installing Debian on an iMac

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After my success with installing Debian on my MacBook Air, I thought I'd keep going, and install Debian on the desktop iMac I have at work. It's a 21.5 inch iMac, apparently with model number A1311.

As per last time, I used the Alpha release of the Debian 7 installer, and was using a multi-arch net boot CD. So I had a choice of installing 32 bit Debian, or 64 bit Debian. I wisely choose 64 bit Debian, after the issues I had with 32 bit Debian on the Air.

The Debian Installer did it's thing. I didn't even get prompted for non-free firmware this time, and it got all the way through. I still had to muck around a little bit at the end, to mount /dev/sda1 as /boot/efi, and install grub-efi-amd64. I'm not sure what I'm missing, but I again had to run 'install-grub' manually, and this time I also had to run 'upgrade-grub' to. re-generate the grub.cfg file (which presumably got removed when I purged grub-pc, I must have done things in a slightly different order).

I choose to use btrfs for my root volume on this install, which lead me to the first of the two problems I had with this install. It seems Debian Wheezy (and probably unstable) has a problem in this environment, because there is no /sbin/fsck.btrfs. I've found two bug reports:
I worked around that by making /sbin/fsck.btrfs a symlink to /bin/true. It's not a great work around, but presumably it will do for now.

Then, after rebooting, I found I had a problem with the display. Fortunately there was a page on the debian wiki that suggested booting with the kernel option 'radeon.modeset=0', and then installing the firmware-linux-nonfree package. And that got me going. I haven't got the gui installed yet, but hopefully that won't be a problem either.

I did find that my package management was spending a bit of time downloading translations that I didn't need. The apt.conf(5) man page says you can configure 'Acquire::Languages { "environment"; "en"; "none"; };' to avoid that. There is a trick though, apt will continue to download translation files if it finds such files already in /var/lib/apt/lists. So I had to delete all the translation files under there as well.

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