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Re: Old world mac

Install MacOS-9. Then use the BootX boot-loader. (or 8.5 or 8.6, if 9 won't run on the S-900. I've never seen one of those, so I don't know what will run on it and what wont. I'm told that BootX even works with MacOS 7.5, if your machine can run it and you have a floppy drive to install it from.) You don't need much of MacOS to do the trick -- 200 MB is more than enough. But, if you can spare about 500MB to dedicate to MacOS, an "easy install" is a lot simpler than going thru all the options at install time trying to intuit whether you will need that feature...) One cute trick, if you have a 100MB Zip drive, is to use the IoMega tools to make an "emergency boot" Zip disk, which takes up less than 50 MB, even after you add the BootX and Linux kernel/initrd files and a couple of other useful tools. Once you have the emergency boot zip drive in hand, you can copy it to a small (under 100 MB) HFS partition on your hard drive, and have yourself the most feature-ful boot loader that ever was.

One other thought. use the 2.4.25 kernel (or later in the 2.4 series.) The 2.6 kernels are missing some drivers for the OldWorld Mac peripherals. (The drivers are available as modules, but getting them installed is not [yet] automatic. I'm trying to get the developers to fix this, but not many of them seem to care...


Here's something I wrote about using the onboard SCSI and ethernet chips on my oldworld hardware under the 2.6 kernel. It may be helpful.

Rikard Borg wrote:


I'm one of those out there.... waiting with a 7200 box at home.

Rikard Borg


Hi Rikard,

Here's a workaround.  (Thanks! and a tip of the hat to Christian Leimer
<christian_leimer@web.de> and Jens Schmalzing <j.s@lmu.de> for putting
me onto this.)

The 2.6 initrd has many more drivers than are recognized by the hardware
discover and hot-plug phases of debian-installer.  In particular, two
that are often needed for OldWorld PowerMacs are the drivers for the
"mesh" scsi chip, and the "mace" ethernet chip, frequently used on the
OldWorld Apple motherboards.   Along with many others, they are located
in the /lib/modules/2.6.7-powerpc/kernel/drivers/ area of the initrd.

So, if you are in that boat, all you have to do is:

1) Boot with the "DEBCONF_PRIORITY=medium" option in the BootX (or other
boot-loader) kernel options line.  Then, just before each of the "detect
network hardware" and "detect disks" phases, switch to the Option-F2
console and do a "modprobe mace" or "modprobe mesh" respectively, then
go back to the main menu on console option-F1 and proceed as  normal.
If your ethernet chip is not a "mace", but some other one that isn't
automatically recognized, substitute the appropriate driver for it in
place of "mace".  Do the same, mutatis mutandis, if you have an odd-ball
SCSI chip.

2) Since you loaded the drivers "behind the back" of d-i, it doesn't
know to put them in the "/target/etc/modlues" file before the reboot, so
you have to do that manually.  Just before it reboots, switch one more
time to the option-F2 console.  Do a "chroot /target" and use vi (or
whatever) to edit /etc/modules.  Add lines for your respective "behind
the back" drivers. Once you are safely out of the editor, you can exit
the "chroot" by hitting ctl-D.

3) I boot using MacOS-9 and BootX, so for me there's one more step I
have to do behind d-i's back.  That's to  mount the (hfs) MacOS
partition and copy the kernel and initrd from /target/boot into the
appropriate places in the "System" folder on the MacOS partition.  [[In
order to do this, I have to choose the "hfs" file system driver when d-i
gives me a list of optional drivers to load, and I need to have
formatted my MacOS-9 partition as hfs, not hfs+, when I was installing it.]]

I haven't yet figured out what to do if your new boot disk needs a
"behind the back" driver.  (You're in a catch-22 situation.  You need
the driver to read the /etc/modules file that tells it to load the
driver!)  I think you have to edit the "/etc/modules" file on the initrd
to have it load the necessary modules before it mounts the "real" root.
That's not difficult to do if you have a functioning Linux you can boot
into with  access to the initrd, but if you are installing from scratch,
I don't think you have that option.

Let me know if you have any trouble with this procedure.  I'll try to
help any way I can.



On Tuesday, August 10, 2004, at 10:02 PM, Eric D. Hedekar wrote:

Any one of these three bugs will render debian-installer unusable for
anyone with anything but a "plain vanilla" hardware or networking
environment who doesn't have help from a competant System
Administrator, or have such skills personally. Since I'm the only one on this list who cares two figs about OldWorld PowerPC hardware, and I
have UNIX SysAdmin experience going back 25 years (including some
pretty unusual hardware!), I guess it's not a show stopper...  Still,
there *might* be some folks out there in the "real world" (TM), who
will be disappointed that they can't figure out how to install the new
Debian release on their particular old Macintosh hardware.  You never

Hi, I never recieved your original e-mail, however I have a Umax S-900 that does not want to load the new installer. I have attempted to load woody and upgrade but I would rather do a fresh install and wipe the old stuff clean. Do you have any tips specific to this box? (I recieved the response you gave to the 7600 so if there's something there that I need to do, don't bother to
retype it, just reference to it)

Eric Hedekar

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