Bootable disk for OldWorld NuBus PB 5300? - Powerpc

This is a discussion on Bootable disk for OldWorld NuBus PB 5300? - Powerpc ; I'm trying to install ANY linux distro on a PowerBook 5300cs and running into so many problems it's silly. Hardware: PB5300cs, 16MB RAM, 500MB IDE, 512K VRAM (640x480x8) Floppy drive + serial port. No ethernet. No CDROM. I've got the ...

+ Reply to Thread
Results 1 to 4 of 4

Thread: Bootable disk for OldWorld NuBus PB 5300?

  1. Bootable disk for OldWorld NuBus PB 5300?

    I'm trying to install ANY linux distro on a PowerBook 5300cs and running
    into so many problems it's silly.

    Hardware: PB5300cs, 16MB RAM, 500MB IDE, 512K VRAM (640x480x8)
    Floppy drive + serial port. No ethernet. No CDROM.

    I've got the 500MB drive partitioned as follows: 240MB Linux, 50MB
    swap, 210MB MacOS. I currently have 110MB free on the MacOS side and
    would like to place the base packages of ANY distro in a folder and have
    them installed. Once there I could PPP my way through the serial port
    to the rest of what I need.


    1) The mkLinux extension will boot the stock "Mach Kernel" and load a
    vmlinux+installer. However, the installer can only install via network
    or CDROM. It can't mount the MacOS partition, and when I Ctrl-Z out of
    it I can't mount a floppy, load modules, or anything else that could
    bootstrap the process.

    2) The "Mach_Kernel" from is the only
    other kernel I've found that won't hang on the splash screen of the
    mkLinux booter (as in it will emit some kind of output on the screen).
    However, after it comes up the keyboard doesn't work.

    3) I have no clue if the mach_options= line in lilo.conf is actually
    doing anything.

    Does anyone have a kernel that I can boot from floppy and land on a
    prompt with, that can mount HFS? I'm just getting very agitated that
    nothing seems to work.

  2. Re: Bootable disk for OldWorld NuBus PB 5300?

    I got it working. For the benefit of all who may come later, here is
    most of the procedure:

    Installing Debian Woody on a PowerBook 5300


    I was helping someone move and noticed that they had a PowerBook
    5300cs lying around. They offered it to me for free because no one
    had picked it off the last two garage sales, even at only $10. This
    one was in really good shape, only needing a new battery (eBay $25)
    for production use. I had never had a chance to use MacOS before or
    Linux-on-Mac, and I was curious what programming a PowerPC chip would
    be like.


    You need to understand a lot about Linux from a user standpoint. This
    is not for the faint-of-heart.

    This PowerBook is my first Mac EVER. I had used MacOS 8.x
    occasionally during university, and knew just enough to fire up a web
    browser and ignore it. To get things working, I encountered almost
    all of the typical PC-to-OldMac stumbling blocks. This account should
    provide a roadmap for others trying in the future.

    Why bother?

    Don't do this if you need a fast production laptop with lots of RAM
    and X running. This procedure took me several days to iron out, and
    for the price of that time you can easily find a sub-$100 Intel-based
    laptop more than capable of running Linux + X.

    Do this if you already know MacOS (and have software for it) or the
    physical size of the machine matters a lot. The 5300cs has a very
    small desktop footprint and is rather rugged for machines of its day.


    This PowerBook has NuBus, 16MB RAM, 515MB IDE hard drive, Mac
    mini-din8 RS422 serial port, and floppy. No ethernet, no PCMCIA
    drivers to put an ethernet card in, and no CDROM. This procedure
    should work for most similarly-limited OldWorld Macs.

    Part 0: How to transfer files from Linux to Mac

    (It took way too long for me to figure this out.)

    First, when you download Mac files, DO NOT USE MOZILLA. Use wget
    instead. I don't know why exactly, but Mozilla 1.7 ruined the files
    as they came down. Find a file, copy the URL, then from a terminal do
    'wget URL' and it will come down OK.

    Second, install hfsutils for your particular distro.

    Third, get a blank 1.44MB floppy. Do the following:

    # hformat /dev/fd0
    # hmount /dev/fd0 <-- this might not be necessary right after
    # hcopy /path/to/local/file :
    # humount

    Note that we don't provide hmount or humount a local mount point.
    Also, the target filename for hcopy must start with a colon. We
    re-use the disk for multiple file transfers:

    # hmount /dev/fd0
    # hdel Filename\* <-- you CAN use wildcards, escape them so the
    shell doesn't expand them
    # hcopy /path/to/new/file :
    # humount

    Finally, you may find on occasion that Linux complains of 'I/O error'
    on what WAS a perfectly good floppy. This happened to me when I put a
    Debian boot floppy in that wouldn't work and had to remove the floppy
    by using a paperclip to press the recessed "floppy eject" button while
    the Mac booted. (The Debian floppy was bootable, but I couldn't get
    it ejected the normal way. Hence the override.) I suspect the floppy
    controller automatically flags the disk as 'bad' so it won't be used
    again to boot.

    You can get the floppy back in service by booting the Mac, inserting
    the floppy, initializing it if necessary, then dragging the floppy to
    trash to eject it. I haven't found any way to fix them in Linux.

    Part 1: Get MacOS happy

    The single most difficult thing to do with a Mac is getting it to boot
    when you don't have a Mac on-hand to create boot disks. Fortunately
    for me, I did have a set of MacOS 7.5.2 + System Enabler 1.2.1
    floppies that came with the machine, so I was able to re-install MacOS
    from scratch.

    If you don't have boot floppies, you can acquire them at . Scroll
    down to "System Software Downloads", and grab the nineteen files
    starting with

    I've heard that one can make a Mac bootable simply by booting on a
    floppy and dragging all the floppies' files to the hard drive. There
    are some copies of bootable floppies out there that a PC can create. contains the Apple SCSI
    hard disk setup program. I also have a copy of the PowerBook 5300
    Disk Tools diskette at [[ TODO: URL ]]. Hopefully if your PowerBook
    has no software one of these disks will get you moving.

    While at the Apple Support Site, grab these too:


    You'll now need Aladdin's Stuffit Expander to extract all the other
    Mac files you download. The file you're looking for is
    aladdin_exp55.hqx . Google shows numerous places to get it.

    With all of this downloaded, follow this sub-procedure:

    A. Use either one of the Disk Setup / Disk Tools disks to
    re-partition the hard drive. Create three partitions: 240MB,
    210MB, and 50+ MB. Note their names. When you install MacOS
    later, make sure you install on the 210MB partition.

    B. Make your system bootable. I would add more detail here but I
    expect this step may require lots of experimentation to work.

    C. Copy the Disk_Copy_6.3.3.smi.bin file to a floppy using hcopy.
    Put it in the Mac, it should show up as a floppy icon with a
    single file in it. Execute the file, and automagically a
    second disk icon should appear on the desktop. Copy the files
    out of the new disk icon and onto the actual hard drive
    partition. Don't put it on the Desktop, that won't copy the
    file to the hard drive; put it on the hard drive proper. Put
    the "new" disk icon on the trash (unmount the virtual disk).

    D. Reboot: select "Special" on the Finder menubar and then
    "Restart". The floppy should eject on its own before the
    system reboots.

    E. Copy each of the MacOS 7.5.3 disks (19 in all) to a floppy
    using hcopy and transfer it to the Mac. With each file, use
    the Disk Copy program to put it on a new blank floppy.

    F. Put the System 7.5.3 disk 1 disk in the floppy. Open it and
    run the installer. It will prompt you for each additional
    disk. At the end of the install, it should ask to restart and
    when you next come up you will have System 7.5.3 on your hard

    G. If you used the Disk Tools disk to partition, you may notice
    the Linux partitions on your desktop. If you used the Apple
    A/UX setup disk instead, you can skip the Part 2 'pdisk'
    section below.

    After we get ZTerm up and running you can use ZModem to transfer the
    7.5.5 update over and run its installer. MacOS 7.5.5 is reputed to be
    the fastest MacOS for this system.

    Part 2: pdisk

    pdisk is a utility originally written for the MkLinux project to
    create A/UX partitions on a Mac hard disk. It can be acquired at . Grab the PPC binary,
    install it on the Mac.

    When you get pdisk up and running: make sure you show the device list
    ('L' command) and WRITE DOWN the BASE and LENGTH numbers of ALL
    partitions. Delete the placeholder Linux partitions and recreate
    them, using exactly the same BASE and LENGTH numbers you wrote down.
    Write the new partition table and restart immediately. On the next
    boot you should see that your Linux partitions no longer appear on the

    Part 3: ZTerm

    OldWorld Macs like the PowerBook 5300 have a strange serial port.
    First, the physical plug is a mini-din8 female connector. Second, the
    transmission standard is RS-422, not RS-232 like most PCs. You can
    easily get a Mac to talk to a PC using a "Mac modem" cable, or make
    your own. I actually found a Mac modem cable in the "garbage area" at
    work and used that. However instructions for making your own are
    available at several places:

    [[ TODO: Verify that the cable works ]]

    Getting the larger files over from PC to Mac will take a lot of time,
    and more importantly a working serial link. Download ZTerm 1.0.1 from . Install it on the Mac.

    When ZTerm comes up, select the "Printer/Modem Port" and set the port
    speed to 57600. (This was the fastest I could go without encountering
    CRC errors.)

    When ZTerm comes up to the terminal screen, simply begin uploading the
    files from the Linux PC (minicom: Ctrl-A S, space to select files,
    enter to begin upload). ZTerm will autostart ZModem download.

    Now that you have ZTerm installed, you will almost certainly find it
    more convenient to use for small file uploads.

    Part 4: Utilities

    MacGzip: find it at

    You will need MacGzip to decompress the kernels you get from
    nubus-pmac. Before you decompress a kernel, you may need to rename it
    to end in ".gz" before MacGzip will read it.

    To decompress a file, click it and drag it onto the MacGzip icon,
    WHILE HOLDING DOWN SHIFT release the mouse button. Keep shift down
    until you see MacGzip actually decompressing the file.

    Part 5: Get Debian Woody to the MacOS disk

    You'll need three files from the Debian site:

    Transfer them to the Mac. Keep their pathnames from disks-powerpc on,
    i.e. put them on the disk as:


    Note that basedebs.tar is about 50MB. The only way to get it there
    with this configuration is ZTerm. It will take a couple hours.

    Part 6: MkLinux + nubus-pmac kernel

    Download the Apple MkLinux Booter here:

    Uncompress the file using Stuffit Expander, then follow the directions
    inside to put all the files in their respective places.

    Download the Debian Woody installer kernel here:

    Download the regular Linux kernel here:


    Place the Woody installer kernel in the Extensions folder as "Mach
    Kernel", overwriting the old "Mach Kernel" file. (MacOS: Select the
    file, OpenApple-D to "Duplicate" it, then rename the copy, then
    drag-and-drop the copy into the Extensions folder.)

    Setup lilo.conf as follows:


    Now restart, select MkLinux on the boot prompt. You should see a
    Linux kernel booting shortly that will take you into the Debian Woody

    Part 7: Perform the Debian installation

    Now restart and select MkLinux. You should see a Linux kernel booting up.

    You will have to help the Debian installer along from another console
    as it progresses.

    After the installation window appears, press Option-F2 to switch to
    the second virtual terminal window. Press enter to activate the
    console. On the second console, do the following:

    # mkdir /macos
    # mount -t hfs /dev/hda6 /macos

    Option-F1 to return to the first console. Answer the prompts. When
    it asks for files, point it to a pre-mounted directory and let it
    search for them in /macos.

    You may get an error on the configure modules page. This is because
    the installer is calling depmod and expecting a
    /target/lib/modules/2.4.xx-xxx directory to be there and it isn't.
    Fix this:

    # uname -a
    < Note the full kernel version. Suppose it is 2.4.20-pre11: >
    # mkdir /target/lib/modules/2.4.20-pre11

    Retry the operation and it should go on.

    After Debian installs basedebs.tar, restart the system. When the
    MkLinux booter appears, select MacOS.

    Part 8: Switch to the running kernel

    Setup lilo.conf as follows:

    mach_options= keyboard_sends_linux_keycodes=1

    Now restart, select MkLinux on the boot prompt. On this boot you'll
    see a slightly different kernel load. You'll get a few more pages of
    the Debian installation left, then you'll be back at a prompt.

    Part 9: Get PPP up and running

    The Mac serial port driver under Linux works immediately on bootup.
    present and working at 38400.

    Establish a PPP link between the PowerBook and a desktop PC. On the
    Mac, do this:

    [root@mac-pb5300]# pppd debug /dev/ttyS0 nopersist passive local
    nodefaultroute noauth linkname desktop

    On the PC, do this:

    [root@desktop]# pppd debug /dev/ttyS0 38400 local nodefaultroute
    linkname mac

    You should immediately see a ppp link between the Mac and the PC. The
    Mac's IP address will be, the PC's

    Now you need to get the PC to masquerade for the Mac. On my Mandrake
    10.0 PC, these steps did it:

    [root@desktop]# modprobe iptable_nat
    [root@desktop]# iptables -t nat -A POSTROUTING -o eth0 -j MASQUERADE
    [root@desktop]# echo 1 > /proc/sys/net/ipv4/conf/eth0/forwarding
    [root@desktop]# echo 1 > /proc/sys/net/ipv4/conf/ppp0/forwarding

    Back to the Mac:

    [root@mac-pb5300]# route add default gw

    Edit /etc/resolv.conf on the Mac to include a DNS nameserver.

    You should now be able to reach the Internet from the Mac.

    Part 10: Finish installing Debian

    Once you can do DNS and telnet/ping/etc from the Mac, run apt-setup to
    add some HTTP or FTP sources to your configuration. Note that this
    will take quite a while at 38400. Then you can run dselect to finish
    installing the applications you need in pieces.

    dselect takes FOREVER to run when it first updates with the network.
    There will be a period of up to ten minutes of thrashing while it
    sorts through the apt repository information to put together the first

    You should install aptitude as quickly as possible and use that
    instead of dselect to remove the excess packages the Debian base
    install included. aptitude uses far less RAM and handles dependencies


    DO NOT TRY TO UPGRADE TO SARGE. You will not have enough disk space.
    You can manually download individual packages and install them, or you
    can compile and install new stuff yourself. The sarge upgrade will very
    likely fail in the middle and you'll have a set of mismatched libraries
    that won't be able to run pppd again.

  3. Re: Bootable disk for OldWorld NuBus PB 5300?

    On Wed, 30 Mar 2005 17:29:34 -0600, Kevin Lamonte

    >I got it working. For the benefit of all who may come later, here is
    >most of the procedure:
    >Installing Debian Woody on a PowerBook 5300

    (Snipped to save 60-baud bandwidth)

    Thanks for the information. Very helpful and I appreciate your



    Study History - Know the Future

    If you can read this, thank a Teacher;
    Since it is written in English, thank a Soldier.

  4. Re: Bootable disk for OldWorld NuBus PB 5300?

    On Wed, 30 Mar 2005 17:29:34 -0600, Kevin Lamonte wrote:

    > This PowerBook has NuBus, 16MB RAM, 515MB IDE hard drive, Mac mini-din8
    > RS422 serial port, and floppy. No ethernet, no PCMCIA drivers to put an
    > ethernet card in, and no CDROM. This procedure should work for most
    > similarly-limited OldWorld Macs.

    As a Linux-on-PPC user (I'm using a PowerBook Pismo, running Debian sid),
    just thought you'd like to know that if it's NuBus, it's not OldWorld.
    OldWorld is a distinguishing line between the old-style boot process and
    the new-style _only_ on PCI systems.

    Derrik Pates

+ Reply to Thread