Replacing OS X with Linux on my Mac Mini 2,1

I still had an old Mac Mini (model 2,1) – which I bought during a period of experimentation with different operating systems –  connected to the TV, running Mac OS X Lion. Not Apple’s finest installment of OS X, truth be told.

The reasons I wanted to get rid of it:

  • Apple stopped providing updates for it. Not fantastic from a security point of view.
  • They also managed to actually break VNC for anything except the OS X client
  • TeamViewer takes up a ridiculous amount of CPU power on OS X
  • You can’t turn off the Mac Mini using the power button, it goes to sleep, and it can’t be reprogrammed.
  • It’s just .. sooo… slooooooooow

The only thing the device is used for is

  • iTunes to manage an iPod classic, and to auto-rip newly bought CD’s
  • Using Videostream to cast movies to our Chromecast
  • Playing music from the audio library to the connected amplifier

Not much, really. So, in the end, being tired of the general slowness of the device, I bit the bullet, exchanged the old 80GB hard disk with a newer and bigger model, and went on the journey to install Debian on it.

So, the road to success was:

  1. download the multiarch network install CD image, burn it to a CD. 1
    Why multi-arch, you might ask? Why not use the x86_64 (64-bit) install image, as the Intel Core2Duo is capable of handling this? Because Apple, in all their wisdom, decided to include a 32-bit EFI with a CPU capable of handling 64-bit code. So you get a bit of a schizophrenic situation. The multiarch CD image supports both 32-bit and 64-bit (U)EFI, and hence, it works for this device.
  2. boot from said CD (press and hold the ALT button as soon as the grey screen appears on your Mac)
  3. profit!

I installed:

All in all it works rather nicely. The only problems I ran into was with respect to the iPod management, which was solved by resetting the iPod with iTunes for windows, which formatted the device as VFAThttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File_Allocation_Table#FAT32, instead of Mac OS’ HFS+.

  1. note that this link points to the daily built CD images, which might or might not be broken at any given day

Nokia 3109c and Snow Leopard (iSync 3.1)…

As I detailed in my previous post on how to get this phone working with Leopard, upgrading to Mac OS X 10.6 aka Snow Leopard broke things again.

Easy fix though: follow the steps in my previous post, and attached to this post you can find the ‘fixed’ MetaClasses.plist file.

All I actually did was copy this block in the existing MetaClasses.plist:

<key>com.nokia.3109</key>
<dict>
<key>Identification</key>
<dict>
<key>com.apple.cgmi+cgmm</key>
<string>Nokia+Nokia 3109</string>
<key>com.apple.gmi+gmm</key>
<string>Nokia+Nokia 3109</string>
<key>com.apple.usb.vendorid-modelid</key>
<string>0x0421/0x045A</string>
</dict>
<key>InheritsFrom</key>
<array>
<string>family.com.nokia.series40.3rdEd.bus.usb-bt</string>
</array>
<key>Services</key>
<array>
<dict>
<key>ServiceName</key>
<string>com.apple.model</string>
<key>ServiceProperties</key>
<dict>
<key>ModelIcon</key>
<string>NOK3109.tiff</string>
<key>ModelName</key>
<string>3109</string>
</dict>
</dict>
<dict>
<key>ServiceName</key>
<string>com.apple.synchro</string>
<key>ServiceProperties</key>
<dict>
<key>MaxCityLength</key>
<integer>50</integer>
<key>MaxEMailLength</key>
<integer>60</integer>
<key>MaxEventLocationLength</key>
<integer>150</integer>
<key>MaxPhoneNumberLength</key>
<integer>48</integer>
<key>MaxPostalCodeLength</key>
<integer>50</integer>
<key>MaxStateLength</key>
<integer>50</integer>
<key>MaxStreetLength</key>
<integer>50</integer>
<key>MaxURLLength</key>
<integer>60</integer>
</dict>
</dict>
</array>
</dict>

Since WP keeps on braking my indentation, just download it here: MetaClasses.plist

Updating Boot Camp to 2.1

For a reason not to be mentioned here, I needed to install Windows XP (legal license) on my Macbook. Easily done, Boot Camp Assistant, install windows, install drivers, the works.

Then I wanted to update to Boot Camp 2.1, to be able to update windows to SP3.

Big nono. Didn’t want to install. Update constantly failed, no matter what.

After some googling, I ran across this post on the MacRumors Forums, which basically says that to install it, you need to open up your registry editor (start -> run -> regedit.exe), do a search for “Boot Camp Services” and locate the key which reads “Language”. Modify it, and change the Decimal value to 1033 (hex 409).

Restart the installer after this, and it’ll install. Go figure.

Using XMLTV with EyeTV

I bought an Elgato EyeTV Hybrid a while back, and I was using the tvtv.co.uk service to get my EPG(Electronic Program Guide) data.

This, however, and unfortunately, stopped updating for Belgian channels on the 1st of january. Shitty, since I use that data to have EyeTV automatically record stuff for me. I’ve contacted tvtv, no reaction sofar.

Since the EyeTV has no other built-in EPG data supplier that I can use, I looked for an XMLTV grabber for Belgium. The grabbers that existed unfortunately didn’t work anymore because they depend on the Teveblad.be website, which no longer allows screenscrapers. Bummer.

Fortunately, thanks to the magical interwebs, I stumbled on mc2xml, a Media Center TV Listings to XMLTV convertor. It downloads media center, titantv, or schedules direct tv listings and outputs an XMLTV formatted xml file, which I can feed to EyeTV. And now I have my schedule info again! ;)

Mac startup shortcuts

Because I keep forgetting them, here’s a list of buttons you can press during a Mac’s boot to change behaviour:

KeyAction
Cboot from CD or DVD
NAttempt to start up from a network server (NetBoot)
Tstart up in FireWire target disk mode
Xforce Mac OS X startup
Shiftboot into safe mode
Mouse buttoneject CD before booting normally
Command-Sboot into single user mode
Command-Vverbose boot
Optionchoose startup disk at boot time
Option-Command-Shift-DeleteBypass primary startup volume and seek a different startup volume (such as a CD or external disk)

See also Apple article HT1343

Automounting SMB/CIFS shares on Mac OS X

For my PVR/HTMAC project, I wanted to auto-mount several shares from my NAS. After some searching I ran across this hint on the Mac OS X Hints website, which works perfectly:

Basically, you add the shares you want to mount to the /etc/fstab file, with this syntax:

excalibur:/music x url net,automounted,url==cifs://guest:@excalibur/music 0 0
excalibur:/photos x url net,automounted,url==cifs://guest:@excalibur/photos 0 0
excalibur:/videos x url net,automounted,url==cifs://guest:@excalibur/videos 0 0

That way, those shares will allways be mounted under /Network/Servers, and always available, starting boot-time. Works like a charm ;)

Mac mini PVR

I recently acquired a Mac Mini, which I’m going to use as a PVR.

Together with an Elgato EyeTV Hybrid it works perfectly, attached to my good old analogue 21″ Sony TV .

Sofar it seems to work fine, using a DVI-to-svideo convertor. I’ve installed the EyeTV software, the PyeTV Front Row plugin (which allows me to controle EyeTV from within Front Row) and Perian (for more codec support in Front Row)

More on this can be found on the Hicksdesign blog ;)

Add recent applications as a Stack on Dock

On TUAW (The Unofficial Apple Weblog) they’ve got a nifty tips section, with today this tip that I rather like:

How to add recent applications as a Stack on the Dock:

Run this in Terminal.app:

defaults write com.apple.dock persistent-others -array-add ‘{ “tile-data” = { “list-type” = 1; }; “tile-type” = “recents-tile”; }’

on one line, and then restart the Dock (killall Dock).

Et voila! If you don’t like it, just drag it off again.

Cloning woes

After yesterday’s clone I noticed some applications behaved erraticly, amongst which Preview, Thunderbird, Appfresh… rather irritating.

After some searching I found the fix on this CCC Forum thread:

sudo chgrp wheel /var/folders/*
sudo chmod 700 $TMPDIR
sudo chown $USER $TMPDIR

In short, the permissions for that directory werent taken over correctly from the original, hence the problems. All fixed now ;)