Skip to content

How to Install Ubuntu on the Mac Mini

Introduction

     I looked all over for documentation on how to install Ubuntu on the now fairly old Intel based Mac Mini, however all I saw were complex guides that involved multiple steps that were very confusing. So instead of doing all that I’m going to give you simple step by step instructions as an alternative that anyone can follow!

Tools Required

  • Intel Based Mac Mini
  • 1 Gigabyte or larger USB stick
  • A monitor, USB keyboard, USB mouse
  • Ubuntu 11.10 ISO
  • rEFIt Disk Image
  • Unetbootin

Now Lets Get Started

Step 1. First download the Ubuntu 11.10 ISO.

Step 2. Download/Install the rEFIt Disk Image for your Mac.

Step 3. Download/Install Unetbootin.

Step 4. Install your Ubuntu ISO to your USB stick by opening Unetbootin and near the bottom changing your option of install to ISO and browse to the file.

Step 5. Reboot your Mac… Twice. (For some reason Unetbootin requires 2 reboots)

Step 6. On the second reboot hold down the option key (alt key) and select USB Linux from the two boot options.

Step 7. Run the Ubuntu installer, during the install selected use all space and there you go you now have a fully installed version of Ubuntu on your Mac Mini.

Step 8. To get Ubuntu working properly your going to need Wi-Fi and graphics drivers. To get those simply plug your Mac Mini into a tethered Ethernet connection and go to System Settings in Ubuntu and click on Additional Drivers and install them!

Conclusion

     I hope those 8 steps didn’t intimidate you too much, because running Ubuntu on my Mac Mini is like getting a new computer! Between the sluggishness of OSX, and the amount of files I had on my hard drive it had been running extremely poorly. I plan on turning the Mac Mini into a headless server soon. If you have any more questions regarding Linux or installing it on OSX feel free to leave me a comment or e-mail me at ianmarmour@gmail.com.

Advertisements
24 Comments Post a comment
  1. You Sir are awesome.

    You have the most straight forward guide to this process. I am ditching OSX Server, because its well…. just terrible. I had it working for like 2 months then it soiled itself again.

    Thanks

    January 2, 2013
  2. Step 2. Download/Install the rEFIt Disk Image for your Mac.
    When does this come into play?

    January 16, 2013
    • antiKOA #

      It is the bootloader, he skips over it really fast but it is a required aspect of the install to allow you to “boot” your install…..note if you do a total install of *nix is it not needed.

      March 11, 2013
  3. Diego Molina #

    I think you may be missing some info. It seems like Older Core 2 Duo models (Such as my Mac Mini 1.83) do not support booting 64bit images, despite the fact that the processor is cappable. The problem is with the EFI configuration. There are some workarounds, I think, but this method will work by default only with 32bit images. Just wanted to add that, thanks for the info.

    February 8, 2013
  4. ook #

    strange …. would only work for pc install following these instructions. Thanks for the effort though.

    February 8, 2013
    • antiKOA #

      Works flawlessly…..

      March 11, 2013
  5. Finally! A straight forward how-to, this is exactly what I was looking for.

    March 4, 2013
  6. m #

    can you confirm which model mini mac you used yourself?

    would be helpful

    thanks in advance

    March 7, 2013
  7. antiKOA #

    Bit confused by the text so I will repost with what I did…….

    Step 1. First download the newest flavor of whatever ubuntu distro you want

    Step 2. Download/Install the rEFIt Disk Image for your Mac. (you might have to do it a couple times till it takes. I found shutting down rather than doing restart works best)

    Step 3. Make ISO into a DVD (you can do penstick but for edubuntu it was too big for a single 2g usb stick your results maybe different)

    Step 4. Do not even waste your time making a USB stick you can find a DVD burning PC/Mac far easier…..

    Step 5;. hold down alt or (apple-key) select your DVD or Penstick..install

    Step 6. To get Ubuntu working properly your going to need Wi-Fi and graphics drivers. To get those simply plug your Mac Mini into a tethered Ethernet connection and go to System Settings in Ubuntu and click on Additional Drivers and install them! (or use whatever package installer you prefer)

    note: OOK, you are wrong it works for an intel based mac (as i am posting this from a mac running edubuntu 12.x on a gen1 intel mac mini.)

    March 11, 2013
    • yomichee #

      I will concur that it does install on intel mac mini, as will from one that has no optical drive – I have booted and installed successfully using usb superdrive.
      the only issue that I had was regarding my monitor – flickering – possibly caused by the video adaptor to vga – monitor very new hp lcd. thinking its a driver problem, meaning Ubuntu can not detect the monitor.

      March 19, 2013
  8. Igor #

    Great recipe! I did not need USB (Unetbootin), because I installed the OS from CD. But else worked nice 😀

    April 17, 2013
    • CD install is still greater then USB in my opinion sadly sometimes I don’t have a blank one around :/.

      July 21, 2013
  9. dmitry #

    just installed 12.04 on basic mac mini. Wi-fi works fine but I just cannot set up wired connection, though it worked during the installation. Would appreciate any suggestions.

    April 28, 2013
    • Don’t know if you still need a reply on this but try to send me the output of your ifconfig -all and I can try to help you debug it :).

      July 21, 2013
  10. Michael #

    Hi Ian, thanks. I have a dvd with ubuntu 12.04.2 desktop-i386.iso. I am trying to install on a 2006 mac mini Intel sore solo.
    I downloaded rEFit, etc. When I restart rEFit opens but the only options are “start efi shell” and “start partitioning tool”. I do not see an “Install” option. Do you know what’s wrong?
    Thanks

    May 7, 2013
  11. mateusz #

    My Mac mini 2.1 throws a series of errors on startup by reffit usb :/ I can also burn it to a disc. Do you have any idea how to get around. series of errors “filles not found”
    emerlak

    November 21, 2013
    • Mateusz, it sounds like an error with the media you’re installing it from? Can you try burning it to a CD then installing, and if not could you try redownloading the ISO and reburning that to a disc. If that doesn’t work please reply!

      November 22, 2013
  12. tjay #

    Would love some help along the lines to what is provided and I hope this doesn’t take the wonderful post too far left. I have a 1.83 Mac Mini whose file system has been corrupted. IE. I can’t boot into the Os any longer. I can get to verbose mode and frisk just shows what I suspected in that everything about the install is wonky. I wanted to scrap it and do a fresh install of linux on board from USB. I am working from my mac pro but I am not sure of what it takes to prep a USB with ubuntu for install on a completely different machine.. help available ??

    January 19, 2014
  13. Hi! I’ve been following your weblog for a while now and finally
    got the bravery to go ahead and give you a shout out from Huffman Texas!
    Just wanted to say keep up the good work!

    April 5, 2014
  14. Ebo #

    Mavericks Sucks. The first OS to come out after Jobs went away completely crashes on a regular basis, the thing Macs never used to do. The visionary leaves the company and like clockwork, the quality goes over the cliff.

    After installing Ubuntu on my Mac Mini6,2, will the new OS support the “Fusion” drive? (If not then this thing is for sale!)

    May 23, 2014
  15. tim #

    mid 2007 mac mini 1,83ghz. After refit I get a series of errors and then *hit any key to continue* then nothing after I hit a key. I have to power down. I am using a USB to install Ubuntu 14.04.1 LTS “Trusty Tahr” – Release i386. What to do?

    December 6, 2014
  16. GatorNator #

    Hi, and THANK YOU so much for this short yet simple guide. It’s still up to date – my old Mac Mini (2009) just got a new life. Everything worked like a charm.

    July 26, 2015

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Ubuntu XP » Install Ubuntu 12.10 on a MacMini
  2. I Think I have It Now | CompHobby!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: