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What I want:

  • Linux on an Intel iMac (Core Duo).

What I have:

  • An empty PC (17" Intel iMac) with broken CD drive. It's model A1173.
  • This PC with Ubuntu 12.04 and an old Windows Vista partition.
  • a USB flash drive and an Ubuntu ISO.


  • No CD means the only boot drive I could use is USB.
  • There is no BIOS on Macs, so I can't set boot settings or even see if it detects my USB drive. When I start the machine and press Option, the first and only thing I see is an old corrupted Windows XP partition and not a single option or additional information.
  • So assuming blindly that the Mac hardware/firmware works normally, I don't have any Mac OS to use any of the tools that I found on different tutorials for building a bootable drive for Macs.
  • I can't find much software on Linux/Windows to substitute to those tools, for example among others converting an .iso file (Win/Linux) to .img (Mac I guess). Which makes me think that the scenario where someone like me has Mac hardware but no Mac OS is extremely rare.
  • So other than finding someone that has a Mac I have no solution. So I ask, what would you do? The only thing is it should not involve any money (I know Mac software is rarely free) which also excludes getting any Mac OS unless I can use a free macos.img for VM or restore the original Mac for free.
share|improve this question
disk mode would help, maybe, if you had firewire connectors and a cable on both. This does seem tricky – Journeyman Geek Jun 12 '12 at 16:11
This question was cross-posted on Apple.SE:… – CajunLuke Jun 15 '12 at 0:04
ugh, unfortunately the changes made invalidate both current answers :/ – Journeyman Geek Jun 15 '12 at 0:44

Here is the approach I would take. At least initially, as I haven't myself been in that situation before. Start looking for a suitable PPC version of Linux.

I prefer Debian flavors so I would maybe take a look at either the Debian PPC or Ubuntu PPC releases to begin with.

Next, get yourself a nice little utility to make your USB device bootable. I have had success with YUMI as well as the Universal USB Installer. However, as said before I haven't had any experience with your scenario so I am not 100% sure there is support for PPC based distros built in, that is something you will have to experiment with.

I believe you can hold down the option key when the Mac is booting and get it to list the devices it can boot to. From there you should be able to get into the Linux installer. Again, maybe not the best approach but I guess I don't know where else you can go with what you've got.

share|improve this answer
unetbootin is another good tool for bootable usbs. If one tool fails, try with another one. – Bruno9779 Jun 12 '12 at 16:30
Good call, forgot about unetbootin. It may be a viable option because it has Linux and Windows support. – jmreicha Jun 12 '12 at 16:32

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