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Re: 4 old macs

My reply is located at the end of this post.

On Jan 5, 2006, at 1:03 PM, Dombi, George wrote:

Hi Rick,

Help me Obi-won Kenobi, Help me.

I'm hoping I can trouble you with a bunch of questions about  running linux on mac.

I have 4 old world macs (three 6500 mac (603e chip) and one 6100 mac (G3 upgrade chip) ).  All run OS 9.1 nicely.  And all were running Seti@home.  They were connected on a switch by Den Mother and Puppies clustering software, which is an AppleSoft method of  message passing to connects Mac. It was OK but I had no software to  run so I didn't use it. Even Seti has changed away from OS 9.

Now I want to go to Linux and run BOINC/Seti@home and Mpich for my cluster software.  So here are my questions.  How do I do all of that?

I have loaded Yellow Dog 3.0 Linux on one machine (6500) so far which recognized its second network card.  I used YDL 3 because it   was the highest version YDL that I could load.  YDL 4 seems to be for new World macs. The next thing is to turn this 6500 into a DHCP  server using the Yellow Dog programs.  Can you walk me throught that?  Also I tried to load BOINC but nothing happened.  Do you  know how to use BOINC?  Someone said YDL will not run it.  I tried to compile BOINC on YDL but got lost in downloading extra files.

Linux friends tell me that Debian Linux is better than YDL since it does have mpich already on board. My attempts to load Sarge Debian have  met with failure because I can't find a Debian linux boot kernel for ppc or a Debian linux ramdisk.image.gz file for the old world  ppc.  I tried using the ramdisk.image from YellowDog but this seem to want the YellowDog distribution CD and don't proceed with the  Sarge distribution CD.  I imagine that the YDL ramdisk.image file has been specially built to service the YDL distribution.  Also should I be trying to use Sarge or just Woody?  Either way, where do I get the ramdisk.image.gz.  The old world macs require Xboot  loader and will not boot off of the linux distribution disk without it since part of the mac OS 9.1 must be present to recognize the CD.

Some folks use Gentoo or Ubuntu, but both of those seem only to support the new world macs loading with yaboot and not Xboot. So my question to you is how to proceed.  I have downloaded the first three Sarge CDs,  I have partitioned the hard drive into a Mac 9.1 space, a swap space and a 2 G linux space.  I have xboot on board in the control panels of the mac.  I don't know what files from the Sarge distro to put were on the mac partitions. Can you advise me?

Bye for now,



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Hi George,

First, I know absolutely nothing about BOINC, so I won't be able to help you with what seems to be your ultimate goal in all this.

Second, it's "BootX" not "Xboot" that you need to have as an extension to your MacOS-9.1 installation. I'll assume that is just a typo.

At various times, I have installed both YellowDog 3.0.1 and Debian Sarge 3.1r0a on my 6500/225 and my beige G3 machines. I have used BootX (for both YDL and Debian) and I have also done Debian installs from scratch using the Debian boot/install floppies. Both methods work, with some patience and care.

I'm told it is possible to install YDL 4.0.1 on an old-world Mac using BootX and a special kernel (not the one on the CD), but I've tried and failed a couple of times.

On the Debian Sarge 3.1r0a netinst and businesscard CDs, the "initrd.gz" file is located in the "install/powerpc" directory. The kernel you want to use is the 2.6.8 kernel, named "vmlinux". It's in the same folder as the "initrd.gz" file.

For the YDL install, you want the "install 1" CD. Look in the "boot" folder. I believe (It's been a while since I did this) you want to use the "vmlinux-2.4.20-8dBOOT" kernel for the install and the "vmlinux-2.4.20-8d" kernel for actual running (but I could be wrong on that -- it's been several years...) The initial RAM disk image is in the "images" directory. It's called "ramdisk.image.gz" -- it's the only thing in that directory.

You may want to spring for larger disks. 2.0 GB is going to be tight for a modern working general-purpose Linux system of either variety. If all you want to do is run SETI@home, it's probably OK but you will have to be careful to only install the components you actually need. The YDL setup, being older, will be somewhat leaner than the Sarge Debian installation. (I've never tried Woody Debian, so I don't know what that's like.) You did not mention RAM, but I find that 128 MB (the max for my 6500/225) is usable for a text-only system, but cramped if you want to run X-windows.

As I said, I've done it on 6500's, but I don't know if your 6100 with a G3 upgrade chip will be usable.

I assume you are subscribed to the relevant yellowdog mailing lists (plural -- there are several that may be helpful) and the debain-powerpc mailing list. You may also want to check the archives of the debain-boot mailing list, which is for discussing the debian-installer; much of the Debian work I did was in testing the new (sarge) debian-installer on oldworld Macs, and you'll find reports on my experiences there. Some of my reports have quite detailed instructions for duplicating my successful experiments with BootX-based installation. Read them before you proceed.

There's an internet BBS for Yellowdog users at <http://www.yellowdog-board.com/>. That may be helpful.

Have fun! and Good luck!


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