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Title says it all, read on if you think this an odd request.

I realize that this question is quite unusual, but ssh and FTP are the only access methods for my Mac.

Why I'm doing this:

The situation: I have an outdated iMac, whose video card fried about a five or six months ago. The screen still turns on, but it nearly impossible to see at all, with the image not changing much at all after the boot finishes. Luckily, I was using ssh and FTP on it before the crash so the thing wasn't just bricked. I've been using it as a server running Mac OS X 10.8 since the crash, storing files on it and running a few small game servers for my friends and I. One of the game servers I'm trying to run requires Java 7, which I can't upgrade to via terminal so far as I can tell.

What I hope to gain:

I know that running a command line based *nix installation would greatly increase the available space and memory for the things that I'm actually using, and quite frankly I am tired of the limitations for ssh/FTP only access with a GUI-based OS.

Any advice/guidance is greatly appreciated, thank you in advance.

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2  
External monitor? –  Karthik T Jan 4 '13 at 4:53
1  
@KarthikT, the video card is "fried", an external monitor will make no difference. –  terdon Jan 4 '13 at 10:24
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if the xserver still start up (even though the graphic card is moot) then you could also install VNC and connect to it, and use the usual graphical interfaces you're familiar with (to upgrade java 7). Or upgrade via command line. –  Olivier Dulac Jan 4 '13 at 12:48
    
Like @OlivierDulac said, why not VNC? –  JoshP Jan 4 '13 at 13:24
    
the xserver may barf and exit if the graphic card is unavailable –  Olivier Dulac Jan 4 '13 at 13:24
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1 Answer

up vote 3 down vote accepted

This doesn't use SSH, hope that's OK

  • Plug the Mac into another Mac with a FireWire cable
  • Boot while holding T (Makes the Mac appear as a hard drive on the second Mac)
  • Insert a Linux CD in the second Mac
  • Boot second Mac while holding C (If that doesn't boot from the CD, boot while holding option and select the CD)
  • When the installer asks which drive on which to install, select the Mac that is started up in Target Disk Mode

Good Luck!

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Actually, that sounds wonderfully doable; with a few questions that I need answered regarding it: If I don't have another Mac, rather a PC, would this still work? If so, how does the procedure differ? –  user184429 Jan 5 '13 at 4:02
    
Just make sure the PC is the same architecture as the Mac, and make a backup before starting just in case. –  David Holdeman Jan 5 '13 at 18:06
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