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Re: Debian-installer, older hardware, boot loaders, miboot & amiboot & ..

Here's a thought.  First some background:

Last night, just to prove it could be done, I succeeded (first try) in using BootX under MacOS9 on an OldWorld PowerMac G3 (beige mini-tower) to load and run the debian-installer kernel and initrd downloaded from:


I got as far as the point where the d-i tries to install a bootloader. It died there because there is no boot loader for the oldworld subarchitecture.

I could have done the same thing using miboot, but it would have been *much* harder. BootX has a nice Mac-like user friendly interface. Miboot most definitely does not.

The amount of MacOS actually needed for this is quite small. With a little work, I've gotten the corresponding thing for yellowdog Linux down to under 50 MB and put it on a zip disk.

So here's my suggestion:

Declare that all OldWorld machines must have a minimal MacOS partition with BootX as their "boot loader". That is, If you want to use debian-sarge on an OldWorld Mac, it presupposes that you first have MacOS and BootX installed on that machine.

Do not provide BootX on the CD, just a note in the README document that says you need it and how to download it from, say, "non-free" or "contrib".

Now the part of debian-installer that died on me last night has an easy fix: Simply do not install any boot loader at all for that subarchitecture.

This makes installing a new kernel on an oldworld machine a bit tedious because you have to manually copy the new kernel binary and any associated initrd to the right places on your MacOS partition, and make manual changes to the parameters on BootX. Also, since HFS+ filesystem support is still iffy enough that it's recommended to use it read-only, this means that your MacOS partition should be HFS rather than HFS+. Some folks may find that irksome, but it's definitely not a show-stopper.

It's still possible to use quik or miboot to get a completely "macOS free" machine, but we can leave that as an exercise for the serious hackers.

Would that fit all the legal requirements?

It has the advantage that it's doable in the time-frame needed to get sarge out the door.


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