My Mac Mini’s Oddities

I purchased a Mac Mini a few months ago to act as my “media hub” (read “DVD player”) a while ago.  Unfortunately, I still have an old Sony Wega (with a tube) and I’d forgotten how low the resolution is on old style televisions.  It was so bad that I couldn’t even use my Mini with it because I couldn’t read the menus.  So I quickly gave up on that idea and put the Mini on my desktop, nestled under my flat panel displays, where I occasionally would switch over to it via a KVM switch.  Unfortunately, since the mini only supports one display, and my Dell has four, it’s really hard to make the switch in any serious fashion.  As a result, the Mini has gotten very little use.

Plus, despite the fact that I upgraded it from 512MB to 2GB of RAM (using the putty knife technique that you can read about), it is still occasionally very painfully slow.  With no other apps running, Thunderbird was taking something to the tune of 16 bounces on the dock to load, whereas it would load in just three on my 800MHz PowerBook.  Not having a lot of time to troubleshoot things, I pretty much just let it sit and would fire it up to record the occasional podcast or whatnot.

Last night I decided to try to install Ubuntu Linux on it.  After all, I’d put it on all of my other machines, so why not, right?  Unfortunately, I didn’t bother reading any howtos or suggested procedures first – I just slapped the CD in, booted from it, nuked my Boot Camp partition, and dedicated it to Ubuntu. Unfortunately the installer crashed and that was the end of that.

When I attempted a reboot, the Mac wouldn’t load into OS X.  Furthermore, it would not boot from my installation CD! Now I was starting to get concerned.  I called Apple tech support, and they advised me to press and hold the C key to boot from CD (tried, failed).  I also tried the Alt (Option) key (failed).  One time I was able to hold down the mouse to get it to eject the CD, but subsequent attempts failed.

Finally, I figured there may be a problem with my KVM and the PC keyboard I was using.  Remembering that you can use the remote control to select  your boot drive, I held down the Menu button while booting.  Presto!  I was given the option to boot from the CD again.  Not having any data on the drive which wasn’t already backed up, I simply repartitioned the drive and continued on my merry way reinstalling.

I’m going to give Ubuntu on the mini another shot, but I may use an external drive this time instead.

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