd, a Manjaro install worked out that partitioning for me, so I didn’t mess with the layout when I flipped over to Mint (that, like I said, ran perfect for a few days until I installed rEFInd and could boot it any more)
 
Old 09-27-2019, 07:15 AM   #8
TB0ne
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Snickle-Fritz View Post
Much appreciated. I ended up installing Mint 19.2 - everything seemed to work, but after reinstalling rEFInd I could get it to boot. Itís tossing all sorts of hdd errors on an attempted reinstall. Haha. Oh my - ran perfect for a day or two (as I didnít reboot it).

However, Iíll add the Mac fan utility immediately next time. Do you think that I overheated this sucker? I was noticing the aluminum case was warm. Your iMac has the same stats as mine for sure.

I also used DVD installation media instead of USB. I spend a day or so previously on working out how to make bootable usb for imac from MS Windows with no great results. Was having issues with usb showing in the ďhold altĒ Mac boot selection menu.

Lucko, do you mind describing your partitioning scheme? For me, I was doing total replacement of OS X with Linux. I had an ďEFIĒ part at the beginning of the disk (approx 300mb) preceded by 2mb unpartitioned, The my linux part (ext4 /), then a swap, the another weird 2mb of unpartitioned on the end of the disk. Itís odd, a Manjaro install worked out that partitioning for me, so I didnít mess with the layout when I flipped over to Mint (that, like I said, ran perfect for a few days until I installed rEFInd and could boot it any more)
I'll say that I run openSUSE Tumbleweed nicely on an iMac, and have for a while. Had a core2 Duo system (21.5") that ran fine, and now run it on a 27" model with an i7 CPU. I will put the caveat out there that I do NOT run Mac OS or any other operating system...Linux only, so I haven't monkeyed around with rEFInd.

I did, however, spend a small amount of money on my systems, for what I feel like were good reasons. Again, I don't run Mac OS, so while you have limitations on WiFi hardware and max memory, those disappear if you run Linux. Spent $25 on a new Intel WiFi/Bluetooth 4.0 card, maxed memory out at 16GB, and put in an SSD. Forget the price on memory, but the SSD was $75, and came with a 2.5" to 3.5" 'adapter' plate. Also sprung $39 for this: https://eshop.macsales.com/item/OWC/DIDIMACHDD11/

...which is a hardware-sensor (works on Mac OS as well), needed to make the iMac not run fans at full-tilt, and return a proper temperature for a non-Apple hard drive. The Radeon card (2400 or 2600, I think), should work fine as well. If you go Linux only, you have FAR more hardware options than what you're sealed into by Mac OS. Getting the system apart isn't hard, either. May want to consider that hardware sensor and an SSD if you haven't...my system runs MUCH cooler than it did with a regular hard drive, and is a ton faster as well.
 
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Old 09-27-2019, 08:29 AM   #9
Snickle-Fritz
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@TBone yeah, as soon as I get this thing booting and running for about a month I’ll be dropping some more RAM in it I think.
 
Old 09-27-2019, 08:43 AM   #10
TB0ne
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Snickle-Fritz View Post
@TBone yeah, as soon as I get this thing booting and running for about a month Iíll be dropping some more RAM in it I think.
Well, use caution if you're still using MacOS on it, as the upper-limit is set hard, and you'll encounter problems if you exceed it. Only in OSX, though...Linux has no problem addressing it all.

The hardware sensor is a good investment, in my opinion. Takes a lot of fiddling around out of the equation, and gives you an actually ACCURATE sensor reading for the HDD, regardless of changing the drive or not. That's why I did my drive upgrade at the same time as sensor installation, since I already had the box open.
 
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Old 09-27-2019, 09:13 AM   #11
Snickle-Fritz
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Cool, I don’t plan on having OS X at all. What is your partitioning setup on that machine TBone?
 
Old 09-27-2019, 09:38 AM   #12
TB0ne
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Snickle-Fritz View Post
Cool, I donít plan on having OS X at all. What is your partitioning setup on that machine TBone?
Honestly, I took the suggested partitioning structure suggested by the Tumbleweed installer, and modified it slightly to have my /home on its own partition. The rest I let be...300 MB EFI partition, smaller root partition, and most of the rest for /home.

Tumbleweed went on with zero problems, and it's been my daily driver for a couple of years now. While I hate Apple's approach to their OS and the 'walled garden', the form-factor of the hardware and their screens are great. They make a GREAT monitor, which is basically why I went with a pre-owned iMac 27". About half the cost of a new one, with plenty of horsepower. And not running OSX lets you use standard hardware to upgrade, instead of what Apple wants you to use.
 
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Old 09-27-2019, 12:06 PM   #13
Lucko666
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Snickle-Fritz View Post
Lucko, do you mind describing your partitioning scheme? For me, I was doing total replacement of OS X with Linux. I had an ďEFIĒ part at the beginning of the disk (approx 300mb) preceded by 2mb unpartitioned, The my linux part (ext4 /), then a swap, the another weird 2mb of unpartitioned on the end of the disk. Itís odd, a Manjaro install worked out that partitioning for me, so I didnít mess with the layout when I flipped over to Mint (that, like I said, ran perfect for a few days until I installed rEFInd and could boot it any more)
Well oddly enough mine just died, been playing with it at least a year and then when I went to look at the partition scheme, no go! But from memory... I used a thumbdrive to boot and used gparted to shrink the mac partition to around 80 Gb or so, then created two similar sized partitions (240 GB drive). Installed Mint 18.1 on one, later reinstalled to get to 19.1. Other is elementary Juno (5.0). GRUB doesn't recognize the OS X so to boot to it I have to hold Option key during boot and get a boot menu that allows me to choose the right partition...

As for why it just died, well, it is a very old and beat laptop, and the power cord is frayed. Not worth a lot of time and energy to me to fix but I will play with it a bit.
 
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Old 10-13-2019, 09:56 AM   #14
Snickle-Fritz
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Update for the iMac 8,1 2GB RAM 2008 model

So, update. The HDD did fail. However, I'm not sure if I hastened it's journey to hdd heaven.

If anyone gets anything from this thread - install macfanctld ASAP. The machine was getting hot when I got Mint running on it last time and then I ended up with a HDD failure and the HDD only had approx 2.5 years of power on time (seemed low for a drive failure to me). As soon as i installed macfanctld the fans sprung to life.

I believe macfanctld was designed for mobile, but it's doing great with the fan control on this iMac, for some reason the hdd temp sensor isn't registering but i'm confident the readings from the other temp sensors and the fan control is doing great. The back of the aluminum case is much cooler than previous to installation of the daemon.


Linux Mint 19.2 is running fine on it. So here's a quick summary again for this time around:

-Created Linux Mint installation DVD (I've also had success with a USB created using RUFUS from Windows Box)
-Booted installation media in compatibility mode (as it avoided using fancier video/wifi/apci drivers that seemed to have inconsistent results from live cd/usb distro to distro)
-Manually partitioned with an 201MB EFI partition at the beginning of the drive (I don't think this has to be dead on, I've heard 300MB elsewhere, but to the best of my understanding you need SOME kind of EFI part at the beginning), about half the remaining space ext4 mount point '/', and the rest of the space for ext4 mount point '/home'. I forgot to specify some room for a swap - but that's okay, because for some reason linux mint created its own swap. I still have no idea where it is physically located - perhaps it's in a virtual file system (a swap partition inside a file on one of the other partitions) - I'd love some clarification from anyone in the know.
-I accepted use of 3rd party software
-I IMMEDIATELY ran 'apt update' and then 'apt install macfanctld' ***I suspect this is very important for heat mgmt***
-Once installation was complete I went to the driver manager and enabled the broadcom wifi driver. I could see my 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz WiFi networks, but still had no luck connecting to the 5Ghz. The 2.4Ghz is also a bit buggy - perhaps it's trying to use 5Ghz functionality in addition? Not sure, more research required.
-Bluetooth works, was able to connect to set of BT speakers I use for the kitchen.


So that's pretty much it. I still have a few qualms:

-Window dragging is delayed, probably due to some hardware acceleration that might not be enabled or handled correctly by the 'radeon' driver module being used for the AMD Radeon HD 2600 PRO that I've read is in this iMac
-Was getting a little bit of full screen tearing watching youtube vids, I'm using chromium now and it seems better, I also visited 'chrome://gpu' and listed a ton of errors bugs and told me that I was using hardware acceleration, then headed to 'chrome://flags' and Enabled the "override software rendering list" flag and restarted browser - it seems a little bit better but still not 100%

I'll keep you folks up to date once I resolve my qualms. I've also tried quite a few different distros these last couple of weeks...I very well could distro hop again.
 
Old 10-14-2019, 07:44 AM   #15
TB0ne
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Snickle-Fritz View Post
So, update. The HDD did fail. However, I'm not sure if I hastened it's journey to hdd heaven.

If anyone gets anything from this thread - install macfanctld ASAP. The machine was getting hot when I got Mint running on it last time and then I ended up with a HDD failure and the HDD only had approx 2.5 years of power on time (seemed low for a drive failure to me). As soon as i installed macfanctld the fans sprung to life.

I believe macfanctld was designed for mobile, but it's doing great with the fan control on this iMac, for some reason the hdd temp sensor isn't registering but i'm confident the readings from the other temp sensors and the fan control is doing great. The back of the aluminum case is much cooler than previous to installation of the daemon.
Yep...exactly why I recommended the $39 hardware sensor previously. Removes the need for ANY software on any OS, and keeps the system cooler.
Quote:
Linux Mint 19.2 is running fine on it. So here's a quick summary again for this time around:

-Created Linux Mint installation DVD (I've also had success with a USB created using RUFUS from Windows Box)
-Booted installation media in compatibility mode (as it avoided using fancier video/wifi/apci drivers that seemed to have inconsistent results from live cd/usb distro to distro)
-Manually partitioned with an 201MB EFI partition at the beginning of the drive (I don't think this has to be dead on, I've heard 300MB elsewhere, but to the best of my understanding you need SOME kind of EFI part at the beginning), about half the remaining space ext4 mount point '/', and the rest of the space for ext4 mount point '/home'. I forgot to specify some room for a swap - but that's okay, because for some reason linux mint created its own swap. I still have no idea where it is physically located - perhaps it's in a virtual file system (a swap partition inside a file on one of the other partitions) - I'd love some clarification from anyone in the know.
-I accepted use of 3rd party software
-I IMMEDIATELY ran 'apt update' and then 'apt install macfanctld' ***I suspect this is very important for heat mgmt***
-Once installation was complete I went to the driver manager and enabled the broadcom wifi driver. I could see my 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz WiFi networks, but still had no luck connecting to the 5Ghz. The 2.4Ghz is also a bit buggy - perhaps it's trying to use 5Ghz functionality in addition? Not sure, more research required.
-Bluetooth works, was able to connect to set of BT speakers I use for the kitchen.

So that's pretty much it. I still have a few qualms:

-Window dragging is delayed, probably due to some hardware acceleration that might not be enabled or handled correctly by the 'radeon' driver module being used for the AMD Radeon HD 2600 PRO that I've read is in this iMac
-Was getting a little bit of full screen tearing watching youtube vids, I'm using chromium now and it seems better, I also visited 'chrome://gpu' and listed a ton of errors bugs and told me that I was using hardware acceleration, then headed to 'chrome://flags' and Enabled the "override software rendering list" flag and restarted browser - it seems a little bit better but still not 100%

I'll keep you folks up to date once I resolve my qualms. I've also tried quite a few different distros these last couple of weeks...I very well could distro hop again.
The screen tearing is (most likely) due to the Radeon2600 you have, as I've seen that before on other iMac's. That's the RV610/RV630 platform, and the Radeon Features can be found here for the different chipsets:
https://www.x.org/wiki/RadeonFeature...Radeon_Drivers

The only driver you have for that is the open source radeon driver, the proprietary drivers won't (to my knowledge) work at all with current kernels. What you CAN do, in that case, is find an older Radeon 5000 series card (the "Evergreen" chipset), and replace the current card with it. Your tearing should go away at that point. Cards are about $50, and (as with installing the temperature sensor), it's not difficult to change, but it is a pain. Lots of tiny screws and cables to unplug, but definitely doable with a simple set of torx drivers.
 
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