FireWire Booting on the G3 Blue & White with troublesome FW Cases

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coius's picture
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FireWire Booting on the G3 Blue & White with troublesome FW Cases

For some time, i had been intrigued by the option to boot from FireWire (IEEE-1394a) on old-world and Not totally new-world ROM machines. The Beige and the Blue & White machines fall under this category.
The Blue and White, as it is known, has FireWire onboard, but not exactly is bootable from it (The PowerMac G4 "SawTooth" was the first to boot from FireWire), but this can be changed, thanks to XPostFacto. Through this time, I will show you how to get an "Old-World" or not FW Booting-Supported "New-World" Mac to boot from FireWire.

I had been having problems with Troubling Drive Cases, and was only able to boot from my iBook through FWTDM (FireWire Target Disk Mode) and *Really* wanted to get this working. First, you will need to install a MINIMAL install of OS X on a internal Harddrive. (to see how to do this on a beige, go Here) I suggest Installing Panther, as it seems to do the best, on both Beige *AND* Blue & White's. Once you get that started, you will want to boot into that OS X.
Once inside OS X, you will need to Have XPostFacto ready and waiting (Download it from here). You can either a: Clone the internal to the external FireWire Drive, or b: Make a new install.

*Part B*

TO CLONE
You will need Carbon Copy Cloner from Bombich.com. Get the FireWire drive ready (either partitioned into one drive, or into how many you need) Then go into Carbon Copy clonet, and pick the boot drive (OS X) as the source, and the target as the External FireWire drive (or partition on it) And clone it. To go from here see part c.

*TO DO A FRESH INSTALL*

To do a fresh install, you will need to be in the OS X you just installed, and open XPostFacto. Once in there, you need to select the boot drive as the External FireWire, then (IMPORTANT) You will need to set the HELPER DRIVE as the internal OS X Drive (the one you are booted from now) Then put the CD (or DVD) into your Disc Drive, and then when it pops up, select "Install from CD" and have it install onto the external drive (remember to keep the helper drive set to the internal OS X Drive)

Go ahead and click restart and go on with the install
Once you get done with that, DISCONNECT the external FireWire drive, and boot back into the internal OS X. From there, go into XPostFacto and PLUG IN the firewire drive. When it mounts, select it as the boot volume, and the HELPER as the internal OS X volume. Go ahead and restart, and finish with the setup assistant.

*Part C*

To boot from the external OS X FireWire drive, go into XPostFacto and Select the FireWire drive as the boot drive. Then select the HELPER drive as the internal OS X Drive.. Go ahead and restart, and enjoy (Hopefully) a faster drive system.

Now, I have only tried this with a POC FireWire drive (that REALLY sucks) from CompUSA, and the reason I wrote this, as that most of these POC drives, refuse to boot from when doing the hack from OS 9. So it is IMPERATIVE that you do this from within OS X. I don't know why this is, but OS 9 sometimes does not like the drives with trying to set them up with XPostFacto.

The way I know it was the drive and OS 9, was that I was able to boot off of my iBook internal drive (G4 1.2GHz iBook) successfully.
The OS's I used were Panther and Tiger and OS 9 (for getting the initial install). I am in NO Way responsible if you lose data, so be prepared to lose data. ALWAYS BACKUP YOUR DATA!!!
I also have not tried this on a Beige G3, but will over the weekend, however, i put this together to get it to work to the best of my knowledge, and if anyone wants to help me put together this guide, please post below. We might be able to make a story for this as a guide to people wanting to do this on their machine.

Anyway,
Peace!
Coius

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I was lucky I had the time

it took me ~5 hours to do this today (2 to figure out the trick) and the rest was spent between getting coffee, and doing the OS X Setups.
I did this on a Blue & White G3 with Panther as the internal install, panther as the external drive (getting it to work, on an already pre-installed OS X) and I just did the install with Tiger from scratch.

Anyway, this is not for installs that work otherwise (most likely with a Quality FW Case system) and i found that it shouldn't mess up a pre-installed system, but YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED. It can possibly kill a system, but it most likely won't. But I take NO Liability if something does happen.
If you have problems, drop a comment down below, and I will try to help you as much as I can. I spend a lot of time on the site, so I should be able to respond very quickly

EDIT: This DID make a minor improvement to speed of disk access on the Blue And White, but I think your mileage would be better on the Beige. it also fixes that 128GB limit on the Blue and Whites, as long as the external case handles it.
I am unsure if it will fix the 8GB Limit on the firewire drive (internal IDE *HAS* to be under 7.9GB) for Beige G3. I imagine it should, since OS X's drivers from the internal would take over from thereon. As far as I can tell, I think when OS X boots, it automaticallly redirects the booting process to the firewire drive, AFTER the firewire kicks in. So that may be why it is easier to work under OS X.

Also, firewire external drives are a rather spotty issue when it comes to getting them even to mount (i went through 2 cases that would not mount under OS 9) and this was one problem i wanted to address.
Anyways, happy booting!

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one more thing...

sorry, i just keep adding these looonnngggg comments. Gomen nesai!
anyway, onto the point. Blue and white's don't need the xpostfacto to do the initial install of OS X (I even go as far as to include tiger on the internal drive on the B&W). Same way with OS 9.2 (but you really don't need it to do this anyway).

Beige G3's will be the more difficult of the two, and will require the most trickery. Let me know how this works out on a beige, if I can't get it running on the one my friend has.

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Very Impressive...

But how would this be at all possible on a Beige since firewire is in no way native to the motherboard? How could a firewire PCI card interface function without it getting kicked into gear first by the extensions loading from an already booting system? You know, how a chicken before the egg?

I am very impressed you accomplished this on a B&W. I thought it not possible because of the funky firewire module.

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actually, here is how it works

when OS X loads from the main drive, it get's all the hardware initialized. Once Firewire comes on line (Via PCI Card or Module) it basically loads the instructions into Firmware, then treats it like an IDE Card. Basically, it writes the instructions to ram, and lets the system take over.
Once the initial OS gets the firewire running, it hands over virtual memory, OS, etc.. to the FireWire drive.
On my system, the drive, is totally functional, but it DOES require OS X to do this, as I believe OS X has a more expanded, and more functional with the FireWire framework. As far as accessing, it's pretty much like an IDE or SCSI Card. To the sytem, it's just another Hard drive hooked up to the system.
I also believe that something like this is used in systems that CAN boot from firewire natively. Mainly, the instructions are executed by the ROM instead of OS X, which writes the instructions from a file that XPostFacto throws in the NVRAM.

Then again, I am not a programmer, all I did was get it to work. Once the drive is iniated, it's perfectly fine.
As far as making the setup, i suggest if you do it, just clone the drive from the internal one. It's a lot less hastle, as when I had to do the setup, i had to figure out a way to get back into the OS X on the internal drive. This can be avoided through cloning, then selecting a helper drive, and booting from the external.

As the process goes from the boot screen. It loads the FireWire framework, pauses for about 5 seconds, and then accesses the drive.

I wish I could provide more (I may be inaccurate as it is) but I will be getting a hold of my Old Beige (It is with my friend right now, I will see if I can get it later today) and try it out. I have a spare 4GB Hard drive that we can experiment with.

I DO know that there is something like BootX on the drive. I think that this is more of how it accomplishes it. As for the file, i *think* it is on both the FireWire drive, AND the internal. I would have to figure out how to look for it. I just used Carbon copy cloner on it, but i didn't know if it was because of the cloned system, or what.

I put Panther on the FireWire hard drive, right now, as Tiger was too slow.
I would like to see how the mileage varies on the Beige and G4's. If anyone has the Yikes! model, i wish them to try it and post back here. It would be nice to see how it works

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skipping around the beige

I have a FireWire PCI Card that I *might* be able to get into the B&W G3 to try the theory of if it will boot from PCI. but then again, it might be futile if an old-world Rom machine doesn't act the same as the New-World Rom machine does. I will try it, and look at it when it captures the PCI FireWire card. I will let you know by this evening if it all goes as planned.

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Success!!

my machine is now booted from a FireWire PCI Card. I would have to look at it to see the chipset, but it is DEFINATELY faster than the internal one. Must be from the Oxford 911 Chipset (compared to apple's internal)
Anyway, machine loaded to desktop within 25 seconds from cold boot.

I hope to try to get it working on the beige. This might be a landmark thing!

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heh, yeah, XPF is very cool

Nicely written article coius! However . . .

My question is this, why can't you just install OS X directly to the FW drive instead of going through all the cloning rigamarole? You don't need X installed on the machine just to boot from a FW-attached drive.

FYI, I booted my 9600/G3 from an external FW DVD drive attached to a PCI FW adapter using the Tiger DVD to install the OS to an external SCSI drive. XPostFacto 4 worked a treat, perfectly first time out, zero issues. I used an empty small internal SCSI drive as the helper drive. XPF just needs a few megs of disk space on which to install the 'helper' files. You do need a writable OS 9 disk from which to begin the process however.

re: speed - FW is plenty fast, as is the PCI bus as well as FW-ATA bridge and the ATA drive itself. So it's not surprising that the boot is very quick compared to your old internally-attached ATA hard drive.

dan k

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you can

you can install OS X to the hard drive, but you have to do it with the system being booted from the helper drive. When I tried it without using the helper drive to boot the external to have the install, it just but a big "X" over the drive saying it can't be installed on it. It's the same as if you were to just boot from a Panther DVD on a beige without XPostFacto and try to install normally. It doesn't like it and doesn't find it as a valid boot drive.

The clone is designed to help you if you already have a system set up on a slow bus, and want to get a faster speed, and not have to buy an IDE Card. Computers like the Beige, have a sloooowwww IDE Bus (16.67MB/s or lower) and need a pickmeup. This also was designed for troublesome cases that have a nasty habit of causing problems when trying to do this from within OS 9. In my case, it just wasn't working out.

So, i came up with this workaround, and I have not had any issues so far. In fact, if you have a Blue&White, i DO suggest you get a firewire PCI Card, it does speed things up significantly over the original built-in module.

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B&W module

I opened up one of my B&W modules once to see what the chipset was before I threw it away. It had a small Texas Instrument chipset. I wrote the number down, but it's lost somewhere in the piles on my desks. If it turns up some time, I'll post it here. It was an early version of the firewire chipset. Not surprising the PCI is faster. Like I've said many times before, toss those B&W firewire modules and get a PCI card instead. The modules are prone to failure. The better firewire chips for Macs are the Agere brand (which are on Sonnet's firewire cards)and Texas Instruments. Avoid the VIA chips which you find on a lot of the generics. I've got a 3 port PCI card with a VIA chipset, but it actually can only handle one device at a time on my B&W, and not always so well. My Sonnet card with the Agere chip has no problems.

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ive got a question... if i bo

ive got a question... if i booted my PCI G4 from firewire with a new PCI card, will the hd access be faster then internal ?? because this thing is sloooow lol... the HD's are fairly new, so i dont think its all them.

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USB and FireWire cards

Both my USB2.0 and FireWire cards are Belkin. They are more expensive, but they give better performance. The USB2.0/FW Combo card in the beige came with the G3 B&W Originally, but It already had firewire, and I needed the PCI one in my Desktop PC (for highspeed networking), so I put it in the Beige and gave it to my friend (it's not technically "His" it's more of, if he goes to get rid of it, I get it back. He can do Unlimited mods to it, but I get the config back I gave to him)

Unfortunately, my friend is going to Arizona Tomorrow, which means I won't be able to get to it. However, it has been proven that it will boot from PCI FireWire cards. Ditto for the FW Modules on Blue and White models.

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Re: ive got a question... if i bo

ive got a question... if i booted my PCI G4 from firewire with a new PCI card, will the hd access be faster then internal ?? because this thing is sloooow lol... the HD's are fairly new, so i dont think its all them.

I doubt it, isn't the internal Bus ATA/66? That would be faster than firewire. Make sure you use an 80-conductor (wire) cable, and if possible, have only one device on it (master drive, no more. Otherwise it will split the bandwidth with the other drive, even thought it doesn't access it)

If I am correct about it, then you might as well as keep the internal for booting.

The reason I did this, was to get around the ATA/33 inside this G3, and maybe a work-around for the Beige of the ATA/16.7. On the beige, it will make a MUCH more noticable performance boot.

The other option you have, is to up the ram, and maybe the CPU Speed (either by overclocking (easiest) or buying an upgrade (safest)

EDIT: I took a look on mactracker, and it indeed IS ATA/33. So you WILL notice a speed bump over the internal. But not by much. As I say, get more ram, and if you still are not satisfied, go and get yourself an ATA/100/133 PCI IDE Card.

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well as of right now i have a

well as of right now i have a sonnet g4, so i cant overclock... i also have 896mb of ram too. im sure this machine is just not going to get much faster.... but i do have a "promise ultra66 if that is compatible with this.... even better yet bootable....

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You might want to check your

You might want to check your RAM to see if any of it is slowing down your machine. I'm not aware of a good program to check individual sticks in OS X, so if I suspect problems with my SDRAM I boot into OS 9 and run DIMM First Aid. It'll give you a good picture of what type of RAM you have exactly. Go for the optimal setup if you can: matching sticks of CL2. Matching fast RAM really makes a difference in my B&W's.

If it's not the RAM, then it might not be a hardware, but rather a software problem. I've also heard a few times from users that those Sonnet G4 500mhz ZIF's can have some problems. You could run SpeedRun in OS 9 to compare CPU performance. Don't know a comparable program for X for that one either. If anyone knows better programs for testing RAM and CPU please chime in. I'd love to know. I've been very happy with Daystar's XLR8 ZIF's.

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Guide is now up

and a more cleaned-up guide to boot!

http://members.cox.net/peteledoux85/fwboot.shtml

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Beige G3 on the bench table

I *finally* got a hold of the Beige G3 for testing the FireWire boot. I am getting the system set up, and am finding it a bit hard to get the install started. Mainly, i think, is because my FW Case is starting to give up the ghost. Sometimes it wants to work with the cards (i have tried 2 of them) and it sometimes likes certain cables, and sometimes not.
I hope to eventually get it up sometime by tomorrow night.
The system has been giving me the run-around, and has been making it difficult to work with, since the case likes to drop out. Mind you, the Same FireWire card that worked with the Blue & White is in this machine also (currently, the *ONLY* one it wants to work with)

I will give you and update when the project succeeds (or fails) and will revise my guide according to the results.

If anyone has tried this on the Beige since the posting of this topic, does anyone know if the 8GB partition applies to the FireWire drives, or does it only apply to the built-in EIDE Controller in the Beige G3 itself?

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Firewire Chipset on FW Module

On the one I just removed from my Rev. A B/W G3:

8CDFYTT
TSB41LV03

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after checking digg.com

i found this article: Booting from G3 firewire
I just want to know which one of you guys submitted that, and why i got so much traffic Wink
Thanks, try to get the word out. I'd Iike to help people as much as possible with this

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Thar she goes!

booted from from it about 30 seconds ago!!! She is up! So, i have successfully proven that you *CAN* boot from firewire on a G3. I just completed the second disc installation and it is now going through the setup assistant.

I will see the performance and get back to you on that

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Whoa!

i just got the sucker booting from the external drive from OS 9!!! i didn't realize I was in OS 9 when i did it (i spaced out), it copied the files, and it booted. So it *IS* possible to do it from OS 9.

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