Test-driving Linux on an Intel-based Macintosh

I do have strange friends. Take Mark Smith, for example. Mark is essentially a Windows Internals guy — I would call him OS-agnostic at best. In particular, he is certainly not a “Macintosh person”. However, he recently purchased an Intel-based Macintosh because he felt like running Linux (an operating system that he does not normally use) on it.

Then, there is Benjamin Reed, who is decidedly a Linux guy. That said, Ben owns and uses Macintosh computers, albeit with relentless complaints.

Somehow, they think of me as a Mac OS X person — I don’t think that’s true. In fact, I claim to be no less OS-agnostic than Mark.

So it was this unlikely team that decided to see if we can get Linux to run on an Intel-based Macintosh.

We did succeed, and since Ben is somewhat of a Linux-distribution-connoisseur, we thought of releasing a prototype distribution for Intel-based Macintoshes. However, as far as “first-to-announce” is concerned, we were beaten to the punch by the Mactel Linux people, who posted pictures of their successful Linux-booting attempt yesterday.

Nevertheless, “Test-driving Linux on an Intel-based Macintosh” is a short story about making a penguin eat an Apple — it is a technical description of how we ran Linux on a 17-inch iMac. Moreover, we are releasing a test-drive mini-distribution as an HFS+ bootable disk image. Simply burn it to an optical disc, and boot with the opt key pressed. The mini distribution uses the 2.6.15.4 kernel, with a user-space environment based on the Busy Box software. When you are in Linux, be sure to look around for interesting information in the /proc and /sys directories.

If you have problem reports or any questions about this, please use this forum thread for discussion.

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