Native Linux on a Modern Mac

With the July 2011 release of the Mac Mini and OS X Lion, Apple introduced difficulties for those wishing to dual boot Linux (and anything other than the most recent release of Windows). The argument that the latest hardware needs the latest software diminishes in validity over time, for as Linux adapts to new hardware, such obstacles remain inplace. Running Linux under a virtual machine on the Mac Mini reduces the advantage of the Mac Mini hardware which a native Linux installation can provide. In some situations OS X offers the best approach to a computation, while Linux in others. So selecting OS X or Linux when booting the hardware is a desirable situation.

In the attached article an approach to installing native 64-bit Ubunto Linux on one of the two hard disks of the Mac Mini server is described. The installation is done from a USB thumb drive whose preparation using open source software is also described. A minimal Linux installation is initially performed and then a description of tailoring that installation to a specific requirement is described. Overcoming some, but not all, of the differences between the Ubunto install and hardware compatibility issues with the Mac Mini are described. Post installation booting of OS X and Linux is discussed. Finally, a quick inspection of the parallet computing potential of the Mac Mini is given.

The Mac Mini server hardware was used. This enabled a cautious approach to be taken to avoid ruining a new Mac. It was expected the preinstalled OS X server software would be on a separate hard disk to the standard OS X sofware. This subsequently proved to be the case. Such server software was not required as open source versions are available. This vacated drive was used to contain Linux. But would the Mac Mini firmware support booting off both those hard disks for dual booting? This proved to be so. Subsequent success of this installation procedure followed from the Mac Mini firmware supporting a boot from a USB thumb drive. Answers to such issues were undocumented.

Document version: 1.0