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HOWTO-Booting with Yaboot on PowerPC
Chapter 4 - Creating the Bootstrap Partition

Be sure you have reviewed the mac-fdisk Basics page at http://penguinppc.org/projects/yaboot/doc/mac-fdisk-basics.shtml. If you are creating a new Linux installation, the first partition you create with mac-fdisk should be the bootstrap partition. Just use the mac-fdisk b command to automatically create a bootstrap partition of the proper size and type. If your version of mac-fdisk doesn't include the b command, use:

          Command (? for help): C xxxx 800k bootstrap Apple_Bootstrap

(Replace xxxx with the starting block number.) A working tarball of a bootstrap-capable version of mac-fdisk (Debian users already have this version) is also distributed at http://penguinppc.org/~eb/. To install this, use

          su -
          cd /
          gzip -dc mac-fdisk.tar.gz | tar -xvp

The bootstrap partition only takes 800k of space. If you are adding a bootstrap partition to your existing setup, you may have enough free space on your existing drive without changing other partitions. If not, you could avoid re-partitioning the entire disk by stealing a little space from your swap partition. Or parted would allow you to resize partitions.

The bootstrap partition should end up being partition #2, after the partition map itself but before any other partitions on the disk. This is recommended so that if you reset your PRAM, such that OpenFirmware searches for the first bootable partition on the disk, it will find the Apple_Bootstrap partition and yaboot will still control booting.

You can easily change the order of the partitions in the partition map using the r command (see the mac-fdisk tutorial). In other words, it's not the physical placement of the bootstrap partition that counts, it's the logical order within the partition map. Note, though, if you have an existing system and you shift the partition numbers around, you will need to make the appropriate changes in /etc/fstab.

The reason you want the bootstrap partition as partition #2, is so that it precedes all other partitions in the boot sequence. This helps tremendously to make the entire system more stable, since some OS's are very intrusive in their use of partitions.

When you're finished partitioning, use the p command and make note of the final partition numbers. You will need to know the partition number for the bootstrap partition, the location of your kernel, and if you intend to set up yaboot for multiple OS booting, partition numbers for your alternate OS's.

While it's possible to install yaboot on a mountable HFS /boot partition, that configuration is deprecated, discouraged and completely unsupported.

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HOWTO-Booting with Yaboot on PowerPC

Version 1.00, Oct 28 2001

Chris Tillman