Bug#413814: installing Debian GNU/Linux 4.0 on a Power Macintosh G3 Server
Welcome to an elite minority of those of us who have got this to work!
Below are a couple of hints from my own experience in doing this.
On Mar 7, 2007, at 5:21 AM, Alex Teclo wrote:
Boot method: BootX
Image version: Debian etch powerpc weekly build
Date: February 4th 2007
Machine: Power Macintosh G3 Server
Processor: PowerPC 740/750 (G3)
Memory: 256 MB
Here's a feedback of my installation of Debian 4.0 "etch" on a
Power Macintosh G3 MiniTower
Since it's an oldworld macintosh, it cannot boot from the Debian
CDs. I tried booting from floppies, but it never worked, the floppy
drive is probably dead.
So my solution was to install a legit copy of MacOS 9.2
Here's what I did:
- boot into MacOS 9.2
- launch BootX with the files vmlinux and initrd.gz
- debian-installer runs smoothly and everything goes well, except
one thing: when debian-installer attempts to install quik as a boot
loader, the operation fails, and the error messages states that
"the partition is not ext2". This error messages seems odd to me.
What partition does d-i mean ? The partition where MacOS 9.2 is,
which is HFS ? One of the Linux partitions, which are ext3 and not
ext2 ? Anyway, isn't ext2 the same thing as ext3 without
- anyway I'm not worried at all that quik could not install,
because I still can boot into MacOS 9.2 and then fire up BootX to
boot into Debian GNU/Linux
- debian-installer finished up its work and reboots the machine
... and then something goes wrong: I see on the power macintosh a
flashing "?" in a floppy. This means "I can't find any operating
system to boot" ... ouch ! Now that's a problem.
- I tried zapping the PRAM, it did not help.
- Finally I took the "Outil Disque Dur" diskette and chose the menu
"Fonction" and then "Mise à jour". Pardon my French, this should
translate to "Apple Disk Tool", menu "Functions" and then "Update".
I don't know the exact wording since I've never used MacOS 9.2 in
any other language than French :)
... and *yes*, now I can boot into MacOS 9.2
At some point after the installer has stepped you through choosing
language and keyboard, but before running the partitioner, you can
choose "go back" from one of the question screens. That will get you
to a top-level menu which has an option (near the bottom) of changing
the priority level of the questions that the installation asks you.
Change it to "low" or "medium". From now on, the installer will
return to that top level menu screen between installation steps. It
will also ask you more questions than it did at default priority --
just choose the defaults if you don't know the answers.
This will give you a chance to prevent it from trying to install the
quik bootloader (choose "proceed without installing a boot loader"
instead.) This will keep it from messing up the OS-9 bootstrap stuff.
When it ejects the CD and pauses one last time before rebooting,
switch to VT2 (hit <alt>-F2) where you can start up a limited shell
by hitting the <return> key. The root partition for the installation
is mounted on "/target". have a look around if you like (do "ls",
"df", "ps" and anything else non-destructive.) Then do the following
# you *may* need to do "modprobe hfs" here (or "modprobe hfsplus").
I don't recall.
# In any case, you've got the installer kernel and it's associated
modules in the
# installer ramdisk, where you currently are, so it will work.
mount -t hfsplus /dev/hda6 /target/MacOS # or "-t hfs" if that's
what it is.
# Now you're in "bash" inside the installed system.
# If you like, you can poke around a bit now to get a feel for the
cp /boot/vmlinux /MacOS/System\ Folder/Linux\ Kernels/vmlinux-new
# or whatever you like to call it
cp /boot/initrd.img /MacOS/System\ Folder/Linux\ Kernels/initrd-
new.img # or whatever
# now you're back into the installer environment with it's limited shell
Then switch back to the VT1 (<alt>-F1) console and proceed with the
final stages of the installation.
It will reboot into MacOS-9.2 and pause at the BootX screen. Enter
your "root=/dev/hda9" in the parameter box and choose your new kernel
and initrd.img files. Then allow it to boot into Linux. You should
be good to go.
... but now when I boot into Debian GNU/Linux with BootX, there is
another, more serious problem:
When I boot into Debian GNU/Linux with BootX, I can only use the
vmlinux and initrd.gz of debian-installer. So instead of booting
into my system, I boot into debian-installer.
Attempt to solve this problem: start a shell from debian-installer,
and chroot to my Debian GNU/Linux system. From there, find the
vmlinux and initrd.gz that will allow me to boot directly into
Debian GNU/Linux (they are in /boot) and make them accessible to
the MacOS 9.2 system. But...
First attempt: mount the MacOS 9.2 (HFS) partition in read/write
and copy vmlinux and initrd.gz there. The hfs driver isn't built in
the kernel, so I need to load it with modprobe hfs... But alas ! It
fails because it's not the same kernel version ! Indeed, I'm
running the vmlinux kernel from debian-installer, but I'm trying to
mount a module in /lib/modules on the installed system. So it's not
the same version of the kernel ! And I can't mount the HFS partition.
Second attempt: connect to the local network. From the chroot,
transfer the vmlinux and initrd.gz files to a machine which has
apache installed. Then reboot into MacOS 9.2, use a web browser to
access the second machine, and download vmlinux and initrd.gz. Then
in the future I can use these vmlinux and initrd.gz to boot into
I really admire your creativity! But the above magic is much easier...
debian-installer is for sure better than the "tools" you had to use
to install Debian 3.0 on powerpc... But it seems there are still a
Especially I don't see why MacOS 9.2 becomes unbootable after the
installation of Debian GNU/Linux. Of course, I didn't touch the
MacOS 9.2 partitions at all. I had a lot of spare space after the
MacOS 9.2 partition, and I created my filesystems there. You can
look at the output of mac-fdisk -l up there, I didn't mess with the
Apple partitions :)