Would this be worth doing? Linux on Mac.

Discussion in 'Windows, Linux & Others on the Mac' started by Airforcekid, Apr 16, 2012.

  1. Airforcekid macrumors 65816


    Sep 29, 2008
    United States of America
    My parents have an older Mac mini 1.8 C2D running leopard 10.5.8 they only browse the web and check email overall the computer has become very slow they have a hard time understanding the concept of closing apps. What concerns me is they will no longer be receiving updates from apple and never close chrome for it to update. Would Linux be better for them such as Zorin or Ubuntu in terms of speed and security. (They do bank and buy online often) or would I be better off getting them on Lion or snow leopard though the resume feature would be a nightmare since they never close any app and seldom restart. Thanks for any help!
  2. murphychris macrumors 6502a

    Mar 19, 2012
    Yes. At least I can vouch for Fedora 15, 16, 17 being faster than 10.5.8 or 10.6x on a Core2Duo Macbook Pro.

    As for security, yes in that the vector for exploits on linux are less, because they won't have things like Java or Word or Acrobat. And desktop linux specific attack vectors are slim, just as they are on Mac OS. 10.5.8 is no longer getting security updates. So you'd need to move them to 10.6.x at a minimum to get them current security updates.

    Either way, I suggest Last Pass for their online password management. The top three things about it: 1.) Free. 2.) Cross platform and all browsers. 3.) You get syncing of your password database, just by installing the browser extension and authenticating your account.

    So should you need to migrate them to a different browser, or back to some flavor of Mac OS, you don't have to deal with password management or migration.

    You could try this out yourself workflow wise using Virtual Box (free, or if you already have another virtualization package), you can check out one of the Ubuntu LTS releases, or even a very secure fast and conservative approach would be CentOS 6.2. This is a free variant of Red Hat Enterprise Linux, that's virtually binary identical to the RH product. It will have security updates through 2020.

    Another possibility if you want the latest and greatest browser technology, but on a platform that could vanish almost without notice, is Chrome OS. It's linux at the base, but the GUI is entirely the Chrome browser. You can install LastPass on it for each user to have their own password database. And they can have their own login accounts, so they can have their own browser customizations including bookmarks. But it is only a browser. While it works well in a VM and for the hardware it was designed for, I'm not sure how well it works on actual hardware like a Mini.

    Anyway - some options. It's an interesting question. I would like to do this for my parents as well, but a complicating factor is they have iPods and thus need iTunes. And while I'm adept at linux in other contexts, using its applications is not one of them (like the open source equivalent for iTunes and migrating all of their music of to linux).


    Chrome OS builds for Virtual Box are here.

    The USB stick option will very likely not work on a Mac, because "foreign" OS's are pretty much relegated to using Apple's CSM-BIOS for booting, which doesn't support USB devices for booting.
  3. murphychris macrumors 6502a

    Mar 19, 2012
    Another possibility.

    Thing is... these are fairly hardware specific no matter what. So it might take some effort to get a Chrome OS built with the drivers needed for the mini.
  4. throAU, Apr 17, 2012
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2012

    throAU macrumors 601


    Feb 13, 2012
    Perth, Western Australia
    I have a mac mini with the same spec.

    What i would recommend:

    Spend the $40 or less on upgrading memory to 2gb, or even buy 2x2gb chips (probably 50 bucks or less - hell, i bought 8gb for 70 bucks 6 months ago) and use the max of 3gb it can address.

    Install lion (another 29 bucks? maybe zero if you have it on your mac as the license allows you to install it on "any mac you administer" from memory)


    The machine is fine for light use with enough RAM. Also, lion will get them up to date, and it will close apps by itself if they aren't used (no documents open, don't have the focus) and memory is tight.

    My little mini (c2d 1.8, 2gb ram, Lion server) is running Lion just fine at the moment... I never reboot it any more, use it for torrents, and messing with server - but i did run lion on it for a bit with 2gb and it was fine.

    Linux will be a learning curve for them (very different) and it won't "just work" with any apple devices they may have. Upgrading the memory will cost a few dollars yes, but it will be worth it to keep their machine familiar, keep file versions, time machine, etc, etc.

    I've run Linux in various flavors for years - but IMHO, switching your parents to it and dealing with the learning curve vs. simply putting enough ram in the box you have = no brainer. There WILL be compatibility issues, apps they can't run any more (no safari, no iphoto, no itunes, no ical, no mail, etc), and other different behavior they'd need to adjust to.

    I think the outlay to get them up with 2gb on Lion is worth it - there will just be so many things that aren't the same on Linux for them. Sure, linux will be a little faster, but it doesn't matter how fast the box is if none of their apps work and some of their data can't be imported...
  5. Dr McKay macrumors 68040

    Dr McKay

    Aug 11, 2010
    I'd recommend Ubuntu. Paired with the software centre it's great. I've got my grandparents on it and they've never rang me with problems since.

Share This Page