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Old 09-10-2009, 12:57 AM   #1
dantezo
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Linux install onto iMac ppc


This is my first real post to LQ. I would really appreciate any help, feedback. I am trying to install a new OS on a G3 iMac circa 2001. Ideally I would like to install a Linux distro that is small and efficient, doesn't have a ton of shiny bells and whistles, and is suited for sharing something like my music across a wireless network.

It all started when I brought back from my parents' house my iMac G3 which I had purchased in 2001. I had identified this machine as a revival project that could ideally include:

-dumping all useful stuff I had saved on the iMac onto my MacBook (current main computer)
-installing a Linux distro suited for the iMac's ppc architecture onto the iMac
-exploring the possibilities of networking my music through the iMac, further exploring and implementing shell scripts, etc.

Here's what has happened so far.

Successfully dumped everything I wanted back-up/nostalgia-wise from the iMac to my MacBook using target disk mode (computers connected by a fireWire cable, iMac appears as an external volume to my MacBook). Both the iMac and the MacBook were running OS X.

It was late and instead of properly ejecting the iMac volume, I simply powered it off. oops
After a series of increasingly uncommon (for me) boot screens, the iMac settled into a boot pattern of not fully loading OS X, but reporting a KernelPanic about 45 sec into the boot process.

Since then, I have had varied success running DiskUtility on my MacBook to try and do stuff with the iMac. For example, I thought it might be a good idea to erase it and start fresh somehow and install a linux, and go from there.

Here's my current status:

-iMac connected to MacBook via target disk mode
-MacBook will not unmount the iMac volume
--I've tried a variety of methods for unmounting; it keeps complaining that the disk is in use
-I cannot determine the best method for installing a new OS (some Linux) on the iMac

I have downloaded a few iso image files to my MacBook.

Somewhat related, I have had initially great success with running the following virtual machines on my MacBook:
-TinyCore via VMWare Fusion
-Ubuntu 9.04 via Sun's VirtualBox

Would love any help. I am noObish, I suppose, and could benefit by some understanding guidance. Also, I would appreciate any explanation or illumination of systems concepts related to my issue along with any step-by-step "solution"-type help.
 
Old 09-10-2009, 06:40 PM   #2
MS3FGX
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I am not exactly sure where the problem is here. If you already got what you needed off of the iMac drive, there is nothing else you need to do. Just put the install CD of whatever PPC-compatible Linux distribution you want to install, and away you go.

Admittedly, PPC-compatible Linux distributions are not very abundant. The only distribution that is really focused on PPC and more is Yellow Dog, but as far as I am aware their latest releases don't support the G3 anymore. Ubuntu had a PPC version, but it is no longer officially supported so I can't say for sure how mature it is. You could do with Debian or Gentoo, but they are more advanced distributions and the learning curve may prove a bit too steep.
 
Old 09-10-2009, 09:07 PM   #3
dantezo
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Thanks for your reply, MS3FGX. For reference, here's a link I've been checking out for a list of Linux distros suited for the ppc architecture. Yes, you are right in recognizing that there's no problem with getting what I want off of the iMac. In fact, there's nothing on that machine now. So much nothing, I'm afraid that I've inadvertenly wiped out the machine's ability to recognize Mac boot key combinations. Here's a link to a site that I've been using recently to help remember these boot key combos.

Powering on the iMac invariably results in the following: a Mac-shade-o-blue background with a little blinking image that alternates between a question mark and a Mac face inside a folder icon.
I put an install CD in the iMac's slot-loading drive, and the result of powering on the machine is exactly the same. The machine does not seem to respond to any of the boot key combos that would usually force the machine to boot from a CD, or from any external source; I can't seem to be able to reset the pram or access any kind of firmware, nothing.
The only access I seem to have to the iMac is through running DiskUtility on my MacBook while the iMac is connected via firewire using target disk mode. Come to think of it, the iMac can recognize my holding down the <T> key and get into target disk mode; why can't I boot from the CD by holding down <C>?

I'm holding onto faith that this project still has the potential to be as instructive and fun as I had dreamt. Right now, I'm admittedly a little frustrated. But, I'm looking at this as a learning experience. I mean, how often do you get a chance to start from scratch essentially?

/*
You could do with Debian or Gentoo, but they are more advanced distributions and the learning curve may prove a bit too steep.
*/ // from MS3FGX

I appreciate your concern, but I'm not too worried about a project with a steep learning curve. I would love to really get into the nitty-gritty, working through this issue with someone out there and develop a better understanding of systems in general.
 
Old 09-11-2009, 09:15 AM   #4
MS3FGX
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The key combination on a Mac are a function of the Open Firmware bootloader, and are not held on the HDD. Older Mac's needed to have a Mac OS partition on the drive to do anything or run other operating systems, but yours is of the newer generation.

Why they don't seem to be working in your case, I am not so sure. If you can't zap PRAM from the key combination, I know there is a physical button that you can press to reset NVRAM. It might be worth a shot to get it booting properly again. You might also want to see how it reacts without the HDD connected, though I understand that might be a chore on an iMac.
 
Old 09-11-2009, 04:03 PM   #5
dantezo
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Thanks so much, MS3FGX. Based on your post, I think I'll focus my research on those aspects of a Mac's firmware. I'll definitely poke around for relevant info, but I'd also greatly appreciate any links you have found useful. Also, I have a feeling I'm going to end up opening the iMac's case. I think that will be really fun, but I also don't want to screw things up any worse than I already have. So, again, I'll be poking around on my own, but feel free to toss any cool iMac diy-type links my way. Thanks again! And I'll keep this thread updated with my progress (which hopefully won't include repeating that scene from Zoolander in which they smash an iMac to get files that are *in* the computer).
 
Old 09-18-2009, 01:41 AM   #6
dantezo
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Hey, thanks so much for all your input. I finally got Jaunty Jackalope up and running on lil' blue iMac. The following are the general steps that eventually got it to work.

Running Leopard on macBook:
>...Download and burn to CD (using Disk Utility) the iso file from somewhere near here , with the more general search starting here.
>..Really and truly (this time) erase the iMac's HD. I used Disk Utility, under the Erase tab, specifying first <Erase...> (with the desired format options [i chose the default-by-too-lazy-to-research-which-menu-choice-is-best option, the top one, which happened to be Mac OS Extended (Journaled). Does this option matter?]) Then, and this proved to be what finally did the trick, I specified <Erase Free Space...>.
>.Installation from the PowerPC-specific Jauntalope disk I just burned went without a hitch.

N.B.: Ubuntu runs extremely slow. Flashbacks to the days of wondering if a GUI drop down menu will ever show up, only to discover, as you twiddle your mouse, that (gasp!) the menu has been there all along (sometimes several minutes if you're doing something else) and it partially appear as you hover over where it sits invisibly. And it is functional. I'm going to look into this issue further when I get some more time. I'm leaning towards it being a video card issue? Any thoughts anyone? I seem to get the most latency with anything that has much of a GUI at all, from System preference windows taking forever to show up, to an OpenOffice Presentation rendered useless by lack of speed (not even slide show/transitions/AVmedia, basically just text and a few diagrams, &c,). Command line stuff seems OK.
I'm thinking of essentially starting over and finding a FINNIX ppc-suited or similar distro.
 
Old 09-18-2009, 11:53 AM   #7
MS3FGX
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It does sound like a video card issue, I know some of the Macs have slightly unusual video parameters. What exactly are the specs of this machine? A G3 is certainly no powerhouse, but it should be able to handle basic tasks well enough.

Though it should be said that Ubuntu is a rather heavy distribution, and GNOME especially so. You might (scratch that, definitely) want to look into using a different GUI than GNOME on older hardware. I would personally suggest XFCE, which is GNOME-like but not nearly as resource intensive. If you need to get down to the real bare bones you could go with FluxBox, but I don't think that is strictly necessary here.
 
Old 09-18-2009, 08:22 PM   #8
dantezo
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Hey, thanks again for your responses. And this last post of yours is going to make my weekend less spastic for sure in the sense that (keeping fingers crossed I get around to it) time spent researching this issue will be considerably more focused.

---------------------------------------
..\m/./////...------------------------
...\\.|c.^...-----------------------------
....||.\._|.._______________________ __ _ _
.....\\.V..<thanks for keeping the thread alive_)
-----------(_^_/_/^~^~^\_/^~^^~^~~^~^
-------------\___/^---------------------------------------------
 
Old 09-19-2009, 03:17 AM   #9
peonuser
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Sorry I am late on this one....

Loading the os was a cinch. The video was a nightmare. (Had to install open ssh server so I could remotely cut and paste details to get video set up right. The info is on the net but you have to cull for it) To start the install, just hold down the "c" key and go from there. If you have installed linux before, you should be ok. At the time ati was not supported very well had to go to several websites to to collect kernel modules and xorg.conf settings. I has been so long now, I have forgotten what I did. Slackware would probably run the fastest. But I have only installed Debian and Ubuntu on the old G3 new world IMac/Macs. Make sure it is a new world machine. Pc keyboard and mice work better than Apple keyboards and mice. Right button works automatically with pc mice. Qemu will run Reactos (slowly) if you want to play with an MS program.
Imac running hardy heron:


p.s. debian with icewm or fluxbox would be definately more responsive.

Last edited by peonuser; 09-19-2009 at 03:23 AM.
 
  


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