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I own a 2006 iMac, which, alas, has a known manufacturing fault. Because of the poorly-designed cooling system, the graphics card (soldered to the motherboard) has become defective and the system shuts down spontaneously minutes or seconds after being turned on.

I have used a different computer for three years and I have really no need of this iMac at the moment.

However, I'd like know if I can nevertheless do something with it. It has a processor, lots of RAM, and a good hard disk. Can I use its computational power and its hard drive without employing the graphics card? I'd like the idea of turning it into a file server and being able to run non-graphical programs in it. The best would be being able to run X11 programs in it and see their graphics on another computer.

Everytime I turn the computer on it only worsens the problem, damaging the graphic card even more. So far, it didn't shut down when I put it in "single user mode", but I am afraid that even this little workload could damage the graphics card more and more. Basically I do not want to use the graphics card at all. I am prepared even to install a different operating system. (But how would I do so when the computer keeps shutting down?)

Edit: The problem is also reported in this petiton

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Recycle or sell it for parts. Since the GPU is soldered, you likely cannot bypass the temperature sensors that the system monitors to ensure safe operation with consumer skills at soldering. Have you looked into a logic board repair or buying a Mac with a shattered screen at low cost to assemble one workable Mac?

Operating a machine where you know the protection mechanisms are shutting it down to prevent overheating and persist in doing so, being frugal crosses a line into taking risks with fire if you don't go to great lengths to protect yourself and other property nearby.

Also - your characterization of design flaws seems unsupported with one link to a 540 entry discussion thread. A six year old computer having failures seems more like a car needing an engine rebuild after things start failing and not so much a design failure, but perhaps the link wasn't correct.

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It started having failures in 2008 and I didn't pay much attention to it. In 2009 I discovered the cause, but it became more and more unusable. Since 2010 I almost haven't touched it, because I was too busy. So we are speaking really of the failures of a three-year old computer and I think it is appropriate to call it a design flaw –  Ralph Jun 27 '12 at 20:51
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