Getting Linux to boot on an old Intel iMac

les anderson

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Feb 7, 2020
8
1
Hi- having trouble with this and am hoping to get some guidance.

I came into an old Intel based imac recently and would love to repurpose it as a kids homework machine. I have tried and failed at creating a bootable usb disk, and I believe part of that is that I have been trying to create it in windows due to the fact that imac is essentially crippled right now and can't surf due to SSL issues. I have tried etcher and rufus from Win without any luck. Am trying to get 32bit mint to boot, and would like to totally wipe the HD and convert this machine into a 100% linux boot machine.

If someone could help me with instructions on what to do either on the mac itself- or how to create a bootable disk on a windows machine it would be great.

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imac.jpg
 

556fmjoe

macrumors 68000
Apr 19, 2014
1,686
1,028
Do you mean that the tools themselves fail to write to the USB and give you some sort of output, or they succeed but the USB does not boot? If it's the latter, what is the output when it attempts to boot?
 

les anderson

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Feb 7, 2020
8
1
I can get it to write to the USB drive fine. It either hangs on a white screen during boot without even pressing the options key, or I have gotten to the point of being able to select the boot disk, but then it hangs and goes nowhere.
 

les anderson

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Feb 7, 2020
8
1
I really think my problem is around partition type and formatting. This would be easier if I could just work off of the MAC.
 

firelighter487

macrumors regular
Apr 30, 2014
177
18
The Netherlands
here's what you do. use a modern machine for the first 3 steps.

download BalenaEtcher.

download a copy of the distro you want to use. I recommend Lubuntu since it's very light on ram, which is important because that iMac only has 1gb.

use Etcher to write the usb

boot the iMac to Linux by holding the option key and install Linux. just tell it to erase the drive if there is nothing on it.

once it's done you have a pure linux iMac.
 

les anderson

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Feb 7, 2020
8
1
Not working, unfortunately. It is not recognizing the USB drive. I hold the options key and it shows the HD as the only boot option. I am downloading Lubuntu 32bit and creating the boot disk using etcher on a windows 10 machine.

From the research I have done, it seems that I may need to be making a disk with a GUID partition. I have not been able to accomplish this as I can't get anything to run on the old mac, have no modern mac in the house and etcher wont do this, neither will rufus or unetbootin. (when run from win10)
- - Post merged: - -

OS is tiger 10.4.11, which isnt making this any easier.
 

firelighter487

macrumors regular
Apr 30, 2014
177
18
The Netherlands
Not working, unfortunately. It is not recognizing the USB drive. I hold the options key and it shows the HD as the only boot option. I am downloading Lubuntu 32bit and creating the boot disk using etcher on a windows 10 machine.

From the research I have done, it seems that I may need to be making a disk with a GUID partition. I have not been able to accomplish this as I can't get anything to run on the old mac, have no modern mac in the house and etcher wont do this, neither will rufus or unetbootin. (when run from win10)
just use the 64-bit. the 64-bit version of lubuntu doesn't use more ram than the 32-bit version and it's newer and just better in every way.

Etcher should automatically make a GUID disk but the 32-bit alternate iso's for lubuntu might be mbr only. just use 64-bit.
 

les anderson

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Feb 7, 2020
8
1
No luck.

I have done this before on windows machines and countless raspberry pi. This just doesnt want to work!
 

les anderson

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Feb 7, 2020
8
1
The 32bit EFI proved to be the issue. Also, doing this via flash drive in this particular case is much more complex.

Once I had the modified ISO from the link above I was able to burn the image to dvd and boot.

I appreciate the responses and help!
 
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firelighter487

macrumors regular
Apr 30, 2014
177
18
The Netherlands
The 32bit EFI proved to be the issue. Also, doing this via flash drive in this particular case is much more complex.

Once I had the modified ISO from the link above I was able to burn the image to dvd and boot.

I appreciate the responses and help!
I feel stupid now. I completely forgot about the 32-bit EFI. I'm sorry.
 

les anderson

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Feb 7, 2020
8
1
For anyone reading that cares, this was worth the exercise. For $19 I upgraded to 3GB of RAM (4 total but system only recognizes 3) and while this is no speed demon, and you could make it feel slow in a heartbeat if you wanted to it is perfectly adequate for light browsing and kids homework. Chrome runs great and the OS is modern. The hardware is timeless!

I am running Linux Mint 18.1 on a 2.16ghz Intel Core 2 Duo.