Installing CentOS 7 (Linux) On Mac Pro 5,1 Hardware

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by simon lefisch, Aug 31, 2017.

  1. simon lefisch macrumors 6502a

    simon lefisch

    Sep 29, 2014
    Hey everyone,

    I apologize if this has already been answered. I browsed around and couldn't find a def answer so thought I'd ask here.

    I recently acquired a 5,1 Mac Pro and upgraded the processor from W3565 to an X5690 for pretty cheap. While I love macOS (I have a 15" MBP), I dont feel it's the right OS to have on the Mac Pro for my needs (Plex/VPN/SMB server). Now I know I can dual boot OS's, but I was wondering if there was any way of having just a Linux OS installed? I've gotten so used to working with CentOS over the last couple months I feel my workflow is faster than on macOS (as far as CLI).
  2. Draeconis macrumors 6502a

    May 6, 2008
    Potentially, though to be certain you could always run it in a VM?
  3. simon lefisch thread starter macrumors 6502a

    simon lefisch

    Sep 29, 2014
    I thought about a VM but I'd prefer to run it natively. That would be my default OS for everything I want. I'm just not sure if I have to have the Mac EFI partitions/etc in order to run Linux on Mac hardware.

    Pretty much what I'm asking is, would I be able to install Linux on a separate drive, pull the macOS drive out and boot from the Linux drive without any problems?
  4. Draeconis macrumors 6502a

    May 6, 2008
    Well, I run my MacPro5,1 running entirely from a disk thats formatted for Windows 10, so on a basic level at least, I don't see why not.

    Best thing to do is give it a shot and see what happens. There may be some stuff that doesn't work right because of a lack of driver support, but you might be lucky.
  5. owbp macrumors 6502a


    Jan 28, 2016
    Belgrade, Serbia
    You don't need macOS drive in MP to install Linux, or Windows for that matter.
    Make installation/live DVD, boot holding C (or choose DVD from boot menu) and install Linux like you would do it on any other PC.
  6. simon lefisch thread starter macrumors 6502a

    simon lefisch

    Sep 29, 2014
    Awesome! I'll give it shot. I'm sure I'll have to down drivers for the video card and whatnot.

    Now my other question would be, what about firmware for the hardware? I assume in order to update that I would need macOS to do that? If so, would I be able to pull the Linux HD, pop the macOS HD back in and update that way? Or would it be necessary to have both OS's on one HD and just dual boot?
  7. Draeconis macrumors 6502a

    May 6, 2008
    As it's a 5,1, I wouldn't worry. If you many potentially move back to macOS at some stage in the future, it might be worth picking up the firmware update to enable booting from an APFS volume; wait for High Sierra to be released, and when this installs, it should update your Boot ROM.

    Apart from that, there are no real firmware updates to speak of, and since this machine is close to becoming obsolete (Apple's terms, not mine), it won't be getting any additional ones in the future.
  8. Robert71B macrumors newbie


    Nov 8, 2017
    I've just gotten CentOS installed on my 12-core MacPro5,1, just in time for Apple officially declaring the MacPro5,1 "obsolete" (despite being one the fastest, most extendable, most versatile mac still on the market ;).

    I wanted it native to make the most of the resources (esp. 12 cores, 64GB ram, and CUDA GPGPU) versus running on a VM.
    I'll be testing and developing High Performance Analytics for banking and energy Risk on the machine and love the capability to easily swap out SSDs for each install.

    Anyway, it's now running CentOS on a dedicated SSD drive and can still be booted on MacOS Sierra by restarting and holding the Alt button.

    To set this up I installed an extra dedicated SSD, (OWC makes a great caddy for this for about 25€) created the USB-Installer for CentOS (on a windows 10 machine) inserted the USB drive and rebooted the mac while holding down the ALT/Option button. This started the install process and let me choose the new SSD as the destination, activate my Ethernet and the rest was fairly straightforward. I did have to re-install once to get a GUI, since the minimum install is only command line ;)

    One other caveat so far is no wireless so I'm running Ethernet on a cable straight out of my router, If anyone has any tips on (easily) installing a Broadcom WiFi driver for my Mac I'd be very grateful.

    Also my display works fine but as I'll eventually be running code on the CUDA GPGPU any tips or experience with installing GPGPU CUDA drivers would be appreciated.

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7 August 31, 2017