Home > Apple > Running Linux and BSD on the Mac Mini Running Linux and BSD on the Mac Mini Eugenia Loli 2005-04-07 Apple 85 Comments NetBSD and Yellow Dog Linux have both begun to support the Mac Mini. Seebach looks at open source operating system options on this new contender in the embedded PowerPC platform space. About The Author Eugenia Loli Ex-programmer, ex-editor in chief at OSNews.com, now a visual artist/filmmaker. Follow me on Twitter @EugeniaLoli 85 Comments 2005-04-07 4:21 pm to have other OS options for a platform… but until OS X does something that I do not like, I am sticking with it. 2005-04-07 4:32 pm The more the better. But OS X is still my prefered choice. 2005-04-07 4:40 pm I like Linux, but I’m much happier with OSX. 2005-04-07 5:03 pm Nice but not for me, i like the OS X to. 2005-04-07 5:06 pm Nice as a choice, but I’d rather run OS X or OpenSolaris PPC when it’s released 2005-04-07 5:06 pm Any chance hardware OpenGL drivers will be coming to linux ppc? I recently ran a livecd of Ubuntu and was really impressed. But most of my programming work these days is heavily dependent on OpenGL, and frankly, without hardware opengl support I’m not even considering going back to linux. 2005-04-07 5:11 pm Since you can’t just buy a Mac without OSX, why install Linux / BSD? What can’t be done with OSX? And you have a real Unix under the hood. Give me something AS good or BETTER than OSX AND iLife ’05 and mabe I would understand. You can even run Microsoft Office 2004 on Mac without any lame CrossOver… 2005-04-07 5:21 pm The main problem with Apple hardware is that people tend to hang on to it for ages, and not put it on Ebay so I can buy it cheaply. In a year or so though, there should be enough of these around to make a bargin little linux box. Hopefully OpenGL support and any other quirks will be sorted by then too. 2005-04-07 5:22 pm Quit trolling. Have you never head of preference? I think OS X is awesome, but I enjoy playing with NetBSD (my personal favorite OS) regularly too. This site is for OS enthusiasts. People that like to play/mess with operating systems. Not just get work done in Microsoft Office. Its a hobby. Go somewhere else. -adam 2005-04-07 5:29 pm I still don’t know why you would want to take OS X off your Mac. I’m running XDarwin alongside OS X and have Gnome 2.6 and lots of other great linux apps running at the same time as my OS X apps. Why settle for one OS when you can have the best of both worlds? 2005-04-07 5:29 pm The thing keeping me in OS X (not that their is anything wrong with OS X, but it’s fun to play) on my iBook is the lack of support for airport extreme. It looks like it’s not supported on the mini either. All I need to get work done is vi, a compiler, and networking. And with networking I can even get by without vi and a compiler. Without networking it’s all kind of pointless. And going back to stringing wires isn’t really an option either. 2005-04-07 5:30 pm Mac OS X is NOT a real unix. Yes, it is a unix derivative. However, i have never heard of any unix ignoring your /etc and replacing it with binaries like windoze. And I do not think we can call unix something without stuff like gcc and x11 nowadays. 2005-04-07 5:30 pm Since you can’t just buy a Mac without OSX, why install Linux / BSD? What can’t be done with OSX? And you have a real Unix under the hood. While OS X is great, I’ll bite… I’d run Linux because it is more transparent right to the bottom level and hence is more configurable to those who are confortable in a UNIX-style environment (note what I said: more configurable due to it’s transparency…for those with knowledge of UNIX). It’s Free in all senses. 2005-04-07 5:32 pm I’m a linux fan. Run it on two machines at home. I’ve never tried OSX so I can’t say anything about it, good or bad. But if what I’ve heard about Apple it is true, why in heaven’s name would anyone want to add Linux or any other OS to a brand spanking new Mac Mini? I’d leave well enough alone and enjoy. And yes, I’d love to get my hands on one of these beauties. 2005-04-07 5:36 pm >Mac OS X is NOT a real unix. Sure it is…. its at least a “Nix and considering the fact that the open group never proved that Apple was in violation… I’m inclined to say that OS X is also a legitimate UNIX® >However, i have never heard of any unix ignoring your /etc and replacing it with binaries like windoze. And if that’s your only argument… then you apparently have none. >And I do not think we can call unix something without stuff like gcc and x11 nowadays. Considering the fact that it runs GCC and comes with x11… I’m left wondering… what are you talking about? Stop trolling 2005-04-07 5:37 pm I’m going to go ahead and say “never”. Not the proprietry sort drivers that fully support the latest hardware you need anyway. While nVidia has generally kept its linux driver up to date with it’s windows counterpart, ATi’s effort is token at best. Not to mention the sorts of integrated 3D devices found in millions of PC’s. Basically, Linux is such a small market for these vendors that it really isn’t cost-effective to put a lot into Linux drivers. Perhaps ATi have lost a *few* sales from people saying “Wait, ATi’s linux support is horrible, I’m going with nVidia”, but really not a noticable portion. And all of that is on x86 linux. What do you think the care factor is by these companys for a tiny subset of this already minor market (that is to say, the PPC subset of Linux)? Sweet Nothing, that’s what. 2005-04-07 5:40 pm I mostly use Unix applications, so it should be of no surprise that Linux was better than Mac OS X for my needs. The software collection was more comprehensive and, when applications did need to be compiled it was easier to do. Not only that, but my tendancy to run a lean system meant that Linux was a heck of a lot faster for everyday use. That said, Mac OS X had its upsides: sleep mode and power management worked, so it was definitely better to use Mac OS X while mobile; the external video port worked, so it could be used for presentations (and with the same software I’d use under Linux for that). In otherwords, one compliments the other. 2005-04-07 5:45 pm In 2000 I was looking for somthing better than Windows, and I found it in Linux, been using it for five years now, SUSE is still my prefered distro, but then something happend. My brother (A Mac Addict) gave me his old G4 iMac and just baught a new one. I was kinda sceptical, but soon realized that I could do anything I could do in Linux on OSX (it runs a version of FreeBSD) from using the commandline to move around (which you dont need to the interface is so beautiful and user friendly) to compiling my own programs. Best of all, they make a ton of games and software for it, (in a ton a mean more than for Linux). I reverted from Linux to Apple, and couldnt be happier. 2005-04-07 5:48 pm I’d love to run Linux on my Mac, but all Mac Linux vendors expect me to sacrifice my Airport networking in favour of an ethernet cable or an unsightly external wifi:ethernet bridge That’s never going to happen. 2005-04-07 5:48 pm i just wish there were a cheap clone ppc platform as an alternative for the x86 stuff with that much choice of components. 2005-04-07 5:51 pm Most people I know who run NetBSD on macmini use it as a headless server. Kinda flat Cobalt Qube. 2005-04-07 5:58 pm You can install X-Windows and gcc on OSX. Have you ever checked the http://www.apple.com site? Go to OS X, click download and select Unix @ Open Source from the categories. You can compile, run, tune and configure whatever you need with no problem. And you still get the power of OSX, the GUI and all the native software. 2005-04-07 6:12 pm “Nice as a choice, but I’d rather run OS X or OpenSolaris PPC when it’s released ” Ya, I am also waiting for a good support of MAC hardware with OpenSolaris 🙂 A dual dual core powermac with Solaris 10 will be wonderfull !!! Mac OS X and Solaris 10 are my favorite UNIX system (with OpenBSD 😉 2005-04-07 6:32 pm And I do not think we can call unix something without stuff like gcc and x11 nowadays. gcc? Come on. gcc == GNU Compile Command (in Newspeak), or GNU C Compiler. GNU = GNU’s not UNIX. So in order to be UNIX, it has to have software produced by a group that’s explictly “Not UNIX”. X11? And here I though those big SGI, IBM, and Sun machines I work on are UNIX. I guess they’re not since they don’t run X11 (not to mention that they don’t have graphics hardware at all). I’ll my comments about the narrow mindedness of most Linux users out… 2005-04-07 6:55 pm Darwin (the core of Mac OSX) has not met the specifications set out by The Open Group, so therefore it cannot be called a UNIX operating system. It is, however, (along with *BSD and GNU/Linux) a unix-like operating system. Off topic, but doesn’t GCC stand for GNU Compiler Collection? 2005-04-07 6:57 pm I’ve had terrible luck getting YDL to support my powerbook. It isn’t even a new generation powerbook, just an older 15″ 867mhz G4. The larget problem is that it doesn’t recognize my LCD and I have to use generic settings. One would figure that by now YDL could support such a small set of hardware. 2005-04-07 7:06 pm X11? And here I though those big SGI, IBM, and Sun machines I work on are UNIX. I guess they’re not since they don’t run X11 (not to mention that they don’t have graphics hardware at all). X11 is installed by default on AIX 5 and gcc comes on the Linux toolkit cd included with every server you buy. Then again a persistant rumor says that AIX is actually an abbreviation for “Aix’ Isn’t uniX” 😉 I guess you must be running Linux on your pSeries then. 2005-04-07 7:23 pm I have considered getting a mac mini to run Linux on as a desktop and here are the reasons. Apple makes nice hardware and the mac mini is very cute quite and smaller than my x86 box while still being affordable so is in many ways a more attractive option than a x86 box. I never run Windows so it is not a disadvantage for me to use a PPC. Also OSX looks like it would be a nice system to fool around with. As to why I would not run OSX as my primary system, I like KDE, it is in my opinion as good or better looking than OSX and I like a lot of its little features especially the ones that would never get by a corporate board such. Another thing I would miss is a good pager, when ever I am on a one desktop machine, I feel like my monitor has been cut into little bits. I am also familiar with a lot of X based apps and I like them a lot, this is not to say that X11 does not work on OSX, but running two windowing systems seems very excessive. In short, I have been running Linux for a long time and like it and I see no reason for me to stop running it if I switch from one hardware platform to another. I don’t use the predominate OS for x86 and I see no reason why I would use the predominate OS for Macintosh hardware, also isn’t the joy of operating systems dual booting to play with different systems. Personally I also like the concept of Free software and while I am not a zealot about it, if I do not have a compelling reason to use a proprietary solution over a Free one, I won’t. So in short, each to his own and even though OSX may be a sweet platform it is not the end all and it is nice to see PPC become more and more viable for all systems and the success of Linux PPC distros might even prompt the creation of a diverse PPC hardware market. 2005-04-07 7:25 pm X11 apllications feel much better under linux. on my mac i started with runing the x server under aqua but then the ui between applications did not feel right. and i never really use the osX applications so then i started to dualboot osx and linux after 3months i hadnot booted osX once so i wiped it from the hardrives. most gnu applications run better under linux than osX they do work under osX and is fine for people who do run ms office and such but when you dont why bother with osX 2005-04-07 7:43 pm isn’t it possible to stop quartz & aqua and use your preferred model, ie KDE or GNOME? theoretically (now just my guessing) still able to have access to the pre-installed apps, just through another UI/windowing system? 2005-04-07 8:10 pm OS X is not a real Unix because it is based on FreeBSD, which is not a real Unix 2005-04-07 8:36 pm if you can get it to install 2005-04-07 8:37 pm i dont know, but i dont think you can start osx applicatins from gnome or kde so if you did i dont think you can start osx apps. you can however log in to console and start xfree from there but then youl get no acceleration and it will be extremly slow. 2005-04-07 8:38 pm Uhm, FreeBSD is a real Unix. Unlike Linux, which was written from scratch, FreeBSD shares its roots in the original Unix codebase. BSD was originally the Berkeley Standard Distribution of Unix… and through a lot of events and lawsuits and stuff.. eventually turned legally into Open Source. 2005-04-07 9:01 pm Why settle for one OS when you can have the best of both worlds? You’re right. I guess that’s why someone wrote MacOnLinux. 2005-04-07 9:02 pm At your login prompt type: >console Hit return. Have fun. 2005-04-07 9:03 pm I don’t understand the use of this. You can get a Hyper Threading 2.8 Ghz P4, 512 megs ram, 120 gig hard drive from Dell for under $300. So why would you go with a slower CPU (I’m not saying anything about the G5, Mac Mini’s have G4) and pay more so you can run the same OS but with weaker support? 2005-04-07 9:04 pm What graphics chipset does the Mac Mini use? Most ATI chipsets now have open source drivers in Mesa (r300 and newer cards are somewhat supported in a separate development tree). I can’t be sure they work on PPC hardware, but I know there are developers for DRI drivers on linux/ppc. Adam 2005-04-07 9:07 pm MB you don’t have enough physical space for the tower. MB you want to use the computer in an environment where you don’t want to spend a lot on power (if you’re somewhere where electricity is expensive you’d be happier with a 87W computer than a 400W computer). MB you’re designing embedded applications to run on embedded PPC controllers.. in which case it’s a much easier machine to test on. MB you want a computer that’s virtually silent to use. 2005-04-07 9:25 pm i dont fit that dell in the compartment for my car stero. i dont se any point using that dell as a xterminal i dont want that dell as a htpc peformance isnt all that size and noise is also a factor 2005-04-07 9:33 pm I’d run linux on it.. 2005-04-07 9:34 pm Size, portability, noiselevel (you can’t hear a mini)…. Superior craftsmenship. Looks. Geez, let me count the reasons! 2005-04-07 9:46 pm “The main problem with Apple hardware is that people tend to hang on to it for ages, and not put it on Ebay so I can buy it cheaply.” LOL! Well done! So, when is your HBO comedy special coming out? 🙂 On a more serious note, I use OS X exclusively, but I don’t have any problem with folks who want to run something else on their Macs. Why should I? Choice is always good. 2005-04-07 9:52 pm its a radeon 9200, same thing in ibook g4 1.25, which which does opengl just fine. youll need a 2.6 kernel (ubuntu warty worked out of the box on ibook) 2005-04-07 10:27 pm I am a Mac user but as soon as the Mini was announced, I thought it would make a great little PowerPC linux box. SolarisPPC may be great but it s a long, long way off. 2005-04-07 10:30 pm “OS X is not a real Unix because it is based on FreeBSD, which is not a real Unix” Actually, it’s the other way around. Linux is a Unix clone. OS X, FreeBSD, NetBSD and OpenBSD are all based on BSD distribution, which is a real Unix. 2005-04-07 10:36 pm I like GNOME better, that’s why. 2005-04-07 10:54 pm GNOME over Aqua? 2005-04-07 11:00 pm Yes, I’m not superficial. Aqua gets annoying after using it for a couple of hours. Besides, I think my GNOME desktop looks prettier. 2005-04-07 11:06 pm Superficial = aqua? Personally, I think the Aqua interface is very minimal, which is what I like about it. Nice soft colors and soft/round edges. http://www.osnews.com/img/3721/gnome.png the gnome interface is a bit “blocky” 2005-04-07 11:13 pm you’re actually referring to a theme, not an issue with hte interface. Of course themes can be changed 2005-04-07 11:13 pm That screenshot doesn’t look attractive. The default Industrial theme looks much better, IMHO. More rounded edges, and much more pleasing to the eyes. It is hard to theme OS X, but it’s easy to theme GNOME. If the defaults don’t suit you, just change the theme. 2005-04-07 11:18 pm I think GNOME’s interface is minimal and consistent, even moreso than OS X. Plus OS X is just too restrictive. But there is more to using a desktop than soft colors and round edges. http://www.deviantart.com/view/6852965/ Pretty, clean and no hideous aqua. 2005-04-07 11:19 pm ahh….. I haven’t used gnome in awhile, and from what I remember, it looked like the screenshot Theme-ing is definitely a good thing. I wish that Apple DID create an API to somehow let the users/developers easily change the theme. 2005-04-07 11:35 pm Mac OSX is not free software you have several limitations using it for me non-free software is not even a option… 2005-04-07 11:38 pm Big beards. 2005-04-07 11:38 pm http://gnome-look.org/content/preview.php?preview=1&id=19527&file1=… 2005-04-08 12:12 am if there is a default theme, this could be part of the reason i didn’t like it much (but the same is for KDE): it is too much like the GUI from redmond in layout. perhaps it is that many themers are ex-MSers and use something that is closer to what they are used to. and there is also the window elements. yes i know i can change these around, but i haven’t had time yet/not sure i have the time to spend to find a theme/create my own that works in the layout i prefer. (tried GNOME on my eMac couple months ago see what i thought instead of aqua. . .might be fun to play with themes after i graduate) 2005-04-08 12:37 am there seems to be a lot of incorrect speculation going on: – yes, you can run OS X without Aqua (headless) and/or using your own X server. – while you may have to have two window managers running for X, Apple’s X11 integrates them into Aqua so you don’t really know they are X11 apps (except they look crappy and don’t have the menus at the top). – for all the people who say its not unix: http://www.apple.com/macosx/tiger/unix.html – practically any app that will run on linux will run on OS X – yes, you can start Aqua apps from gnome (or any unix) applications (man open) – there’s lots of gnu/bsd goodness: gcc, X11, KHTML, apache, mysql, OpenSSH, etc. and practically most of the *BSD/Linux application stack will compile cleanly. essentially, you can strip OS X down to running like darwin, which is essentially FreeBSD with the mach kernel. unless you’re in love with the BSD kernel and a lack of hardware support, why would you run *BSD instead of OS X? on the other hand, Linux is a different beast all together, and there could be low level things linux can do that *BSD can’t do (though i haven’t run into them in my own use yet). i’ll give the linux users slightly more cred then the *BSD’ers, but you have a nearly identical application stack, so i still don’t give you much cred. my $.02 2005-04-08 12:51 am Actually, I’ve gotten a few OS X .apps to open via terminal (bash) and I assume they’d have opened from xterm as well. Seems to depend on the app, but occasionaly you can get one to launch… 2005-04-08 1:16 am from terminal you should be able to type open applicationName for any app. you may need to append the .app or specify the path, but not too hard. 2005-04-08 2:54 am yes, you can stop aqua, but you probably dont want to. run the X server in full screen and youll get accelleration. you can flip between X11 and aqua at will and get both. cut + paste between X11 and aqua is still a little clunky (with XDarwin it was seamless, what happend?) 2005-04-08 4:17 am FreeBSD is not a certified Unix like HP-UX, Solaris, etc 2005-04-08 5:18 am OS X is not unix. It is a mach kernel that presents a BSD interface. OS X is not FreeBSD. Utilizing the BSD API, it does use a great deal of code from FreeBSD, NetBSD, and OpenBSD. OS X is a next step. Sorry, couldn’t resist the reference. But seriously, it is a serious attempt to learn from unix and build upon it. So far, it seems to be succeeding. 2005-04-08 6:10 am “I think GNOME’s interface is minimal and consistent, even moreso than OS X. Plus OS X is just too restrictive. But there is more to using a desktop than soft colors and round edges. http://www.deviantart.com/view/6852965/ Pretty, clean and no hideous aqua.” OK, I see, just because there is a nude girl on the screen shot, GNOME is better than aqua … 2005-04-08 6:56 am Yeah, that’s a plus. 2005-04-08 7:33 am For those wanting to experiment with various OS’s on their mac mini, OpenBSD works too. The mini is listed in the supported hardware list http://www.openbsd.org/macppc.html#hardware And there are some posts on the mailinglists about people having succes with it. 2005-04-08 8:15 am There is a measure of maniacal laughter involved in the realisation that a platform, renowned for its lack of available software, is removed only to be replaced by other platforms for which there is even LESS software available. I think irony is humanities greatest invention. Well… irony and all paraphernalia involved in personal hygiene [not counting sex toys and sundry accoutrements]. Give me the name of 10 mission critical applications and/or functionalities for which Mac OS X has no viable equivalent. You know you can do it. 2005-04-08 9:16 am That depends on your definition of “mission critical.” Last time I checked, Linux had more than 15 000 known software applications. I’m willing to bet at least 10 of them are “mission critical.” Lets forget the fact that Linux powers more than half of the worlds supercomputers. I hope software on those beasts fall under your definition of “mission critical.” Don’t make me giggle maniacally. 2005-04-08 10:47 am Machine works fine, except for modem and firewire. To have sound available, you need a patch. 2005-04-08 1:55 pm yeah, i was saying you can run OS X apps from the terminal or unix programs and suggesting people read the man pages for the open program. it’s essentially a command line version of double clicking. and if you don’t like that, i have yet to run into a situation where you could call the executable directly ( by running something like: $/Applications/Calculator.app/Contents/MacOS/Calculator at your terminal) 2005-04-08 3:18 pm That depends on your definition of “mission critical.” Last time I checked, Linux had more than 15 000 known software applications. I’m willing to bet at least 10 of them are “mission critical.” Lets forget the fact that Linux powers more than half of the worlds supercomputers. I hope software on those beasts fall under your definition of “mission critical.” Don’t make me giggle maniacally. You didn’t mention 10 applications that Linux runs where no equivalent alternative exists on the Mac. Do giggle. I think it’s cute . 2005-04-08 5:41 pm “……… a platform, renowned for its lack of available software …….”. Not true anymore. Check out this link: http://www.versiontracker.com/index.shtml It will probably take a whole week to just go through the list and years to try them all out. It appears that Os X has more high quality software than other Oses. 2005-04-08 7:19 pm Everyone who’s arguing that there’s no reason to put Linux on a mini. I think this article is aimed primarily at embedded PPC/Linux developers. Both PPC an Linux are quite big in the embedded market, and the number of people doing such development is larger than many here realize. Linux on mini is the cheapest way to get a PPC/Linux development platform, and by a large margin! Well, excluding eBay and such. 2005-04-08 7:54 pm //It appears that Os X has more high quality software than other Oses. // So, because a software application is listed on versiontracker, that instantly makes it “high quality?” Uh … oooookay. 2005-04-08 8:19 pm he did not say ALL software at versiontracker exhibit “high quality” …. but there ARE a lot of HIGH QUALITY software on the mac platform that doesn’t compare to the same program on other platforms. For instance: MS Office on the Mac is better than Windows Final Cut Pro –>> no GOOD Windows equivalent etc. etc. etc. For the various softwares that are available on both platforms, the Mac platform is usually better quality. Of course, there are software that windows has that macs do not have a good equivalent too. i.e. CAD, Games 2005-04-08 8:58 pm “Last time I checked, Linux had more than 15 000 known software applications. I’m willing to bet at least 10 of them are “mission critical.”” Yes and 14000 of them are “pre-alpha-beta-0.1.17-RC10 versions”, 700 are some useless programs that does nothing, and the rest is usable and … fully Mac OS X compatible. 2005-04-08 9:12 pm i know its kind of a non-issue, but to think you can’t customize the heck out of os x is just silly.. and i point you http://forums.macnn.com/showthread.php?s=71fe0443a26ae341808d7f1df5… forum on macnn 2005-04-08 9:23 pm Yeah, but how do you do it without Shapeshifter? And why did Apple sue MacThemes.org? 2005-04-08 10:14 pm What is it with you guys and Anime??! **Terms and conditions apply, this statement recognizes it is a sweeping generalisation and that not all the Japanese animated Girly pic fiend Linux users like anime. 2005-04-08 10:18 pm While we’re on the topic of window themes. I vaguely recall a hint on a web site somwhere about being able to run mulitple instances of X11 with different Window Managers on OS X. You can run Aqua as part of OSX and sperate windows containing KDE, Gnome, or X11 using aqua all at the same time. I believe it was on macosxhints.com 2005-04-09 8:45 am how do you change themes on windows? Don’t you need a 3rd party [stardock] software? 2005-04-09 11:10 am Duffman: “Yes and 14000 of them are “pre-alpha-beta-0.1.17-RC10 versions”, 700 are some useless programs that does nothing, and the rest is usable and …” While I disagree with your unsubstantiated generalization, this pattern is not specific to the Linux platform. I can say the same for competing platforms. 2005-04-09 2:40 pm OK, to answer some questions raised here; Why remove OS X and put Linux on: Because I want to. Really, there is no more reason needed. Any rebuttal of “But OS X is better” is irrelevant. I prefer Linux/Want to try Linux_on_mac/don;t care for your arguments. Why should i NOT want to run Linux_on_Mac? Software Availablity: I do not care if Windows has 10^100 titles, Mac has 10^10 and Linux has 10^2. So long as the titles I want to run (or ‘good-enough’ equivalents) are available then it matters little to me how many ‘titles I do not wish to run’ are available. Software is all pre-alpha: 1) not true. 2) If it is open source, then I can finish it myself/ask someone (anyone with the skills) to finish it. In all, I can understand that people who like OS X can express their like for it, but what is the point of telling others what OS they should be running? My PC (x86) came with Windows XP pre-installed, but I don;t see people saying “Noooo, don;t install Linux, stick with pre-installed OS!” 2005-04-10 1:34 am “For the various softwares that are available on both platforms, the Mac platform is usually better quality” That’s an oft-repeated refrain from those on the Mac “side”, but it isn’t based in any actual fact.