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  1. #1

    philh's Avatar
    Member Since
    Nov 10, 2010
    Linux on older Macs (G3) with no CD-ROM
    I've got a Tangerine G3 iBook with a ropey (but still semi-functioning) CD-ROM, and I posted on the Apple website to see if anyone could help me get it up and running again, but guess what; my post seems to have gone AWOL. I guess if you're not buying a brand new out of the box experience, Apple don't want to know... So, here's a dummies guide to getting Linux onto your older, non-USB bootable iBook/iMac, using only the semi-functioning CD-ROM, a USB stick (and a working computer with internet connectivity hehe!).

    First, some basic troubleshooting. Does the CD-ROM work at all? I'm guessing if you've got this far, you'll have tried your OS8, OS9, OSX and Linux installation disks with varying degrees of success... If you're getting a different result every time, it could be your CD-ROM is filthy (especially if you bought it off a dude who kept it in his attic/storeroom/dungeon for the last ten years ). So, give it a go with some isopropanol lens cleaner and a lint-free pad or stick. Do it again and again, and clean the tray itself while you're at it, but be careful not to knock the lens assembly out of whack!

    Done that? Working? No, me neither. Right, so we get to the guts of it.

    The only working OS I could get onto my iBook is Finnix 86.1 booting from the CD-ROM. So we'll run with that. Google it, download it, burn it, and give it a go. Is that working? If not, stop here, sell your useless brick and let someone else have a go. If it does, by some miracle, boot up: there is still hope.

    The next thing you need is some Live CD ISOs. Gentoo do some for PPC, and Ubuntu too. Make sure you get the PPC Live CDs, and not the Net installers, just another point of failure. The nice thing about this method is that it doesn't matter how big the ISO is, you don't have to fit it on a CD, just your USB stick, and your USB stick doesn't have to be bootable.

    So, onto the guts of it. By now you should have a FAT-formatted USB stick with one or more PPC ISOs on it (I have quite a collection on my USB stick now, all numbered 1.iso, 2.iso, and so on - it makes sense to me).

    Follow these instructions:

    Boot your Mac into Finnix.

    Type in the following commands, anything in square brackets is comments - don't type them in!

    mac-fdisk /dev/hda [or whatever your hard disk is, find out using fdisk -l !!!NOTE THIS WILL WIPE YOUR ENTIRE HARD DRIVE!!!]
    p [shows partition map and free space only]
    800M [or however large your ISO is]
    Ubuntu [or whatever the name of your distro is]
    p [shows your new partition]

    cd /mnt
    mount -t vfat /dev/sda sda [the sda directory should already be there, if not use mkdir to create it]
    mkdir iso
    mount -t hfs -o loop sda/1.iso iso [substitute the name of your iso for 1.iso]

    hformat -l Ubuntu /dev/hda2
    mkdir target
    mount -t hfs /dev/hda2 target

    cd iso
    cp -vR ./* ../target/

    [And that's it! You should now have the contents of the ISO on your new Apple_HFS partition!]

    I'm waiting for my copy (cp -vR) to finish chugging through (you should see the files copied across and the USB stick light flashing if everything is going alright - remember the squashfs file is HUGE so that will hang for a while) and after that I'll bless the partition /dev/hda2 to be bootable (which I'm assuming will be, ahem, bless /dev/hda2 ) and bob should be my auntie's live-in lover.

    Problem solved, I reckon.

  2. #2

    philh's Avatar
    Member Since
    Nov 10, 2010
    EDIT: In order to copy some of the larger files, you will have to create a healthy-sized swap partition and activate it.

    In the mac-fdisk, after creating your Apple_HFS partition; do these:

    500M [or 2x RAM]

    [Then, before you do the cp -vR; do these:]

    mkswap -f /dev/hda3
    swapon /dev/hda3

    [I am also looking into one enormo-Live-DVD partition for ubuntu-6.06.1 - which weighs in at over 3.3Gb! Try doing that one using a CD-ROM!]

    Also, bless-ing is a little more complex than I thought... Many good tutorials are around for ybin and mkofboot, which seem to stand in for it on the Linux side...

    More to come as I wait for the last of the Live CDs to copy across. Might even manage a multiboot at this rate! Woohoo!

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