Debian/m68k GNU/Linux 2.1
               Installation Instructions for Macintosh (v1.4)
                     Michael Schmitz, February 8, 1999
       (derived from Debian 2.0 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 Macintosh, 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
   Macintosh, 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, and
   check the Macintosh project pages at
   0c) Get the MacOS tools required to partition your disk, dump floppy
   images and other tools you might need. Apple software can be found at, other software can be found at the Mac68k FTP
   A word of warning (and I mean it): don't let yourself be fooled into
   thinking that installing Debian on a Macintosh is easy, or even
   possible with your particular model and configuration, just because
   Debian/68k happens to support Macintosh. The Mac port of Linux-m68k is
   just one year and a half old, and even though kernel development made
   considerable progress since the first Mac was booted by Alan Cox,
   there's still a lot to do, and a lot of bugs may be lurking out there
   yet. The Mac project web site lists the supported models, if your
   model isn't listed, assume it's not supported yet, ask on the mailing
   list, or give it a try, but please don't be disappointed if it doesn't
   work. Linux on Mac is strictly experimental. If the kernel supplied
   with the Debian installation files doesn't work for you, check the
   Mac68k FTP site for updates.
    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:
     * mac/install.sit.hqx (StuffIt archive of the installation files),
     * mac/Debian-m68k-2.1-Mac.img.hqx (DiskCopy 4.2 image of the 'rescue'
       floppy), and
     * mac/resc1440.bin ('rescue' floppy image)
     * mac/drv1440.bin ('drivers' floppy image)
     * common/base2_1.tgz
   The first two files are MacBinary encoded for proper FTP transfer and
   unpacking on your Macintosh, so use MacBinary mode for fetching them
   in Fetch or other MacOS FTP apps. If your FTP app doesn't automatically 
   decode MacBinary format, decode these files using StuffIt Expander or 
   another MacOS decoder.
   The other two '.bin' files are not MacBinary encoded, just simple
   binary MS-DOS floppy images, so use simple binary mode for transfer.
   Using MacBinary mode will corrupt these files.
   You'll need DiskCopy 4.2 or later to create a MacOS floppy from the
   boot floppy image. If you only have the resc1440.bin floppy image,
   you'll also need a program to dump this MS-DOS format floppy image to
   a 1440k (HD) floppy in your floppy drive. I don't know of any MacOS
   applications that will do this, so it might be easier to get someone
   with a Linux PC to dump it to a floppy for you. Not all versions of PC
   Access can read a DOS floppy with Mac binaries properly.
   Why bother with these floppy images anyway, when other documentation
   states that Mac floppy drives are unsupported by Linux? First off, the
   Debian installer requires a MS-DOS floppy images (the resc1440.bin and
   drv1440.bin files) to install the kernel and modules later on. So you
   have to get these anyway; if you had to compress the floppy images for
   transport to your Macintosh, you need to uncompress them now. Second,
   using the floppy to boot the installation system saves you the step of
   setting the path to kernel and ramdisk for the booter, in case you
   don't use the files provided on the CD-ROM.
   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/mac/, the StuffIt archive and 
   base2_1.tgz are in /install/.

    2) Unpack the install.sit 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. If you chose to install from the
   floppy image, just create a new directory named "debian".
   Move the base2_1.tgz, resc1440.bin and drv1440.bin files 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 mac-fdisk, but for
   now I recommend you partition your disk using Apple's HD SC Setup
   utility or other 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). A number of
   disk tools (mostly the 'Lite' or 'PE' editions) lack this
   functionality, so make sure you get the right tool for this step.
   Apple HD SC Setup can be used for third party disks if patched as
   described in The
   partition editor from the MkLinux project is at and is available as
   m68k version. Tim Endres' DiskTool (available at the Mac68k FTP site)
   does the job, as does FWB's HDT 1.8 (not the PE version though) and
   SilverLining (not the Lite version). This list is not complete, if you
   know of other options, I'd appreciate a short notice. I've only tested
   HD SC Setup and DiskTool, your mileage may vary.
   When partitioning your disk, please keep in mind that Linux has to be
   launched by the 'Penguin' bootstrap program, which is a MacOS
   application. Consequence: you will need a working MacOS system to boot
   Linux, so don't destroy your MacOS startup partition in this step. If
   you need to repartition your only MacOS partition to free space for
   Linux, make sure you have all necessary media to boot and reinstall
   MacOS after partitioning, or get a spare disk instead. There is no way
   to boot Linux directly from a loader in the boot sector of your disk
   on a Macintosh. Destroying your MacOS partition means you will have to
   reinstall MacOS before you can start over again!
   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 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
     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 MacOS. 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.
   MacOS uses a separate partition for the partition table and driver
   data, so there will be more partitions around, usually partition 1 and
    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. For HD SC Setup, you'll
   have to select 'Custom' partition scheme, and create partitions with
   the mouse as needed. Debian needs A/UX type partitions to install on,
   'A/UX Root' or 'A/UX Root&Usr' should be fine for the data partitions.
   You may need to delete partitions to create space for new ones; HD SC
   Setup doesn't support just changing the partition type. DiskTool does
   offer these choices but allows editing the partition type.
    After creating the root partition, create a partition that is to be
   used as a swap partition, and set the partition type to 'A/UX swap'
    Please note:
     * Your root and swap partitions do not need to be on the same
     * 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.sit" archive. You will need this later for installation
       of the kernel, modules and base system.
   When you have made all required changes, go back to the main window of
   the partition editor and "Save Changes to drive". Think twice before
   actually clicking on "Yes" - have you chosen the correct partitions?
   No viable data that could get lost now? Then click OK.
   If required, the Macintosh will reboot after this.
    5) When you're back at the MacOS desktop, start the Linux
   installation process by double-clicking on the "Penguin Prefs" icon in
   the "debian" directory, or in "install/mac" if installing from the CD. 
   For installation from floppy, double-click on the "Penguin Prefs" icon 
   there. The Linux booter (Penguin) starts up, loads kernel and ramdisk 
   and starts booting without further ado. (If you want to examine or 
   change the booter settings first, hold down the 'command' key while 
   starting Penguin.)
   If starting the booter from the harddisk, you will have to set the
   path for kernel (linux) and ramdisk (root.bin) correct for your system
   on the first start of the booter. Start up holding down the 'command'
   key until the booter has finished loading and reading the preferences
   file. Go to the "Settings" dialog (shortcut: command-T) and adjust the
   path for kernel and ramdisk by clicking on the appropriate buttons in
   the upper right corner of the panel. Kernel and ramdisk are in the
   'debian' directory on the drive where you unpacked the install.sit
   archive. Save the settings to the preferences file in that directory
   (using command-S) and boot using the command-B shortcut.
   After this, the screen will change colors, 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.  In case the installation
   program complains about not finding any disks or partitions to install
   on, try a newer kernel or check your partition types again.
    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 a black-and-white 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
  Configure the keyboard
   Depending on whether you have a extended or standard keyboard, select
   the one appropriate for you with the cursor keys and Space, then move
   with Tab to the OK button and press Return. Only US keyboards are
   supported during the installation right now, a french keymap is
   available once the system has been set up.
  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 MacOS while you were
   preparing that partition in your disk utility. If the installation
   program doesn't offer any swap partitions to chose from, switch to a
   and run the command mac-fdisk -l. The output of this command should
   help you in troubleshooting
   the problem.
   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.
       SCSI disks should not have bad blocks, and manage to revector
       these automatically should some appear.
     * When asked whether you really want to initialize this partition as
       a swap partition, think twice, then, when being sure, press
   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
   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
   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 (MacOS) partition on which you unpacked
   the "install.sit" 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 .sit 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 the CD, change "/debian" to "/install/mac". 
   Next you are asked whether you want to select the files from a list or
   enter the path name manually; you have to press Return here to select
   the installation files from a list of choices. The installation
   program may not find only the correct and only available installation
   files itself but offer HFS metadata files as well. In the example
   above, where you used /debian as installation file path, the
   installation program will offer /instmnt/debian/.finderinfo and
   /instmnt/debian/.resource before the correct path /instmnt/debian, so
   just scroll down twice and hit Return.
    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 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 - after each selection, the installation program will first
   ask if the selected module should be installed, then display help text
   explaining possible module options (mostly empty) and prompt for
   module parameters. Only a few modules are available for the Mac
   kernel, none of which require module parameters, so just leave the
   module paramteters empty.
   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 "CD-ROM" 
   and enter "/install" as path. Again, everything should be in the place 
   the installer expects to find it but the HFS metadata may get in the way 
   and confuse the installer, so press Return,  scroll down to the proper
   path and press Return again 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 partition. On a slow Mac, unpacking the base system
   takes around 30 minutes, be patient.
  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 Macs will use the
   local time instead of GMT.
  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,
    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 Mac should reboot automatically into
   MacOS. If the Linux kernel hangs on attempting to reboot, just press
   the reset button.
    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 the Penguin booter, holding down the
   'command' key. Go to the 'Settings' dialog (command-T), and locate the
   kernel options line (should look like root=/dev/ram video=font:VGA8x16
   or such). The important thing to change is the entry

   In this line, replace the


   with the Linux-wise partition name of the root partition onto which
   you installed the system - like sda1, hdb3, whatever it was, you
   figure. The 'video=font:VGA8x16' is my recommendation especially for
   users with these tiny screens like on a SE/30; the kernel would pick a
   prettier (6x11) font but the console driver for this font can hang the
   machine, so using 8x16 (or 8x8, on the small displays) is safer. If you 
   don't want to start Linux immediately each time you start the booter, 
   uncheck the 'Auto Boot' option.
    Save that file, using the 'Save Settings As Default' option.
   If you installed from floppy disks, copy "Penguin-15" and "linux" to a
   folder on your harddrive, and create the Preferences file as described
    Now you can just double click on the "Penguin" 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
     * 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 "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 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
   Macintosh, 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,
   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
   If you didn't answer "Yes" to the question if your computer is
   connected to a network, you will have to create the file
   containing the line "nameserver <ip-addr>" where <ip-addr> is the
   address of your ISP's name server host.
    One more hint: To cleanly shut down a running Linux system, you must
   not just reboot with the reset switch on the front of your Macintosh,
   or turn off the computer - instead, press the key combination
   Ctrl-Shift-Power (left control and shift keys together with the power 
   on key at the top right corner of the keyboard) or 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 
   shutdown -h now
   if you don't like the key combo.
   More information:
     * The Debian GNU/Linux homepage (
     * The Linux/m68k domain's homepage (
     * The Macintosh project pages (
     * Visit us 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
Macintosh version:
v1.0    August 9th,     1998   First version, based on Frank Neumanns Amiga ver
v1.1    August 29th,    1998   Updated for 2.0r2
v1.2    September 5th,  1998   More warnings ...
v1.3    September 24th, 1998   Even more warnings ...
v1.4    January 29th,   1999   Updated for Debian 2.1 'slink'
v1.5    February 8th,   1999   Added CD install option
    Michael Schmitz, Last change: February 8, 1999

Created by Webify 0.4 on Sun 02 May 1999 at 01:02 AM CDT