Linux And Hope For The "Obsolete" Mac


All I know was that the at the time, it couldn’t do what I needed it to do, and it lacked compatibility and interoperability with windows systems. I’ve always had great problems with WINE and various bottling methods. And there just wasn’t as large of a software library and many of the software offerings were poor substitutes. If I couldn’t get done an assignment I needed to get done, and I could not, that is how I define unusable.

Compare that to my experience on this computer today. The transition is almost seamless and the compatibility and interoperability between comparable programs, or between actual versions of the same programs, is undeniable. This just wasn’t the case the last time I tried to make a daily driver switch. Now, granted, I am not going to be switching my Mac Pro over to Linux, at least not any time soon, but as far as portable device, this is already daily driven.


Wine is so good on Linux these days. Been using that on and off for a long time. But certainly has improved. Not as difficult as things once been to install or use. Works with a lot of Windows applications with no real setup needed.


Slackware is where I started on back in the mid 90’s :wink:


WINE is awesome when its used properly. In fact most games including those on Steam use WINE skin over Windows games with a negligible performance hit and that should tell you everything. The majority of problems with WINE otherwise are end user or developer issues.


Will it run Premiere 6.x and avisynth? If so, we are good to go. Crossover would run avisynth, and that is wine based, but it wouldn’t actually run Premiere 6.x windows version.


Kionon, what is your rational for using Linux rather than the latest OSX version that supports your hardware?

I am interested as my hyper reliable early 2008 iMac will no longer be supported for security updates after this year. It has 6GB of RAM and an SSD. It flies through all that I use it for.

My options include:

  1. Replace it with a new iMac
  2. Continue to use it with El Capitan
  3. Install Linux

The first option is really expensive.

The second involves some security risk, though I understand many people on AppleTalk continue to use old OSX versions. (Are there any other issues?)

I have used Linux previously, but it will take some work to setup most of the things I use the iMac for. It does provide a more interesting solution with potential for future updates. It will also break the connections to the Apple world of IOS etc, but maybe that is acceptable.



My rational is that I am on a 2008 MacBook White. Originally, I had a 2006 MacBook Black and a 2008 MacBook White which were in various states of disrepair. They’d been sitting in my closet at my parents house for like… 6 years? I had my parents mail them to me because I wanted to sell my 2012 13" MBP to cover rent while I saved up for something else. In the mean time, because I have a Mac Pro as my main editing machine, what I really needed was your typical school/work/media consumption laptop. I thought I could either deal with an old version of OS X or with Linux.

I was able to bring the MacBook Black back to life with Linux Mint 18.3 32bit, and I suspect it will handle 19 32bit (iirc, it is NOT a 64 bit processor) just fine. I was able to get Snow Leopard on it, but nothing past that. Compared to Linux Mint 18.3 Sylvia, Snow Leo was ancient and most services wouldn’t work on it, it was hell finding a compatible browser, etc. It just didn’t do much at all in the modern world.

The MacBook White had some parts working, some not. It only supports up to Lion 10.7.5. Also just not good enough. I ordered another MacBook White for about $100 that was supposedly missing some parts. Its ram was corroded and its battery is now dead, but the ram and battery from the other MacBook White and a couple of other internal parts, and this is the computer I’ve done this write up on now. Before, I had two (potentially three) computers headed towards the dump, now I have one very solid office tasks machine (the MBB) and one solid machine for everything EXCEPT high level video editing and photo editing. And I have quite a few spare bits and pieces that can be used on both of them if I need them.

In your case, I would continue to use El Cap if you are not concerned about security and it still “just works.” I couldn’t (yet) put my main computer, the Mac Pro, on Linux because I’d have to completely change my workflow for video editing and photo editing, and it’s not worth it, even though my Mac Pro is now cut off from Mojave and will be stuck on High Sierra.

However, at some point, Linux setup and workflow changes, especially for you, MAY be a change that is worth it to keep a modern operating system on your machine. The question is, what do you do with the iMac? If it isn’t specialised, then maybe you can suffer the temporary immediate pain for the gain of a much longer life of your machine?


Not sure, I haven’t tried recently.


The latest version of OSX version that supports the hardware is sometimes to old. I know for certain that the white macbook for example with the highest level of OSX version it can run doesn’t even allow for a high end version of Chrome or Firefox to use for netflix watching. Which makes it pretty useless - besides many other sites detect this old browsers and refuse to work until you upgrade - but you cannot due to how old the OSX version was. That’s why using a more modern Linux release overcomes the problem.


Exactly right, and @snarl, there’s actually a shocking amount you can manage when it comes to appearance and workflow if you put in the time. I fixed my kernel issue, and I’ve started going about doing the appearance modifications. Global Menu is still giving me problems, but I am sure I will get there, here we are so far:

Definitely getting there…


It looks amazing. You’ve done a good job here. I want to reinstall Linux on a Optiplex workstation here and get all my apps going. Want to play more with kvm and a few other things. Guess I might make a start on it soon and do a bit as time permits - taking notes along the way so it can be easier the next time.

What’s the mail application you have in one of those pictures?



And actually, since I posted their screenshot, I am going to remove my own, since it has a few bits of proprietary information…


Yes you better.


This definitely feels like a modern laptop. Budget, for sure, but 10 years old? Hard to believe, honestly. It’s a testament to just how good apple design is that while it doesn’t look super thin or super aluminum, it’s still OVERTLY “Apple.” It looks “older” but not “old” with the OS appearance tweaked as it is. And yes, everything is super snappy and fast. No lag at all. It also does HD video, too.

Here’s some more file system fun times:

And an example of the simplicity of Rythmbox and the notifications:


Holy crap, this will game! WUT?!


@kionon, thanks for your detailed response. Your solution does not just deliver an extension of life for your Mac. It creates a whole new second life, and hopefully a great deal of satisfaction in what you have achieved.


I just thought of another option. I could look at finding a way to install a later version of OSX, such as High Sierra. At least I have a few more months of security updates before I need to decide.

@kionon, did you look at that option for your Mac?


2006-2008 MacBooks can’t do Sierra/High Sierra. 2009 and above can with dosdude1’s patcher. This is how my Mac Pro 3,1 is running High Sierra. Dosdude1 is reporting he is yet unable to get past kernel panics on the 3,1 for Mojave.

Your iMac might very well be patchable. I think the point of this thread (and the underlying project) was proving that there is absolutely no need for these older devices to go to the dump/be recycled. Not just by being used as they once were, but as you say, by getting a total second life as an undeniably modern machine for a bulk of users.


There is never any need to take old computers to the dump. If nothing else they will always make excellent servers even for basic services such as gateways, dedicated firewalls, mail, print and file servers. The overheads of the Linux kernel are so low you can practically run Linux on an electronic greeting card.


I concur, in theory, but you realise we have a tough row to hoe in convincing the vast majority of people that this is the case. It’d deeply unfortunate. Some of my favorite tech reviewers/reporters/channels aren’t even doing things like you or I are discussing here. Many are collectors who are preserving old technology as it was, and not making the necessary additions, modifications, or even OS installations for serving new purposes. I’ve been thinking of starting to do more vlogs on YouTube specifically on this topic, such as what I’ve done here with these old MacBooks.

I strongly believe in reduce, reuse, and recycle, but I just as strongly believe in repair and repurpose. Repurposing old technology needs to be a pivotal component of battling climate change, stretching dwindling resources, and avoiding further pollution. You are absolutely right, so how do we convince others of this? That’s the challenge.

Related, a friend of mine will be gifting me her own 2008 MacBook White which is semi-functional (I will see if I can repair it), as long as I can retrieve her data. From what I gather, there isn’t any issue with the harddrive, so this should be a rather easy trade indeed.