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Debian Businesses Apple

How to Install Debian on Mac mini 527

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the because-you-can dept.
wikinerd writes "After the hype about Mac mini, a Linux consultant wrote a detailed guide on how to install Debian on Mac mini. The whole procedure takes about an hour, but you will need to erase the hard disk and learn to live without the AirPort Extreme, since it's unsupported. The guide also explains how you can dual-boot with Mac OS X and Debian and gives you ideas on how to set up your partitions."
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How to Install Debian on Mac mini

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  • Yes, but... (Score:5, Funny)

    by prattboy (804069) on Sunday February 13, 2005 @01:19PM (#11660057)
    Yes, but can you install Windows on it?
  • Why? (Score:2, Insightful)

    I guess that's neat and all, but why wouldn't I just install X11 for whatever apps I run that need it, and run everything through OS X?
    • Re:Why? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by chrism238 (657741)
      Easy. Because one may have a job developing code that has to tested on a Linux platform.
    • Re:Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by slux (632202) on Sunday February 13, 2005 @01:39PM (#11660248)
      Is it such an absurd concept for you that some people might actually prefer GNU/Linux to OS X for whatever reason? You can't really get *every* Linux application installed so easily under OS X. At minimum, software installation is easier and the apps tend to integrate better on a Linux desktop.

      Seriously, could someone explain to me why similar remarks about Windows aren't modded up on stories about x86 hardware? What about all the other proprietary UNIX-like operating systems in addition to OS X. Why doesn't every Linux story have a modded up comment about HP-UX, Solaris, Irix and others asking "why use Linux?". What's so special about OS X? Sure, it's a nice OS but in no way is it equal or better than Linux in every possible aspect and for everyone.

      Linux has many things going for it that OS X does not. And even if it didn't, some people would use it just for the freedom [gnu.org]. I personally have an iBook running Ubuntu and my sister is dual booting Fedora & OS X. I also have a friend using debian exclusively on his iBook for many years.

      • Re:Why? (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Ianoo (711633)
        What is absurd is that people would buy a Mac Mini to run Linux. Why not just buy a Shuttle XPC instead? By not using OS X, you negate the main factor behind buying a Mac in the first place - and in so doing significantly reduce its value when compared with equivilently priced PC hardware.
        • Re:Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by legirons (809082) on Sunday February 13, 2005 @02:34PM (#11660675)
          "What is absurd is that people would buy a Mac Mini to run Linux."

          How is that absurd? It's no worse than buying a PC to run Windows.

          "Why not just buy a Shuttle XPC instead?"

          Because for the same price as the Mac, you'll get a shuttle PC without a motherboard, CPU, memory, disk, or drives. An actual working Shuttle PC, built, to similar specifications will be about $950

          "By not using OS X, you negate the main factor behind buying a Mac in the first place"

          Indeed. Unless your reasons for buying were the price, the size, or the neat design.

          and in so doing significantly reduce its value when compared with equivilently priced PC hardware."

          What equivalently-priced PC hardware? For that price, in a shop, you'll get a beige box PC filled with the cheapest components they could find. Try selling that in 2 years, and compare it to the price of a secondhand Mac Mini then
        • Re:Why? (Score:2, Funny)

          by OmegaBlac (752432)
          By not using OS X, you negate the main factor behind buying a Mac in the first place - and in so doing significantly reduce its value when compared with equivilently priced PC hardware.
          Steve Jobs is that you? Go choke on an ipod shuffle please.
        • Re:Why? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Nailer (69468) on Sunday February 13, 2005 @05:51PM (#11662201)
          Because a most Shuttle boxes are about six times the size, and look like poo.
    • It seems that with the officially supported version of X11, Apple has made it sound like it expands the functionality of OSX so that it is able to run any app from any *NIX platform. However, this is terribly inaccruate.

      X11 is a windowing server, nothing more. What Apple is probably talking about is the fact that a lot of graphical *nix apps use X11 library routines to facilitate their graphical interface, and Aqua does not support these calls. Although the presence of X11 on OSX does make porting apps ov

      • I'd like to add that most applications I've installed weren't compatible between Linux distributions (or versions of their distribution!), much less all "*NIX's". This is hardly a fault of Apple.

      • by dr.badass (25287) on Sunday February 13, 2005 @03:05PM (#11660968) Homepage
        It seems that with the officially supported version of X11, Apple has made it sound like it expands the functionality of OSX so that it is able to run any app from any *NIX platform.

        Nobody, not even Apple, has said this.

        "Easy to port X11 applications
        With the complete suite of the standard X11 display server software, client libraries and developer toolkits, X11 for Mac OS X makes it even simpler to port Linux and Unix applications to the Mac." -- Apple's X11 Page [apple.com]

        What you might not realize is that there are already a significant number of X11 apps that have already been ported. This is what the OP was basing his statements on.
    • Re:Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by slim (1652) <john@hartn u p .net> on Sunday February 13, 2005 @01:40PM (#11660260) Homepage
      I guess that's neat and all, but why wouldn't I just install X11 for whatever apps I run that need it, and run everything through OS X?


      Maybe you just don't get on with the Mac UI. Such people do exist. I understand that if you want focus-follows-mouse in Mac OS X, you either get a compromise where it only works on X apps, or you have to spend $40 on third party virtual desktop software.

      Mac Mini is definitely a cuter form factor than anything else out there right now.

      I'm tempted to get a Mini just in order to try out Mac OS X, but I'm dubious enough about Mac OS that having the option to replace it with Linux if I don't like it is a selling point for the hardware.
      • So why not just make a user for "pure-x11" and make metacity+gnome(or whatever) the default wm/de for that user. You could then log both users in at once, and have get a excuse for using that extremely cool looking user-switching between the two.
      • Re:Why? (Score:3, Interesting)

        by frostman (302143)
        I'm happy about this not because I don't like OS X, but because it radically extends the potential life of a Mini for me.

        I want to get a Mini and start using OS X as my main (but not only) OS. After living with a 17" Powerbook for a few months, I'm ready to switch - well, switch back anyway, until Win2K I was a Mac guy.

        But if I end up liking it as much as I expect I will, I'll want a dual G5 at some point. Then what would become of the Mini?

        Problem now solved: the Mini would become a Linux development
      • ... or you have to spend $40 on third party virtual desktop software...

        No you don't. Try this one [sourceforge.net]. It works great for me.
      • by rs79 (71822)
        Last year a buddy got fed up not being able to so anytbhing on his compaq laptop and against my vehement proetstations bought an iMac. I was at his place working for 2 weeks and had to use nothing but this iMac. From that point on I felt no reason to buy anoither PC, ever. (I feel non-OSX macs still suck and always have)

        He bought about five of them over the next year and gave me one he got for a "2 for $175" deal. It's by far the most popular computer in our house among family and friends that want to che
    • I guess that's neat and all, but why wouldn't I just install X11 for whatever apps I run that need it, and run everything through OS X?

      Well, one reason is some programs won't run with Apple's X11. For example, Konqueror gets this error:

      Xlib: extension "XInputExtension" missing on display ":1.0".

      Failed to get list of devices

      For those without a Mac, Xnest also doesn't provide the XInputExtension extension, so you can play around with that, and find out what works and what doesn't. (In fact, the erro

  • Introduction

    Apple's Mac Mini is something which a lot of Linux users have been waiting for: An inexpensive, readily available PowerPC system in a small, quiet and attractive chassis.

    Debian is very popular on Intel i386 compatible systems. Due to the open source nature of the Linux kernel and the Debian operating system, it is possible to build the same software to run on the PowerPC processor found inside the Mac Mini. It's simple to swap your big, noisy old PC for the slim, svelte Mac Mini, and this pa

    • "Personally, I bought the Mac Mini as a replacement for my girlfriend's aging 1GHz Pentium-III system"

      Aha! Here we have the TRUE purpose of the article: a geek bragging about having a girlfriend. And at a time of the year when most geeks weep silently into the pillow of their twin bed every night, fervently wishing they were Cloud in Final Fantasy IIV.
      • Weep silently? I added the first steps of primitive network play into the RTS I've been working on. The one good thing about Valentine's weekend is that I can always plan on getting work done, because I know I won't be bothered by other people. It's *great!*
  • OK (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 13, 2005 @01:21PM (#11660081)
    learn to live without the AirPort Extreme

    And iMovie, and iDVD and iTunes and Photoshop and Poser and Bryce and Vue D'Esprit and... wait... why do I want to do this again?

    • Re:OK (Score:4, Informative)

      by lspd (566786) on Sunday February 13, 2005 @01:31PM (#11660166) Homepage Journal
      The biggest disappointment is that sound doesn't work yet. In the Ubuntu forums there are some comments [ubuntuforums.org] on forcing the snd-powermac driver to work with the Mini, but I haven't had any luck with it using Debian's 2.6.9 powerpc kernel.
    • "And iMovie, and iDVD and iTunes and Photoshop and Poser and Bryce and Vue D'Esprit and... wait... why do I want to do this again?"

      You don't care about any of those apps? Or you care about apps that haven't been ported to MacOS? Linux always gets all the best open source software first.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    If you really wanted a Debian machine, then if you spend the amount you would on a Mac Mini on x86 hardware, then you can almost get a top of the range box, certainly a 1gb ram, 80gb hdd, 2.8ghz machine is possible with the cost the Mac Mini is at.

    So why would you use the same OS, on what is essentially older, and far less impressive hardware, when for the same price you get the same OS, and FAR better hardware?

    Please fill me in.
  • Apparently (Score:5, Funny)

    by Primotech (731340) on Sunday February 13, 2005 @01:22PM (#11660093) Homepage
    The "because-you-can" department is in overdrive today.
  • by FunWithHeadlines (644929) on Sunday February 13, 2005 @01:25PM (#11660116) Homepage
    It's nice to see all the excitement about the Mac Mini, and it is a cool box that is cheap but without cheap parts. But let's remember that a Mac Mini is basically just a Mac in a new box. If you can install Debian onto a Mac Mini, you can do it for any Mac.
  • Debian and OSX (Score:5, Informative)

    by puregen1us (648116) <alex@a l e x w a s s e r m an.com> on Sunday February 13, 2005 @01:28PM (#11660140)
    The main bonus of Debian has always seemed to me to apt.

    I have OSX. I have apt. I just installed fink, and got apt with it. I installed Apple's X11 and I run GNOME in full-screen mode. I like the way it runs with Aqua. The desktop is the same in both. I use LyX a lot, but don't like the Aqua QT version so I use the X11 version with GNOME it works better, but when I click "View DVI" it switches back to Aqua and opens TeXShop because I like that program.

    I love that kind of interoperability. I get the best of both worlds. I can apt-get install stuff, and still get nice OSX software running alongside it.

    If I did want debian on my powerbook I would install Ubuntu. I has a great install process, has a clean desktop even my parents could use, and runs well. But I wouldn't give up my Airport Extreme card for it.
  • by jayloden (806185) on Sunday February 13, 2005 @01:30PM (#11660157)
    I can think of a reason right off the top of my head why you might want to install Debian on a Mac. There are plenty of people making comments that this is stupid, but guess what? I like Macs, and I really want a Powerbook, but I'd like Linux on it in addition to OS X for two reasons.

    1) I like Linux, and I like to switch it up sometimes - maybe on Tuesdays I dont feel like running OS X
    2) When I'm working in an all Linux environment, it's often more convenient to have a full Linux OS to test on, work with, and interface with the rest of the system. YES, OS X has BSD under there, but that's not Linux, as any BSD fan will be quick to point out, and there _is_ a difference between being able to fun some linux apps on your OS, and actually having Linux on your machine.

    -Jay
  • It Just Like... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Doc Squidly (720087)
    Wouldn't it be like installing Debian on another Mac? Installing Linux on any box with new hardware will require a bit tinkering but, IMHO, it doesn't warrent a story.

    *Shakes head, walks away*
  • Yellow Dog (Score:5, Informative)

    by Phat_Tony (661117) on Sunday February 13, 2005 @01:39PM (#11660249)
    Yellow Dog Linux, based on Fedora Core, also supports [yellowdoglinux.com] Mini Mac already, although they don't support Airport Extreme (yet) either.
    • Any particular reason that linux distros are having so much trouble with airport extreme? What is the difficulty in doing so?
      I've been considering tinkering with linux on my iBook, but not until they get the whole wireless thing down.
      • "Airport Extreme" is really just the Apple name for a broadcom chip. Broadcom does not provide documentation for their chip, the OS X driver is binary only.
        • Theres a bit more to it than that - The chip used in the broadcom kit is used in some military applications. As such even if Broadcom wanted to open up spec's they wouldnt be allowed to as the powers that be would deem it a threat to national security (probably something to do with the encryption side of it). Even so it is possible to run these cards under linux using ndiswrapper - I use a belkin F5D7010 pcmcia in my Thinkpad T22 under linux using it. Not sure whether it will work under PPC though.

          Nick ..
  • Use Ubuntu (Debian) (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MarkWatson (189759) on Sunday February 13, 2005 @01:45PM (#11660300) Homepage
    The people at Ubuntu [ubuntu.com] start with Debian and package it for end users. I have Ubuntu on 2 of my 3 Macs (but both are dual boot) and except for having to install IBM's PowerPC Java SDK, it was just about ready to go.

    Why run Linux on a Mac? I find that Linux has less to distract me from work. I like to boot OS X to edit video, etc., but for writing (OpenOffice.org) and programming (Eclipse for Java, Python, and C++) there is less fluff on Linux to distract me from my work.
    • That's fantastic and I'm glad it's working out for you, but I don't think I'd cite as one of the benefits of my favourite operating environment that it runs *less* software.
    • Why run Linux on a Mac? I find that Linux has less to distract me from work.

      Yeah, by running Linux on the mac mini, you get to completely avoid the unnecessary distractions of audio, bluetooth, wireless networking, or modems. Plus the screen driver's flickering will keep you from being distracted by smooth, high-quality graphics, and the annoying, error-prone install procedure will prevent you from getting distracted by having software that works, or being distracted by a GUI that doesn't suck.

      Yeah, bo

    • by tres (151637)

      Well that's funny. I feel exactly the opposite about the whole thing. When I want to get work done, I fire up the Mac. Things just work right. It stays out of my way while I complete my work.

      When I want to experiment, play and tinker endlessly with the system (it seems most often to get it working the way it already should, or find another project that works better) I fire up the Linux box. When I want to spend time learning how to get something working or the elements of a project I fire up the Linux box.
  • by mrbarkeeper (560018) on Sunday February 13, 2005 @02:14PM (#11660524)
    - A new Mac mini: 500,-

    - A set of Debian CDs: 5,-

    - "Making her new Mac look like her old PC": Priceless!

  • Maybe this story should be called "How to make your Mac Mini less useful." I'm all for open source, but at times people go too far, to the point where they would have a less useful open-source run piece of equipment than a "closed-source" one that was very useful.
  • WTF? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Sloppy (14984) *
    WTF is with all these antihackers who are all asking why someone would want to put software on a computer?! Did I really load Slashdot, or is someone typo-squatting?

    Perhaps questions about why someone would want to install software on a computer, is an attempt to start up one of those stupid jokes. 1) In Soviet Russia, Mac installs Debian on YOU! 2) Imagine a Beowulf cluster of Mini Macs. 3) ??? 4) Profit!

    But seriously, since when did asking why (as opposed to how) someone would do something unusua

  • Firewire problem? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Dr.Zap (141528) on Sunday February 13, 2005 @02:40PM (#11660723)
    From the article:

    A few odd problems I've discovered:

    * If I plug the firewire port into the firewire port on my PC, it seems to interfere with the PC's power supply. It's like holding down the "reset" button on the PC. This makes it impossible to use "firewire target disk mode" on the Mac Mini.


    However, I'll wager that if he used a 4 pin Firewire cable and it would have worked fine. The 6 pin cable supplys power as well as data, and both the PC and the mini are supplying power. It's probably a ground loop.
  • Why the hell would you want to do that? Isn't that what the old Dell clunkers are for?
  • Does anyone know if you can safely install Debian on a G5 yet? The G5's require the operating system to run the fans to keep it from melting itself, and I hadn't heard of any distro other than Yellow Dog claiming to provide that (also, no information about this that I could find on debian.org).

    --realinvalidname

  • by Jay Carlson (28733) on Sunday February 13, 2005 @03:31PM (#11661179)
    I bought a Mac mini the day it came out because it was the lowest price for a OS X dongle I've seen, and I needed something quiet. The old fanless G3/450 iMac is the loudest machine in the house because it has one of those Maxtor drives that goes "weerrrerrrowwwwwwEEEERERROOWrrrrreeeoor".

    I installed dual-boot Debian testing the day I got the mini, however. (debian-ppc lost my success report mail from weeks ago, so I can't cite precedence over this guy.)

    Why install Linux on an OS X dongle?

    Because it's probably the cheapest new non-x86 machine you can buy. I care about the portability of my software to other architectures, and I can check them on the mini. Also, it's big-endian.

    At some point I'm going to buy a nice Athlon 64 box and run it in pure AMD64 mode. That will give me a sizeof(void *) != sizeof(int) box, and mostly a non-i386 machine. (It's still little-endian, though.) Between the mini and the Athlon 64, I figure I've covered most of the common portability problems, without spending too much money on hardware I can't use for something else like OS X or Halflife 2.
    • The old fanless G3/450 iMac is the loudest machine in the house because it has one of those Maxtor drives that goes "weerrrerrrowwwwwwEEEERERROOWrrrrreeeoor".

      Just curious, but why don't you replace it? 40GB drives run about $50-60 or so now, and most of the ones on currently the market only have 1 platter and run pretty cool and quiet.
  • by Cap'n Crax (313292) on Sunday February 13, 2005 @03:45PM (#11661288) Homepage

    I bought a 17" Powerbook. While I'm fairly happy with it, they are a bit hacker-unfriendly in some respects.

    The UJ-825 "SuperDrive" in mine is RPC-2 with a vengeance, for example. It won't even read the raw data from an out-of-region DVD, making even VNC useless, and it doesn't look like any firmware hacks will be forthcoming.

    Also, because Broadcom will not release specs on the Airport Extreme, no "monitor mode" is available, so passive wardriving is impossible without using a 3rd-party wireless card.

    Maybe someone smarter than me will eventually reverse engineer and fix these problems, but it's not looking too good so far. IMO, Apple needs to get back to it's hacker-friendly roots. [metromac.org]

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