Installing on Mac Mini (Intel) fails

Help with issues regarding installation of Debian

Installing on Mac Mini (Intel) fails

Postby Sakari » 2010-11-11 10:41

I wanted to install Debian Squeeze on a new Intel-based Mac Mini. I made two new partitions with the OSX disk tool and burned the net-install ISO image from http://wiki.debian.org/MacMiniIntel on a CD. (I first tried the non-mac-mini net-install of Debian 5.0.6, but it did not work at all - after starting the installation with stuff it read from the CD, it complained that there was no CDROM drive.)

Installation with the "custom" mac-mini CD seemed to run to completion. However, when I boot, the Linux system does not appear, and when OSX boots, the Linux root partition seems to have disappeared (the swap partition has not.) The disk tool refuses to make new partitions, and the only way to fix the situation seems to be emptying the whole hard disk and reinstalling OSX - I am doing this now.

On the web page mentioned above, there is some mention of MBR that I do not understand very well. It does look like this is something that should be handled with OSX's disk tool - but the version of that tool that I have does not seem to offer anything to do with MBR...
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Re: Installing on Mac Mini (Intel) fails

Postby bmc5311 » 2010-11-11 10:53

1. install os x as you normally would
2. use boot camp (should be in your utilities folder) and make a partition for "windows"
3. install debian on the boot camp windows partition.
4. install refit (http://refit.sourceforge.net/)
5. reboot
- you should see an os x icon and a penguin
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Re: Installing on Mac Mini (Intel) fails

Postby hkoster1 » 2010-11-11 16:40

bmc5311 wrote:1. install os x as you normally would
2. use boot camp (should be in your utilities folder) and make a partition for "windows"
3. install debian on the boot camp windows partition.
4. install refit (http://refit.sourceforge.net/)
5. reboot
- you should see an os x icon and a penguin

...and don't forget on the first reboot to sync the GUID and MBR partition tables using rEFIt, then reboot once more.
Your new Debian GNU/Linux won't boot if you forget this step.

I recommend that you check out the Ubuntu Macintel wiki for hints at https://help.ubuntu.com/community/MactelSupportTeam/AppleIntelInstallation.
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Re: Installing on Mac Mini (Intel) fails

Postby Sakari » 2010-11-11 20:15

Thank you. I was missing the crucial point that "syncing" meant using rEFIt's partition tool. Once that was done, the Debian installation could be booted. However, it hangs pretty quickly. Not even half a screen is filled in normal mode; in recovery mode, several hundreds of log lines flash on the screen. Unfortunately, the screen then goes black. And stays black. There is no error message that I can see; just a total freeze.

Maybe I'll have to try another distribution? It's just that Debian's PPC version seemed to work so well...
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Re: Installing on Mac Mini (Intel) fails

Postby Sakari » 2010-11-12 09:15

I tried the live version of Fedora 14. It does run; however, only if I choose "Boot (Basic Video)" and not "Boot". The difference seems to be the boot parameters "xdriver=vesa nomodeset".

Unfortunately, "Basic Video" is low-resolution and, well, ugly enough to be unusable. But If I choose "Boot", which presumably should give a better-looking display, Fedora crashes just like Debian. Well, I don't know whether they crash or just are unable to output video.

The graphics chip is an nVidia GeForce 320M. Is this what is the problem?
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Re: Installing on Mac Mini (Intel) fails

Postby bmc5311 » 2010-11-12 11:57

core 2 duo and nvidia graphics?
that machine should be able to run debian with no problems, i don't know anything about fedora.

have you read this?
http://wiki.debian.org/MacMiniIntel
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Re: Installing on Mac Mini (Intel) fails

Postby Sakari » 2010-11-12 12:34

bmc5311 wrote:core 2 duo and nvidia graphics?
that machine should be able to run debian with no problems, i don't know anything about fedora.

have you read this?
http://wiki.debian.org/MacMiniIntel


Yes, it would be nice if the machine ran debian with no problems. Then, I would not be posting here.

Yes, I have read http://wiki.debian.org/MacMiniIntel. As I noted in my first post (above), it is what steered me to the mac-mini ISO image.

In the meantime, I tried a live openSUSE 11.3. It behaved exactly like Fedora 14, that is, it would only work with kernel parameters "xdriver=vesa nomodeset".

Also in the meantime, I found this: http://www.nvnews.net/vbulletin/showthread.php?p=2330485 It seems my problems could, in fact, have something to do with the graphics chip.
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Re: Installing on Mac Mini (Intel) fails

Postby bmc5311 » 2010-11-12 14:17

so install it with the vesa driver (the nvidia driver is probably not on your live cd), then install the nvidia driver from the repos.
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Re: Installing on Mac Mini (Intel) fails

Postby Sakari » 2010-11-13 10:48

I realized that Debian/GRUB lets you input kernel parameters at boot if you hit 'e' on the keyboard and did so with "nomodeset reboot=pci". This gave a low-resolution and ugly, but running graphical desktop. However, when I looked at the system monitor, it only showed one core. So did 'cat /proc/cpuinfo'. This looks like a critical issue, as both Fedora 14 and openSUSE 11.3, say, do show both cores running.

A pity - Debian's PPC version runs beautifully on both an older Mac mini and a very old iBook.
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Re: Installing on Mac Mini (Intel) fails

Postby hkoster1 » 2010-11-13 23:02

You say in your OP that you installed some 'custom' version of Debian, you don't suppose that has something to do
with only one core being activated on your Core 2 Duo Mac Mini? :roll:

Continuing with this thread only makes sense if you provide some details: which kernel version (where did you get it
or compiled it from if not a regular Debian Installer image); and what kind of display do you use with the Mac Mini,
especially whether or not you are using the Mini Display Port or the HDMI to DVI connector. Is your Mac Mini the
regular model with built-in SuperDrive, or is it the server model and in that latter case did you use the external
SuperDrive? Please be specific and keep in mind that it takes the Linux and Xorg community some time to catch up with
the subtle hardware/firmware changes that Apple is infamous for.
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Re: Installing on Mac Mini (Intel) fails

Postby bmc5311 » 2010-11-13 23:19

hkoster1 wrote:You say in your OP that you installed some 'custom' version of Debian, you don't suppose that has something to do
with only one core being activated on your Core 2 Duo Mac Mini? :roll:


i didn't catch that.

at the op - have you tried installing from dvd1 or cd1? or just the custom image?
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Re: Installing on Mac Mini (Intel) fails

Postby Sakari » 2010-11-14 21:07

As I said in my first post, the custom version came from http://wiki.debian.org/MacMiniIntel. I used it, as I said, because the regular Debian version would not recognize the CD/DVD drive.

And as I said in my first post, this is a new Mac mini, new as of November 2010, the time I am posting. I think some people call it the "mid-2010" mini. It is also known as Macmini4,1. It looks like Apple has dropped the SuperDrive stuff and all mini's now come with a drive like that.

Yes, I know that it takes the Linux community time to catch up. But, well, it looks like Debian is taking more time than the others...
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Re: Installing on Mac Mini (Intel) fails

Postby bmc5311 » 2010-11-14 22:30

Sakari wrote:As I said in my first post, the custom version came from http://wiki.debian.org/MacMiniIntel. I used it, as I said, because the regular Debian version would not recognize the CD/DVD drive.

And as I said in my first post, this is a new Mac mini, new as of November 2010, the time I am posting. I think some people call it the "mid-2010" mini. It is also known as Macmini4,1. It looks like Apple has dropped the SuperDrive stuff and all mini's now come with a drive like that.

Yes, I know that it takes the Linux community time to catch up. But, well, it looks like Debian is taking more time than the others...


will your mini boot from a usb thumbdrive?
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Re: Installing on Mac Mini (Intel) fails

Postby Sakari » 2010-11-15 07:12

bmc5311 wrote:will your mini boot from a usb thumbdrive?


You mean, boot from the USB stick if the Debian installer won't recognize the CD/DVD drive? It does sound like a nice idea, but, well, even if it worked, evidently the resulting system would still not recognize the CD/DVD drive.

I think I'll stop experimenting for the time being, as Ubuntu 10.10 seems to work pretty well. https://help.ubuntu.com/community/Macmini4-1/Maverick was very helpful. (I'm getting tired of the OSX disk tool that apparently is totally confused by Linux partitions.)
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Re: Installing on Mac Mini (Intel) fails

Postby bmc5311 » 2010-11-15 12:05

Sakari wrote:
bmc5311 wrote:will your mini boot from a usb thumbdrive?


You mean, boot from the USB stick if the Debian installer won't recognize the CD/DVD drive? It does sound like a nice idea, but, well, even if it worked, evidently the resulting system would still not recognize the CD/DVD drive.

I think I'll stop experimenting for the time being, as Ubuntu 10.10 seems to work pretty well. https://help.ubuntu.com/community/Macmini4-1/Maverick was very helpful. (I'm getting tired of the OSX disk tool that apparently is totally confused by Linux partitions.)


ubuntu 10.10 = 2.6.35 kernel (probably already has the modules/drivers for your optical drive)
squeeze = 2.6.32 kernel (probably doesn't have the modules/drivers for your optical drive)

you could install squeeze from a thumb drive and then upgrade your kernel or wait until squeeze goes stable, then wait a month or so and try testing, maybe the kernel will have caught up....

- best of luck! :)
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