[GLLUG] Mac Mini no DVD drive dual boot install

John Winters john at sinodun.org.uk
Sun Jan 13 20:11:17 UTC 2013

On 13/01/13 19:14, James Courtier-Dutton wrote:
> On 13 January 2013 19:04, jonathan chetwynd<jay at peepo.com>  wrote:
>> anyone experience of installing Linux on Mac mini without DVD drive?
>> online resources are somewhat limited, confused and out of date afaict….
>> probably easiest to meet up if anyone has skills and can share.
> I have not installed specifically on a Mac mini, but I would try these options:
> 1) Boot off a USB attached DVD drive

This seems the best option.

I have one Mac Mini running Debian Squeeze.  The hardest part of the 
install was getting it to boot.  Mac Minis do not by default use the old 
fashioned BIOS boot process.  Instead they have the (potentially) much 
more sophisticated EFI boot system.

The trouble is that, although there is a version of Grub for EFI, the 
installation process isn't automatic and at the time I was doing it the 
documentation was pretty much non-existent.  This made the whole process 
into mostly guess-work, and each time I got it wrong I had to start the 
installation process again from scratch.

In the end I went for BIOS booting instead.  Mac Minis do support this 
as a fall-back, but there's a weird problem with it.  Before falling 
back to BIOS booting, the Mac Mini firmware insists on there being a 
monitor present.  If no monitor is plugged in, it won't do a BIOS boot.

You can fool it into thinking there is a monitor there by plugging in an 
Apple-weird-video-connector <=> VGA adaptor, then taking a VGA style 
plug and soldering a resistor between a couple of pins.

My Mac mini therefore has a little stack of plugs sticking out the back. 
  Apart from that however it is totally reliable, and stays on 24/7.


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