Modern Nvidia Drivers

I am completely new to Linux but have an old 2009 iMac that I want to install Zorin OS16 Core onto and replace MacOS completely.
I have seen lots of chat about Nvidia drivers and want to make the right choice at installation as I am not sure I am skilled enough yet to correct things afterwards. My drivers are:NVIDIA GeForce 9400 256MB.
I will be using this for watching movies, email and browsing not gaming. Should I choose the Modern Nvidia Drivers option or use the standard install? Any advice will be much appreciated.

Hi there,

I am assuming you flashed the Zorin OS installation ISO on a USB stick and you are using this to boot from.

If I have assumed this correctly, I think you could just try and selecting the Nvidia boot option. As far as I know, what this does is load the nvidia drivers for the 'live' environment, which could potentially prevent display problems during installation.

Then hopefully your system will boot fine in a live session. You can use this try and see if all the hardware works. You can even install some smaller applications and software in the live environment to see if it runs. Two things to note:

  1. You have only limited storage space available for installing software in the live environment.
  2. 'Disk performance' will be poor compared to an installation on an internal drive. This is especially noticeable when starting applications.

Mind you that any changes you make to Zorin OS in the live session, do not affect your current installation.

Once you're sure that everything works as intended, you can choose to install Zorin OS.


  • I see that a 2009 iMac does not have an integrated GPU. Therefore you should be using 'some' driver for the nVidia GPU. This can be a proprietary driver from nVidia (best performance) or a Nouveau driver (open source).
  • In the live session, you might also want to check if your display ports function as intended. I don't know if you ever connect your iMac to a TV, beamer or other display. Of course if you never intend to do so, this is less important.

Pick "modern NVIDIA drivers", and if you see a black screen or a really stretched out display, reboot and pick the regular option -- don't worry; the installer will not start installing right away, you first have to go through a series of prompts before it will even begin to modify your hard drive -- it's also smart enough to download the correct driver for your hardware, even if you picked the wrong one.
Welcome to Linux! Hopefully it's a stress-free out-of-the-box experience for you as it has been for me :slight_smile:


How modern is that card if it comes from 2009 @Torus ? That card is already legacy.

@Opsman2021, When you use the live usb and get the options what to do, hit try zorin. After that you can install. Zorin OS will use built in gpu drivers (universal) called "nouveau". When you have installed Zorin you can try to switch to the nvidia 340.108 driver. That is the latest released driver for your card released in dec 2019.

Thank you all for your advice. I take Michel's point about it already being a legacy driver, which is why I asked whether it would be considered a "Modern NVIDIA Driver". It sounds like opinion is split but I can choose either and try it in the Live USB before I commit to installing and overwriting my MacOs.
If the screen goes black I simply exit, reboot and try again using the other option?

The screen wil go black if you use the nvidia option. Because it did the same with my gtx 1070 card. You really should use the try zorin option and from within the os select the nvidia driver.

I will be truly amazed and impressed if you can install Zorin OS on that MAC computer at all. I have heard that Apple likes to make their machines so proprietary, that you can't run anything on them but MAC OS.

But I'd love to be proven wrong in this regard. Agreed, try Nvidia first, if it works, continue on, if it don't, (black screen) then do regular option.

Hey, fellow iMac owner here but a Linux newbie. For what it’s worth, with my 2012 iMac, I kept getting the Black screen until I chose Nouveau.

Thanks for this zGnOmaha. After you chose Nouveau did everything work ok? Did you erase your MacOS or are you dual booting?

That is what i am telling here...but others gaved the wrong advise :frowning:

Everything worked okay for me after choosing Nouveau. I dual-booted for awhile but eventually decided to just jump in all the way and dropped MacOS altogether.

I am so glad that you got a win here. Now the only thing of Apple you use, is their hardware. As long as your not using the software from them, your good.

You know, there are a lot of people doing that with Microsoft centric hardware too like the Surface. We had a guy on here just yesterday who was doing that.

What I like about it, is its a great way to keep the hardware you guys already have that is still good, but get away from the greedy corporations who want to use you, as their product. Good job!

Thank you all. I will let you know how I get on. Will be trying this later this week. I tried to dual boot a while ago and it did not work. It created a couple of partitions on my iMac hard drive that I have been unable to get rid of using Disc Utility on the iMac so I decided to go all in with Zorin OS 16 and hope that the process will erase the whole hard drive and then install the Zorin.

Hi All.
I decided to try Zorin first before installing it. I plugged in a USB mouse and keyboard to start with. I booted from the USB drive and chose the Try Zorin option. All the checks seemed to run 100% and I got the option to try first. It all looked good and I got the home screen and was able to connect the broadcom wireless so that I had internet. When I clicked on the Zorin logo I seemed able to access the menu for additional drivers, software, apps etc but as soon as I tried to open Firefox the mouse froze and there was a message about a TLS handshake?
I waited a few minutes but had to switch the iMac off and restart. When it rebooted and I selected Try or Install Zorin I just got a black screen. I tried with the Nvidia drivers option but still got black screen. It seems the USB boot drive had stopped working. I created a fresh USB boot disc using Balena Etcher and tried again. Still just get a black screen after pressing Try or Install Zorin OS. I think the iMac has had enough. I am thinking of trying another linux distro to see if that makes any difference. Maybe Ubuntu.

If installing Linux on an iMac, you need to perform some extra steps:

Thanks for your offer of help. After my first efforts to dual boot I decided I was no longer planning to do that. I want the iMac to only use a Linux distro. I managed to get Ubuntu 20.04 to install but when I restarted at the end of the installation process all I get is a blank screen with one short white dash in the middle of it. I have tried to get back my Mac OS but it will not reinstall so I fear the iMac is doomed unless I can somehow rescue the Linux install.

I have now tried Unubtu, Linux Mint and Zorin and have come to the conclusion that I have broken the iMac as it does not want to load any of these and will not reinstall Mac OS. It was expendable but this is still disappointing. There is an error message at the start but it is too quick for me to read. It says that it will continue as Safe Boot is disabled but this is beyond my understanding at the moment.
Thanks all for trying to help me. I will not give up. I have a spare Lenovo Tiny running Windows 10 on an SSD and it also has a 500GB sata drive installed that I use for storage. I am thinking I could disconnect the SSD with Windows on and then boot up from a USB stick and load Linux on the 500GB HDD. I don't want to interfere with the Windows install in case I mess things up but, if I manage to get Zorin installed on the HDD I will just just leave Windows drive disconnected for the moment and run the Lenovo on Linux. I don't think I want to get into dual booting even if it might be a bit easier with Windows. Is it easier to install Linux on a blank HDD than it is on the iMac? I have another Lenovo as my main PC running Windows 10 and bought this one as a media centre connected to the TV but could use it to experiment with Linux and it is easier and cheaper to replace drives if I make mistakes.

In the bios erase all secure boot settings. Linux stores a bootloader in there. It might work for you.

3rd picture -> Zorin OS 16 vs Pop! OS 21.04 - #44 by Michel


Did you try rebooting the iMac while holding down the Command + R keys to get recovery mode? This may give you the option to recover the MacOS.

If the MacOS doesn’t appear as an option, I believe you can purchase another copy of any MacOS relatively cheap on USB or DVD. Then plug in your disk and boot again via recovery mode. I purchased a copy of Catalina in my case if I ever decide I have to go back to Mac.