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PoneyMac

Preliminary results with Ubuntu booting on Mac

After my more and more frustrating failures with Mac OS X, I wanted to do something to give a second life to this apparently dead system. My previous attempts and research about Ubuntu installation on MacBook Pro 2006 have been a real disaster. But this evening’s attempt is a step toward success!

I first downloaded the 32-bit Ubuntu 14.10 ISO. I already had the 64-bit one. Then I burned two DVD disks: one for the 64-bit, one for the 32-bit. It is always handy to have Ubuntu disks; I consider this an essential part of my geek’s toolbox. Because the Mac’s EFI is 32-bit (an unfortunate ill-design given the CPU is 64-bit capable), I tossed a 32-bit Ubuntu DVD in the machine and tried to reboot. This time, Mac OS X stuck at a blue screen, incapable of shutting down or rebooting. Grrr! What a pain in the neck! I forcibly shut this cursed system down by pressing and holding power button.

Then I powered on again and as soon as my external keyboard’s Razer logo turned on, I pressed and held the Alt key. After a tremendous amount of time, almost 45 seconds, I got the choice between the DVD and hard drive. I took the DVD, had to wait again, and finally got Ubuntu booting! Yes, that damn thing can boot Ubuntu 14.10!

I reached the live screen and was about to open a terminal, resolution is correct, audio seems there and system seems responsive. Of course, the DVD drive is just way too slow. I would have to install Ubuntu onto the hard drive to assess performance in a more thorough way.

More than that, I couldn’t find /sys/firmware/efi, which means a non-EFI boot happened. This means the Mac’s firmware DO has CSM, and thus can boot in legacy mode. I still have to try, but I suspect I could give it a 64-bit Ubuntu and bump up memory to 4Gb! I am more confident Ubuntu will accept almost any brand of memory modules while Mac OS X might be more picky and just accept Apple-approved ones.

This is a good preliminary result, something that will allow to sleep better tonight and have a more enjoyable beginning of week!