One of the worst things with new software and operating systems is that support for older devices and hardware dies off eventually.
This is the reality mostly for Windows and macOS however, as after a couple of generations, updates are impossible and you are forced into buying the new thing.
That is the special thing about Linux and its many distributions (Distros for short), as even decade-old hardware can still run the newest updates.
Linux is super lightweight compared to macOS and Windows and is highly customizable, so even decade-old hardware can run semi smoothly.

Goal:

In this article, I will show you how you can download Linux, specifically Ubuntu on an old device, where Windows or macOS support has stopped, or if you just want to try out Linux, which is fine too.
I will be using an old Mac Mini (mid-2007) and upgrading it to run the newest Ubuntu 21.10 distro.
I will be using a windows computer and a USB drive to format the ISO/operating system and then run the install on the Mac Mini.

The Procedure:

Before anything you’ll need a couple of programs and files which can be found here:

https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1t2NTGfIf7drsDIQbq2q_rEoQMzdGiOo7?usp=sharing

Step 1 (Change Boot and Rufus):

The first thing you’ll need is the iso file and a way to boot into it, so you can download Ubuntu from it.
You need to download an iso file on your separate Windows computer, which can be found in my Google Drive folder it is called: “ubuntu-14.04.6-desktop-amd64.iso”.
The iso file is the 2014 version for a reason as it is the most stable for downloading, but you can easily upgrade when you have Ubuntu, this is just a start.
Then you’ll also need a program called Rufus, which will make the iso file usable for your computer.
This program can either be found in my Google Drive folder or downloaded on their Website.
When you have downloaded Rufus insert your USB drive and open Rufus, and then select the iso file you downloaded before and then select GPT scheme and FAT32 file system.
If you have done it right it should look something like this:

Step 2 (New Boot):

Now that you have a newly formatted iso USB drive, there is one more thing to do before you can insert it into your old computer.
If your computer is very old it’ll need an extra file, which can be found in my Google Drive folder called “bootia32.efi”.
This file will need to be downloaded and then moved into the /EFI/BOOT folder that can be found on the USB drive.
When this is done you can eject the USB drive and insert it into your turned-off old computer.

Step 3 (Ubuntu Download):

When you have your USB drive inserted you can turn on your computer.
And depending on your computer you have two options:
If it’s a Mac, then repeatedly press the “option” or “alt” button until a boot menu shows up, and then press the option that is yellow and says “EFI Boot”.
If it’s a Windows computer, then go into your motherboard’s BIOS usually by pressing F11, and then go into your boot menu and choose to boot from whatever your USB drive is called.
Then you should see a menu that says “Install Ubuntu”, just simply press that button and go through the install process the way that you want to.

Step 4 (Set Root and Boot in GNU):

Now Ubuntu is technically installed to your computer, however, it isn’t set as the root, and therefore when your computer restarts from the installation you’ll see a command line-looking screen saying “GNU GRUB version 2.02”.
First, you’ll need to find out where Ubuntu is installed, and you can do that by typing “ls” and then you’ll see a bunch of options.
Go through each of those options with this command: “ls [YOUR OPTION]/home”, until you get “/yourname” back.

When you know your install location then you simply need to write these commands and it will load into your Ubuntu installation.
Your steps might look different, as my install location was (hd0,gpt2).
Each step in the below list signifies an “ENTER” button press:

  • set root=(hd0,gpt2)
  • cmpath=(hd0)
  • prefix=(hd0,gpt2)/boot/grub
  • root=hd0,gpt2
  • set prefi=(hd0,gpt2)/boot/grub
  • insmod normal
  • normal

Then after the last “normal” command, your computer will boot into Ubuntu and you can begin to download and set up everything you want.

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