Is it a graphics card issue?

parrotcam

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Hello,

I'm new here and relatively new to Linux. My only real experience came from the limited time I owned a copy of the Novena Heirloom computers I designed with Bunnie Huang. I decided I couldn't justify owning an expensive, special purpose computer that I could not really make use of so, when a university professor came along wanting to buy an example of the 13 copies we made, I sold it. Fun project just referenced as an aside.

My goal at the moment is to get a Linux installation onto an iMac that has aged out of the OSX world so that I might run a copy of the DaVinci video editor to take advantage of this large screen. I might play with some other applications and learn enough Linux to keep things working, but my goal is not a deep dive into Linux.

I'm writing this from an Ubuntu example running from a USB. I had to use simple graphics to get it to work. I have attempted to install 5 different distros mainly using iso file burned to USB with balena Etcher. I've read that there are ways to get the installation to the computer to work using nomodeset and figured out where to put that in the grub file. But I'm guessing that may apply only to the extant Live USB session and not the eventual install to the computer. I presume I have a graphics incompatibility issue with the stock Linux graphics driver because any time I attempt the install I end up with a 4 panel screen, each with a copy of the same output, but completely illegible. I also begin to understand that nomodeset isn't a good long term solution anyway. So the question is how do I get an installation to work and come up with at least the usable screen I'm working on now. It's a bit low res, but I could live with that if there are no simple alternatives.

Thanks.
 


Did you try MX ?
I just saved a 2010 MBP with it.

Before install: Try to connect to Wifi and be sure that it works (run Firefox) + play a video to see if you have picture and sound.
Click the Installer.
During install: Choose option to erase and use the whole disk.

I laid my hand on the Mac that run like molass & without pwd left from the previous owner - that didn't make thing easy, plus Apple's habit of 'mettre des batons dans les roues' to discourage people from using their old hardware.
 
parrotcam wrote:
Is it a graphics card issue?
....
iMac
....
I had to use simple graphics to get it to work
If you've needed to use nomodeset, then it's a graphics card issue. Some years beyond my Apple experience now, but they appear to have used either Radeon or Nvidia.

To see what card you are using, and the driver plus the modules, run in a terminal:
Code:
lspci -nnk |grep -A3 -i vga
or
Code:
inxi -Gxx

If it's Nvidia, there are proprietary drivers that can be installed to get the card to perform optimally. With Radeon, there's already drivers in the kernel that work plus existing configuration options in the installation to help (see man radeon).

Some distros include built-in tools to install the Nvidia proprietary drivers, like MX as mentioned in post #2, others need a bit more work to install them but the instructions are usually straight forward to follow.
 
Last edited:
Mac have never been the easiest of machines to install Linux on, best if you let the dog see the rabbit,
Using your Ubuntu, from the terminal run inxi -Fnxz and paste back the results, that will give us an overview of all main components installed.
 
Did you try MX ?
I just saved a 2010 MBP with it.

Before install: Try to connect to Wifi and be sure that it works (run Firefox) + play a video to see if you have picture and sound.
Click the Installer.
During install: Choose option to erase and use the whole disk.

I laid my hand on the Mac that run like molass & without pwd left from the previous owner - that didn't make thing easy, plus Apple's habit of 'mettre des batons dans les roues' to discourage people from using their old hardware.
Thanks. I have downloaded the iso but not yet tried to install it.
 
parrotcam wrote:

If you've needed to use nomodeset, then it's a graphics card issue. Some years beyond my Apple experience now, but they appear to have used either Radeon or Nvidia.

To see what card you are using, and the driver plus the modules, run in a terminal:
Code:
lspci -nnk |grep -A3 -i vga
or
Code:
inxi -Gxx

If it's Nvidia, there are proprietary drivers that can be installed to get the card to perform optimally. With Radeon, there's already drivers in the kernel that work plus existing configuration options in the installation to help (see man radeon).

Some distros include built-in tools to install the Nvidia proprietary drivers, like MX as mentioned in post #2, others need a bit more work to install them but the instructions are usually straight forward to follow.
the first command yielded this:

lspci |grep -A3 -i vga
02:00.0 VGA compatible controller: Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. [AMD/ATI] RV730/M96-XT [Mobility Radeon HD 4670]
02:00.1 Audio device: Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. [AMD/ATI] RV710/730 HDMI Audio [Radeon HD 4000 series]
03:00.0 Network controller: Qualcomm Atheros AR928X Wireless Network Adapter (PCI-Express) (rev 01)
04:00.0 PCI bridge: Texas Instruments XIO2213A/B/XIO2221 PCI Express to PCI Bridge [Cheetah Express] (rev 01)

The various commands using inxi that I have tried (with or without sudo) result in: command not found.

Another variant suggested sudo lshw -C video yielded:

*-display UNCLAIMED
description: VGA compatible controller
product: RV730/M96-XT [Mobility Radeon HD 4670]
vendor: Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. [AMD/ATI]
physical id: 0
bus info: pci@0000:02:00.0
version: 00
width: 64 bits
clock: 33MHz
capabilities: pm pciexpress msi vga_controller bus_master cap_list
configuration: latency=0
resources: memory:c0000000-cfffffff memory:d0220000-d022ffff ioport:1000(size=256) memory:d0200000-d021ffff
*-graphics
product: EFI VGA
physical id: 1
logical name: /dev/fb0
capabilities: fb
configuration: depth=32 resolution=1920,1080

Is that "UNCLAIMED" a result of the safe mode USB version of Ubuntu that is running?

This is a late 2009 iMac.

Thanks
 
Mac have never been the easiest of machines to install Linux on, best if you let the dog see the rabbit,
Using your Ubuntu, from the terminal run inxi -Fnxz and paste back the results, that will give us an overview of all main components installed.
Adding to the terminal command results posted in reply to an earlier suggestion - At the moment I'm running 22.04.2 Ubuntu desktop from USB in safe graphics mode. Is that the same as using nomodeset in grub?
I have tried installs via USB created with unebootin or Etcher using some current version of Kubuntu, Lubuntu, Open Suse, Elementary and Mint. Also Fedora using the Fedora Media Writer.
In any instance where there was an option to run from USB with safe graphics I believe most would work. But every instance of install to disk resulted in the 4 panel, illegible screen. In no instance was I able to find a way to edit grub for nomodeset during those installations. And I understand that I likely don't want an installation with nomodeset if I can make the extant graphics system work.
 
unfortunately, lspci doesn't tell me what I am looking for, inxi will tell me more of the age and components of your Imac,
depending on the age and model, I am expecting to see the processor type and number, the graphics chipset the amount of ram [will vary between models] and some other bits of info, before I can comment further
 
unfortunately, lspci doesn't tell me what I am looking for, inxi will tell me more of the age and components of your Imac,
depending on the age and model, I am expecting to see the processor type and number, the graphics chipset the amount of ram [will vary between models] and some other bits of info, before I can comment further
The article pretty much tracks what I've been doing. It feels like the opportunity to do something about the graphic driver before the install completes is what is missing. I've seen mentions of trying to catch grub in the setup and edit in nomodeset, but have not seen an opportunity to do that. And it seems that's not actually what I want to do anyway. Though if there turns out to be some reason why the computer hardware is not usable, I still wonder if there is a way to install with the basic graphics I'm seeing in the Live USB mode.

So how do I get the inxi command to work? Straight from the prompt or with sudo it indicates no such command.
 
run your live ubuntu, in the terminal type inxi -Fnxz and enter,[if it says inxi is not installed then use the software manager to install it] and run again
 
Recommended:
MacTracker for macOS and iOS. Sorry, not Linux.

MacTracker is an app with a built-in database. It lists all the detailed specs of Apple products dating back to the earliest days. It covers Macs, but also iPhones, iPads, accessories, and more. The app is updated frequently with new models and new data. The data in the MacTracker app is not hosted on a website. Here is the app developer's official website, with information about the apps:
https://mactracker.ca

The app runs on macOS (Macs) and iOS (iPhone and iPad). I use the Mac version and have not tried the iOS version. Sorry, but it does not run on Linux, Windows, or Android.
 
run your live ubuntu, in the terminal type inxi -Fnxz and enter,[if it says inxi is not installed then use the software manager to install it] and run again
Running the MX USB version now.
inxi -Fnxz reports:

System: Kernel: 5.10.0-20-amd64 x86_64 bits: 64 compiler: gcc v: 10.2.1 Desktop: Xfce 4.18.0
Distro: MX-21.3_x64 Wildflower January 15 2023 base: Debian GNU/Linux 11 (bullseye)
Machine: Type: Desktop System: Apple product: iMac10,1 v: 1.0 serial: <filter>
Mobo: Apple model: Mac-F2268CC8 serial: <filter> UEFI: Apple v: 215.0.0.0.0
date: 06/14/2019
CPU: Info: Dual Core model: Intel Core2 Duo E7600 bits: 64 type: MCP arch: Penryn rev: A
cache: L2: 3 MiB
flags: lm nx pae sse sse2 sse3 sse4_1 ssse3 vmx bogomips: 12205
Speed: 1592 MHz min/max: 1596/3059 MHz Core speeds (MHz): 1: 1592 2: 1592
Graphics: Device-1: AMD RV730/M96-XT [Mobility Radeon HD 4670] vendor: Apple driver: N/A
bus-ID: 02:00.0
Device-2: Apple Built-in iSight type: USB driver: uvcvideo bus-ID: 1-4:3
Display: x11 server: X.Org 1.20.11 driver: loaded: N/A unloaded: fbdev
resolution: 1920x1080~77Hz
OpenGL: renderer: llvmpipe (LLVM 11.0.1 128 bits) v: 4.5 Mesa 20.3.5
direct render: Yes
Audio: Device-1: NVIDIA MCP79 High Definition Audio driver: snd_hda_intel v: kernel
bus-ID: 00:08.0
Device-2: AMD RV710/730 HDMI Audio [Radeon HD 4000 series] vendor: Apple
driver: snd_hda_intel v: kernel bus-ID: 02:00.1
Sound Server-1: ALSA v: k5.10.0-20-amd64 running: yes
Sound Server-2: PulseAudio v: 14.2 running: yes
Network: Device-1: NVIDIA MCP79 Ethernet driver: forcedeth v: kernel port: 21e0
bus-ID: 00:0a.0
IF: eth0 state: down mac: <filter>
Device-2: Qualcomm Atheros AR928X Wireless Network Adapter
vendor: Apple AirPort Extreme driver: ath9k v: kernel port: 1000 bus-ID: 03:00.0
IF: wlan0 state: up mac: <filter>
Bluetooth: Device-1: Apple Built-in Bluetooth 2.0+EDR HCI type: USB driver: btusb v: 0.8
bus-ID: 4-1.1:3
Report: hciconfig ID: hci0 rfk-id: 1 state: up address: <filter> bt-v: 1.2 lmp-v: 2.1
Drives: Local Storage: total: 938.72 GiB used: 8.85 GiB (0.9%)
ID-1: /dev/sda vendor: Hitachi model: HDE721010SLA330 size: 931.51 GiB
ID-2: /dev/sdb type: USB vendor: Apple model: SD Card Reader size: 7.21 GiB
Swap: Alert: No swap data was found.
Sensors: System Temperatures: cpu: 52.0 C mobo: N/A
Fan Speeds (RPM): cpu: 1198
Info: Processes: 214 Uptime: 57m Memory: 11.69 GiB used: 1.66 GiB (14.2%) Init: SysVinit
runlevel: 5 Compilers: gcc: N/A Packages: 1967 Shell: Bash v: 5.1.4 inxi: 3.3.06
 
Did you try MX ?
I just saved a 2010 MBP with it.

Before install: Try to connect to Wifi and be sure that it works (run Firefox) + play a video to see if you have picture and sound.
Click the Installer.
During install: Choose option to erase and use the whole disk.

I laid my hand on the Mac that run like molass & without pwd left from the previous owner - that didn't make thing easy, plus Apple's habit of 'mettre des batons dans les roues' to discourage people from using their old hardware.
Update: I am running live mode MX on USB and unlike all the other installations, it is running in a higher screen res mode. However, the install process from here stalls at formatting and partitioning the drive. Other installs did not have this issue. Looks I could manually partition with GSmartControl, but will have to look at docs to see what is required.
 
Recommended:
MacTracker for macOS and iOS. Sorry, not Linux.

MacTracker is an app with a built-in database. It lists all the detailed specs of Apple products dating back to the earliest days. It covers Macs, but also iPhones, iPads, accessories, and more. The app is updated frequently with new models and new data. The data in the MacTracker app is not hosted on a website. Here is the app developer's official website, with information about the apps:
https://mactracker.ca

The app runs on macOS (Macs) and iOS (iPhone and iPad). I use the Mac version and have not tried the iOS version. Sorry, but it does not run on Linux, Windows, or Android.
Thanks for that. Unfortunately it reports that Apple used both iNvidia and Radeon graphics for the production. The inxi -Fnxz command reports that I have the Radeon version.
 
thanks for that
Are you going for a full clean installation or a duel boot with IOS?


Your machine was built in the second half of 2009 it has ample ram . Your graphics are AMD and are well-supported in the Linux Kernel [the reason it is running in higher res using MX is it has a later kernel than Ubuntu]. Later models had Nvidia graphics.
 
Oh and the reason you cant install is this age of Imac only had a 32 bit uif [bios] and its not economical to change, so my next suggestion is you try MX-386 [32 bit] or Debian 32 bit with driver pack
 
Downloaded the 32 bit MX iso and forgot to set nomodeset the first time. This is the typical view I get when that happens.

When I did set nomodeset in this case I got the result in the second photo. Don't know where to go from there.
 

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Looks like the second photo didn't make it . . . .
 

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Had a thought, you still have IOS, see if you can use it to run a bios update, but all my paperwork shows yours to have 32 bit bios or try selecting legacy boot when you are installing Linux
 
Got it! MX-21.3 Wildflower 64 bit version. The last mistake I was making was not properly setting up the partitioning phase of the setup. It's now running in hi res mode and booting up normally.
Thanks everyone for your help. Now to see if I can get DaVinci running on this setup.
 

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