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Re: Booting the Debian installation CD on Powerbook G4 12"

On Fri, Feb 14, 2003 at 05:02:32PM +0100, Jerome RICHARD wrote:
> I've seen in the debian powerpc mailing list that you have installed a 
> debian on a PowerBook G4 12".
> I've just buyed one and the Debian CD-ROM don't boot (But boot on a 
> eMac). Do you know how I should do ?

Yes, and since this took a lot of work and fooling around, I thought I
should post a summary to this list and to a web page (since I'm lazy
I'll probably start by just posting this email at

First of all, I couldn't boot from the CD either.  I put yaboot,
yaboot.conf, root.bin and a kernel (another challenge: see next
paragraph) on the OS X partition, per Branden's instructions for the
iBook at http://people.debian.org/~branden/ibook.html, and booted into
open firmware and entered: 
boot hd:3,yaboot
I'm not completely sure that it was hd:3 -- do a 'df' in OS X and see
what partition it is, because there aren't as many driver partitions
as there used to be, but there's at least one more than you actually
need.  My OS X root is now /dev/disk0s2, which would be hd:2.  That
will get you booting into the boot-floppies installer.

But when you get to the step of partitioning/initializing/mounting
your hard drive, the kernel you get from
will tell you "No hard disks were found."  If you look at /dev/hda
you'll see that it's your optical drive.  The problem is that this
disk is ATA-100, and the current kernels are only for ATA-66.  I had
to build a kernel that supported ATA-100, but I still don't know what
chipset this machine is using (anybody?) so I just added them all --
not an elegant solution, but it works.  It makes for a 3.8 MB kernel
image, but you can download it at
http://valla.uchicago.edu/ppc/vmlinux-pbg412.bz2 (you probably need to
bunzip2 it for it to boot).

So put my kernel (or your own-built kernel with the right ATA chipset
support, as long as you tell me what it is) in /vmlinux on your OS X
partition, reboot with cmd+opt+O+F, boot hd:3,yaboot or whatever is
right (you could tell me this as well, if people are going to refer to
my web page or this email thread).  From there things should be okay
-- the hard drive is /dev/hdc, and you can read the packages off the
CD just fine, even if you can't boot from it.  After you install, you
should boot to OS X, change OSX:/yaboot.conf to point at your GNU root
partition and remove the line about root.bin, then reboot with
hd:3,yaboot or whatever (still from the OS X partition).

My kernel has support for cpu frequency scaling via /proc/cpufreq --
and now when it boots it claims to be at 53 MHz.  You can get this up
to the proper 867 MHz by doing
echo -n "1000000:2000000:performance" > /proc/cpufreq
but in practice I haven't noticed this making much of a difference --
I mean, the machine isn't actually running at 53 MHz.  If you're
building this for your own kernel you need the patch that benh sent:
(this works great).

And this message
is useful, since it sends you here:
http://penguinppc.org/~daniels/README for XFree86, which works, but
only once per boot -- if you exit XFree, the screen goes black and you
pretty much have to reboot over ssh.

You should install the newest version of yaboot from
http://penguinppc.org/projects/yaboot , because it's supposed work
with our hardware -- though it still isn't working for me to boot
directly into GNU/Linux without going through Open Firmware.  I might
be making some stupid mistake here, even though I haven't had this
kind of trouble with yaboot before.  When I try to boot to GNU by
default I get a folder with a question mark, then a folder with a
finder-face on it, then it boots OS X.  It also doesn't seem to be
recognizing "enablecdboot" or "enableofboot" but, again, I might be
the one with the problem.  But so I still boot Open Firmware and do
boot hd:4,yaboot to boot to GNU without going through OS X (hd:4 being
my yaboot bootstrap partition.)  hd:3,yaboot also works, since both
kernels are identical for me right now.

Sound and DVD-playing work just as in the iBook.  APM correctly shows
battery level.  I still haven't tried burning a CD or a DVD.

I'd like it if I could help in some way with getting pmud and Airport
Extreme working, but I don't know what I can do to help.  I'm asking a
question, there.

Hope this helps,


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