This page describes the instalation of a Gnu/Linux Distribution on Apple Harware. Most of this page refers to a PowerBook, see below on tips for the Mac Mini (yes, Linux can run onthe Mac mini). Again, before installing a Gnu/Linux distribution, search on Google, chances are that there is a good instalation guide out there about your particular hardware. I found for the Mac Mini.

I actually have a requirement for some Linux software on my Powerbook. So I grabbed the ISO for Ubuntu 5.04 "Hoary Hedgehog" powerpc and prepared to put it on my extra 10gb partition. Oddly enough, my Mac Mini refused to burn the ISO, but my PC burned it fine. (Disk Utility claimed to not be able to start some service it required. I think it just refused to help me corrupt its brother.)

As usual with a Mac, hold down C to boot from CDOM.

First obstacle was during partitioning. One of the types of partitions I can create is "NewWorld boot partition". I hope I don't really need one of those. It turns out my "10 gigabytes" was actually 11.7, so I made a 10gb ext3 / and 1.7gb swap.

My partition table now looks like this (60gb disk):

1 32.3kb Apple
- 134.2mb Free space
3 48.2gb hfs+ Apple_HFS
4 8.9mb external boo(t?)
2 10.0gb ext3 root /
5 1.7gb swap untitled swap

Sure enough, it complained: "The yaboot boot loader requires an Apple_Bootstrap partition at least 819200 bytes in size, using the HFS macintosh file system". Maybe it should tell you this before you start partitioning?

So now it looks like this:

5 1.6gb swap untitled swap
6 84.3mb boot untitled

and it is pleased.

Added note: There is some documentation out there explaining which partitions are needed and why. Parted (the utility in charge of the partitioning) will create the partitions required for booting, eventually. It may take you a few tries before getting exactly what you want).

It is possible to keep your Mac OS X and do a dual boot. Parted should let you shrink your original Mas OS partition. In Oct 2005, parted did it only if your MacOS Apple HFS partition did not use journaling (since it presumably does, reboot into OS X and desactivate it). Furture version of Parted shluld be able to handle the journaling of HFS as well.

Also, when you upgrade your kernel, you often need to run ybin to update yaboot, the boot loader.

End Note.

That chugged away for about 20 minutes, then ejected the CD and asked me to reboot. It didn't let me configure my own apt repositories: too bad, I have a local mirror. I don't think the i386 version lets you do that first either.

yaboot is way ugly, but it looks just like one of the BSOD xscreensaver modules, so at least it's familiar. smile

After all that, it seems to Just Work. Except for Airport Extreme, (wireless Ethernet) not a surprise. I need to find a wireless PCMCIA card that's well supported under Linux on powerpc platform. There is an Airport Extreme in the Mac mini as well. It is not supported and presumably never will because Broadcom refuses to release the specs.

Regarding Wireless Ethernet, Ralink makes a good chipst and opened the specs and is used by several cards. They did an oppen source driver and there is a community open source driver as well. The Linksys USB wireless for example uses the Ralink chipset. In September 2005, none of these two drivers supported the PPC architecture. The community project had started a rewrite to unify code and annouced they will support PPC). There was also the Ural linux (port of a BSD driver for Linux) that could be promising. It was too instable for me in September 2005. I stayed with wires.

Sound on the MiniMac: the sound works, there is a path for kernel 2.6.8 to 2.6.11. It is included in kernels kernel 2.6.12-rc4 and later. You also need alsa-lib version 1.0.9rc3 or later.

MultiMedia: wmf3. Version 3 of Windows Media Files (that is, some files with extension wmf) are not support under Linux. Not just under Linux PPC, under any Linux. MS has refused to disclose the format. On i386, you may read them using the libraries from Windows. On a Mac hardware, there is an equivalent project (running Mac OS libraries from Linux) not as advanced, but this may lead to a hack (that could make the Airport Extreme work as well).

-- MikePatterson - 13 Apr 2005

-- Main.aallaven - 17 Nov 2005 André Allavena

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Topic revision: r6 - 2006-02-08 - IsaacMorland
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