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I'm trying to install Linux Mint LMDE 4 on an Intel iMac, OSX 10.6.8. The iMac has a 2 GHz Core 2 Duo with 1 GB of 667 MHz DDR2 RAM. The iMac doesn't recognize the USB drive when I plug it in and start it while holding down the option key - it only sees the iMac's internal hard drive. I've tried a Mint Live USB drive that was created on a Windows 10 computer with Balena Etcher. I tried a bootable Linux Mint 20.3 USB drive that was created using the UEFI - rEFInd Method here (https://forums.linuxmint.com/viewtopic.php?f=42&t=287353) with the same result.

I can't use Balena Etcher on the iMac to create a bootable installation USB drive as BalenaEtcher doesn't support this OS X - it's too old.

This iMac seems to work OK and I'd like to keep it out of the landfill.

File downloaded: lmde-4-cinnamon-64bit.iso
EFI: 32 bit

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  • You have not provided enough information to identity: 1) whether your iMac has a 32 bit EFI or a 64 bit EFI, 2) whether the Linux Mint LMDE 4 you are installing is the 32 bit or 64 bit edition, 3) whether you are trying to install a BIOS or EFI booting Linux, 4) the name of the ISO file you downloaded. Mar 12 at 7:34
  • The processor is 64 bit. I'm trying to install the 64 bit Linux Mint LMDE 4. This iMac only boots EFI. The file name is lmde-4-cinnamon-64bit.iso. Mar 12 at 8:40
  • I know the processor is 64 bit. I need to know if the EFI is 32 bit or 64 bit. Your Mac is capable of BIOS booting. Although, you may need to do a simple firmware upgrade. Do you know the model year? Can you do a "About this Mac" from the menu bar in Snow Leopard? Mar 12 at 8:48
  • Running ioreg -l -p IODeviceTree | grep firmware-abi in Terminal resulted in: | | "firmware-abi" = <"EFI32"> Mar 12 at 9:30
  • If you have a 32 EFI, then "About this Mac" from the menu bar in Snow Leopard should show iMac (17-inch, Late 2006). Mar 12 at 9:33

1 Answer 1

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You can use the flash drive you have created to install a 64 bit BIOS booting Mint on your Mac. If your Mac will not BIOS boot, then you will need to upgrade the firmware. See the Apple website: About EFI and SMC firmware updates for Intel-based Mac computers.

Note: To get a better view of an image, either click on the image or open the image in a new window.

Below are steps you will need to follow.

  1. Install a 32 bit BIOS booting Debian. Begin by following steps 1 through 3 of the instructions given in this answer, then proceed with the instructions given in this answer.

    Note: Since the current version is now 11.2.0, the file to be downloaded is named firmware-11.2.0-i386-DVD-1.iso.

    When the image below appears, select either Graphical install or Install. Here, Install was chosen, as shown below.

    Install

    Continue with the installation. When an image similar to below appears, select <No>.

    Partition Disks

    When an image similar to the one shown below appears, select Guided - use entire disk.

    Guided

    When an image similar to the one shown below appears, select the line containing (sda).

    Note: Your sizes and drive descriptions will be different from what appears in the images.

    sda

    When an image similar to the one shown below appears, select the line containing All files in one partition.

    One Partition

    For this example, the result is shown below. Select Finish partitioning and write changes to disk.

    Finished Partitioning

    When an image similar to the one shown below appears, select <Yes>.

    Confirm Partitioning

    Proceed with the installation. When an image similar to the one shown below appears, select <No>.

    Extra media

    Proceed with the installation. When an image similar to the one shown below appears, either choose a mirror or avoid using a mirror. In this example, the mirror is avoided, thus decreased the time required to install. Avoiding the mirror can be accomplished by selecting <No>.

    Configure the package manager

    When an image similar to the one shown below appears, probably the only software required is the standard system utilities. In this example, a Debian desktop environment will be omitted to decrease the time required to install. Below is the configuration used in this example. When done making choices, select Continue.

    Software selection

    Proceed with the installation. If an image similar to the one shown below appears, select <Yes>.

    Note: The message in the image below refers to installing GRUB to your primary drive for an UEFI boot. This message is incorrect. By selecting Yes, GRUB will be installed in the master boot record for a BIOS boot.

    Install the Grub boot loader on a hard disk

    When an image similar to the one shown below appears, select the line containing /dev/sda.

    Note: The message in the image below refers to installing GRUB for an UEFI boot. This message is incorrect. Instead, GRUB will be installed in the MBR of the device selected for a BIOS boot.

    Install the Grub boot loader on a hard disk

    Finish installing Debian.

  2. Boot to Debian, insert the Mint installer flash drive and enter the following commands.

    su --login
    mount -o ro /dev/sdb1 /mnt
    cp /mnt/live/vmlinuz /root
    cp /mnt/live/initrd.lz /root
    shutdown -r now
    
  3. When the Grub menu appears, immediately press the C key, then enter the commands below.

    root=(hd0,msdos1)
    linux /root/vmlinuz boot=live config live-media-path=/live --
    initrd /root/initrd.lz
    boot
    

    If you want to boot the installer in compatibility mode, then replace the above linux command with the command given below.

    linux /root/vmlinuz boot=live config live-media-path=/live xforcevesa nomodeset b43.blacklist=yes ramdisk_size=1048576 root=/dev/ram rw noapic noacpi nosplash irqpoll --
    
  4. Install Mint by replacing Debian.

Note: Read the section titled "Setting BIOS Booting as the Default" in this answer.

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  • Is it necessary to install a 32 bit Linux and then replace it with a 64 bit Linux? Or can I just install the 64 bit Linux? Mar 15 at 2:37
  • If you follow the instructions I posted, then you can not skip the step where you install a 32 bit Debian. However, I could simplify my instructions. There are other posted answers that do not require installing a 32 bit Linux. For example, see this answer where you recompile the kernel. Maybe that answer would be easier for you to implement. Personally, I do not think modifying the kernel is necessary unless you need an OS X, Linux and Windows triple boot. Mar 15 at 20:10
  • I updated my answer to include simpler instructions for installing the 32 bit Debian. Mar 16 at 23:19
  • You've been very helpful - thank you. Unfortunately it isn't working. "If your Mac will not BIOS boot, then you will need to upgrade the firmware." I checked the list at the link you posted, and the latest firmware there is what's in my iMac. I executed bless --device /dev/disk0 --setBoot --legacy in a Terminal window on the iMac while booted off of a Snow Leopard bootable USB and it returned an empty prompt, so I'm assuming that the command completed successfully. Now, when I try to boot the Mac into OS X, it says "No bootable device -- insert boot disk and press any key" Mar 17 at 4:48
  • Unless I hold down the Option key when powering it on and then click on the HD. Doing that allows it to boot into OS X. I followed steps 1 through 3 as per your instructions. When I hold down the Option key when powering it on, the USB drive doesn't show. Booting into Mac OS X and inserting a burned DVD or a factory stamped CD results in the drive spitting the disc out. I tried both orientations of the disc. I also tried the procedure here to get a bootable USB stick: mesom.de/efi32boot/index.html No success so far. Mar 17 at 5:02

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