Install Solus on Old Mac Mini (late 2009)

This is part of a series of post on installing various Linux distribution on old Mac Mini 2009. Surprisingly, Solus is one of the successful installation. The system could not installed the wifi driver but we managed to work out the solution on building the driver. 

Preparing USB Drive

Solus suggested we use Etcher to burn the image to USB. We manage to burn the iso image using Etcher.

Booting Up Solus

As usual, boot up the USB driver using option key (alt key). Select to try Solus and the system will boot into Solus.

Installing Solus

On the desktop double click Install OS as shown below:

Once the installation wizard is brought up, the following screen appear:

Select the language of your choice as shown below.

Click Next to continue.

This screen allows the system to auto-detect your location. Usually, we skip this part. Click Next to continue.

Select a keyboard layout and click Next.

Select the desire time zone and click Next.

Over here, we set to erase entire disk and install a fresh copy of the OS. Click Next.

We usually do not use LVM volume. Leave it blank and click Next.

We can set the host name and also set the boot loader. For Mac Mini use ESP.

Create the default user with user name and password. Click Next when done.

This screen will show what you have configured. Double check the user name and click Next when ready.

The wizard will show the details of your setup. Confirm everything and click Install when ready.

This pop-up will confirm with the installation. Click Ok when ready.

The system will proceed to install and configure the system. It will take quite a while. Once the installation is completed, the following screen appear.

Restart the system when ready.

Post Installation Setup

System Update

We can use the software app to update the system. Alternatively, we can use the following update command:

sudo eopkg upgrade

Install SSH Server

To install SSH server use the command below:

sudo eopkg install openssh-server

To start the service use the command below:

sudo systemctl start sshd

To activate the service on boot use the command below:

sudo systemctl enable sshd

Install RealVNC Server

To install RealVNC, download the generic package from RealVNC website. Unzipped and extract the package into a folder. Then, navigate into the folder using the command:

cd VNC-Server-6.3.1-Linux-x64-ANY/VNC-Server-6.3.1-Linux-x64

To install RealVNC use the following command:

sudo ./vncinstall

To start and enabled service on boot, use the command below:

sudo systemctl start vncserver-x11-serviced.service
sudo systemctl enable vncserver-x11-serviced.service

Please note that if we configure the license from the wizard, the system could not complete the registration due to insufficient privilege. Apparently, the wizard could not ask for a privilege password. Use the following command to run the wizard as an administrator

sudo vnclicensewiz

Install Broadcom Wifi Driver

As mentioned at the top of the post, Solus OS did not provide old Broadcom wifi driver, we have to build ourselves. We use the build solution provide the following website. 

To build the driver, first we need to install all the necessary packages. Install the following packages:

sudo eopkg it -c system.devel -y
sudo eopkg it linux-current-headers -y
sudo eopkg it linux-lts-headers -y

Next, we need to download and install the b43-fwcutter. Please note that it is better to use root privilege for the task:

cd Downloads
sudo su
# Extract the fwcutter files
tar xjf b43-fwcutter-018.tar.bz2
cd b43-fwcutter-018
# Use make to build fwcutter
make install
cd ..

Reboot the system when done.

After the system rebooted, we can download the drivers:

cd Downloads
sudo su
export FIRMWARE_INSTALL_DIR="/lib/firmware"
tar xjf broadcom-wl-5.100.138.tar.bz2
b43-fwcutter -w "$FIRMWARE_INSTALL_DIR" broadcom-wl-5.100.138/linux/wl_apsta.o

Reboot the system again.

Finally, to activate the wifi driver, use the command below:

modprobe b43

To enable and activate the driver on boot, use the command below: 

echo "b43" | sudo tee /etc/modules-load.d/b43.conf


Once we fixed the driver issue, the system is actually pretty stable. Additional software can be installed from the software installation app.

Related Post

Please also check out the main post on re-purposing old Mac Mini.  This post also include the installation of Ubuntu on Mac Mini. We have also include hardware specification and other consideration in the main post.

Please also check out the summary result of testing various Linux distribution on Mac Mini (late 2009).
Install Linux on Mac Mini (late 2009) Result Summary



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