Windows/Linux on Mac Mini w/T2

mpe

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Sep 3, 2010
314
184
is there any conclusive answer about whether you can natively boot/run Linux or Windows on a T2-equipped Mac Mini.

What is the driver situation?
 

PJivan

macrumors 6502
Aug 19, 2015
456
431
is there any conclusive answer about whether you can natively boot/run Linux or Windows on a T2-equipped Mac Mini.

What is the driver situation?
Bootcamp is still a thing it's quite official and conclusive
 

Fishrrman

macrumors P6
Feb 20, 2009
17,179
5,536
I don't have a t2-equipped Mac yet, but I will -guess- that you can run Linux AFTER you go into the Security Settings app (I believe you have to boot from the recovery partition to access it?) and DISABLE all the "t2 protections"...?
 

mpe

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Sep 3, 2010
314
184
I don't have a t2-equipped Mac yet, but I will -guess- that you can run Linux AFTER you go into the Security Settings app (I believe you have to boot from the recovery partition to access it?) and DISABLE all the "t2 protections"...?
Maybe. But my worry is that the T2 is much more that a security chip.

At least it is a SSD controller, sound controller, handles facetime camera, ...

I guess I will have to experiment on my iMac Pro to see if i can natively boot into linux.
 

alvindarkness

macrumors 6502a
Jul 11, 2009
555
380
Phoronix had an article about running Linux with the T2 chip, not sure specifically what Apple device was tested, but the results weren't promising.
 

leo-tech

macrumors regular
Sep 23, 2017
186
172
No offense, but the logic behind running Windows or Linux on Mac Mini 2018 hardware natively (or on any other Macintosh hardware, for that matter) totally escapes me.

Sure thing, in some cases where some important software is missing from macOS, or exists but in poorer form and as such does not provide the desired functionality, certainly it makes perfect sense to install and run Windows or Linux in VM, to pass data back and forth between operating systems and all that.

But again, running Windows or Linux on Mac Mini 2018 hardware natively? .. for what possible reason, for which many of the available PCs would not provide a considerably better money/performance ratio and value?
 
Last edited:

redheeler

macrumors 604
Oct 17, 2014
7,397
6,965
No offense, but the logic behind running Windows or Linux on Mac Mini 2018 hardware natively (or on any other Macintosh hardware, for that matter) totally escapes me.

Sure thing, in some cases where some important software is missing from macOS, or exists but in poorer form and as such does not provide the desired functionality, certainly it makes perfect sense to install and run Windows or Linux in VM, to pass data back and forth between operating systems and all that.

But again, running Windows or Linux on Mac Mini 2018 hardware natively? .. for what possible reason, for which many of the available PCs would not provide a considerably better money/performance ratio and value?
Running Linux natively is useful to extend the longevity of the hardware, years after Apple drops software support.

For example, support for my iMac (24-inch, Late 2006) was officially done at the release of Mountain Lion, 6 years ago. It doesn't have enough RAM or other resources to run a virtual instance of modern Linux comfortably, but it can run a modern Linux natively and once again benefit from a modern OS with modern software.

I've even been considering getting a used 2007 Mac mini Core 2 Duo to install Linux on and run as a headless server. I see no reason why it wouldn't work just fine.
[doublepost=1542296295][/doublepost]Do I see a reason to run Linux natively on a 2018 Mac mini now? Not really. If you want a computer with modern hardware just for Linux, there are cheaper options.

Do I see a reason to run Linux natively on a 2018 Mac mini in the future? Absolutely.
 
  • Like
Reactions: alvindarkness

rmdeluca

macrumors 6502
Oct 30, 2018
250
391
No offense, but the logic behind running Windows or Linux on Mac Mini 2018 hardware natively (or on any other Macintosh hardware, for that matter) totally escapes me.

Sure thing, in some cases where some important software is missing from macOS, or exists but in poorer form and as such does not provide the desired functionality, certainly it makes perfect sense to install and run Windows or Linux in VM, to pass data back and forth between operating systems and all that.

But again, running Windows or Linux on Mac Mini 2018 hardware natively? .. for what possible reason, for which many of the available PCs would not provide a considerably better money/performance ratio and value?
In a perfect world, yes, it would be best to have dedicated machines for each purpose. Sitting right next to my Mini is my Linux workstation and 30 feet away in the living is my gaming PC connected to our OLED and surround sound system.

However, at my desk (which is really nice) is a 21:9 monitor. I want to give ultra-wide gaming with an eGPU on my Mac a try. Why? Because my Mac is hooked up to my nice audio interface, which is connected to my nice studio monitors in my acoustically treated studio space. It would be great if the games I want to play were accessible to me on this monitor at this desk when I just want to putz around without kicking my wife off the living room TV where her PS4 and Switch sits. Granted, I could drag my loud gaming PC in here, get a monitor controller that accepts digital audio and KVM the Display Port, but I don't want to :p

So the answer to why I would want Windows to run natively on my Mac is luxury/convenience.

For others, it's likely cost. For ~$500 you can put an RX 580 into an eGPU and get acceptable 1080p gaming performance by booting into Windows without having to setup another machine. Then when you boot back into OSX you have accelerated 2D/3D via a GPU. So the economics of an eGPU actually make a lot of sense for some productivity use cases, especially if you can get double duty out of it with gaming.

--

One reason to run Linux on Mac hardware is to turn an old Mac into a server. Especially when the OSX support window closes. Granted, this is not as common a use case but it definitely exists. Macs tend to be well engineered and last a long time. Most administrators are more familiar with Linux than with OSX, so if you can stick Linux on there and get another few years out of the machine, why not?
 

deconstruct60

macrumors 604
Mar 10, 2009
7,979
1,170
is there any conclusive answer about whether you can natively boot/run Linux or Windows on a T2-equipped Mac Mini.

Apple has a Whitepaper on the T2 linked off the Mini's and MBA's page. Apple T2 Security chip overview (PDF file).

There two pragmatic preconditions before it will do much of anything.

1. You are required to have a admin account on a macOS instances. ( Essentially this is the default "owner' of the Mac if simply just start it up and use it. ). Adjusting the basic boot/authentication security of the Mac depends upon this. Long term that probably is not going away. You'll need some instance of macOS to stick around over the long term. (even after Apple may drop support you'll need a small instance as least as utility tool. )

2. Pragmatically you need to run Boot Camp assistant. ( and it is dependent upon precondition #1 being done. ). Simply turning off the boot os validation setting is technically not a "boot anything" mode. It is more like boot anything macOS. Running Boot Camp assistant opens that "anything" up to at least Windows.

Apple will not do a UEFI like 'Secure Boot' of a Microsoft signed Linux instance. The T2 trusts Microsoft about Microsoft product (Windows), but doesn't trust Microsoft validation of other organizations' code.

It is fuzzy in the whitepaper about whether this opens up a gap for Linux to go through, but probably has some other side effect than simply just Window's bootloader.


3. the Boot (or not ) external drive and OS validation settings of Boot Security are independent dimensions. Turn the OS boot validation doesn't pragmatically "turn on" external boot. To get to Linux you'd have to crank both dimensions all the way down and run BootCamp Assistant. All of that.


4. Pragmatically right now you'll need a drive that isn't the T2 drives ( effectively an external drive on all the Macs so far since they are all one drive only instances ). Right now linux can't 'see' the T2 drive. So effectively an external drive ( hence why need to crank down all the security settings )


In short, you can't just "raw disk image" a new Mac into a Windows or Linux box. There can be other OS present, but as a Mac there needs to be macOS present in some form.



What is the driver situation?
The 'can't see T2' might clean up with a future driver, but it may also be a security measure (e.g., if something on the other side doesn't 'smell' like macOS just stop talking to it. ). That may also be some bootloader mods necessary to ease how complicated switching to/from booting macOS is.
 
  • Like
Reactions: ElectronGuru

mpe

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Sep 3, 2010
314
184
Do I see a reason to run Linux natively on a 2018 Mac mini now? Not really. If you want a computer with modern hardware just for Linux, there are cheaper options.
Yes. Cheaper as far as monetary value is concerned, but often in the meaning of build quality too.

I love both macOS and Linux for different reasons.

macOS makes a great desktop and it is my #1 choice for my workstation.

However, it is not on the same level as Linux for server use.

It would be sad if a side effect of these T2 changes would be that the doors are closed for Linux on Mac hardware.
 

deconstruct60

macrumors 604
Mar 10, 2009
7,979
1,170
...

It would be sad if a side effect of these T2 changes would be that the doors are closed for Linux on Mac hardware.
Time will tell. Apple's T2 whitepaper says this.

"...
There is currently no trust provided for the the Microsoft Corporation UEFI CA 2011, which would allow verification of code signed by Microsoft partners. ...'

'is currently no trust' is better than ' is no trust' . Apple may come up with a program similar to Microsoft's where Linux folks can submit fully completed os images and loader and Apple will sign them. If some vendors goes through Apple's validation process then they'll trust it. ( as they do for applications now. ). Part of the issue is probably whether Apple trusts Microsoft process or not ( they'll sign almost anything that appears complete).

if there is a closed source driver issue then probably won't be. Apple will do one for Windows ( along with custom trackpad and other stuff. ), but probably won't put in the effort for Linux ( and frankly some of the more "all open or nothing" distros won't do it. )

The T2 has multiple roles. SSD , microphone , camera , speakers , boot validation , etc. Most of those can be bypassed ( external drive, mic , camera) and the boot validation turned down to low security levels. It probably can be made to work, but won't approach the level of integration you get with macOS. Second class but runs.