Sentebuntu?
April 5, 2010 10:18 PM   Subscribe

Is it possible to run Mac software from Ubuntu?

All of the computers in my lab are iMacs, and the cluster we use (or would use, if the sysadmin had a clue what he was doing and/or wasn't such a d-bag) has been running OS server. However, our department finally agreed to hire someone with the know-how to maintain a cluster server, and the new IT support guy/gal is gonna "nuke and pave" what's set up now and reinstall some flavor of Linux.

I recently built a hackintosh so that I could run some Mac software that I need (primarily Sente for reference management), and interface more easily with the cluster.

After a damn lot of work have realized that it's primarily a fun project rather than an OS to rely on for the sort of bigass data analyses I need to run.

It seems like the best route for me to continue learning about computers and still use mine to get work done (primarily in SPM via MATLAB, but also occasionally in FSL) is to install Ubuntu. However, there's some Mac software that I'm pretty dependent upon (iTunes and Sente). Is there any way to emulate these bad boys from Ubuntu, or will I need a dual-boot setup? Dual-booting is probably gonna be a major pain, thanks to the hackintosh, but if that's the way it's gotta be, I guess I'll figure it out.

Any advice would be most welcome. Thanks
posted by solipsophistocracy to Computers & Internet (14 answers total)
 
It is basically possible. Ever since Apple went Intel, it's been a valid guest OS under VMware (or, perhaps, some other virtualization systems). Here's a guide for Snow Leopard on VMware.

However, keep in mind that it's illegal. OSX is only licensed to run on Mac hardware. It's legal to run OSX in virtualization on a Mac, but not on any other hardware. If you're in an academic institution, you may well encounter a compliance auditor who will notice and bust you.

Also, it stands a pretty good chance of being quite slow and crashy. It's especially going to be slow if you don't have plenty of cores to offer, plus the PAE virtualization instruction set. It's also going to be every bit as crashy as your hackintosh--since that's what it is.
posted by Netzapper at 10:27 PM on April 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


You might have more luck running MacOS as your primary OS and run Ubuntu under VirtualBox
posted by bottlebrushtree at 10:28 PM on April 5, 2010


You can run windows itunes from Ubuntu if that helps.
posted by Not Supplied at 1:30 AM on April 6, 2010


Also, check out JabRef if you want to go open source with references too.
posted by knz at 1:41 AM on April 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


You could also run OS X as your primary OS and run Ubuntu under VMware Fusion. This will be handy, down the road, if you also want to try out other OSes, which can be installed as guests under Fusion. This also has the advantage of being perfectly legal.
posted by wheat at 2:27 AM on April 6, 2010


...someone with the know-how to maintain a cluster server, and the new IT support guy/gal is gonna "nuke and pave" what's set up now and reinstall some flavor of Linux.

This has me worried as much as your description of your former sysadmin. It sound like you're jumping from a clueless douche to someone who only knows Linux. This is bad as, I suspect, any answer to a problem or need is going to be Linux, no matter how convoluted.

If you're going to be stuck with having to run Linux, Wheat's suggestion of Ubuntu under Fusion is a good way to go. Frankly, there's no good reason to "nuke and pave" a Mac to run purely Linux.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:28 AM on April 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'll also plug VirtualBox as an alternative to VMWare and Parallels unless you need anything with graphics acceleration.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 7:06 AM on April 6, 2010


After a damn lot of work have realized that it's primarily a fun project rather than an OS to rely on for the sort of bigass data analyses I need to run.

If you need to run bigass data analyses, focus your efforts on the cluster and on parallelizing your analysis scripts/apps. I saved a lot of time once I stopped spending time optimizing my app, and started running stuff on my lab's cluster.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:16 AM on April 6, 2010


Three comments:

1. Hackintosh is not legal, of course, and not likely to be stable. Ubuntu on the same hardware will be fine, and would interface with the Linux server with no problems.

2. Linux server should play nice with the existing cluster if it is set up correctly. My Ubuntu box acts as a Bonjour-capable file server and I have no issues accessing it from my Mac just as if it were an Xserve box. This of course requires your sysadmin to set it up correctly - the default SMB share will work, but setting it up with Avahi (Bonjour clone) will be a much friendlier method for an all-Mac lab. The directions I used to get mine playing nicely are here. Takes a little fiddling, see comments for details.

3. Supposing you have a stable Hackintosh, or a Mac that will work for you: Why not run OSX, like the rest of your lab, and use the Linux stuff you need via X11 forwarding? I can access all the programs on my Xubuntu system by just opening an X11 session, and invoking the XFCE panel from command line. You'd then get the Mac programs you need (iTunes, Sente), the Linux stuff you desire, and it would all be accessible on one system - but the processing / heavy lifting would still be running on the Linux box, your Mac would simply be handling the display. This is far less overhead than running Virtualbox.
posted by caution live frogs at 10:55 AM on April 6, 2010


Response by poster: If you're going to be stuck with having to run Linux, Wheat's suggestion of Ubuntu under Fusion is a good way to go. Frankly, there's no good reason to "nuke and pave" a Mac to run purely Linux.

My understanding, albeit an extremely limited one, is that the current dude is a washed up guy who might have known what was up in the 80s, but has no clue about contemporary computing. If the server runs KDE Linux, we'll probably use NX (based on x-windows) to run stuff on it hassle free from Mac, Windows, or Linux boxes.
posted by solipsophistocracy at 11:48 AM on April 6, 2010


Response by poster: If you need to run bigass data analyses, focus your efforts on the cluster and on parallelizing your analysis scripts/apps. I saved a lot of time once I stopped spending time optimizing my app, and started running stuff on my lab's cluster.

This is sound advice, and if the new cluster tech is on his or her game, then I shouldn't have any problems, but I want a system that I can use as a backup data processor in the event that the (in my mind, inevitable) cluster issues rear their ugly heads again down the road.
posted by solipsophistocracy at 11:49 AM on April 6, 2010


Since you mention dual-booting, are you currently using a MacBook, MacBook Pro or other Mac? If so, you can run X11 apps and all manner of open-source "Linux" software alongside Mac OS X, either through MacPorts or Fink package managers or by compiling your own through the free dev tools.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:04 PM on April 6, 2010


Best answer: I'd just like to make sure you're aware that OS X is a *nix variant, being based on FreeBSD and Mach. Ubuntu is Debian-based with Gnome as the default UI.

Here's a good diagram of the major *unix'es (It's no accident that Linux is placed there between Minix and NextStep (both microkernel designs) because Linus wrote a monolithic kernel partially as a reaction to Tanenbaum's Minix:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Unix_history-simple.png

The upshot of all that is that you can run Gnome on OS X, and there's probably a Free BSD version of most any Linux program you want to run, including cluster management software. Wish you'd given a bit more detail about your cluster. Many cluster architectures (Beowulf, MPI, OpenMP) allow for heterogenous clusters, so you could be running half-linux, half OS X, and manage it from either.

I don't mean to dissuade you from installing Ubuntu, but maybe on another (cheap, old, free?) computer.
posted by at at 10:03 PM on April 8, 2010


Response by poster: Installing some flavor of Linux on an older machine is actually what I think is the best course of action. I know OS X runs on Unix. The specific problem we've been running into is that using X11 from OS X to run programs on the OS server-managed cluster is problematic, specifically w/rt Matlab. I was told by our local Linux guru that Mac to Mac Matlabbin' is fraught with complications. Your advice to try out Linux on another machine is solid though, thanks.

The cluster runs on the SunGrid architecture, and it's two CPUs with four cores each at the moment, but some incoming faculty are likely to augment it further. I really don't know much more about it, because the dude who's supposed to be in charge of it is both stand-offish and ill-informed.
posted by solipsophistocracy at 12:40 PM on April 9, 2010


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