Project FrankenMac Needs Your Help!

Now that I’ve replaced my MacBook with a lean, mean, Linux netbook machine the next step in my open-source assimilation is to install some kind of Linux on my two year-old Mac Pro.

Whereas my Eee PC makes do with limited hardware, the aluminum behemoth on my desk is anything but lacking in specs, with 2 x 3GHz Dual-Core Intel Xeon processors, 4 x 500GB hard drives and 7GB of onboard RAM.

My plan is to repartition the boot drive, reserving half of it for Linux and the other half for a legacy OS X install, for my iTunes music with DRM (fail) and in case I run into trouble. The specific tasks I’m looking to accomplish in Linux are:

  1. Video capture and editing from miniDV sources;
  2. Photo editing;
  3. (to a lesser extent) Audio editing — something like Audacity will probably be fine, at least to start.

My plan is to get down to this after I do my monthly backups on July 1st, and if all goes well I can wipe OS X entirely by the end of the year.

But I need your help! If you can answer any of the following questions, please do so in the comments following this post. Here’s what I need to know:

1. Which distro, and what apps?

  • I’m fairly sure my Mac Pro supports 64-bit computing, but are the available 64-bit Linux distros built specifically for AMD processors?
  • Would I still be able to use apps like OpenOffice and Thunderbird on a 64-bit Linux OS?
  • Distros I’m looking at include Ubuntu/Ubuntu 64-bit, Ubuntu Studio and 64 Studio. Are there other, better choices?

2. Do I need VirtualBox?

  • Apart from dragging & dropping files between two OSes I can’t offhand think of a practical use for VirtualBox — but it would be fun to play with, anyway. Would it make more sense to install it on the Linux or OS X partition of my boot drive?

3. Do I need to reformat HFS+ drives?

  • I understand that Linux support for Apple’s proprietary disk format is sketchy to non-existant. I’ll obviously have to reformat my boot drive — will I have to do the same with the other three internal drives on my machine?

If you can answer any of these questions or offer any other advice I’m all ears… Thanks in advance! ๐Ÿ˜Ž

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About Andrew

Mobile phones, Linux and copyright reform. Those go together, right?
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10 Responses to Project FrankenMac Needs Your Help!

  1. mostlylinux says:

    I can’t answer it all, but I can try to answer some.

    As to whether the available 64-bit Linux distros are built specifically for AMD processors, I think they’re available for AMD and other processors – at least Ubuntu is.

    As to whether you can use OpenOffice and Thunderbird on a 64-bit Linux OS, yes, both will work.

    As to practical uses for VirtualBox, I guess that would depend on your interest in it.

    – It can be used educationally so that you can explore different operating systems and learn about them.
    – For programs that require a server, you can run the server yourself in VirtualBox and network to it from within your own LAN.
    – If you want to run a server on the internet, I would think it would be more secure to run it from within VirtualBox where it’s self-contained, rather than running it from your main operating system.
    – Last, but not least, if there’s something you want to try in your main operating system, but you’re not sure whether it will “gum up the works,” VirtualBox comes to the rescue, allowing you to try it out in a testbed first.

    You might want to take a look at this page:

    http://www.askdavetaylor.com/how_do_i_dual_boot_ubuntu_linux_mac_os_x.html

    It looks like there are some people who have succeeded in dual-booting Linux and Mac, and maybe you can get some good ideas or suggestions from there.

    Either way, good luck, and I hope everything goes smoothly!

  2. Ed Miller says:

    AC:
    Interesting idea. I won’t be replacing my G5 any time soon, but I’m using it exclusively for video and audio editing (and Call of Duty).
    I’ve hit the end of the line in terms of upgrading the OS or editing software (Final Cut)–I’d have to upgrade my video card for one, and I suspect I’d give up speed if I replaced Tiger.
    I had assumed my next computer would be an Intel tower, but I’m looking forward to seeing how you make out with Linux.

    Ed

  3. Raul says:

    You can use Arch Linux.

    It has a 64-bit edition.

    Here are some instructions on dual-booting with MacOSX

  4. Domzen says:

    1. Which distro, and what apps?

    * Iโ€™m fairly sure my Mac Pro supports 64-bit computing, but are the available 64-bit Linux distros built specifically for AMD processors?

    Answer: The intel processors use the 64 bit code from AMD – they are compatible. Thus, it won’t be a problem anyway. On the other hand, some major distros offer IA64 bit supported linux. So, you can jump to that.

    * Would I still be able to use apps like OpenOffice and Thunderbird on a 64-bit Linux OS?

    Answer: OpenOffice and Thunderbird support 64 bit for a long time and they are all included in almost every bigger distro.

    * Distros Iโ€™m looking at include Ubuntu/Ubuntu 64-bit, Ubuntu Studio and 64 Studio. Are there other, better choices?

    Answer: Ubuntu is damn f*** nice. I know it because I have used Ubuntu since the come out of Dapper Drake in April 2006. From my point of view Ubuntu Studio is the best mutimedia distro because it uses a real-time kernel which supoorts better audio/video and so on.

    2. Do I need VirtualBox?
    Actually, I don’t think that it is necessary to have VirtualBox which is very nice, by the way.
    I think dual-boot will suit you better.

    * Apart from dragging & dropping files between two OSes I canโ€™t offhand think of a practical use for VirtualBox โ€” but it would be fun to play with, anyway. Would it make more sense to install it on the Linux or OS X partition of my boot drive?

    Answer: You should have a dual-boot system just in case because for someone new to linux it could be a bit dangerous to completely move to Linux. You can see that as a sort of backup. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    3. Do I need to reformat HFS+ drives?

    Answer: Yes, you do or you should free a part of your disk space for Linux because it doesn’t support HFS+. Question? Can a mac deal with Fat32? Because in this case you should create a partition with this format so you can access it from both os’s. ๐Ÿ˜‰ So you don’t need VirtualBox.

    * I understand that Linux support for Appleโ€™s proprietary disk format is sketchy to non-existant. Iโ€™ll obviously have to reformat my boot drive โ€” will I have to do the same with the other three internal drives on my machine?

    Answer: Not particularly … as I wrote above you should stick to a dual-boot system and use a filesystem for your data you want to access from both sides.

    I hope I could help. If there is anything left, let me know …

    greetz

    • Question? Can a mac deal with Fat32?

      I believe so, although the disk utility’s ‘MS-DOS’ label in OS X is a little vague.

      ๐Ÿ™„

      Thanks so much for your comment โ€“ it’s a big help!

  5. Pingback: s5h.net » Blog Archive » GNU/Linux to Occupy Old Macs, Advice Sought

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  7. Update: So I made my monthly backups yesterday and booted up Live CDs for 64 Studio and Ubuntu Studio.

    Studio 64 failed to load the X window manager, but my understanding is that you can’t install from this particular Live CD anyway.

    Ubuntu Studio told me it needed an Internet connection to install, and as it didn’t recognize my Airport WiFi card I’m hoping this isn’t a critical issue.

    What stopped me from continuing was an alert that I couldn’t install Linux and keep my Mac OS intact on a separate partition. This isn’t a deal-breaker or anything, but with my upcoming Nokia gig it means that I’ll have to postpone a fresh Linux install until August…

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