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Re: How do I boot Debian GNU/Linux for PowerPC (Macintosh)?

Also relevant to the thread: "installing Deb on Rev. A iMac?"

Christian Ericsson wrote:
>I have downloaded the potato version for PowerPC to use on the Macintosh
>computer. It seems to have two different versions of the "rescue boot
>floppy". In the directory dists/potato/main/disks-powerpc/current you find
>the the powermac directory. In the powermac directory you find the
>"resc1440.bin" file and the "floppy-boot-hfs.img" file. How do I use these
>boot floppies?
>I have tried to boot the Macintosh computer with the "floppy-boot-hfs.img"
>disc. But, it will not recognize the disc as a boot disc. I have tried the
>same with the "resc1440.bin" disc. Same result.
>I have also tried to use the BootX program. I have installed BootX in the
>system folder, and put the "linux" file from the "floppy-boot-hfs.img" in
>the Kernel older for BootX. I have also tried the linux kernel from the
>"resc1440.bin" disc. It boots, but suddenly stops booting when it can't
>mount the root partition. I got a kernel panic error. "VFS: unable to mount
>the root partition, something...".

I have run into the same problem. I think the floppy images are not well
built, unfortunately. I am currently looking at the bootfloppies source (in
, the "source" directory in
http://ftp.debian.org/dists/potato/main/disks-powerpc/current/ certainly
does not contain anything useful) and I get the impression that lots of
files are missing on the images, please correct me if I'm wrong.

Another point is that the root disk image and the drivers disk image seem
to not be correct ext2 images. Why do I say that? Well, while I do not have
linux installed yet (need to back up my HD and repartition), I can do sort
of basic things as follows:
What I did is to use bootX, the ramdisk.image.gz downloaded from
linuxPPC.org, and the corresponding kernel from them. I booted with "use
ramdisk" and "no video driver" selected, and kernel arguments
"ramdisk_size=8192 init=/bin/sh" (the former is necessary with this ramdisk
image, otherwise you crash, the second avoids booting into the linuxppc

I tried mounting the diskettes made from root1440.bin and drv14-1.bin as
ext2, but it says that there is _no_ ext2 file system present. The same
happens when I mount the image files directly as a loopback "live
filesystem" from the top level of my Mac HFS partition:
  mkdir /mnt/macdisk
  mount -r -t hfs /dev/hda7 /mnt/macdisk
Now I can mount "live" filesystems from files placed at the top level of my
mac partition for example root1440.bin:
  mount -o loop=/dev/loop0 /mnt/macdisk/root1440.bin
Same error message about there not being any ext2 fs present. Note: the
kernel on the resc1440.bin (FAT) image seems not to have any loopback
filesystem support in it, nor does either this or the default linuxppc R5
kernel have FAT filesystem support.

Now I'm a "theoretically informed newbie", so I cannot say any more at this
point, I'm hoping for feedback from experts to be able to contribute
something. In particular I would like to make an effort to improve the
whole situation by setting up an install procedure for pmac that follows
the same scheme as used by linuxPPC, ie. one that does not use diskettes
but can all be started from a few downloaded files, even in the absence of
a cd, using just:
1) bootX
2) a kernel with everything necessary, including loopback filesystem
support. The current default linuxPPC R5 kernel works for me (PB3400)
3) a ramdisk.image.gz file that would correspond to the boot diskette/root
diskette, containing dbootstrap and whatever else you need
4) a "live-filesystem" file that corresponds to the tarball package
base2_2.tgz, but then unballed and made into a ext2 filesystem image file
(and gzipped again for downloading, of course).

Then the standard procedure for bootX launch would be used: put kernel and
ramdisk.image.gzip where bootX expects them and the base2_2.live into the
toplevel of the Mac partition, boot into linux with the ramdisk as root,
then a script mounts the live filesystem (this can be lifted from linuxPPC,
it's a simple perl script), copies files into the linux partition etc.,
does the installation procedure as normally (though I don't know how that
is exactly, see my questions hereafter).

In order to do this I need the following info (and I'll need to install
linuxPPC first to have some form of linux available, in order to make the
disk images, I'm afraid):

1) What should be on the boot diskette? I have the sources for the boot
diskettes, but to understand  how the diskettes are built just from reading
the various makefiles and scripts is daunting. Moreover the FAT and the HFS
images provides on the ftp site do not contain the same.
2) What is supposed to be on the root1440.bin diskette. Same problem,
moreover as I said, I cannot read the provided images either as ext2, or as
FAT or HFS. --> ????
3) What is the story about the driver diskette. From the bootfloppy docs it
is not even clear in what order the different diskettes will be used, and
when, if it is the case, one will be prompted to change diskette. Could
anyone give a step-by-step overview of the floppyboot procedure? What
scripts/binaries are executed in what order, mounting of filesystems and
changing of diskettes etc? I could probably find out for myself by reading
all the source package, but that's a huge task. Some hints would be

If we can succeed in setting this up, then MacOS-based installation could
be dramatically simplified, especially for those who do not have a diskette
drive (wasn't there something about this not being standard on new Mac's
anymore?). It could even be used on the CD.


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