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Re: G3 Beige Tower install with BootX - help

>>> Rick Thomas <rbthomas55@pobox.com> 09/09/08 8:49 AM >>> 
> Hello all,
> I have been working with Debian for quite a few years now and using  
> powermac G3 machines with extra network cards in them as routers  
> and firewalls, etc. These machines were set up back in the days of  
> Woody and have been kept uptodate with security updates, but  
> otherwise pretty much left untouched. Due to the issues around the  
> firmware in these machines and because it was useful, I always set  
> them up to boot initially into mac OS9 then use BootX to hand over  
> the Debian. This worked a treat.
> However, I thought it would be good come up to date by installing  
> Etch instead.

I'll bring this up to Lenny.  [Rick]

> I used a free machine that was not actually in use and ran the  
> install using the current network install ISO.

I used the Lenny Beta2 "businesscard" install disk.

> Things have changed since the days of woody and it now seems that  
> floppy images (boot image and root image) are no longer used.  
> Hence, I copied the initrd.gz file over to the mac HD and set that  
> as the ram disk for the install. I also copied across the linux  
> kernel and put that into the kernels folder in the system folder.

In a little more detail: I drag- n- dropped the "vmlinux" and  
"initrd.gz" files from the Debian install CD (they are in the  
"install/powerpc" directory) into the MacOS9 "System Folder:Linux  
Kernels" folder.  Then I chose those two as the "Kernel" and "use  
specified RAM disk" options in BootX.

I set the "More kernel arguments" box to  
"DEBCONF_PRIORITY=low" (without the quotes) to specify that I wanted  
to run the installer in "expert" mode, so I could do a couple of non-  
default tricks needed by OldWorld Macs using BootX.

You may or may not want to check the "No video driver" checkbox,  
depending on your video hardware.  This is the equivalent of the  
"video=ofonly" in yaboot.  You'll have to experiment to find out  
which option works for you.

You may (probably will) want to change the "Ramdisk size" option to a  
larger number.  I use 32768.  The default is 8192.

> Using that allows me to boot into the installer

where I answered the questions in the usual way, until I got to the  
step "Load Installer Components from CD".  There I chose the option  
to install "hfs- modules": HFS filesystem support.  We'll need them  
later on when we copy the new customized kernel and initrd to the  
MacOS9 partition.  This is the first "non- default trick" for BootX  
installation, for which we need to be in "expert mode".  There will  
be another occasion later.

> and using the installer

partitioner in the installer

> I deleted the previous linux partition (hda7) and swap (hda8) and  
> made new ones.

I used the "manual partitioning" option and created "root" and "swap"  
partitions.  Note that these two partitions should have single digit  
numbers.  Otherwise, during the reboot following the installation,  
the Linux boot process will hang "waiting for the root partition".  I  
suspect this is a bug somewhere in the code that decodes the kernel  
arguments.  Putting this restriction another way, the root and swap  
partitions should each be chosen from hda7, hda8, or hda9 (assuming  
your MacOS9 partition is hda6, as it usually will be.)  If either of  
them are hda10 or greater, you'll have problems later.  You can use  
two- digit partition numbers for things like "/home" and "/usr", it's  
just the root that is restricted.

The "guided partitioning" will try to create an ext2 "boot"  
partition.  This is necessary for the quik bootloader, but completely  
*un*necessary for  BootX.  In fact, it's actually undesirable because  
I've recently discovered that the default size (8 MB) for the "boot"  
partition is too small --  kernel and initrd have grown since quik was  
written.  So including /boot as just a directory in the root  
partition allows it to have arbitrarily large contents.

While you're there in the partitioner, make a note of the partition  
numbers of your MacOS9 and root partitions.  You'll want them later.

> Then installed the base system, etc,etc all the way through to  
> where it runs tasksel. I just leave that at the basic system for now.

> Following on some more, finally we get to the point of

having finished "Select and install software" where the next thing it  
would want to do is "Install quik on a hard disk".  You do *not* want  
to install quik.  You've got MacOS9 and BootX to do that job.  So  
skip over that line and continue with "Continue without boot  
loader".  It will tell you that you need to use the vmlinux from the  
"boot" partition and set the kernel parameter "root=" to the root  
partition that you just installed into.  Write down the root  
partition number (if you didn't do so during the partitioning step)  
you'll need it later.

At this point you should switch to a different console (hit the "alt"  
and "F2" keys) and do the following magical stuff:

mount - v - t hfsplus /dev/hda6 /mnt
# Instead of hda6 you should use the partition where your own MacOS9  
is located.
# the mount command automatically loads the hfsplus module we  
retrieved earlier.
cp /target/boot/vmlinux /mnt/System\ Folder/Linux\ Kernels/
cp /target/boot/initrd.img /mnt/System\ Folder/Linux\ Kernels/
umount - v /mnt

This will put your new customized kernel and initrd where BootX can  
find it later.

Now you can return to console 1 (the installer) by hitting the "alt"  
and "F2" keys. and run the "Finish the installation" step.

[I did not need to do the following --  Rick]
>> trying to install Quik (which I don't need) and it gives an error  
>> anyway, since I have selected ext3 file system that is not  
>> supported in quik. I therefore say to carry on without a boot loader.
[End of "I didn't do this" --  Rick]

> Everything goes fine all the way to rebooting into the new system.  
> However, when I do that, OS9 will not boot up. I just get the  
> flashing disk symbol with a question mark on it. Popping the OS9 CD  
> and booting off that and then running disk setup shows me that the  
> HD has somehow been altered so it is not recognised properly as a  
> mac HD. During the partitioning step, I did not alter anything  
> other than hda7 and 8.

I get the same thing.  I don't know why.

> I have found that I can reinstall the apple hard disk driver onto  
> the disk and this then gets OS9 up and working.

I do this with the "Drive Setup" program in the "Utilities" folder of  
the MacOS9 install CD.  I hi- lite the disk, and choose "Update  
Driver" from the "Functions" menu.  Then I reboot and MacOS9 comes up  
fine.  (Do *NOT* initialize the disk, incase you were tempted to try  
that.  You would wipe out all your hard work up to now.)

Once MacOS9 boots and displays the BootX dialog box, you can edit its  
options to use the customized vmlinux and initrd.img files you copied  
into the "System Folder:Linux Kernels" folder, and set the kernel  
parameter to "root=/dev/hda7", where, instead of hda7 you use  the  
root partition number that you wrote down a while ago.  You should  
then click the button to "save to prefs" to remember these new  

When you then click the "Linux" button, Debian will boot for you.

[I don't have the problem described below --  Rick]
>> However, I cannot then boot into Debian, since the boot process  
>> gets a little way in and then I get a kernel panic at the point  
>> where it tries to mount the file system (error about no file  
>> system at /dev/hda7).
>> I have done this several times now and the same thing happens  
>> every time. The install goes fine but then I end up with a  
>> completely unusable machine.
>> I am wondering if I am going about the install process wrongly (ie  
>> using the initrd.gz file). I can't find anything really useful in  
>> the install manual or using Google. I will probably end up looking  
>> really stupid when someone points out an obvious mistake I have  
>> made, but I can live with that.
>> If anyone has got etch installed on the beige g3 (its a 266 mhz  
>> machine, but I can't tell you the firmware version, etc. Would  
>> need to find out how to get at this) and can share their  
>> expertise, it would be most appreciated.
>> Thanks in advance,
[End of "I don't have this problem --  RIck]

Hi Rick,

Great job, I think the edited step by step is very good. Just one note about the bit at the end:

[I don't have the problem described below --  Rick]
>> However, I cannot then boot into Debian, since the boot process  
>> gets a litt.....

That was my initial problem and was at the end of my final post since I was being impolite and top posting... The problem was resolved by the step by step above it.

Also, is it worth adding in a section about what needs to be done for getting updated kernels working? I think an earlier post in the thread mentioned the need for copying new kernels and initrd images over to the mac OS partition and making sure that they are set up in BootX. Might be sensible to mention this as well at the end of the step by step.


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