Debian/m68k GNU/Linux - Short Amiga installation instructions (v0.1)

	  Short Debian/m68k installation instructions for Amiga;
	  to be replaced soon by a _slightly_ longer version :-)

		      Frank Neumann, July 20th, 1998

   Updated for Debian 2.1 Jan 29 1999 Michael Schmitz, Christian Steigies

A hopefully always up-to-date version of this document should be online at:

Ok, so you think you want to try Debian, dive into the wonderful world 
of free software and world-wide programming collaboration? Fine. Your
first test will be to install the Debian base system on your Amiga, and I
hope this document will help you in getting that step done.

So, without any further ado, these are the absolutely vital steps you need 
to take:

0) Before even thinking of starting to install Debian on your Amiga, you
   should make a BACKUP of your current system. It's not like Debian will
   erase all data on your harddisks immediately when it starts up, but you
   can damage a lot easily if you are new to Linux or Unix in general.
   If you have a DAT, MO or spare harddisk, this is the chance to use them
   for creating a backup.

0b) Check out if your system is suited for Linux/m68k - please read the
    Linux/m68k FAQ, available e.g. at

1) Get all required files from one of Debian's FTP sites,
   like, etc. A list of mirror sites
   can be found at
   No matter what mirror site you use, the path should always be:

   These are the files you need:
   - amiga/amigainstall.lha
   - common/base2_1.tgz

   Alternatively, get the official Debian/68k 2.1 CD set. The LZH archive 
   and base2_1.tgz are in /install/.

2) Unpack the amigainstall.lha file to your harddisk (a subdirectory
   named "debian" will be automatically created for you). I recommend
   to unpack the archive directly onto the main directory of a partition
   that has at least ~ 10 MB of free space.
   When installing from CD, you can use the files in /install/amiga/
   Move the base2_1.tgz file into this same directory ("debian").
   _Don't_ rename any files in that directory.

3) Partition your harddisk (or rather prepare partitions for Linux) :
   There is a partitioning tool for Linux/m68k called amiga-fdisk, but for
   now you'll have to do the partitioning yourself under AmigaOS using
   the good old HDToolBox program.

   You should have reserved at least two partitions for Linux: One for the
   "root filesystem" and one for a "swap partition". The size recommendations
   - for the root partition:
       * absolute minimum should be 20 MB (this is just enough to install
	 the base system, and nothing else - probably enough for testing
	 it, but not for really using it)
       * a reasonable system starts at around 200 - 400 MB, no limits upwards.
   - for the swap partition: about twice as large as your main memory, but
     rather more than that. Especially on systems with little main memory
     (like 8 MB RAM), don't go below 20 MB swap space. 
   Naming conventions: This is important because under Linux your
   partitions have different names than under AmigaOS. This is the
   naming scheme:
   - The first SCSI harddisk (address-wise) is named "sda".
   - The second SCSI harddisk (address-wise) is named "sdb", and so on.
   - The first IDE harddisk is named "hda", the second IDE harddisk
     is named "hdb", and so on.

   The partitions on each harddisk are represented by appending a single
   digit to the harddisk name: sda1, sda2, sda3 represent for first, second
   and third partition of the first SCSI harddisk in your system.

   Here is a real-life example: Let's assume you have a system with 2 SCSI
   harddisks, one at SCSI address 2 and the other at SCSI address 4.
   The first disk is then named "sda", and the second "sdb". 
   If the "sda" harddisk has 5 partitions on it, these will be named
   "sda1", "sda2", ..., "sda5". Analoguous for the "sdb" harddisk and its
   So, now that we know the partition names, you can actually change their
   type from within HDToolBox so that the Linux installation program can
   detect them easily:

   Start HDToolBox, select the disk you want to use, click on the "Partition
   Drive" button and select/create the partition you want to use as the
   Debian root filesystem.
   Now you need to enable the "Advanced options" and change the following
   items under "Change":

   Set the filesystem to "Custom Filesystem" or "Reserved Filesystem" (it
   depends on your HDToolBox version what you get shown here), set the
   identifier to "0x4c4e5800" (this is the hexadecimal equivalent of "LNX\0"),
   disable the "Auto-mount this partition" checkbox, disable "Custom Bootcode",
   set the "Reserved blocks at" settings to: "2" for start and "0" for end.

   After having done this, select a partition that is to be used as a swap
   partition, and repeat the same steps as above, but set the identifier
   to "0x53575000" instead (this represents "SWP\0" in ASCII).

   Please note:
   - Your root and swap partitions do not need to be on the same harddisk.
   - You can have more than one partition for files besides the root
     filesystem - this even makes sense very often, like when seperating the
     user's home directories from the system file area. If you want to use
     more partitions, prepare them just like the root partition.
     If you're just going to try Linux for a short time, it's enough to
     just have a single file partition.
   - You can also have more than one swap partition, though that's not seen
     very often.
   - Write down the partition names (you know, the "sda1" etc. stuff) of
     all partitions that you are going to use for Linux.
   - At this point, please also write down the partition name (Linux-wise)
     of the partition on which you have unpacked the "amigainstall.lha"
     archive. You will need this later for installation of the base system.
   When you have made all required changes, go back to the main window of
   HDToolBox and "Save Changes to drive". Think twice before actually
   clicking on "Yes" - have you chosen the correctly partitions? No
   viable data that could get lost now? Then click OK.
   If required, the Amiga will reboot after this.

5) When you're back at your Workbench, start the Linux installation process
   by double-clicking on the "StartInstall" icon in the "debian" directory.

   You will have to press the <Return> key twice after the bootstrap program
   has output some debugging information into a window.
   After this, the screen will go grey, a few seconds of delay, and after
   that a black screen with white text should come up, displaying all kinds
   of kernel debugging information. These scroll by far too fast for you to
   read, but that's not important right now.
   After a couple of seconds, the installation program should start
   If you get up to this point, you can be quite confident that you will be
   able to install Linux on your system. 

   NOTE if you want to use a grafics board with linux, you have to tell the
   kernel about the board. If you dont tell the kernel, it will use standard
   amiga grafics for output (OCS, ECS, AGA) which you might not notice if you
   have your only monitor connected to your grafics board.

   To make your life easier, we have prepared a few scripts for boards which
   are supported. Just doubleclick the relevant StartInstall to start the
   install process, ie.

   - StartInstall_clgen if you have a EGS Spectrum, Piccolo or Picasso board
   - StartInstall_CV64  if you have a CyberVision64 board,
   - StartInstall_CV3D  if you have a CyberVision/3D board,

   The scripts are using a resolution of 640x480 in 8 bit. Probably you want
   to use higher resolutions after the system has been set up, but for now
   please leave it at this resolution. For the CyberVision boards you _have_
   to select a 640x480 screenmode in 8 bit, otherwise you will have a more or
   less distorted screen.

   For further info, esp if you want to use higher resolutions in your
   linuxgo file, please read the relevant docs for your board (clgen.txt,
   cv64.txt, cv3d.txt) which were taken from the kernel source or from the
   linux-m68k mailing list.

6) So, now we're getting somewhere. The Debian installation program will
   lead you through the steps of preparing the partitions from the Linux
   side, unpacking and configuring the kernel modules and base system,
   and finally rebooting. Some of the presented steps are not really necessary
   on m68k platforms, and I'll tell you what you have to do at each step now.
   - Select Color or Monochrome display
     If you use an A2024 monitor, you might want to choose a monochrome
     display - otherwise select Color.

   - Release notes
     This is just a screen with a few informations about Debian's goals,
     who built the rescue set etc.

   Now we come to the main installation screen which lists all possible
   actions you can take, with the next logical step always being highlit
   at the top of the list. I recommend to strictly follow the suggested

   - Configure the keyboard
     Depending on whether you have a U.S. or german keyboard, select the
     one appropriate for you with the cursor keys and <Space>, then move
     with <Tab> to the OK button and press <Return>.

   - Initialize and Activate a Swap Partition
     When pressing <Return>, you will see a list of partitions that the
     installation program has found as being prepared by you for usage
     as a swap partition. Probably there is only one choice, and it should
     have the same name you wrote down under AmigaOS while you were in
     If you have chosen to use several swap partitions, repeat the following
     step for all of them:
     * Press <Return> to accept the selected partition
     * When asked whether you want to do a bad-block scan, you can safely
       skip this step, so select "No" here using <Tab>.
     * When asked whether you really want to initialize this partition as
       a swap partition, think twice, then, when being sure, press <Return>.
     At this point the swap partition will be "formatted" which only takes
     a second (you'll hardly be able to read the text that appears at the top
     of the screen - ignore that for now).

   -  Initialize a Linux partition
      This is very similar to the previous step, but this time it's not about
      swap partitions, but about "real" partition which are supposed to carry
      files. Just as before, you'll be presented with a list of partitions
      that the installer found to be valid as Linux filesystem partitions.
      Again, for each of the partitions you have chosen, accept them,
      skip the "Bad-block scan" and (when you are sure) select "Yes" to
      format (initialize) the partition.
      After that, you will be asked whether you want to mount the currently
      active partition as root ("/") partition. Say Yes here at the first
      partition you use. Other partitions can be mounted somewhere under
      this mount point afterwards.

    - Install Operating System Kernel and Modules
      As I assume that you are installing from files on a harddisk, you
      will have to select "Harddisk: Filesystem on the harddisk" here.
      Next you need to specify the (Amiga FastFilesystem) partition
      on which you unpacked the "amigainstall.lha" archive.
      After that you also need to enter the path to the directory containing
      the installation files - in the simplest case (that is, if you unpacked
      the .lha archive directly into the main directory of a partition),
      you just hit <Return> because "/debian" is already set as default for
      the directory name; otherwise you will have to type the path yourself.
      It has to begin with a "/", followed by the directory components
      leading to the files (e.g. "/tmp/newstuff/debian").
      If installing from CD, change "/debian" to "/install/amiga". 
      Next you are asked whether you want to select the files from a list
      or enter the path name manually; just press <Return> here twice as
      the installation program will find the correct and only available
      installation files itself.

      The harddisk LED will blink for a while as the kernel and modules are
      unpacked onto the root partition, and after that you get back to the
      main screen.

    - Configure Device Driver Modules
      This step is only necessary if certain device drivers need to be loaded
      very early when Linux starts up later; like, an Ethernet driver has
      to be pre-loaded so that the networking can already be initialized
      at boot-time. For a stand-alone system you don't have to configure
      anything here, but you should still select this item so that the
      installer can build a list of available kernel modules.
      When you see the next screen, you can immediately
      "Exit: Finished with modules. Return to previous menu".

      If you DO need to configure a device driver for your system, please 
      follow the on-screen explanations for selecting modules to be
      pre-loaded (this section is a bit short right now, sorry).
      When done, select the "Exit" item.

      Once your Linux system is installed, you can get back to the
      configuration of modules at any time by starting the "modconf"

    - Install the Base System
      Just as with the "Install Operating System Kernel and Modules" step,
      you need to specify where the base system archive is located. This
      file should be named "base2_1.tgz". If you have put it into the same
      directory as the other installation files, you already know what to
      do now: Select "harddisk: Filesystem on the harddisk", pick the
      correct partition and (if necessary) enter the path name to the
      directory containing those files. If you are installing from CD, 
      select "cdrom: CD-ROM drive" and enter "/install" as path. Again, as 
      everything should be in the place the installer expects them, press 
      <Return> twice after this to accept the default options.

      At this moment you've got a few minutes time (depending on the speed
      of your processor/harddisk) while the base archive is unpacked onto
      the Linux root partition.

    - Configure the Base System
      In this step you just set the timezone that you're in - this should
      be pretty intuitive. For instance, for Germany the selection
      "CET - Europe" (first screen) and "Berlin" (second screen) should be
      When asked whether your system clock is set to "GMT" (Greenwich
      Mean Time), you will likely answer with "No" as most Amigas I have seen
      so far always use the local time instead of GMT.
      In case you have Geek Gadgets/Amiga Developers Environment (ADE)
      installed on your Amiga you have a better option. You can set your
      system clock to GMT (for Linux) and still have the correct time when
      running AmigaOS, even Daylight Saving time is set correctly under AOS.
      This is what I have added to my s:user-startup.

      setenv TZ Europe/Berlin
      ixtimezone -patch-resource

    - Configure the Network
      We're almost done! This last step to do is to set up your networking
      if you are so lucky to be connected to a net.
      If you have no network, all you need to enter is your hostname (under
      Linux, every computer has a name!). Pick something you like - your
      girlfriend's name, a famous artist/writer/composer/character/actor/
      whatever. Just one word, please.

      If you are connected to a network, you need to enter:
      * Your network's name
      * The IP address of your computer
      * The netmask
      * Your broadcast address
      * Your gateway's IP address, if one is available
      * Your nameserver's IP address, if there is one available.
      * Your type of connection - Ethernet, PPP, Slip or whatever else.

Well, that's it! Ignore the next suggested step ("Make Linux bootable directly
from harddisk") and instead select alternative 2: "Reboot the System".
After a few seconds, the Amiga should reboot automatically into AmigaOS.

So, one last step is required from you before you can boot your freshly
installed Linux: Go to the directory containing the installation files
and start up a texteditor into which you need to enter just one line:

 amiboot-x.x -k linuxamiga root=/dev/yyyy ro

In this line, replace the "x.x" with the version number of the amiboot
program that is in that directory - it was "5.6" at release time.
Also, replace the "yyyy" with the Linux-wise partition name of the root
partition onto which you installed the system - like sda1, hdb3, whatever
it was, you figure.

Save that file, name it something like "linuxgo", and "protect linuxgo +s"
to make it executable like a program.

Now you can just type "linuxgo" (when being in that directory) to actually
start the system, this time booting from harddisk instead of a RAM filesystem.
The more advanced user might want to create an icon that is linked to that
script, or a short-cut key combination for ToolManager, or whatever you like..

The boot sequence will take quite a bit longer than when you installed the
system because a database of filenames has to be built ("Locate" database).
After that, you are automatically logged in, and need to take these
 - Set a root password
 - Create another (unprivileged) user account
 - Activate (or not) the "Shadow passwords" (recommendation: Yes, use it!)
 - Determine whether you want to continue installing the system via a PPP
   line or not (untested).
 - Set an "installation profile" of packages you want to install.

After these steps, you are automatically thrown into the "dselect" program
which is the interface-driven package installation manager. My personal
preference is to quit that program as soon as possible and rather install
packages manually via the "dpkg" program, but your mileage may vary.
When you quit this program, you get logged out and can log in as root
or as an unprivileged user if you created one before.

At this point you have a running basic Debian installation on your Amiga,
and if this all worked out (more or less) well for you, I'd definitely love
to hear about it! :-)

One more hint: To cleanly shut down a running Linux system, you must not
just reboot with Ctrl-Amiga-Amiga or turn off the computer - instead, 
press the key combination "Ctrl-Alt-Del" (yeah, just like on a PC :-)
to shut down the system in a controlled manner.
That's "Ctrl" + "LeftAlt" + "Delete_on_keypad (.)".

More information:
..and maybe hundreds of other Linux- or Debian-related Web sites around
the world.

Good luck in the wonderful world of Debian/m68k,

Created by Webify 0.4 on Sun 02 May 1999 at 12:52 AM CDT