What I want:

  • Ubuntu on a g5 Imac.

What I have:

  • An empty PC (Intel g5 17" Imac) with broken CD drive. Its model is A1173.
  • This PC with Ubuntu 12.04 and an old Vista partition.
  • a usb flash drive.


  • No CD means the only boot Drive I could use is USB.
  • There are no BIOS on Macs so I can't set boot settings or even see if it detects my USB drive. When I start the machine and press ALT the first and only thing I see is an old corrupted winXP partition and not a single option or additional information.
  • So assuming blindly that the Mac hardware/firmware works normally, I don't have any Mac OS to use any of the tools that I found on different tutorials for building a bootable .img drive for macs.
  • I can't find much software on Linux/Windows to substitute to those tools, for example among others converting an .iso file (win/linux) to .img (mac I guess). Which makes me think that the scenario where someone like me has Mac hardware but no Mac OS is extremely rare.
  • So other than finding someone that has a Mac I have no solution. So I ask what would you do? the only thing is it should not involve any money (I know mac soft is rarely free) which also excludes getting any MacOS unless I can use a free macos.img for VM or restore the original Mac for free.

Thank you

  • Do you have an Intel processor or a PowerPC G5? – To Do Jun 12 '12 at 16:02
  • On a mac you should be able to boot off a USB stick by pressing U while turning on. Obviously provided you have a suitable USB stick. – To Do Jun 12 '12 at 16:03

If you have access to another Mac this should be fairly easy. Get a copy of Leopard (the last version that supported PowerPC) in dmg format or if you have the disc great. Next open up Disk Utility on another Mac and restore that .dmg file to a USB drive. It is a fairly straightforward process. That drive should then be bootable when holding down Alt during the Mac startup. After this installing Ubuntu should be easy as you will be in Mac OS.

  • Will this solution work on an Intel iMac? – DrKenobi Sep 11 '12 at 19:59

You can see if it detects your USB thingy by typing dev / ls in Open Firmware. Make sure you get the space right for that command. You can get into Open Firmware by turning your iMac on and holding the power button pressed long after you hear a long beep.

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