Sign up ×
Ask Different is a question and answer site for power users of Apple hardware and software. It's 100% free, no registration required.

What I want:

  • Linux on an Intel iMac (Core Duo).

What I have:

  • An empty PC (17" Intel iMac) with broken CD drive. It's model A1173.
  • This PC with Ubuntu 12.04 and an old Windows Vista partition.
  • a USB flash drive and an Ubuntu ISO.


  • No CD means the only boot drive I could use is USB.
  • There is no BIOS on Macs, so I can't set boot settings or even see if it detects my USB drive. When I start the machine and press Option, the first and only thing I see is an old corrupted Windows XP partition and not a single option or additional information.
  • So assuming blindly that the Mac hardware/firmware works normally, I don't have any Mac OS to use any of the tools that I found on different tutorials for building a bootable drive for Macs.
  • I can't find much software on Linux/Windows to substitute to those tools, for example among others converting an .iso file (Win/Linux) to .img (Mac I guess). Which makes me think that the scenario where someone like me has Mac hardware but no Mac OS is extremely rare.
  • So other than finding someone that has a Mac I have no solution. So I ask, what would you do? The only thing is it should not involve any money (I know Mac software is rarely free) which also excludes getting any Mac OS unless I can use a free macos.img for VM or restore the original Mac for free.
share|improve this question
iMac G5s are PowerPC, not Intel, and there is a BIOS per se: it's called Open Firmware and you can do way, way more stuff in there than in any BIOS. –  CajunLuke Jun 12 '12 at 16:41
Also, .iso and .img are basically the same, and Macs are quite happy to handle .iso images. –  CajunLuke Jun 12 '12 at 16:42
Question on Super User: –  PleaseStand Jun 14 '12 at 0:10
@CajunLuke 1) I meant a usable BIOS, if you KNOW there is one, please tell me how to use it. 2) My g5 IS an intel PC, you shouldn't have edited that out. 3) .iso images may be handled but they still need to be converted to .img even though they're so similar. –  sinekonata Jun 14 '12 at 23:58
@sinekonata If it is a G5, it is by definition not Intel, as G5s are PowerPC chips. If it is an Intel iMac, then it's not a G5 iMac, it's an Intel iMac. –  CajunLuke Jun 15 '12 at 0:00

1 Answer 1

Looks like you have all you will need already, you were just missing the following bits of information.

  1. You should checkout a Ubuntu instructions for Intel Macs, so no need to worry about a BIOS your running EFI. Ubuntu for Intel Macs and additionally the Ubuntu Intel Mac CommunityHelpPages looks to be loaded with lots of resources that you might find helpful.

  2. Since your iMac is an intel one, you can use a standard Ubuntu ISO built for any x86 PC. However since your iMac is a Core Duo it will need a 32bit Ubuntu as noted on Ubuntu's Mac Community documentation.

... If you have a Core2 Duo Mac (as oppossed to the Core Duo), it is capable of using the AMD64 (64bit) CD otherwise you have to use the standard version...

The standard version meaning a 32bit version.

  1. Pick and download a 32bit version of Ubuntu , the Mac documentation pages say going with the latest version should be a good move, yet pick which one works best on your iMac, this may require trial and error.

  2. Follow the standard How to create a bootable USB stick on Ubuntu using the Ubuntu ISO you downloaded above.

  3. Boot the iMac with the USB stick inserted, if the iMac does not boot into the Ubuntu installer you may need to reboot and hold down the "option" key, and then selcted the USB stick to continue booting into the Ubuntu installer.

share|improve this answer
CajunLuke edited my PC specs out saying it's an intel mac so sorry about that but this answer won't fit. I don't worry about BIOS I worry about not being able to follow this tutorial since my lack of macos. And thanks for the 2nd link it'll be useful. –  sinekonata Jun 15 '12 at 0:07
@CajunLuke why don't you believe me? I have the serial number and you don't, the model # I gave should be enough proof... –  sinekonata Jun 15 '12 at 0:16
@sinekonata I missed the model number the first time, and you mentioned G5 more than Intel, so I assumed you got it right more than you did wrong. I've edited the question to say Intel everywhere and not G5. That's why everyone (including me, MrDaniel, and everyone over at Super User) assumed PowerPC: it looked like the one reference to Intel was a mistake. –  CajunLuke Jun 15 '12 at 0:18
There is a major error in this answer! The USB creation which you link only works on Ubuntu and will not EFI boot on a Mac. However, the instructions for OSX are not working on many Macs either. –  gentmatt Jun 15 '12 at 15:31
@sinekonata Please report what solution works for you. I've attempted several installations as well, but managed only an installation via USB using BIOS Emulation (no EFI boot). I've used UNetbootin and had to manually create a MBR partition on the flash drive. –  gentmatt Jun 15 '12 at 15:35

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.