Debian on Performa 6400/180

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Last seen: 11 years 10 months ago
Joined: Dec 20 2003 - 10:38
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Debian on Performa 6400/180


Has anyone here had success getting Debian or any other linux onto a PM 6400? So far, I'm stuck, as the debian sarge bootdisks are blank images, and I can't find botdisks for any other flavour of OldWoirld PPC *nix, save netBSD, which doesn't run on 6400s because of OpenFirmware problems.

Problems so far...


Last seen: 14 years 7 months ago
Joined: Dec 14 2004 - 20:14
Posts: 122
May be an answer at the 6400 Zone

Cheers, Tom
Mac Troubleshooting, Maintenance & Tips

Last seen: 11 years 10 months ago
Joined: Dec 20 2003 - 10:38
Posts: 20
Thanks, but...

I've already checked there, and couldn't find much of anything useful for non-G3 accelerated 6400s.

Thanks anyway,

Jon's picture
Last seen: 12 years 11 months ago
Joined: Dec 20 2003 - 10:38
Posts: 2804
Unless you manage to get [url

Unless you manage to get quik running, you need to use BootX to boot Linux on Old World machines. Gennerally, it's easier to use BootX as it can work even if your PRAM battery is shot because it uses Mac OS to start. Quik needs to keep OF settings, so if your PRAM fails, so does your ability to boot.

The issue with NetBSD on the 6400 is the on-board video. If you use a PCI video card it'll work fine, or you can jsut use a serial console. Heck, you could run it headless and use XDMP or VNC to control it...

Last seen: 12 months 16 hours ago
Joined: Dec 20 2003 - 10:38
Posts: 106
Jon's right - BootX is the wa

Jon's right - BootX is the way to go. I tried multiple ways to get Quik working on my 6400 based server (now 6500 based) and it just didn't happen. The sarge boot disks are also broken for that architecture.

BootX runs on the MacOS side, and when given a linux kernel can boot it, and then the kernel takes control and runs from a filesystem given to it (whether an install already on disk, mounted on a ramdisk etc). The debian netinstall CD contains a kernel you can use in /install/powerpc/vmlinux and a ramdisk containing the debian installer in /install/powerpc/initrd.gz - if you use those with BootX, you can be up and running the installer, which then runs through a bit of a setup before installing a base system from the CDROM and then the rest of it over the net.


Last seen: 17 years 7 months ago
Joined: Aug 29 2006 - 15:40
Posts: 1
power macintosh 6500

I have debian running on a pm 6500. It wasn't that hard, it only took three weeks of trial and error, well I'm not a very hard worker. Anyway, it went as following:
first and foremost, you need a copy of macOS. At least two of the three weeks were spent on trying to find a copy of macos after blowing my system. So, try and do that first.
Anyhoo, I then found out that I couldn't boot from my floopy disk. I still don't know whether that's because I copied the floppies wrong, whether my boot parameters in my open firmware (that's something I might cuss about later) are screwed, or whether the boot disks I was using were just plane corrupt.
Anyway, the only option I had left according to debian was hardisk booting. As you already know, I had a running macos which I got, from somewhere, I'm not saying where, but you know, somewhere. Then I had to run drive setup. You have to initialize your harddisk there and create a small mac os partition, a linux partition for your root file system and then a swap partition. there are howtos for that on the net such as:
anyway, very import is to pick a stardard partition and not extended for your macos partition otherwise it won't work. the partition shouldn't be more than 300mb depending on what kind of os you have. it doesn't matter what kind of a partition you use for linux. Next you reboot with your macos boot cd, and reinstall macos as minimally as possible and boot into it.
Now you need bootx which you can download from the penguinppc site, install it with alladin stuffit which was hopefully included in your mac os.
You then downloaded a ramdisk and kernel from debian which I set up according to the instructions in the debian ppc install manual. Except of course, the instructions are wrong in that you have to place the ramdisk in the same file as bootx and not in the kernel file. The funny thing is that the only kernel and ramdisk that worked are from debian woody, which is over 4 years old, so you have to go searching through the debian archives before you find it.
You're ready to boot into the debian installer now, by telling bootx where your ramdisk is, under options, and picking your kernel under kernel:. The install starts easy enough until you have to partition your disk once more with the ancient mac fdisk. Find yourself a how to on the internet or download the installation instructions for ppc woody, because this is a very rudementary partitioning programming the likes of which your modern linux user ain't up to. But to make it less complicated you just have to name the linux partitions which you created earlier and give them a linux file format such as ext2.
The next step is kind o embarrassing cause I can't remember. You have to provide drivers for your network card. I "think" I downloaded the net-drivers.img, earlier before starting the installation, available from the debian along with other floppy images and just had it on my mac partition waiting for me, and that the installation asked me where I had the drivers before setting up the network connection. Alternatively you can have a debian installation cd in your cd drive, I assume it'll ask you where that is too.
Anyways after that everything went smoothly. I didn't install any bootloader (I'm still trying to get quik to work...), or anything else other then the base system. After installing I booted into my shinny new 2.2 kernel.
To get kernel 2.4 working I had to update everything, using apt-get. I had to change the date to get some programs installed because my system thought it was 1956.
I guess I'm assuming that you know quite a bit about debian, which I've been using for 2 years, to get this to work. But feel free to ask any questions here inorder to jog some of the detail (sic) out of my long term memory, and clear some stuff up.

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