Do Macs make good Linux computers?

Today in Open Source: Should Macs be used as Linux computers? Plus: Linus smacks Fedora around, and a review of Ubuntu 13.10 GNOME

Are Macs Good Linux Computers?

Macs are a popular choice among some users, but do they make good Linux computers? A writer at Unixmen shares his experience in converting an iMac into a Linux computer.

Whatever you may think about Macs and OS X, Apple hardware is very nice. Take the 5 year-old iMac (2008 model) with 24″ LED screen – a bit slow now for Mountain Lion but nevertheless the screen is vibrant, all the hardware is in one box with a 2.8ghz dual core CPU, camera, speakers, DVD, 256mb Radeon video card, 6gb of RAM, lots of ports (USB and Firewre 800) and all. I picked one up for a song with a view of turning it into my new Linux workstation.

Now, set up with new hardware in went the Ubuntu 13.04 DVD. Make sure you get the Mac specific one – I used the ubuntu-13.04-desktop-amd64+mac.iso. Install was completely standard – answer the usual prompts and the Ubuntu install raced away with the SSD coming to the fore.

A reboot had an almost instant appearance of the Ubuntu login screen. Having heard horror stories about hardware incompatibilities I was somewhat wary, but without need. Believe it or not, everything worked out of the box – network, camera and sound all came up without any work on my part. I did use ethernet initially, but a quick install of the proprietary Broadcom drivers had wifi up as well. Also, in spite of what you read, no need for reFit, Bootcamp or other magic stuff, just standard Grub as per the normal Ubuntu install. I had no intention of sharing with OS X or Windows – Linux only for me!

More at Unixmen

I think it's great that he took that older iMac and turned it into a Linux box. It's a very creative way of using older hardware, and it's somewhat ironic that one of Apple's products now hosts a Linux operating system rather than OS X.

For some reason I had completely forgotten that there's a Mac specific version of Ubuntu. If you need the Mac version, you can download it from the Ubuntu 13.10 Saucy Salamander releases page.

If you need some instructions on installing Linux on a Mac, see this article from Lifehacker. It doesn't cover OS X Mavericks, but it may still work well. At the very least it will get you started.

Of course you could always just run Linux on your Mac via VirtualBox too. And that lets you run many different distros if you happen to be a distrohopper.

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