Debian/m68k GNU/Linux

                  Installation Instructions for Atari (v1.5)

                       Michael Schmitz, February 8, 1999

               (derived from Amiga install guide by Frank Neumann)

   A hopefully always up-to-date version of this document should be online at 
   the Debian/68k web site.

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

    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 Atari, 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 
    No matter what mirror site you use, the path should always be:
   These are the files you need:
     * atari/install.lzh (around 2.8 MB), or
     * atari/resc1440.bin ('rescue' floppy image),
     * atari/drv1440.bin ('drivers' floppy image), and
     * common/base2_1.tgz

   If you chose to install from the resc1440.bin floppy image, you'll also need 
   a program to dump the floppy image to a 1440k (HD) floppy in your A: drive. 
   That program, rawwrite.ttp, is currently available from


   on the Debian mirror site you used. It should be eventually moved into the 
   new Atari install dir. If you had to compress the floppy images for transport 
   to your Atari, you might find the gzip.ttp uncompressor in that directory 
   useful as well.

   Once you have installed the base system and want to continue installing other 
   packages, you can find these under the directories
   /pub/debian/dists/slink/main/binary-m68k (core section),
   /pub/debian/dists/slink/contrib/binary-m68k (contributed packages)
   /pub/debian/dists/slink/non-free/binary-m68k (software which does not meet the 
   Debian Free Software Guidelines (DFSG)).

   Alternatively, get the official Debian/68k 2.1 CD set. The install files
   are unpacked on disc 1 in /install/atari/, the LZH archive and base2_1.tgz 
   are in /install/.

    2) Unpack the install.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.
   Move the base2_1.tgz, resc1440.bin and drv1440.bin files into this same 
   directory ("debian"). Don't rename any files in that directory.

   When installing from CD, either unpack /install/atariinstall.lzh to your
   harddisk as described above, or try using the files in /install/atari/
    3) Partition your harddisk (or rather prepare partitions for Linux):
   There is a partitioning tool for Linux/m68k called atari-fdisk, but for now 
   I recommend you partition your disk using a TOS partition editor or some disk 
   tool. If your partition editor doesn't have an option to edit the partition 
   type, you can do this crucial step at a later stage (from the booted temporary 
   install ramdisk). One of the partition editors supporting selection of 
   arbitrary partition types is SCSITool (Hard&Soft). There will be others, 
   select one to suit your need. 

   Here an important note: The installation program for Debian 2.1 has
   a bug that causes it to ignore disks if they don't have a special
   partition layout. Please read the file part-bug.txt that should be
   available in the same directory where you got install.lzh from.

   You should have reserved at least two partitions for Linux: One for the "root 
   filesystem" and one for a "swap partition". The size recommendations are:

     for the root partition:

     * absolute minimum should be 25 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 TOS. 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 decimal 
   number to the harddisk name: sda1, sda2, sda3 represent the 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 (at address 2) 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 partitions.

    So, now that we know the partition names, you can actually change their 
   type from within your partition editor so that the Linux installation 
   program can detect them:

    Start the partition editor, select the disk you want to use, select the 
   "Partition Drive" function and select/create the partition you want to use 
   as the Debian root filesystem. If there is a partition ID option, select it 
   and enter LNX as the partition ID.

    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 
   SWP instead.

   The following example covers 'SCSITool':
     1.   Start SCSITool, select the disk you want to partition ('Disk' menu,
          item 'select').                                        

     2.   From the 'Partition' menu, select either 'New' to add new
          partitions or change the existing partition sizes, or 'Change' to
          change one specific partition. Unless you have already created
          partitions with the right sizes and only want to change the
          partition ID, 'New' is probably the best choice.
     3.   For the 'New' choice, select 'existing' in the dialog box
          prompting the initial settings. The next window shows a list
          of existing partitions which you can adjust using the scroll
          buttons, or by clicking in the bar graphs. The first column in
          the partition list is the partition type, just click on the text
          field to edit.                                         
          When you are finished changing partition settings, save the
          changes by leaving the window with the 'Ok' button.
     4.   For the 'Change' option, select the partition to change in the
          selection list, and select 'other systems' in the dialog box.
          The next window lists detailed information about the location of
          this partition, and lets you change the partition ID. Again, save
          the changes by leaving the window with the 'Ok' button.

     5.   Write down the Linux names for each of the partitions you created
          or changed for use with Linux - see section 4.2 for the naming

     6.   Quit SCSITool using the 'Quit' option from the 'File' menu, the 
          computer will reboot to make sure the changed partition table is
          used by TOS. If you changed any TOS/GEM partitions, they will be 
          invalidated and have to be reinitialized (we told you to back up
          everything on the disk, didn't we?).

    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 only going to try Linux for a short time, it's enough to just 
       have a single partition for files.
     * 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 "install.lha" archive. You 
       will need this later for installation of the kernel, modules and base 

   When you have made all required changes, go back to the main window of the 
   partition editor by "Save Changes to drive" or "Ok". Think twice before 
   actually clicking on "Yes" to confirm the changes - have you chosen the 
   correct partitions? No viable data that could get lost now? Then click OK.
   If required, the Atari will reboot after this.

    5) When you're back at the GEM desktop, start the Linux installation process 
   by double-clicking on the "BOOTSTRA.PRG" icon in the "debian" directory, or
   in the /install/atari/ directory on the CD. If installing from floppies, 
   double-click on the  "BOOTSTRA.TTP" icon, or the "BOOTSTRA.PRG" icon in the 
   "AUTO" folder instead. BOOTSTRA.TTP will prompt for parameters, simply hit 
   <return> for now.

    You may have to press the <Return> key after the bootstrap program has output 
   some debugging information. 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 automatically.
   If you get up to this point, you can be quite confident that you will be able 
   to install Linux on your system.

    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 (or even 
   possible) on m68k platforms (the installation program is just the same as 
   on the i386 version of Debian, and some of the i386 features are not (yet) 
   available in the m68k version), so I'll tell you what you have to do at 
   each step now.

  Select Color or Monochrome display

   If you use an SM124 or TT monitor, you might want to choose a monochrome 
   display - otherwise select Color. Use the cursor keys to choose what you 
   want, then press <Return>.

  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 way.

  Configure the keyboard
   Depending on whether you have a U.S. or german or other 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 partition name 
   you wrote down under TOS while you were preparing that partition in your disk 
   utility. 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> and then <Return>.
     * 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" -- that is, some 
   information is written to it to mark it as swap partition -- 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" partitions 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 to use, accept it by 
   selecting it from the list and pressing <Return>, 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

  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 (TOS) partition on which you unpacked the 
   "install.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 the files reside in the directory 
   /tmp/newstuff/debian/ on that partition). 
   If installing from CD, select "cdrom: CD-ROM drive" and change "/debian" to 
   "/install/atari" at the path prompt. 
   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 

   If you are installing from floppy images you dumped on two blank floppies, 
   select "/dev/fd0: First floppy drive", and the kernel will be copied to the 
   root partition from the floppy you used to start up the install. After 
   installation of the kernel, the installer will ask you to insert the drivers 
   floppy (the one you created by dumping the drv1440.bin image). Change the 
   floppies, press <Return> when ready and the installer will continue by 
   extracting the device driver modules onto the root partition.

  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 probably 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 
   go to "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" program.

  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 to find it, 
   press <Return> twice after this to accept the default options.

    At this point 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 

  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 fine.  When asked 
   whether your system clock is set to "GMT" (Greenwich Mean Time), you will 
   likely answer with "No" as most Ataris will use the local time instead of 

  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 *sigh*, 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.

   The help screen on this step suggests that you don't answer "Yes" to the 
   question whether your computer is connected to a network if this connection 
   is PPP, i.e. a temporary one (makes sense, as PPP is often assigned dynamic
   network addresses). I strongly recommend to follow this suggestion and
   complete the network configuration after booting the disk based system. 
   The 'pppconfig' utility is included in the base system to this purpose.

   In case you complete the network configuration here, this step doesn't 
   completely set up PPP or SLIP for you, just stores some configuration data 
   for you. For these configurations, you'll see error messages about 'network 
   device not available' now (and on the later boot from disk), ignore them, 
   and configure PPP or SLIP later.

   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 Atari should reboot automatically into 

    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:

    -s -k linux root=/dev/yyyy video=keep

   In this line, replace the


   with the Linux partition name of the root partition onto which you installed 
   the system - like sda1, hdb3, whatever it was, you figure. The 'video=keep' 
   is my recommendation especially for Falcon users with screen extenders and 
   the like; please keep in mind that high screen resolution and high color 
   seriously impairs SCSI performance on these machines.
   External graphics cards need a special 'video=external' option, refer to the 
   kernel options documentation for details.

    Save that file, naming it "bootargs".

   If you installed from floppy disks, copy "bootstra.prg" and "linux" to a 
   folder on your harddrive, and create the "bootargs" file as above.

    Now you can just double click on the "bootstra.prg" icon in that folder to 
   actually start the system, booting from the just installed harddisk instead 
   of the ramdisk filesystem.

    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 steps:
     * Set a password for the root user (the administrator account)
     * 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, and configuration of the PPP connection scripts.
     * 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 "apt-get" or "dpkg" program, but your mileage 
   may vary. You should at least set the access method and update the packages 
   list here; I have so far used disk based and HTTP/FTP based installation 
   methods with success. Selection of packages has already been performed if 
   you didn't skip the "installation profile" above, so there should be no 
   need to select packages by hand using dselect.

   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 Atari, 
   and if this all worked out (more or less) well for you, I'd definitely love 
   to hear about it! :-)

    A few tasks are still left to do, such as configuring PPP or SLIP (if 
   that's your network option and you didn't run the pppconfig step earlier). 
   For PPP, edit /etc/ppp/peers/provider (replace /dev/modem with your serial 
   line here, i.e. /dev/ttyS1 for the first SCC port; there's no /dev/modem 
   anymore) and /etc/chatscripts/provider (enter your username and password 
   for your ISP account, plus change the 'name' and 'word' to whatever the 
   prompt at login is. Some configurations require you to send the string 'ppp' 
   to start up PPP after login, just add another expect/send pair after the 
   password for that. "pon" and "poff" start and stop the connection, 
   respectively. SLIP is more hassle; look at the "/etc/init.d/network" 
   startup script where the "ifconfig" command has already been inserted for 
   you, and add a "slattach" command before this, if you use static SLIP. 
   Dynamic SLIP should be set up using "dip", so you'll need to install this 

    One more hint: To cleanly shut down a running Linux system, you must not 
   just reboot with the reset switch on the back of your Atari, 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_right_of_Return. Or log in as root and type

   shutdown -h now

   if you don't like the key combo.


   More information:

     * The The Debian GNU/Linux homepage (
     * The Linux/m68k domain's homepage (
     * Visit m68k people on IRC, channel #linux68k, server 
       (or connected servers).

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

    Good luck in the wonderful world of Debian/m68k!

History of this installation guide:
v0.1    July 20th,    1998   First
version, only ASCII text
v1.0    August 3rd,   1998   Pushed to HTML, small additions & typo corrections
Atari version:
v1.0    August 9th,   1998   First version, based on Frank Neumanns Amiga version
v1.4	January 29th, 1999   Update for Debian 2.1
V1.5	February 8th, 1999   Add CD install option

    Michael Schmitz, Last change: February 8, 1999

Created by Webify 0.4 on Sun 02 May 1999 at 12:53 AM CDT