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Re: Debian CD-images



On Mon, May 15, 2000 at 01:25:32PM -0700, C.M. Connelly wrote:
> "EB" == Ethan Benson <erbenson@alaska.net> writes:
> 
>    EB> the debian cds should boot Newworld powermacs and PReP
>    EB> (maybe) it would be nice to be able to boot oldworld macs
>    EB> too but that would require non-free Apple CD drivers or a
>    EB> custom written driver that acts as a boot loader
>    EB> [...]
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

> I'm sure we've had some discussion about this issue before, but
> just to bring it up again, what are the LinuxPPC people using on
> their CD-ROMs?  My housemat and I downloaded disk images for
> LinuxPPC 2000 and burnt CD-ROMs from them, and they booted my
> ``old world'' PowerComputing clone just fine.  (We actually
<snip>

LinuxPPC CDs are made with non-free MacOS software, with a non-free
Apple driver.  Debian won't sacrifice freedom just to get away from a
perfectly functional bootable floppy disk.  maybe later someone will
have time to implement a Free software CD boot loader that will work
on oldworld macs, until then use a floppy disk. 

LinuxPPC CDs also use a real HFS filesystem instead of a ISO9660
hybrid, this is a very bad thing IMO:

for one thing it means we cannot keep packages on that CD since many
of them exceed the lame 31 character filename limit of HFS.  LinuxPPC
gets around thing by just trunicating the filenames and inserting
kludges into there installer to deal with it, debian maintainers of
apt-get, dselect, and dpkg I am quite certain would not go along with
pervasive kludges like this.

HFS support in the kernel is also not something you can count on being
there, if you have been paying attention to Alan Cox's TODO list for
2.3/2.4pre you will see this:

`HFS is still broken' under the heading `not showstopper'

so at best if you like to use dev kernels you would lose access to the
CD, at worst 2.4 simply won't support HFS in a workable way and you
would not have access for a LONG time.  

(for that matter HFS is not all that reliable NOW, i have already
paniced my 2.2.15 kernel trying to mount HFS partitioned CDs)

> >From reading their hardware-compatibility list
> (<http://www.linuxppc.com/about/hardware/>), it looks like
> LinuxPPC 2000 is only installable* on Macs and Mac clones -- their
> CD-ROMs boot on pretty much all of those systems, including G4s,
> G3s, iMacs, iBooks, various PowerBooks, lots of older systems, and
> lots of clones.**

debian CDs will boot all newworld macs, which includes most powerbooks
made in '99 and later, all iBooks, iMacs, non-beige G3s, all G4s (as
of now, if apple releases a new G4 they will likely include obligitory
mainboard changes to break the kernel itself)  oldworld machines such
as clones and beige macs are all bootable with floppy disks, dd images
are included on the CDs and new versions of Apple's Disc copy will
accept a raw dd image.  

> If LinuxPPC can boot both ``old world'' and ``new world''
> PowerMacs with the same CD-ROMs, why can't Debian?  I thought I
> remembered seeing a message from someone at LinuxPPC offering to
> help with getting the bootable CD-ROMs set up, as well, although
> I'm damned if I can find it now (gotta love computers, right?).

see above, Debian will not use non-free software just to get away from
a perfectly functional floppy disk. 

> As for other architectures, LinuxPPC seems to have decided that
> booting on PowerMacs is the most sensible option, and provides
> links to various places (mostly off their site) for more
> information on getting LinuxPPC installed and running on those
> platforms.  Debian could certainly do that, too; another option
> might be to provide additional CD-ROM images that would boot on
> different architectures.  From my admittedly brief look at the way
> Debian does CD-ROM images, it seems like it might be possible to
> provide a skeleton image for each architecture that would be
> filled in with the architecture-specific and generalized PowerPC
> packages.

I do tend to agree with LinuxPPC that powermacs are the best machines
to make bootable CDs for, they are the most common, and most
available. there is not many other sources of PPC hardware at the
moment other then Apple's which is within the price realm of most
users of Debian. (yet)  

I however do not agree that debian should do like LinuxPPC and take
shortcuts in using dubious design (HFS filesystem) and non-free
software to create a bootable CD for oldworld macs, maybe by the time
woody is at this stage someone will have had time to write a boot
loader for CDs that will let us use hybrid ISO9660/HFS, mkhybrid, and
cdrecord to create the CDs instead of non-free MacOS and non-free
MacOS CD writing software. 

> Let me know if I'm totally off-base here.  While it would be nice
> to have a single set of disks for all PowerPC systems, I think we
> all agree that's not entirely possible, and maybe not even
> entirely desirable.  It seems like the major downside to having

all PowerMac systems might be possible in the future, but all PowerPC
systems i tend to think is unlikly

> multiple architecture-specific CD-ROMs would affect retailers more

that is one of the reasons for the current CDs, they are not
archetecture dependent, they will work fine for any PowerPC machine,
they just won't boot anything except newworlds and maybe PRePs.
otherwise they are ISO9660 CDs with powerpc binary .debs on them.  

> than end-users, and I suspect that most Debian users download
> images and burn their own CD-ROMs anyway.

nah, i think most debian users just download the boot floppies, install
and run apt-get ;-)

<snip>
> 
> ** Aside: LinuxPPC's Mac page,
> <http://www.linuxppc.com/about/hardware/apple/>, claims that G4s
> should be able to boot with the newest version of BootX available
> from Ben's site, <http://ppclinux.apple.com/~benh/>.  I thought
> that was kind of interesting given the discussions here about
> BootX vs. yaboot.  I don't see anything on Ben's page that
> confirms or denies G4 bootability with BootX.

I will never understand thier obsession with BootX, they just won't
let it go...  BootX won't work on AGP G4s (or at least extremely
poorly) it sorta works on others, but BootX is really not that
reliable on newworld macs, and is apparently unreliable when used with
MacOS9 on any hardware, especially newworlds. 

yaboot is really quite painless if you follow my advice and create a
tiny 800K Apple_Bootstrap bootstrap partition and use ybin on it. it
takes all of one extra command in the debian dbootstrap process after
you finish configuring the base system.  once you do that hold down
command option p r when you reboot and blamo you boot yaboot, don't
even have to touch OpenFirmware.  need macos?  install the menuized
version of ofboot.b in /etc/ rerun ybin and your done.  simple, quick,
and dare i say just as easy as BootX.  yaboot is just a pain the way
LinuxPPC suggests you set it up, because they try to treat it like
BootX and do everything from MacOS, which in fact makes it much harder
then it needs to be.

-- 
Ethan Benson
http://www.alaska.net/~erbenson/

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