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Re: debian on a mac?

Monique Y. Herman wrote:

So, lately, I've been drooling over the latest 15" powerbooks.  I have
never owned or even really used a Mac, but when looking at laptop
choices, powerbooks look to be the best.  I even had a dream about it
last night ... except in the dream, salesmen kept giving me the wrong
model, and I'd get home, open it up, realize it was the wrong one, and
have to repeat the process.  Hopefully the actual purchase will be less
painful ...

So, question for people who have used this architecture before: If I buy
a system from Apple, how hard would it be to reconfigure it for
dual-boot?  Single-boot debian?  What is the Mac way to resize/move
partitions?  What does one use for a boot-loader?  I know that OS X is
based on BSD, but I don't know how easy it is to get, say, xfree86 or
gnome compiled and running on it.

How much functionality should I expect from debian on a mac compared to
my x86 setup?  Are packages as readily available?

What are the gotchas?

Any insight into this would be greatly appreciated.

Later. . .

Speaking of which, http://www.debian.org/ports/ lists the motorola 68k
as the second-most popular debian-port, then later down the list
mentions the powerpc.  Both mention Macs.  Are all modern Macs
powerpc, or do I need to look at the specs to know what I need?

There's a debian-mac list where you'll find people running Debian on Mac.

I have a Gray&White G4 on which I'm triple booting Mac System 9, OS/X, and Debian.

Within Debian, I sometimes run MOL (Mac-on-Linux) which allows me to run System 9 and OS/X on top of Debian, even both at the same time, in a window or in full-screen, with networking. Works great for a Helpdesk area; click, you're in System 9; click, you're in OS/X; click, you're in Debian. Of course there are a few minor gotches when running Mac OSes on top of MOL, but it's pretty much as successful as running Windows on Linux via VMWare, only for free. What a deal!

Boot off your Mac System CD; run Disk Tools (or pdisk, which is more like fdisk, but which you'll have to download); partition your drive for your Mac OS(es), leaving a large chunk free for Debian _in front of_ the Mac partition(s). Install one or both Mac OSes. Then copy down four or five Debian files (rescue.bin, etc). Reboot the computer and go into OpenFirmWare (or whatever it's called; I forget. Maybe it's OpenBootWare, or OpenBootProm, or something. It's sortta like a PC's BIOS, but, dare I say, more powerful. The keystroke to get in is something like Command-Shift-O-F, but again, you'd have to read the install docs rather than rely on my likely-wrong memory. Then from there, you feed the OBP some esoteric command to tell the Mac to boot off the Debian rescue.bin file that's sitting on the Mac partition. Then the install is very similar to a regular PC Debian install. Instead of cfdisk you'll use fdisk. You'll see 6 or 7 partitions you didn't know were there, which you'll need to keep if you're keeping the Mac software around. If you're not keeping the Mac OSes, you can get rid of these 6 or 7 partitions. You can only have a maximum of 14 or 15 (I forget) partitions, so 9 or so (7 plus OS9 plus OS/X) are already used, so you'll be somewhat limited in your partitioning options. The only remaining hard part is getting the boot record set up properly for you to boot into all three OSes. (I forget the name of the boot software, but it's kindda like LILO, but not much like it.)

After that, Debian is pretty much Debian. You can't run VMWare or WINE on it, as they're strictly for x86 architectures. I think bochs will work however, and maybe that "other" windows emulator (I say "other" in quotes because I know, I know, WINE IS Not an Emulator), which name I can't think of at the moment.

(Sorry I'm giving you so many vague "I can't quite remember the details" answers.)

Modern Macintoshes, ever since the G3, are PowerPC machines. I doubt the G5s qualify as a PPC machine however; I just don't know. There are other PPC-based machines besides Macs however; that's why the architecture is not called "Macintosh".

Feel free to ask more questions; I can be vague for weeks at a time  :-)


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