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So here is the situation. I own a older Mac Mini (Intel core duo, 1.66 GHz) and thus will not be able to update to Lion. Also the internal CD drive failed about 3 months ago.

Now I love my Mac. & love "Snow Leopard " but I have been playing around a lot with Ubuntu, running it in a virtual machine. I think that I can replace all or almost all programs that I now use on the Mac. with programs running on Ubuntu.

Since I will not be able to buy new hardware any time soon, and this Mac Mini is now "officially" a low end un-supported machine. I would like to do the following .....

Completely erase the internal hard drive on the Mac Mini. Yet keep a bootable copy of the internal system on an external firewire hard drive (super duper). Install and run Ubuntu on the internal drive, retaining the ability to boot into Mac OS 10.6.8 from the external drive. So that I can retain both work environments until I am working 95% percent of the time in Ubuntu.

Did I say that the internal CD drive failed. Yes, It will not read nor write. Gone. I am not going to replace it as it would cost more than the Mac is worth.. ( apple quoted me $130) so.... I have questions ....

(first about me .. I am not afraid to drop into terminal, have written many apple scripts, an might be called a "super user")

1.) How the bloody hell can I install Ubuntu without a working CD drive? I have tried to make a bootable thumb drive with the ISO for ubuntu and boot from that. No luck . Will keep trying this as it is probably the best way. But any advice would be helpful.

2.) Once I get Ubuntu up and running on the internal drive will It be difficult to re-boot into the external drive with Mac OS 10.6.8? This is most likely trivial, but I can not test it so I am A little uneasy.

3.) if I buy an external CD USB drive can I use that to install Ubuntu? (about $10.00 on e-bay)

Thank you for reading...

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If you mount the Ubuntu ISO image while booted into Snow Leopard can you launch Ubuntu and attempt to install it to the local HD on the Mini? –  RobPaller Jul 11 '11 at 4:22
    
The nub of the issue is your boot image needs to have drivers to run a USB thumb drive or an external drive. Have you thought of asking over at askubuntu.com which might have a better base on the install requirements. Macs are "just" well sourced and high end PC's these days as far as Ubuntu is concerned ;-) –  bmike Jul 11 '11 at 4:45
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1 Answer

This link on the Ubuntu forum explains how to install Ubuntu from a USB stick on a Mac. I've done a few installations this way (when there was no working CD drive) and it works well.

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thank you. I have tried this in the past. Did not work, so I must have made a mistake. Will try again. –  Lin Mu Jul 11 '11 at 8:11
    
Let us know how you go. If it doesnt work again, we may be able to troubleshoot why not. –  RobZolkos Jul 11 '11 at 9:39
    
@Lin Mu If you need help with the Ubuntu installation, you may want to consider asking your questions on the Ubuntu stackexchange website, askubuntu.com. –  Odinulf Jul 11 '11 at 17:11
    
Well I tried this again. no go. I even did the Refit stuff. With refit installed I get a "windows" system to boot, but when I hit return all I get is " Missing Operating System".... I check the thumb drive, all seams to be well. It will boot into a older dell laptop running windows. So I do not know?? –  Lin Mu Jul 11 '11 at 21:58
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