OS X + XP + Linux?

Discussion in 'Windows, Linux & Others on the Mac' started by durija, Nov 3, 2008.

  1. durija macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2008
    Location:
    Seattle
    #1
    Not sure where else to post this one...

    Currently running 10.5.5 along with XP in Boot Camp, as well as through VMWare Fusion. I've run a few Linux distros in VMs and from the CDs, but what I really want to do is install Linux on an external drive and boot from it natively. I've tried and failed several times, once even killing my Windows (love Winclone). Anybody succeed with this...AND have a set of instructions (for any free Linux distro)? Or can point me to an article containing a lot of hand holding?

    Note, I am pretty useless with the CLI and Terminal, so maybe that disqualifies me. As to why I would want to do this? Mostly curiosity, but I may install Linux on a used PC soon.
     
  2. soberbrain macrumors 65816

    soberbrain

    Joined:
    May 9, 2008
    #2
    I had a couple old PCs around and decided to dabble in Linux. If you are not comfortable using CLI, you'll need to get comfortable since most installation and configuration will require this, as you may already know.

    I would suggest using the old PC first instead of your main computer, just in case. Then once you have a better understanding of Linux, consider triple booting on your main computer.

    After researching Linux, I decided on using Ubuntu because of it seemed more polished and had a good community for help. I actually used Xubuntu (an Ubuntu derivative) because it's less hardware intensive, so it performs better on my older PC. Ubuntu was actually updated this past week, which was great for my situation, since I was finally able to configure the wireless internet to connect to my WPA network with the new Network Manager.

    I don't have any links handy, but they are pretty easy to find in the ubuntu forums and google.
     
  3. flyinmac macrumors 68030

    flyinmac

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2006
    Location:
    United States
    #3
    I've never had great success with installing Linux directly on a Mac. I've tried it with PowerPC systems (a few years back) using a PowerPC variant.

    The problem, is that it is very easy in Linux to mess up your main partitions. Personally, if you really want to do this, then I would set up a dedicated hard drive just for Linux (like you mentioned).

    I have not personally tried that method. But, I don't really see why you couldn't do it. So, I'd say give it a try.

    There wouldn't be a "hook" to choose which OS to boot from (unless you tie it to your main drive). But, you should be able to hold down the Option key at startup and choose your external drive (or other OS options that you have installed - basically like if you wanted to boot from your bootcamp partition).

    So, I'd say give it a try.

    Personally, I've been running Ubuntu in a Fusion VM. I like that because it keeps things reasonably isolated. If I want to try something that I'm not sure of the outcome, I'll try it in there. That way if something goes wrong, it's a VM and not my real hardware.

    Likewise, I've run across some websites that do surprising things, so I like to do browsing of new unknowns in my VM Ubuntu installation. That way I know that my main OS X partition will be saved.

    The other day I was trying to find information on new cars (we were researching options). And a very legit looking link had some useful information relevant to what we were trying to find out. But, when I opened the link, I was surprised by a page that appeared to take over my wife's Macintosh, and began combing through files on the hard drive.

    Naturally, I was a bit surprised. And, so that Mac is now sitting and disconnected from our network until I can format it's drive. And, yes, it was running OS 10.5.5 and I was using Safari.

    So, that's one time I wish I had been in my Ubuntu virtual machine. But, I was being lazy and didn't want to sit at my desk, so I was using our iBook.

    Anyway, I say use it in a VM. If you've got the memory and resources to throw at it, Ubuntu will perform very well in Fusion.
     
  4. durija thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2008
    Location:
    Seattle
    #4
    Good points flyinmac, but as I said, I'm already running Linux in 4 different VMs, including an Ubuntu. The point is that I want to boot natively, so that I can utilize the correct drivers, escpecially the graphics card, not the VMWare versions. I've tried doing it with one of my externals, but I fail every time. I guess I'll find a monitor for that old PC and give it a go with that.
     
  5. flyinmac macrumors 68030

    flyinmac

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2006
    Location:
    United States
    #5

    It is weird that it will not install for you on the external drive. It seems that it should if you boot from the install DVD (assuming you are using a DVD or CD made from a distribution image).

    Once booted from the CD/DVD, it would seem that you would only need to direct the installer to the external drive. Of course, that assumes that the installer can see the external drive.

    Depending on the machine you are using, it would also be possible to use a second internal hard drive (such as a Mac Pro).

    Alternatively, if you really wanted to play around, you might copy your Mac installation to an external Firewire 400 or Firewire 800 drive. Then, install Linux on the internal drive.

    I'm not sure whether you could easily move your Windows installation to an external drive or not. It would seem a possibility since you have a backup / restore image.

    That's just an experimental idea though. I can't say that I've personally done it.

    If the only hinderance for your existing issue is not seeing the external drive from the Linux installer, perhaps you can obtain the proper driver, and configure your installer to use that driver. Seems that I recall having to do something like that once when installing Linux on a PC, but cannot recall why or how I did it.
     
  6. durija thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2008
    Location:
    Seattle
    #6
    It's been a couple of days since I tried this, so I'm not sure where my error came up. Somehow, even though I didn't touch (or so I thought) my Boot Camp XP partition, I think I destroyed some critical part of the startup process. Never could get back into Windows. That's when I had to fire up my clone.

    I already had two partitions on the external I was going to use. So I think I must have screwed up when I tried to repartition it for Linux (Ubuntu in this case), while keeping the other two partitions. Maybe if I started with a clean external drive I could do it without screwing it up. Oh! I just remembered I have an extra external 100GB fw400 drive! I'll try it with that. Plenty big enough for some Linux fun.
     
  7. flyinmac macrumors 68030

    flyinmac

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2006
    Location:
    United States
    #7

    Yes, Linux has a different structure than DOS and Macs. I remember setting up 3 partitions when working with regular variants of Linux. I haven't set up Ubuntu manually on a real machine, so I cannot say what it did.

    But, I know Linux likes to have essentially 3 partitions, and it can get confusing on a drive that already has partitions. That's where I always got into trouble when trying to put it on a drive that already had an OS.

    Of course, it's been a few years since I messed with Linux directly on real hardware. But, I seem to recall something like a main partition, a swap partition, and a system partition or something like that.

    When I set up Ubuntu in Fusion, I just went through an automated thing and essentially said do whatever you want. I then tweaked the setup to my liking once everything was up and running.

    Since it was working with a virtual disk in Fusion, I just let it do whatever it wanted with the structure.

    So, yes, I would definitely say go with a clean drive. That should make some improvement for you. I don't know if you'll need drivers to make it recognize the FireWire drive or not prior to the install completing. I cannot remember what the situation was that forced me to preload drivers to install Linux on that old PC.
     

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