Distribution: GNU/Debian (Woody)
General preparation and strategy
General caution warnings apply, have a backup of all data
you consider important.
It is important to have a rescue booting method in mind.
For operating systems from Apple like MacOS and MacOS-X this is
the installation CD. For GNU/Linux we used the yaboot from the a
Debian Potato PowerPC bootable CD.
There are several keystrokes that you should be
aware of with Apple Laptops:
- C at startup
- Will try to boot the system from the CD
- Apple+choice+O+F at startup
- Will bring you into the OpenFirmware prompt
- Hardwired shutdown of the system
To boot the linux Kernel and your GNU-System from the harddrive
or the CD can be tricky if you need special options.
You can see that you can boot into yaboot on harddrive or CD
from the OpenFirmware prompt. You can then use yaboot to boot your
kernel and let it find the system. We had to use several methods.
Installation of the base system
We are going to install Debian GNU/Linux Woody, at the time of installing
the system, no installation CDs were available. Even the bootdisk image was
broken. See the first step as a documentation about what is possible
in emergency cases.
Hopefully at the time you read this a bootable Debian GNU/Linux CD
for PowerPC will be available.
Right now (End of October 2001) the installation
of a Debian GNU/Linux System on a Apple Titanium
should work well placing the yaboot, yaboot.conf, vmlinux and root.bin from
the Debian Woody release on the hard disk and proceed.
- the files yaboot, yaboot.conf, vmlinux and root.bin from
the Debian Woody release
- the Binary-1 CD from the Debian Potato release, ideally version
2.2r3 or better.
- a network connection to the internet, so that you can
use apt-get. If you happen to have an
apt-proxy setup in your LAN, this is a plus of course..
Prepare the hard disk using the MacOS DiskDrive Setup
Boot up from the MacOS CD and completly clean the diskdrive using
DiskDribe Setup and create the following:
- a partition of type "unknown", it will contain all the GNU/Linux
partitions in the future
- a small partition of type "HFS", for the initial boot images
- a partition (or more) of type "HFS+" for different MacOS.
Reinstall the MacOS
Boot a minimal Woody-System so you can use a modern mac-fdisk
Copy the files yaboot, yaboot.conf, vmlinux and root.bin to the second
your yaboot.conf should look like:
Please note that the last line is essential at this point.
Reboot via OpenFirmware and yaboot
At the OF prompt type:
to boot into the yaboot loader (replace YY with partition ID of
your system, it could be 10.
Now you are at the yaboot prompt. Press the <tab>
to examine the optional
kernel images to boot. You should only see "Linux".
Press <enter> to boot the kernel
After some messages scrolling over your screen you should enter the initial
screen of the Woody Installation. The Debian Woody files we use
for this were still somewhat buggy as mentioned before,
but what is essential
is the mac-fdisk program
(partitioning tool) coming with the installation disk image.
Enter another console with "option-fn-F2", you will find yourself in a
crude shell, the ash. Now you are at the Woody rescue level.
Partitioning your hard disk
Start with: mac-fdisk /dev/hda
Examine the partitioning with "p"
You have to create at least three partitions in the space where
currently the empty partition resides.
Delete this partition with "d XX", replace XX with the right
Create a bootstrap partition (where we will install the boot loader
later on): type "b", select with "XXp" the start of the now empty
partition XX and give it "800k" space.
Create a swap partition: type "c", select with "(XX+1)p" the start
of the remaining free partition and give it a reasonable size.
Name it "swap" and mac-fdisk will automatically assign it the type
Create at least one partition for your system with: "c", "(XX+2)p"
and "(XX+2)p". This would give the full remaining space to that
partition. Otherwise specify a size and repeat the step. Name the
partition "linux" or so. mac-fdisk will anyway assign it the
type "Linux Native".
Examine the partitioning again with "p"
If you think everything is ok, think again about it. Typing the next
command you may lose any data on the disk in case of an error -
however there shouldn't be much on it if you followed these
Write the new partition table to the disk with "w".
Leave the mac-fdisk with "q"
Install Debian potate base System from CD
Reboot the titanium and reenter the OF boot prompt.
We never managed to boot and install further with the woody ramdisk image
a second time - weired.
However, as something was broken, we did install a core system based
on Potato: Insert the CD.
At the OF prompt:
At the yaboot prompt type
This is the way to bring options to the kernel.
If you need more than one option, you have to seperate them by
Proceed with the installation (now of the Potatoe Base System) up to the
point where it comes to make the disk bootable. DO NOT perform this step.
we have other ways to boot our system at this stage
Leave the install tool, reboot and enter OF
Boot installed system via the yaboot on the harddrive
We have to use our initial yaboot again: The ID of the partition where
yaboot reside has changed according to the partitioning (we have created
at least two more partitions in front of the partition in question).
In our example above, now start yaboot with:
At the yaboot prompt, we now can boot our freshly installed
hd:11,/vmlinux video=ofonly root=/dev/hda11 ro
Now the installation continues:
Enable MD5 Passwords, with shadow, and set up root and a user
Use only the current CD as installation media. This brings a basic
installation on your HD, which we will upgrade shortly.
You might need to switch again to the console and
remount the root device rw at some time.
mount -o remount /dev/hda11 /
Upgrade to woody
We needed to upgrade to woody, hopefully you are in the good position to
get a woody system right from the start and do not need this step.
We have a base potato on our computer, we upgrade to woody
at this stage. Having a apt-proxy in our subnet we can use it
and add lines to /etc/apt/sources.list
deb http://proxy.hq:9999/ woody main contrib non-free
deb http://proxy.hq:9999/non-US/ woody/non-US main contrib non-free
and (only needed for apt-proxy setup) to /etc/apt/apt.conf
Now that apt is ready you can use the regular Debian procedure
to upgrade your kernel:
Update the package database: apt-get update
Upgrade the current system: apt-get dist-upgradey
then you need to get needed packages.
New Keycodes -- Rescue situation
The upgrade to woody changes the way the keycodes are handled.
It will provide you with an option. The Titanium's keyboard is closest
to the native USB Apple keyboard.
At the first attempts this left us with a system which we could
not use at all, because a wrong keymap got loaded.
This is a good situation to describe what do to in such an emergency
Boot yaboot over Openfirmware like described above to add options (video=ofonly)
and then boot from CD and switch to the crude resuce shell.
Now you can use the mount command to mount the partitions on the disk.
Let's say, you've mounted the partition on /mnt/.
You can only use the commands in the rescue system first,
the trick is to chroot /mnt to get all the binaries you have
on the disk already.
In our case we could just rename /etc/console/boottime.kmap.gz
so that the wrong keymap would not be loaded. After a reboot we could
configure a nice one.
The new yaboot package includes ybin and takes care of the most
difficulties in blessing the small HFS partition and installing
yaboot there. Note that if you change yaboot.conf you need to run
at least ybin.
apt-get -s install yaboot
Modern kernel and X11
To fully utilise your Titanium Powerbook you need a modern
We started with a kernel from
and got an XF86Config from
Now the new XFree also worked with video=aty128fb.
Places to get help
Mailinglists at linuxppc.org