Linux breathes new life into old Mac computers

Also in today's open source roundup: 8 Linux file managers to try, and Pokemon GO has lost millions of players

linux high five
Credit: Francois Schnell via Creative Commons

Linux and old Mac computers

Apple is known for its planned obsolescence strategy that encourages customers to upgrade their Macs every so often. This can result in older Macs that can't update to the latest version of macOS, but are still perfectly functional computers that can perform many everyday computing tasks such as web browsing, word processing, image editing, etc.

So what can you do with an older Mac that no longer gets macOS updates? You can install Linux and breathe new life into that old Mac computer. Distributions such as Ubuntu, Linux Mint, Fedora and others offer a way to continue using an older Mac that would otherwise be cast aside.

Phil Shapiro reports for FOSS Force:

These days, thanks to Apple’s move to Intel about a decade back, bringing new life to an old Mac by installing your favorite Linux distro is just as easy as it is with a standard PC, as you will see in this video.

All Macintosh computers from about 2006 onwards were made using Intel CPUs and installing Linux on these computers is a breeze. You don’t need to download any Mac specific distro — just choose your favorite distro and install away. About 95 percent of the time you’ll be able to use the 64-bit version of the distro. On CoreDuo Macs, from 2006, you’ll need to use a 32-bit version.

Here is a screencast video I made on a revived Macbook that came into my hands recently. I downloaded Linux Mint 18 Xfce 64-bit ISO, burned it to DVD, inserted it into the Macbook (after the Macbook was turned on) and then booted the Macbook from DVD by holding the the letter “C” (which tells the Mac to boot from the optical drive).

More at FOSS Force

The article on FOSS Force about using old Macs to run Linux caught the attention of Linux redditors and they shared their thoughts about it:

IBlowAtCoding: “Linux is very modular and customizable. Upgrading to latest OSX with old hardware is definitely going to see a performance decrease but doing so with Linux it may not be the case. For example, you could choose a more bare bones distribution, you could choose a very simple desktop environment (Openbox instead of Unity), etc. I even have some shit laptop with the latest Debian where I don’t even run a GUI at all and just use the terminal and tmux.”

Faissaloo: “…with OSX you have a choice between incompatibility and planned obsolescence. With Linux you get neither.”

Maximiliankolb: “i don’t want to be judgmental in any kind of way, but using machines slower than a new raspi3 for 30$ is probably a waste of resources itself. as others have pointed out, they just use a hell lot of power, while not being reliable. the effort to support all those different models is too high, comparing to a fairly standard and well tested raspi3 setup. i like using used/ refurbished machines, but there are boundaries!”

Noxygen: “I still use an IMac from 2008 under linux. As the screen is good and big, and power consumption quite low, it makes a perfect second computer for monitoring and administrating my rtmp server.”

BaronVonD: “You can also download a PowerPC version of Deb/Ubuntu for even older Macs, run that using lxde or any other light weight environment.

I have an iMac G3 that I was trying to get Lubuntu installed, just for fun. Had some issues on install, so I haven’t done much with that, but I might try again today.”

CompsciKinder: “I run g4 and g5 powermac with ubuntu ppc. Works great still great cpus!

I use them for testing software for specific use cases so I don’t care about efficiency.”

Tiv: “Just keep in mind that there are Macs out there that have a 32-bit UEFI implementation and a 64-bit CPU. Which means that downloading a 64-bit distro doesn’t automatically guarantee that you can boot from it. Some distros don’t include EFI stubs for both architectures. Canonical at some point shipped a specific EFI+Mac version for that reason I believe. If you encounter this problem just use rEFInd and be done with it.”

Macbookairquestion: “Apple want you to replace their products every several years. I had to deal with a 2008 MacBook Air. It is not supported by the latest OS X versions. The latest OS X which is running on it (Lion) does not get any security updates anymore. Linux is a good the only way to continue to use this well manufactured computer for average tasks in a secure manner.”

AlwaysManaged: “Just out of curiosity, how is this “reviving” the computer? If it already had OSX on it, why not just restore it to factory settings and upgrade it to whatever the latest release it’ll run is?

I don’t see how installing linux makes a difference for the hardware…OSX is already a unix-based OS.”

Djxfade: “Because in the case of Mac’s that Apple have abandoned, like the PPC hardware, the first few Intel generations etc. they can only run old and unsupported OS X versions.

On the PowerPC hardware, you are screwed, because it is permanently stuck on Leopard, a 10 year old OS.

By installing a flavor of Linux, you get access to the latest software, security patches, and a modern browser. The older Safari versions are useless today.”

More at Reddit

8 Linux file managers to try

Linux offers a wide range of choices when it comes to file managers. A writer at opensource.com has a helpful overview of 8 Linux file managers worth using.

David Both reports for opensource.com:

One of the most common administrative tasks that end users and administrators alike need to perform is file management. Managing files can consume a major portion of your time. Locating files, determining which files and folders (directories) are taking the most disk space, deleting files, moving files, and simply opening files for use in an application are some of the most basic—yet frequent—tasks we do as computer users. File management programs are tools that are intended to streamline and simplify those necessary chores.

Many people aren’t aware of the wide array of choices available in file managers, nor do they realize the full capabilities of the ones they do know about. As with every aspect of Linux, there are many options available for file managers. The most common ones provided by my favorite distribution, Fedora, are:

Midnight Commander

Konqueror

Dolphin

Krusader

Nautilus

Thunar

PCmanFM

XFE

More at Opensource.com

Pokemon GO has lost millions of players

Pokemon GO took the mobile gaming world by storm when it was first released, quickly becoming one of the most popular games on Android and iOS devices. But now the game is losing millions of players, and its popularity might prove to very short lived indeed.

Tom Mendelsohn reports for Ars Technica:

It had almost 45 million daily users in July, but this figure appears to have sunk by more than 12 million since the start of August, to just over 30 million said to be playing Pokémon Go. Further decline is expected, as downloads, engagement, and the time users spend on the app have all also visibly flopped, according to data provided by Sensor Tower, SurveyMonkey, and Apptopia.

Bloomberg, which saw the raw data, reported that other major apps such as Twitter, Facebook, and Snapchat “can breathe a sigh of relief” that Pokémon Go is finally wobbling, as the game’s popularity had apparently been costing them considerable amounts of users.

Developer Niantic is persevering with the game, however, and is due to release version 0.35.0 for Android and 1.5.0 for iOS. According to the patch notes, players “will now be able to learn about a Pokémon’s attack and defence capabilities from their Team Leader to determine which of their Pokémon have the most potential for battle.”

More at Ars Technica

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