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I have a mac mini from 2011/2012, model is 6,1. I have not used it in a while and I wanted to wipe it and install linux on it. The problem is that it only boots into windows now and the OSX partition seems to be corrupted. I have tried to boot into the disk partition or recovery mode via internet but they both just leave me at a blank screen. I tried the following things on boot to try and boot into some form of BIOS or recovery mode.

  1. Hold Option Key
  2. Hold Down Power Button
  3. Commad + R
  4. Option + R

I am not sure what else to try other than pulling out the disk and formatting it externally but even then how would I do it so I can only have Ubuntu or some flavor of Linux on there?

Please let me know if anyone had this issue or is able to figure it out.

Thanks

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    I don't follow. You said you want to wipe it and install Linux? Does that mean you cannot boot a Linux installer from a USB flash drive while holding Option? Because that should certainly be working. Then you can erase the internal disk entirely and format it to install Linux. If it's not working then your Linux USB drive wasn't created properly. If Windows boots as you indicate, install balena.io/etcher and use it to burn a Linux installer flash drive properly. Jul 10 '21 at 22:59
  • 2011/2012 is too old for the machine to have Internet recovery in ROM, but needs to be on the disk, which you say may be corrupted. This is what the installation media coming with the machine is intended to help fix to reinstall MacOS. Do you have those still? Jul 10 '21 at 23:25
  • @DavidAnderson If the system has never run anything newer than 10.6, has it then been offered the firmware upgrade described in support.apple.com/da-dk/HT201518#macmini giving Internet Recovery in firmware? Jul 10 '21 at 23:39
  • @DavidAnderson The question talks about 6.1, not 5.1, but you are most likely right. I was just extrapolating on my experiences with my old Macbook Pro (2009) where this was a possible reason for the grey screen described in the question when trying internet recovery. Jul 10 '21 at 23:46
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    I am typing on a mid 2011 iMac, which I know had Internet Recovery when purchased. It had to; there was no installation media included. The 2010 Mac mini required a firmware upgrade. The OP has a late 2012 Mac mini. By then, Internet Recovery should have been included on all Mac mini models. Jul 11 '21 at 0:03
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I should point out that Internet Recovery is not always available. You may find no problems using Internet Recovery at some later time.


I would image that far more users create Linux installers from Windows, than from macOS. For example, the Ubuntu instructions for Windows users requires you to use Rufus to create the USB Ubuntu installer flash drive. Rufus runs on 32/64 bit Windows 7 or newer. Any Linux installer (including Ubuntu) will allow you to erase the installation drive and install a clean version of Linux. This usually is the easiest of the installation options.

Note: You can also use etcher. When testing, I found etcher created an installer which boots to the Grub menu. This can be useful, if you have problems booting Ubuntu live from the installer.

You may choose to keep Windows and replace macOS with Linux. Or, keep Windows until you are sure you want whichever version of Linux you choose. In this case, the procedure to install Linux can be more complicated, if your current Windows BIOS boots. BIOS booting Windows and macOS dual boots require the installation drive to be hybrid partitioned. The Linux installer may not work properly with hybrid partitioning in place. You may need to first boot to a live version of Linux (such as Ubuntu) and run a partition tool (such as gdisk which is include with Ubuntu) to document and remove the hybrid partitioning. Once Linux is installed, you usually can reinstate a different hybrid partitioning for a Linux and Windows dual boot.

I suppose there a versions of Linux which are installed so as not to appear in the Mac Startup Manager. This is where the option key is held down during startup. (Ubuntu does appear in the Mac Startup Manager.) Also, many versions of Linux have an option to be installed with Grub. In these cases, you may also what to install the rEFInd Boot Manager.

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  • Thank you for your answer @david-anderson. I tried using etcher but I think the issue is that the boot menu doenst come up at all. I hold donw option(alt) key and its just a blank screen, I think the key here will be the rEFInd Boot Manager. If I recall correctly I think I did use it when i initially created this bootcamp partition years ago. Ultimately I think i will have to install linux externally on the drive and then re-insert it.
    – Zayd Bhyat
    Jul 11 '21 at 9:45
  • Which Linux are you trying to install? I believe you can also add a second internal SSD to that model. Whether internal or external, a SDD would be faster than the original internal HDD. I would have given more detailed instructions, but I would need to know the partitioning of the internal drive, version of Windows and the version of Linux. Jul 11 '21 at 13:43
  • Ubuntu Desktop Ubuntu 20.04.2.0 LTS is what I would like to install. I have Windows 10 V:10.0.17134. The partitions are split into 4. 200 MB GPT Protective Partition. 277,44 GB Unallocated Partition marked as an MBR, 188 GB NTFS Boot Partition which is windows and 450 MB Unallocated partition. I am able to Format the un allocated partitions to NTFS or exFat. I checked through my set of screwdrivers today and I my T set screw drivers are all missing so I ordered a new set which should come in a few days. Just wonder if it is possible at all to do this without removing the HDD
    – Zayd Bhyat
    Jul 11 '21 at 16:52
  • You internal drive is hybrid partitioned. This means the drive has two partition tables. There is the GUID Partition Table (GPT) and the Master Boot Record (MBR) partition table. Your Windows is installed to only use the MBR partition table. Any changes you make by Windows to the MBR partition table will not be recorded in the GPT. The firmware Mac Startup Manager reads the GPT in order to display choices when the option key is held down at startup. Space shown to be unallocated by Windows may in fact be allocated in the GPT. Jul 11 '21 at 18:47
  • Can you still boot to Windows? Do you have any other PC or Macs available? If so, can you describe them. I am typing on a 2011 iMac with High Sierra, Windows 10 and Ubuntu installed. I can boot all three using rEFInd. I can also boot all three and rEFIInd from the Mac Startup Manager (by holding down the option key at startup.) The internal drive is hybrid partitioned for a BIOS booting Windows. Ubuntu is installed to EFI boot. I did not remove my hard drive in order to install these operating systems. I did not use any DVDs to install. Jul 11 '21 at 18:56

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