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How to install Linux on Mac Pro 1,1 and up

Joined
Mar 11, 2016
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925
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Read the basics here:

https://mattgadient.com/2016/07/11/linux-dvd-images-and-how-to-for-32-bit-efi-macs-late-2006-models/
https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu-cdimage/+bug/1298894/comments/16

On a Linux box (because it's probably easiest) make sure that 'makefs' is installed (say in the Synaptic Manager, or the software manager of your distro)

Download your favourite amd64 linux distro.

Create a folder, say in your Home -> Desktop directory.
COPY the downloaded distro to this folder.
Copy the .c script file, create a text file, paste, save as 'make_single_eltorito.c' (No quote marks)
Right click the copied distro file and go down to "Properties".
Click, select all, copy the file name
Close the Properties window
Edit the file make_single_eltorito.c , highlight insert-your-linux.iso name here, right click, paste. Yes, keep the name in (single) quotes.
Exit/save the file.

Open a system/root console. Some distros will allow you to open a root console from within the open window that has your folder showing the iso and the .c script file. If not you will have to navigate to it.

Issue the command "cc -g -Wall -o make_single_eltorito make_single_eltorito.c" (No quote marks)
Once done, issue the command "./make_single_eltorito" (No quote marks.)

That should strip the 64bit efi bootloader from the .iso file.

Insert a blank DVD drive and burn the .iso that is in the folder you created. Double click the .iso and k3b should start up in Linux, for example.

The .c script:
Code:
#include <sys/types.h>
#include <sys/stat.h>
#include <fcntl.h>
#include <unistd.h>
#include <string.h>
#include <stdio.h>
#include <stdlib.h>

static char *iso_name = {"insert-your-linux.iso name here"};

int main(int argc, char **argv)
{
  int fd, ret;
  unsigned char buf[2048 - 64];
  off_t lba;
  size_t buf_size = 2048 - 64;

  fd = open(iso_name, O_RDWR);
  if (fd == -1)
    goto err_ex;
  if (lseek(fd, (off_t) 32768 + 2048 + 71, SEEK_SET) == -1)
    goto err_ex;
  ret = read(fd, buf, 4);
  if (ret == -1)
    goto err_ex;
  if (ret < 4) {
    fprintf(stderr, "Cannot read 4 bytes from %s\n", iso_name);
    exit(1);
  }
  lba = buf[0] | (buf[1] << 8) | (buf[2] << 16) | (buf[3] << 24);
  if (lseek(fd, lba * 2048 + 64, SEEK_SET) == -1)
    goto err_ex;
  memset(buf, 0, buf_size);
  ret = write(fd, buf, buf_size);
  if (ret == -1)
    goto err_ex;
  if (ret < buf_size) {
    fprintf(stderr, "Cannot write %d bytes to %s\n", (int) buf_size, iso_name);
    exit(1);
  }
  close(fd);
  printf("done\n");
  exit(0);
err_ex:;
  perror(iso_name);
  exit(1);
}

I chose to install 'PC Linux OS KDE5' since I like their menu more than most KDE distros and since I did not like the GNOME-ish menus on the Ubuntu 14.04 MATE {and KDE4} amd64+mac distro. (I added KDE4 to the MATE mac distro after I installed MATE and then switched to it on login.)

When PCLOS asked which bootloader I wanted I choose GRUB instead of GRUB2 since GRUB2 will install the distro in UEFI. (I had pre-formatted my 1TB HDD as GPT in OXS 10.5.8). The GRUB2 version will install the OS in LVM, which is what OSX El Cap, Sierra, et. al., uses and which should allow OSX to auto mount the Linux distro since it will assign an UEFI GUID label.

Those who have tried to install KDE themes under KDE4 and all they got was a beach ball should know that the theme installer works fine with PCLOS KDE5. You could install a few Yosemite themes and you will probably need to swap the buttons manually (unlike Linux Mint MATE where GNOME Tweak will automatically do it with a box check and apply button.)

http://cdimage.ubuntu.com/releases/14.04/release/

The one I run/ran is ubuntu-14.04.4-desktop-amd64+mac.iso Just make sure that it says "amd64+mac" as the descriptor.

http://releases.ubuntu.com/?_ga=1.227842584.425324681.1484456275
http://releases.ubuntu.com/16.04/
http://releases.ubuntu.com/14.04.4/
http://cdimage.ubuntu.com/releases/14.04/release/

Ubuntu's method: https://help.ubuntu.com/community/MacPro

I didn't want to bother with rEFI since I have BootCamp installed.

After it's installed you may have the usual sound, video, wireless, and keyboard problems. For sound you will have to play with the sound selection. I'm still working on getting X.ORG to map the Apple Aluminum keyboard. Heck, even OSX 10.5.8 burps on the Apple Aluminum keyboard...

On my Mac Pro 1,1 I installed an Apple/ATI HD4870 (RV770?) video card and it works fine with most newer distros (but I didn't want to go through the Debian Net install gyrations. Fully how the Debian Jessie distro can't get the HD4870 working but Ubuntu and others got it to work right out of the box. Gentoo was a no-go, too. One big benefit of PCLOS is that there is no sysytem.d. http://www.pclinuxos.com Why didn't I go with Linux Mint? PCLOS is a rolling distro.

After all was said and done I now have Mac OSX 10.5.8, W7Pro, KDE5 and Ubuntu 14.04 MATE on separate 1TB drives.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Mar 11, 2016
Messages
925
Motherboard
ASRock Z97 X4
CPU
i5-4690k
Graphics
GTX950
Mac
  1. Mac Pro
Classic Mac
  1. Classic
  2. SE
That procedure allowed me to create a bootable Linux Mint 18.1 MATE "Serena" disk no problem.

When selecting the keyboard at the installation process you can select Apple Aluminium Keyboard but also select "Detect my keyboard" and answer the prompts. If you're lucky, which I was, the eject key should function as normal, as should the sound keys.

If you install certain distros you may not have the ability for keyboard detection. In the case of PCLOS KDE4 or KDE5 you will not be able to hit the keyboard eject key to eject the CD/DVD. In which case you will need to start k3b burning application, then go to Tools -> Eject. The same type of problem existed with LM 17.x - the CD/DVD ROM drive would not show up in File Manager. But, if you installed kb3 it mysteriously showed up.

Ubuntu based distros, specifically GNOME MATE, should allow the keyboard to be detected correctly and it should allow the eject key on the keyboard to work correctly.

On PCLOS, or any distro where the Aluminium keyboard Eject key doesn't work, you could create a text file on the Desktop and insert "eject -rt /dev/sr0" as the only line in the document, then exit and save it as eject.sh. You could then show its File Properties and set as an executable. Double clicking on the file should now automatically open the disk drive tray.

A better way:

Right click the desktop.
In GNOME: Create Launcher
Type: Application
Name: Eject Tray
Command: eject -T
Comment: CD ROM Ejector
OK.

You would then click on the icon and manually select a CD ROM icon of your choice.

In KDE you would do the same, Create New --> Link to Application, but you could also select a CDROM icon.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Mar 11, 2016
Messages
925
Motherboard
ASRock Z97 X4
CPU
i5-4690k
Graphics
GTX950
Mac
  1. Mac Pro
Classic Mac
  1. Classic
  2. SE
A great little program that will allow one to boot from CD and then install software from an USB: https://www.plop.at/en/bootmanager/download.html

After downloading and extracting just burn onto CD the .iso file. Boot from the burned CD, install a USB installer stick, then run the install software from the USB, for example, Linx or Windows. I was able to run a Linux Mint 18.1 MATE LiveUSB with no problems. It booted from the cd, then transferred control to the USB stick, where it loaded up to the desktop, ready for testing or installation.

It works not only on Mac Pro 1,1 and 2,1, but on any PC that did not have the capability to boot from USB.
 
Last edited:
Joined
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A great little program that will allow one to boot from CD and then install software from an USB: https://www.plop.at/en/bootmanager/download.html

After downloading and extracting just burn onto CD the .iso file. Boot from the burned CD, install a USB installer stick, then run the install software from the USB, for example, Linx or Windows. I was able to run a Linux Mint 18.1 MATE LiveUSB with no problems. It booted from the cd, then transferred control to the USB stick, where it loaded up to the desktop, ready for testing or installation.

It works not only on Mac Pro 1,1 and 2,1, but on any PC that did not have the capability to boot from USB.
....................................
Your post and reference link was a lifesaver man! I have a few older MacBooks from 2006 (1,1 core duo) and I have been searching for weeks to find a solution toinstall Linux as the Mac OS 10.6.8 is no longer allowing br0owser upgrades that work in today's modern world. I was able to obtain and burn a PlopLinux iso on DVD, boot from that that and then just as you said, then boot a Linux Distro (Ubuntu Mate) from a USB Key for installation! AMAZING! New Life for some old MacBooks which I intend to donate to some older individuals who cannot afford a laptop. Thank you so much!
 
Joined
Jul 5, 2012
Messages
369
Motherboard
asus z170-k
CPU
i5-6400
Graphics
HD530/GTX 650
Mac
  1. Mac Pro
Mobile Phone
  1. Android
  2. iOS
A great little program that will allow one to boot from CD and then install software from an USB: https://www.plop.at/en/bootmanager/download.html

After downloading and extracting just burn onto CD the .iso file. Boot from the burned CD, install a USB installer stick, then run the install software from the USB, for example, Linx or Windows. I was able to run a Linux Mint 18.1 MATE LiveUSB with no problems. It booted from the cd, then transferred control to the USB stick, where it loaded up to the desktop, ready for testing or installation.

It works not only on Mac Pro 1,1 and 2,1, but on any PC that did not have the capability to boot from USB.
Does the procedure at post 1 need to be applied to the distro for this to work? Been attempting with the 64 bit version
of mint but when it tries to install grub it fails. Gave it a whole disk and it made 2 partitions one small one for the grub.

In the install verbose I saw the mention of i386 so think it knew about the 32 bit uefi. Not sure whats up. You have
some pointers in installing on a MP1,1? Next I would try would be formatting in mac as MBR cause I tried running
Boot repair and there was a mention of gpt and saying to format the 1 mb partition as unformatted but did not work.

Tried a modified iso and the usb starts being problematic. Hmm.

the USB is funky on this but just wouldnt stay mounted or something with the modified ISO.
I guess will change the partition map to MBR and try with the unmodified version again.
 
Last edited:
Joined
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Messages
369
Motherboard
asus z170-k
CPU
i5-6400
Graphics
HD530/GTX 650
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  1. Mac Pro
Mobile Phone
  1. Android
  2. iOS
Got it to install. Had to go into the live Mint to redo the grub as it booted grub in text mode BASH style.
One other thing, when booting into El cap I get the unreadable message every time for that partition.
Any idea for that? Also maybe there is a boot champ type thing for linux to avoid option boot with the
video card that has boot visuals? Theres no option for startup disk in El cap but there is in win 10s Bootcamp.

nvidia drivers for gtx 660 ti tough to get going. Because of non Uefi support? Not sure.

switched to the gtx 650 but its still tough. Still working on getting nvidia going. Could use the RV77 (4870) but only
has DVI and apple cant get drivers for HDMI audio. Just want it to have that option on any machine I work on.

First distro attempted using that plop boot manager (really is great) was successful except nvidia with none of the edits on post one. It was the latest release of cinnamon. (19) Had tried a few of the edited ones on matts page in an attempt to make nvidia work and some of them didnt work. (dead usb) Have since found the cause of that to be a problem with xserv-xorg. The one that did work first from Matts premade edited distros was Ubuntu Mate 14.04 or was it higher? Ended up being 16.04 after update so probably later.

Found the right thing to search for... Nvidia linux on mac pro 1,1, It does not work. At least without the apple rom.
Everything else runs just wonderfully.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Feb 9, 2020
Messages
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Mac Pro 1,1
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Mac Pro 1,1
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Mac Pro 1,1
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  1. Mac Pro
Got it to install. Had to go into the live Mint to redo the grub as it booted grub in text mode BASH style.
hi there, I got stuck in this exact scenario. Could you please give me a hint on what exactly did you do to fix this? Thanks
 
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