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Can running linux on a Mac cause CPU damage?

Someone on IRC claimed that running Linux on your Mac may cause CPU damage. The reason for this, he claims, is that Linux lacks a proper SMC driver which causes the CPU to be overvolted. Is this true? It seems like FUD to me.

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No, I myself have run linux just fine over boot camp as well as hundreds and thousands of others out there. It's a regular and not at all risky process. Safer than installing windows :).

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Have you run Linux for long periods of time with high CPU load? I'm just making sure :)


I've compiled on it- but look, there's no need to worry, some guy was having fun with you and trying to scare you, it happens, its the internet. Or, it's some 8 year old kid who has no idea what he's talking about, it's the internet.


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No, with macs especially, all of the CPU voltages and frequencies are strictly controlled by the computer's firmware. Also, CPU's can't really be damaged, they either are dead, or they work, nothing in-between. I have ran Linux on my Powermac G4 MDD for almost a year, and my Mac mini (Via VirtualBox) for a few weeks, and they both seem like they are running just like normal.

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But the claim is that this is only a problem with Intel Macs and you only ran Linux via VirtualBox, not natively on your Mac Mini.

That the CPU voltages are controlled by the hardware is something I would assume, though. I just can't verify it.


Yes, most likelly, CPU volatge is controlled by hardware. It is on PC's and if it wasn't on macs, there would be plenty of of Intel Mac overclocking utilities out there.


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This is rather old and I was wondering if the information here is still valid.

I'm not sure what models it concerns, but someone recently claimed that new Mac's (not sure if they're on the market yet) have a proprietary power management chip that doesn't have autonomy (as in, it depends on software/drivers to control it and without those won't change (most importantly reduce) voltages when required (kernel-based pre-emptive micromanagement)).

He also stated the CPU itself is autonomous in this regard, so one wouldn't be hurting the CPU, but it's supporting circuitry would remain on too high a voltage and might be damaged easily.

I find it vague at best and have a hard time finding more about it. But pretty curious :)

Update (02/20/2018)

Apparently, he's been claiming it for 8 years or so.

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All Mac's have a micro controller called a Systems Management controller (SMC) this device and the firmware which runs it is completely independent of the CPU & GPU services running the OS and the Apps.

So the person is talking out of their hat here ;-} As there is no involvement between the OS and the SMC.

Now let me alter this a bit... One can add software which accesses hooks within SMC within MacOS to gain information and even alter the systems fan's. This software is not normally needed! TG Pro being one such app.

Now lets quickly talk about how you normally install an alternate OS's which Apple does support! This is using BootCamp which runs on top of MacOS so MacOS is still running underneath it!

One can also run alternative OS's directly as well! But when you do that what makes a Mac a Mac is lost and all you have is a MS Windows or Linux box. Depending on what the OS's release is it may not have all of the drivers needed to run straight up on a Mac system (video drivers, etc...).

Also, the alternative OS doesn't have the needed API access to SMC so it can't access the services (directly or via BootCamp) so if you need to see the temp or alter the fan you can't! But, that would be no different if you did a Hacknitosh system running MacOS on a typical MS Windows box. As you wouldn't have access to the HP or Acer hardware API's within MacOS to alter that systems temp management system either! A catch22 here.


Actually, it appears the linux SMC drivers, at least on some models, have the ability to alter fan speeds etc.

I updated my original post, the guy has been claiming this for 8 years or so. Near the end someone disassembled some Apple drivers. Assuming he's right, it's pretty certain said claims are invalid.

Thanks a lot for the re' :).


All FUD !!

There is a lot of crazies on the internet spouting off god knows what! This is one of them. Sadly, they often get others to support their argument when they have no technical clue on what they are talking about. As I've stated you can access SMC go gain useful information, you can't alter it! SMC does not deal with voltages of the CPU. Depending on the CPU series the newer CPU's do have a means to lower their clocking when it goes into safe mode. But thats the direct opposite of his argument! The reason for safe mode is to prevent your CPU from cooking, not cooking it!

We've seen the same issue with Rice! Here what worked as a means to collect moisture in a salt shaker made sense as being useful in drying out a wet phone or camera! Which is just BS!

Moisture in a vapor is very different from the liquid as well as a solid in the case of ice.

So, if I put an ice cube in a bag of rice in the old style freezer (not frost free) the ice cube will be absorbed into the rice? Nope! This is also true with liquid water as it would be no different if you placed a container of water within the bag of rice at room temperature (even an open top with no water spilling out)! It's only the direct contact of the rice to the liquid water will the rice slowly absorb the water.

So a sealed up phone or camera is the same condition only the liquid water that directly touching the rice will get absorbed and that won't save your phone or camera! Even a vacuum chamber has its limits, as it just boils off the water (H2O only) the solids within the water will be left like salt and sugars which will corrode and short out the electronics.

Basically a circular argument! If you don't know your chemistry.

This is the same reasoning they are using with the CPU's voltage as one can lower the clock to prevent the CPU from cooking one can also raise it. Which is nonsense!


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