iMAC 2009 - Dual boot with Linux Mint

I’m new here, also new to Linux but loving it so far and want to learn much more - if you can be bothered please read the attached - any comments are welcome to stimulate discussion.

I picked up a 2009 Apple iMac running Mac OS (cannot remember which version at this time) for a song through local classified adverts. It’s a lovely neat piece of kit - I think these were called all-in-one computers at one stage - and has been upgraded to 8Gb memory (the max) and has had a 500Gb SSD disc installed. There is now no CD/DVD facility but there are 4 x USB2 (the slow version !) ports. I added a wireless mouse + keyboard combination and am very happy with the basic setup for learning how to use Linux.

The original intention was to install Linux as I had a Ubuntu PC some years ago until we moved to a smaller house & my better half persuaded me to get rid of it. With more time on my hands, a lockdown benefit, and a fairly urgent issue to resolve (more later), I am now back in the saddle.

I downloaded Linux Mint Cinnamon 20 using Balena Etcher on my MAC laptop and, after a bit of a struggle with boot options at restart (which seemed to work sometimes but not all the time), I installed Mint and have enjoyed learning a bit about it here and there while resolving the MBL problem. When I installed Mint, I foolishly allowed the install process to Erase the disc so that I effectively just have a single partition. My question, therefore, is how to do a re-install of the same OS with my SSD partitioned into 4 or 5 segments:

  1. A boot partition, which will allow me to default to Linux at boot stage or to select either Linux or the relevant MacOS at boot stage.
  2. A Linux OS partition.
  3. A Mac OS partition.
  4. A swap partition - which I think is a requirement (or at least a “should have”) for Linux.
  5. One or more data partitions - the main data will be held using Linux, but I would like the flexibility to share some or all of the data between both OS’s.

Oh dear, that’s 5 partitions already so I will need some logical partitions as well ! I still have the Mint USB stick to boot from in order to run Gparted - is that feasible?

My understanding is that such partitioning is likely to erase the data and OS already on the disk although I’m not sure what happens to the boot partition, if there is one, at boot stage after partitioning. I guess it would not be difficult to create a BRICK at this point.

I have an external USB stick backup of Linux Mint OS created using Timeshift and, hopefully very soon, a backup of my data ( just over 200Gb) on an external USB disc built using grsync. I am hoping that when partitioning has been done, I can restore these to the partitioned disc and carry on to the next stage.

If I can achieve this I will be delighted - the next stage is to install MacOS in the appropriate partition, for which I assume I need something in the boot partition to allow this. Rather more reading required and I am aware that planning is all and I should know the route before I set out.

My first question: I have a bootable USB for Linux Mint, I have a Timeshift snapshot on another USB stick and I have a data backup on an external USB drive - I would like to re-partition my disk, can I recover OK from those backups ?

Does not sound like the “better” half. :wink:

Hope is for fools, like e.g. for believers. Never hope. Try to broaden your horizon, instead. In this specific situation, this means you should restore your backup to a test system, to check if your backup works, as expected. If it does not, you can still tweak your backup.
Doing any of this after making the system unusable wouldn’t make sense.

I also stated this here in Q5:

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Thanks Akito - will do (mañana). :sunglasses:

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I have a 2006 (i.e. the first gen intel) iMac model “iMac 2,1” I think the “2” refers to dual core… It has a coreduo (not core2duo) CPU (32 bit only), and 2 GB of RAM… I saw some youtube vid recently of someone successfully replacing the coreduo with a core2duo (to get 4 virtual CPUs’ - and 64 bit), 4 GB of RAM and replaced the HDD with an SSD… But iMacs (just like the original Macintosh 512K) are a pain in the arse to crack open - and you can probably completely forget about it with the latest iteration of the family (the 24" iMac M1 - there’s probably yellow crime scene tape on the side, and a loop of a cop saying “move along, nothing to see here…”)…

It’s a beautiful computer too (the iMac 2,1), I was booting Xubuntu on it from USB (using RFEind) - until the HDD started playing up… I hate landfill - so I will keep it… It cost me nothing (my sister was getting rid of it to move to the UK from Australia - all she wanted me to do was make a backup of some data on there [piece of cake - “where there’s a shell, there’s a way”])…

But - I’ve got NO room on my desk what with a 27" + 32" + a 20" 4:3 LCD… Ideally - I’d like a single ultrawide 49" CURVED display with the same height and pixels as my 32" QHD (even the top end 49" ultrawides are still about 3" “shorter” than my 32" Lenovo)…

And then what I need is a monitor SHELF above my main desk monitor, to run, other, monitors… I need a WALL of monitors like some SCADA engineer in a power plant, maybe even a nuclear power plant, but 2000’s style with massive LCDs and not CRTs!

Thanks Daniel - enjoyed the rant. I’m getting there with the iMac plus a 32" screen as a monitor for my Raspberry Pi. Actually it’s a 32" non-Smart TV which has been superseded by a 32" Smart TV in another room.

Yes, it’s cramped but everything is close to hand.

Cheers, Jack

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Your Mac of that age would have come with leopard or snow leopard (I guess given age)

Good news is you never loose the option to start a Mac in older system, but now the issue will be that you can no longer get the installation direct from Apple, after 5 years it goes off the server … so you may need a CD… and it’s easier if you have the Apple system as main boot then put mint along side, never the other way round as it tends not to work.

Start your Mac, connected to the internet by ethernet cable with
Command (⌘)—Option (⌥)—R

This may allow you to recover the system suitable for your Mac direct from Apple, just follow the screen.

If not then it’s get the iOS and cut it to a sub (or dvd)
Then install from that

Again, insert, follow the on screen displays.
Then do Apple menu, update this system.
On your Mac it may not go much further, on mine I got as far as el Capitan… it’s to do with the 32 bit system and screen drivers

Once you have Apple system on and running, then install mint along side as before.

This may take you a while to do, I was on it for a couple of days getting mine working, but not full time just to fill in waiting for other things. Learning experience.

You will need Google chrome or opera on the Mac side to keep internet access as safari has difficulty at this version on any site with https access.

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Many thanks call paul for a very comprehensive response. I note your comments about MacOS first and Linux later. It’s not that I always prefer to do things back to front, it’s more that these things happen.

Per my original post, I did manage to install Linux and it is working very well indeed. The MBL problem was the demise of my WD My Book Live, which had to be taken offline after a recommendation to do so by Western Digital as the device was at risk to hackers and many users had, in fact, lost their data. I transferred all of the MBL contents (offline) onto the Linux box and did a bit of data reorganising. That data - almost 200Gb - is now backed up from the Linux box onto external USB discs (one using grsync, the other using an app called backintime which is not dissimilar to Time Machine backup).

The latest step was to re-partition the disk, which I did today. As well as a small boot partition and a separate swap partition I have a Linux OS partition of about 230Gb with the OS and all of the above data and another partition, called MacOS, of about 265Gb which is, effectively empty.

The next step is to install MacOS - I have downloaded El Capitan and need to work out how to create an install USB disk from that, which I will use to install on the iMAC. I will try to install onto the box with Linux in place, failing that I will try to install onto a freshly partitioned system and then restore my Linux OS and Linux data backups.

A bit of a tall order, but we are going away for a week shortly, so I’ll take a rest, have a think + read a bit more about it and tackle it again when we return, unless the weather is good, in which case I’ll play a lot of golf first !

Thanks for reading - I hope to provide an update soon but in the meantime any advice & guidance is always welcome.

Thanks, Jack

To daniel.m.tripp.
I enjoy reading your posts. They are always amusing.

iMacs! Yes they are beautiful machines but … they are still Apple and locked into the Apple way of doing things.
I’m from Perth, but now live in California, and a few years ago in Perth I saw an iMac on the verge with other junk ready for a pickup. I thought that I could pick it up as well as anybody else so I stopped and grabbed it. It was a beautiful looking machine, and it still had a DVD movie in the drive. The previous owner had not wiped the HDD effectively so I was able to poke around and find her email address amongst her other emails, and send her an email asking if she wanted the DVD movie back. She was not amused!!
It had a 1 TB HDD in it, which was a waste so I swapped it down to a 500 GB HDD, moved the OS (Snow Leopard) onto the 500 and put the 1TB to better use.

It’s worth knowing that Clonezilla works perfectly with Macs - great for making and restoring running images, but for the early Macs (around 2006) it is important which program was used to burn Clonezilla onto the USB. My choices were Rufus, Balena Etcher and Fedora Media Writer which I had running on my Thinkpad. Sorry that I don’t remember which ones produced an iMac bootable USB stick with Clonezilla but one did and one didn’t. A good Clonezilla restore image allows one to recover pretty quickly and easily from experiments that didn’t work.

I need to know about Macs to support my wife and a couple of other friends with their Macs, but I hate the Macs, even though they do look beautiful. So I currently own three white Macbooks (2006, 2007 and 2008) and two MacBook Pros (mid-2009) in various states of operability. ( Five Macbooks is far too many so I am trying to cut down and sell them off.) And I just gave away a 21" 2008 iMac to a retired and poor friend who only knows OSX.

The world of Macs is a strange one. I bought a MacBook Pro with “bad screen issues” and “For Parts Only” very cheap. True the display looked awful when I started it up but when I opened the display housing I found the video cable had come partially unplugged at the display end. I plugged it in properly and Voila! all issues resolved.
And a couple of weeks ago I bought a WD external 650 GB drive in a thrift store (op-shop) for $3.00 (yes three dollars). It didn’t have a power supply but I had a spare one that worked. I found the drive was formatted to HFS+, and it had a complete Macintosh Time Machine backup on it. I restored it to one of my “experiment” MacBooks and it worked perfectly. Somebody’s life and all their files and documents were suddenly laid bare before me. Mac people can be so paranoid about security but then a complete backup is sold for a song in an op-shop!

But the worst is Mac help forums. In general 80% to 90% of the advice is from helpful but ignorant users who are just guessing, and at least 90% of the advice is very trivial or wrong. Just dealing with the community forums is intensely frustrating.

I wanted to make some mods to my wife’s MacBook Pro to make it a little more flexible, so I checked the file structure and found it is very similar to Linux, as are the commands. I went looking for fstab, but alas, Apple doesn’t use it; they have their own way of doing things. What a pity. So close to flexibility. But …

If Apple could move their OS away from BSD and base it on Linux instead, which should be relatively easy to do technically, they would have a real winner. But I can see that it will never happen.

I’ve still got a hankering for a G5 Mac Pro/Quad or whatever… Maxed out with RAM and dual physical PowerPC CPU (same similar RISC CPU architecture IBM run AIX and AS/400 on ).

Every now and then I check ebay for 2nd hand PowerPC Mac Mini’s but they’re rare, and they only ever got the G4 ppc CPU, and they often overpriced anyway… I do have a “Piezo” Powerbook, it sort kinda works on Leopard, and I can even swap back to OS 9… But the hardware is too limiting on there - there’s no WiFi, or even proper USB, and it’s got some ugly propietary SCSI connector that NOBODY ever made peripherals for… Way back when when OEMs were getting their feet wet on ALL the potential external buses out there, USB, Firewire and some SCSI hanging over (I actually didn’t mind SCSI, but gimme USB 2 or later anytime!).

I’ve also got a hankering for some hardware to run AIX on - and I have an ancient mid 1990’s “vintage” IBM RS/6000 (pizza box form factor) - but its high speed expansion bus is MCA (back when VL-BUS, ISA, EISA, PCI and MCA were competing to be the industry standard) and will only run AIX 4… I eventually found a copy of AIX 4, but by then I’d given up on that hankering… I recently (i.e. last 2-3 years or so) read an excellent “howto” on how to install FreeBSD 11 on 64 bit x86_64 hardware, and use FreeBSD QEMU to emulate PowerPC and run AIX 6.x on it… neat huh? But my motivation is now zero…

Pretty much sounds like your every-day Apple product. :wink: :laughing:

Well, except the Wi-Fi. They managed to add Wi-Fi, but removed Ethernet for the sake of it. Genius design!
And actually a lot of companies make peripherals for Apple products, by now. Because they are so niché and people get ripped off happily, by buying a 50 to 100$ third party dongle (I’ve seen those prices with my bare eyes, this is not some number pulled out of my ass to get the point across), because the first party one is even more expensive than that.

I will never understand the Apple life-style…


I like Apple’s stuff - but I also kinda hate the company… Especially all their chopping and changing charger / data cabe connection, Gen 1, replaced with “Lightning”, then finally, they relent “yeah the industry is right, USB C is the way to go…” and everytime they switch, they kill the little accessory company’s swimming in their wake…

I have an iPad (two actually - one cost me nothing), but I’ll never go to Apple for a phone… I detest Samsung and Android, but it’s better than iOS… And at least Samsung let you expand your storage inexpensively (even Google Pixel don’t support SD cards - you’re stuck with whatever storage you got with your Pixel)…

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Well, I hate Samsung’s smartphones, as it is the Apple of the Android world. I have a Xiaomi as my main phone and it’s more than enough. Sure, there are always security concerns, but I doubt they are gone when using a product by a huge billion dollar company. So, choosing Xiaomi for me was very easy. Especially, when comparing the power you get per unit of money. Xiaomi has one of the best ratios on the market.

So, when someone I know wanted/needed a new phone, I tried to get them on my Xiaomi road, because I am convinced it’s the best, if you just need a good phone, for a relatively low price.
They insisted, Samsung is the best, because all friends have Samsung phones, etc. Samsung had to be the best. Right?


Not only was it more expensive with almost the same specs (brand tax), but it also has (in my opinion) stupid culprits. The main culprit is that Samsung’s Knox is some hardware bound “protection” for your phone.
It’s so “amazing” and so “great” it’s impossible to root your Samsung smartphone, without throwing away your warranty and straight up locking yourself out from certain apps and phone functionalities, which are crucial if you e.g. want to do payments through the phone, etc.

So, I was forced to cancel my plans of rooting the smartphone for the sake of keeping the warranty and functionalities.
Now, I hear complaints about this being annoying, this is shit, that app should be removed from the phone, etc…
Well, I always think to myself “all these complaints wouldn’t be a thing, if I could’ve just rooted the phone without losing warranty…”. And now this whole “security” and “protection” distraction is nothing more than just another punch in the user’s face.
I was not able to root the phone, as, once rooted, the hardware thingy’s fuse inside the phone gets blown and this is irreversible. It’s only reversible if you are a Samsung expert, who knows how to re-install that fuse. Every single time the phone is rooted, btw.

Long story short, fuck Samsung smartphones. I prefer Chinese Xiaomi. At least they let me root the damn thing and don’t complain. My warranty is also still intact, as the rooting (essentially I actually talk about unlocking the bootloader), just as it should remain on every phone, is reversible and pretty safe.

I am also sure that most spying comes from the Mi UI software on Xiaomi phones, etc. So, I assume, rooting a Xiaomi should remove most spying possibilities, anyway, as it is the case for most phones. It’s just so much easier and cheaper to implement a spying software into the custom Android OS, instead of actually implementing a hardware thingy, which is super small and sophisticated into such a tiny space, as the insides of a smartphone.

I don’t disagree with you… I LOATHE BIXBY :

I made a meme a while back. It’s probably a boomer / genX thing - the TV series of the Incredible Hulk late 70’s or early '80s, had Bill Bixby as Banner, and Lou Ferigno as his alter ego (Bill Bixby was also in a shite TV series in the early 70’s called “The Courtship of Eddie’s Father”, and he was the nephew of “Uncle Martin”, in 1960’s series “My Favourite Martian”) - as a name it’s as awful as Microsoft Bing (which makes me think of Chandler in that unfunny “Friends” series).

And I wouldn’t call Samsung the Apple of Android world, Apple at least are consistent, what Samsung do with Android is a steaming pile of half arsed shite, “Powered by Knox”? I’d say “Knackered by Knox”, how bizarre, they’re actually proud of this shit? Apple can be annoying, Samsung are cringe-worthy…

And, why did I get a Samsung, I hear you ask? Well - I wanted to use Dex… that’s it… And - guess what, it’s actually quite useful… Was it enough for me to have gone through the pain of cutting over from an Android One on a Nokia 4.2? Probably not… That pain was really only just getting two MFA apps to work against customer’s infrastructure, again, i.e. register and sync my MFA…

And - per above, because of this MFA stuff I NEED for my job, I can’t really go non-Mainstream for devices / android versions etc… I’m not game to wipe my phone with something from LineageOS or whatever, and hope and pray everything works (like MFA tokens I need for my job - and I NEED ALL the major ones, Symantec VIP, Microsoft Authenticator and Google Authenticator).
– edit –
That Nokia 4.2 (it’s just a rebadged Chinese HMD) could go nearly 3 days without a charge too… Samsung? 16 hours…
– edit 2 –
I see your pain with Knox - I did have a Samsung Note 10.1" tablet… I destroyed Knox on there so I could root it… it sorta kinda worked… but then other things didn’t work, and, there was NO WAY OUT… Why didn I get a Samsung tablet? Because drawing is one of my favourite hobbies (or was - but that’s another story) and the pen enabled (Wacom tech) feature was very desirable… Anyway - I dropped that tablet once, about 2-3 feet, landed on its side and SHATTERED the whole thing. One thing I’ll give Apple, I’ve dropped by old iPad 3 like that several times, it’s chipped and scratched, and has a crack on the side of the glass, but it survived each encounter with gravity, unlike that Samsung GARBAGE.

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