Workspace for D-I Manual Updates for PowerPC Old World Macintoshes and Clones

2.2.1 Floppies Old World

Support for booting from floppies on Old World Macintoshes is a work in progress. Currently development of old world boot floppies is done using miBoot, which is unfortunately non-free. There are two different approaches that may correct this. One is doing a free miBoot replacement (that is replacing the non-free part of the program), and the other is extending the functionality of the quik bootloader. Until then netboot (preferred) or BootX are required. (N.B. BootX is not recommended for technical reasons and involves download from the author's site, due to licensing restrictions).


Old World Macs do not currently support booting from CD-ROM, however floppy and hd-media boot methods support loading debian-installer modules from cd-rom (so the floppy or hd-media essentially is just a boot method for an cd-rom install). The floppy boot method also allows for a netboot-type install.

3.5 Pre-Partitioning for Multi-Boot Systems

On Old World debian doesn't need to be the first bootable partition (it boots from the master boot record of the hard drive).

New World (or Old World that works with yaboot) uses yaboot. Yaboot recommends a small (800 KB) partition that is the first bootable partition on the hard drive. If allocating in ?DriveSetup, either leave the smallest unallocated partition you can at the beginning of the disk or leave space for at least one of your debian partitions plus the yaboot boot partition at the beginning of the disk.

4.5 Preparing Files for Hard Disk Booting

If you can, netbooting (section 4.6) is preferred to a hard disk install as the hard disk install requires use of BootX which is not part of Debian. In addition BootX should be considered a last resort for technical reasons outlined by Benjamin Herrenschmidt, one of main powerpc porters in the (upstream) kernel team. This is also why using quik is the recommended option post-install. In future the boot.img floppy may use a free miBoot to launch Linux installation, but cannot easily be used for hard disk booting (prior to a working install).

Booting from HFS+ (vmlinuz and initrd.gz) is perfectly acceptable using BootX, however the iso9660 (cd-rom) image, must be on an hfs partition (not hfs+).

4.5.1. Hard Disk Installer Booting for OldWorld Macs

BootX, launched from MacOS, supports booting from files placed on the hard disk. BootX can also be used to dual-boot MacOS and Linux after your Debian installation is complete, however this is not recommended. There are reports for various models, including the Performa 6360 that quik cannot make the hard disk bootable (this may be due to issues with quik-installer, or insufficient documentation). If so, BootX may be required on those models.

If you insist on BootX,

  1. Download and unstuff the BootX distribution, available from

  2. Use Stuffit Expander to extract it from its archive.
  3. Within the package, there is an empty folder called Linux Kernels. Download vmlinux and initrd.gz from folder, and place them in the Linux Kernels folder.

  4. (optional) Then place the Linux Kernels folder in the active System Folder.
  5. Place a cd image in the root of an hfs directory, or burn it to an actual cd. You can use either the mini.iso in powerpc/netboot (for an install using the network) or the xxx-netinst.iso in a full cd, or a netboot mini.iso. Using netinst or a full cd will reduce the amount of downloading during the actual install (or reinstalls, if you'll be installing frequently).

OF Setup

The debian-installer does not currently handle the setting of the OpenFirmware variables needed for many Old World ?PowerMacs to boot using the quik master boot record. In addition many Old World Macs use the first serial port for input and output, and quik and the kernel use the OpenFirmware input and output devices for console input and output. That means until the virtual terminals are activated, a typical user will only see a blank screen.

This can be corrected by using nvsetenv to set the variables appropriately, just before rebooting into your system, but the corrected settings are not necessarily easy to deduce (though some guidelines will be given later).