[Date Prev][Date Next] [Thread Prev][Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

Re: PowerBook 12"

Hi Mark,

Per Debian email etiquette, my reply is at the end of this email. Scroll down...

On Jul 15, 2009, at 22:40 , Rick Thomas wrote:

On Jul 15, 2009, at 7:32 AM, MAD wrote:

I would really like to start using Linux - I have it already as a VM on my Intel Mac Book Pro, and I think it will make my 12" PowerBook very useful. Is there anything someone from your Debian group could tell me to help? Thanks a lot.

Hi Mark,

Your PowerBook won't boot from a USB device, so you can ignore all the people telling you about ways that they have installed Debian on i386 laptops using USB sticks. That's the bad news.

The good news is that it will boot from a FireWire CD/DVD drive. They can be purchased for as little as $80 from CDW (not the cheapest place to buy parts, but they have a good selection) Here's the URL


A cheaper option would be to check out your local Apple Users Group or Linux Users Group and ask if somebody there can loan you a FireWire DVD/CD drive.

Depending on the bandwidth of your access to Internet, you can download a small (60 MB) CD image (called "businesscard") or a full (700 MB) CD, or a full (4.7 GB) DVD install iso image from


You'll need access to a CD/DVD burner. If you buy a FireWire drive, like the one referenced above, that will do the job -- otherwise you can probably get somebody at the local Users Group to help you out.

Don't hesitate to ask questions if you run into problems... The Debian-PowerPC list (debian-powerpc@lists.debian.org) has some friendly folks who are pretty knowledgeable. You can sign up for the list, and search the archives, at




On Jul 16, 2009, at 6:47 AM, MAD wrote:

I work with a Mac book pro - can I use its disc drive as a FireWire CD/DVD drive? I've already burned a CD of the Ubuntu - the problem is, in target mode, it doesn't recognize the CD as something to restart and boot from like it does with an OS X install CD. I also have a external WD hard drive (My Book) - could I somehow use that, without deleting the info on it?

Is there no way without buying a burner? Could I use a MacBook Air and the external drive people buy to use with that one?

Or should I try a different version of Linux?

Thanks for your help Rick.


Yesterday I received mail from a Mac consultant who says that certain PowerPC Mac machines *will* boot from a USB device. Perhaps your PowerBook 12" is one of them - I don't know. I tried it on a grey G4 Desktop and did not succeed. YMMV.

I don't think there is any way to use your MacBookPro as a firewire boot disk without deleting the info on its hard drive.

But maybe you can use the CD. I've tried using the CD-ROM drive via transfer mode without success. It probably depends on the particular firmware revs involved. Go ahead and give it a try. I don't see any harm in it, if it works.

I suspect that the external drive for the MacBook Air is USB, though I don't know for sure. If it's Firewire, then you can use it.

The external WD would work -- if it supports FireWire, but you'd need to have a partition on it to copy the CD to. The data in that partition would be overwritten.

A different version of Linux won't help. You still need to get it to boot the installer, and that doesn't depend on the version of Linux, it depends on the firmware on your PowerBook 12".

As I said before, check out your local Mac or Linux User group. Google is definitely your friend in that search.

Have fun!


Reply to: