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Re: Performing installer tests on PowerMac with USB sticks


From what I know about Macintosh and it’s Open Firmware, FireWire is set as a default boot-option since OF 2. Therefor any G3 or G4 Macintosh will boot from firewire using the Command+Option boot-key. The Open Firmware will recognize the FireWire boot-sector by default. So, yes… trying different images works best on a FireWire drive.

However, PowerMac 6,4 should be abled to boot from USB. What I am thinking is going on with your system, is that the USB-stick does not have a valid AFS boot-sector for Apple; which is definitely needed to boot from USB. Christian Zigotsky has done extended research on this issue with his Fienix distribution. He also explains it very clearly in his YouTube video on booting his G5 from USB.

I hope this’ll help you along a bit further.



> Op 1 mei 2019, om 12:18 heeft aggaz <aggaz@paranoici.org> het volgende geschreven:
> Thanks for all the information you are providing.
> Despite my efforts I still am not able to boot my eMac G4 (Apple
> PowerMac6,4) by USB.
> After reading your email I was able to see that with a USB stick
> inserted at boot a disk device indeed shows up in the device tree
> (visible by using the command "dev / ls"), but I am still not able to
> list its files by using the command "dir".
> By the way, the USB stick contains a dd'ed debian ISO image and it is
> possible to browse its files on a PowerMac G5 (PowerMac11,2).
> I think I am using the correct OF path, derived by looking at the device
> tree and by comparison with the working path on the G5.
> I can confirm it has OpenFirmware 3 as shown by the following command on OF:
> 0 > dev /openprom
> 0 > .properties
> name		openprom
> device_type	BootROM
> model		OpenFirmware 3
> relative-addressing
> supports-bootinfo
> boot-syntax	00000001
> This is not the first time I bang my head against OF and USB boot.
> Eventually I ended up using NetBoot for a G3 and this G4 (which was not
> easy anyway especially on the G3).
> For what is worth, I think that a developer in need to test several CD
> images without burning them should consider investing in a FireWire HD.
> As far as I know booting from FireWire should be much easier, but I
> never tried it.
> Regards
> A.
> Il 30/04/19 21:56, Linux User #330250 ha scritto:
>> Am 30.04.19 um 12:54 schrieb John Paul Adrian Glaubitz:
>>> Hello! I have dug out one of my iBook G4s now so I can perform
>>> installer tests on the PowerMac target. While the machine has a
>>> built-in optical drive, I would avoid having to burn CDs for every
>>> installation test run (even when using CD-RWs), so I was wondering how
>>> well booting from USB sticks works on these machines. Does anyone have
>>> experience creating bootable USB media for PowerMacs to install
>>> Debian? Adrian
>> Despite what others said, it should really work with every Macintosh
>> that has the NewWorld bootrom and thus at least Open Firmware 3.0, i.e.
>> starting with the iMac "Bondi" 1998 and the PowerBook G3 "Lombard" 1999.
>> And, it's all already written down in a nice way.[1] Don't read on when
>> you are happy with this official guide.
>> Or read this:
>> * http://hints.macworld.com/article.php?story=20060301112336384
>> * https://lists.debian.org/debian-powerpc/2012/08/msg00042.html
>> *
>> https://sites.google.com/site/shawnhcorey/howto-boot-apple-powerpcs-from-a-usb-drive-in-open-firmware
>> The long read: I wanted to share my own experience as well...
>> Apple did not provide an easy way, like holding a key for this kind of
>> boot selection. The possible keys are, a selection[2]:
>> * c – boot from CD-ROM (or any other /internal/ optical drive)
>> * d – forces boot from first hard disk drive (like it normally would anyway)
>> * n – network boot, looks for suitable BOOTP or TFTP network boot source
>> * r – (PowerBooks) resets stored screen size to internal default
>> * t – target disk mode
>> * mouse button held down – forces eject for media in internal optical drive
>> * option – shows Open Firmware boot selection
>> Sadly, Apple decided to include FireWire in the automatic search for
>> bootable volumes but to leave out USB. The capability is there
>> nonetheless, only that there is no key for it to press and hold, like in
>> easy, quick and comfortable...
>> The solution is to enter the Open Firmware (OF) command prompt by
>> holding Option + Command + O + F until you can read the Open Firmware
>> greeter on your monitor. Then you need to find the device and load the
>> boot file from there. In essence it is the manual way of what the other
>> options do for you automatically.
>> The syntax is like this:
>>> boot <dev>:<partition>,<file>
>> Examples for <dev>:
>> 1) /pci@f4000000/ata-6@d/disk@0
>> 2) /pci@f2000000/mac-io@17/ata-3@20000/disk@0
>> 3) bridge/ACARD,6280M@4/@2
>> Only, on most Macs there are aliases for this long and complicated
>> device paths. So, for example, all of those above could be just:
>> 1) hd (is set to the faster first HDD, should be the same as ultra0)
>> 2) cd (set to internal optical drive, e.g. ide0)
>> 3) ide0, ide1 (ATA bus)
>> 4) ultra0, ultra1 (UltraATA bus)
>> 5) usb0, usb1
>> 6) ud0, ud1 – only on later PowerPC-Macs (like the Power Mac G5 or the
>> iMac G5, starting around 2003)
>> So, to replicate the boot from CD-ROM (holding the "c" key on system
>> start-up) from the default partition (automatic), you can use the
>> following from the Open Firmware prompt:
>>> boot cd:
>> To choose a specific partition, with a specific file as the initial
>> bootloader:
>>> boot cd:2,yaboot
>> To use the blessed bootloader on a specific parition, in this example
>> partition 3 from the hard disk drive:
>>> boot hd:3,\\:tbxi
>> The <file> "\\:tbxi" is not a real file, instead OF will look for the
>> one file that is blessed on this partition, that is the one file that
>> has specific attributes to it. For Mac OS X this will be bootx, for
>> Linux normally yaboot or grub2. To my knowledge this only works on a
>> partition with HFS.
>> So, now we want to boot from USB. First you need to identify the path of
>> the USB device you want to boot from. Then you need to know the
>> partition number. And, maybe, also the name of the bootloader (or try
>> :tbxi).
>> To find out what aliases your Mac already has defined, run the following:
>>> devalias
>> To see the full device tree without aliases:
>>> dev /
>>> ls
>> Other usefull commands in Open Firmware:
>> * lsdev
>> * .properties
>> * devalias, devalias <alias> <device-path>
>> * nvalias
>> * printenv, printenv <variable>
>> * set-env
>> * set-default <variable>
>> * set-defaults
>> * dir <devicepath or alias>:
>> * eject cd:
>> * mac-boot (will boot the standard)
>> * reset-nvram (same as Cmd+Opt+N+V)
>> * reset-all (will reboot)
>> If you somehow messed up your Open Firmware settings, you can always
>> reset/zap the NVRAM and the parameter memory (PRAM):
>> * Hold Cmd+Opt+P+R to zap the PRAM
>> * Hold Cmd+Opt+N+V to zap the NVRAM
>> hold the keys until you hear the startup chime. I always held the keys
>> until I heard the chime /again/ and /again/ 3 times in total. It's said
>> that it has to be done this way.
>> I think that on my Power Mac G5 (PowerMac11,2) from 2005 I was able to
>> boot from the USB drive with:
>>> boot ht@0,f2000000/pci@4/usb@b/disk@2:2,\\:tbxi
>> or
>>> boot ht@0/pci@4/usb@b/disk@2:2,\install\yaboot
>> I found some notes, this must have been last year or so.
>> I just tried 2019-04-24/debian-10.0-powerpc-NETINST-1.iso on my iBook G3
>> (original Clamshell, 1999) and it did not boot with:
>>> boot usb0/disk@1:2,\\:tbxi
>> I got "can't OPEN: cd:,\install\yaboot"
>> I then tried
>>> boot usb0/disk@1:2,\install\yaboot
>> and this worked.
>> BTW, in yaboot I get this warning:
>>> WARNING: Bootstrap partition type is wrong: "Apple_HFS"
>>>           type should be: "Apple_Bootstrap"
>> One more note on the USB boot front: I use one of those sticks that can
>> be write-protected by a physical slider on the side of the stick. WHEN
>> the stick is read-only, OF is unable to access it properly. Not even the
>> dir command works. Without write-protection everything works fine with
>> the same stick/same data on it.
>> For what it's worth, USB booting on a Power Mac is alwayy trial and
>> error. Write down what works. I heard that it should be possible to
>> define a new devalias somehow... Also, setting boot-device in nvram[4]
>> could make the boot selection permanent (until the PRAM is zapped or the
>> battery dies).
>>> setenv boot-device usb0/disk@1:2,\install\yaboot
>> Only, in the case of an external USB pen drive, I would advice against
>> it...But I can confirm that this also works!
>>> mac-boot
>> will then boot from the USB pen drive, as will every restart as long as
>> the stick remains plugged in.
>> Cheers,
>> Linux User #330250
>> [1]https://www.debian.org/releases/sarge/powerpc/ch05s01.html.en
>> [2]https://whircat.centosprime.com/startup-keys-boot-options/
>> [3]https://cdimage.debian.org/cdimage/ports/2019-04-24/debian-10.0-powerpc-NETINST-1.iso
>> [4]http://www.macfreek.nl/memory/Open_Firmware

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