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Installing Debian GNU/Linux on a PowerPC APUS Machine

Apus is the "Amiga PowerUp System", and consists of an Amiga computer, A1200, A3000 or A4000, together with one of the PowerPC/m68k accelerator boards from the now dead company Phase5, the BlizzardPPC or CyberStormPPC board.

Known Problems

There are some issues involved with bootstrap on systems which don't use either PowerUp or WarpUp only, but some hybrid mutant of them both. I am not very familiar with this stuff as I use plain powerup only, so I hope someone will contribute a more complete description of it.

Also the SCSI controller of the CyberStormPPC is not yet supported by Linux, so you cannot use disks attached to it.

Partitioning from the AmigaOS side

amiga-fdisk is the fdisk variant for RDB partition tables used by the Amiga hardware. It is working, but I recommend you use the Amiga partitioning tools to do it from AmigaOS instead.

HDToolbox, being the official Commodore partitioning tool, should be installed on every AmigaOS system. Just launching HDToolbox should partition the IDE disk of the onboard IDE interface. If you want to access the SCSI disk on your BlizzardPPC board SCSI controller, you should use the "hdtoolbox blizzppcscsi.device" command.

Another option is to use SCSIConfig, the partitioner from Phase5 which is on the floppies that came with your accelerator board.

You will need to set the partition type to custom, and provide the following partition type IDs:

  * Linux partition: 0x4c4e5800
  * Linux swap partition: 0x53575000


You will find the bootstrap program in the apus/bootstrap directory of the powerpc boot floppies distribution (found at /debian/dists/woody/main/disks-powerpc/current).

The bootstrap program consists of three programs. All three need to be executable and in your AmigaOS path. They are the bootstrap executable and the ppcboot_wup or ppcboot_pup part, that is the actual launcher (ppcboot_pup for the powerup system and ppcboot_wup for the warpup system).

You will launch bootstrap with a line like this:

# bootstrap --apus "kernel options"
where "kernel options" are defined in the following sections.

bootstrap will then give some output, then blank the screen for 10 to 30 seconds, and then you will have the Linux console.

The Debian bootstrap Command

The actual bootstrap command to launch the Debian installer system would be:

# bootstrap --apus -k apus/linux -r apus/images-1.44/root.bin root=/dev/ram
After installation, to launch Debian, use:
# bootstrap --apus -k apus/linux root=/dev/sda3
where sda3 is my Debian root partition, change it to the partition that is hosting your root partition.

Kernel Options

You will need to add some kernel options depending on your actual configuration, which will be explained in the following sections.

Graphic Card Options

The graphic device to be used is an option prefaced with video=. Some examples are shown below. To enable the native graphics in vga mode (640x480):

To enable the Bvision/CyberVision graphic card in 1152x864 at 60Hz mode, with the SUN12x22 fonts:
To disable one of the graphic devices:
You can map virtual consoles to the different devices being used. Use video=map:01 to map virtual console (vc) 1 to device 0, vc 2 to device 1, and after that repeat the same pattern (vc3 to device 0, vc4 to device 1, etc.). To map vc 1,2,3,5,6,7 to device 0 and vc 4,8 to device 1 you would use

The nobats Option

Blizzard users with scsi disks will need to use the "nobats" option.

# bootstrap --apus -k apus/linux root=/dev/sda3 nobats

The 60nsram Option

People with 60ns ram can also use the 60nsram option.

# bootstrap --apus -k apus/linux root=/dev/sda3 60nsram

Debugging Options

If you are experiencing problems, you can use the debug option to specify console message output to go to a serial console or memory instead of the normal console. This is useful for debugging when the kernel output doesn't come to the console output.

# bootstrap --apus -k apus/linux root=/dev/sda3 60nsram debug=mem
Then you can read the result with the bootmesg utility from the apus/bootstrap directory.

Another useful tool is the dmesg utility which will give you the bootstrap process debugging info.

Apus Particularities in dbootstrap

There are some specific differences for apus in the use of dbootstrap.

Partitioning the Hard Disk - amiga-fdisk

The apus subarch uses the amiga-fdisk partitioning tool. As noted above, you can also use AmigaOS-side partitioning tools.

Installing the OS Kernel and Modules

This option is actually not working. I am in the process of proposing an "Install the OS Modules" option to replace it, but in the meantime you can just skip this step. The kernel is not needed anyway, since it resides on the

Options Not Applicable for apus

Well some options simply don't make sense on apus, so until I exclude them from the menu, just ignore them. They should not work anyway.

These options are:

* Make System Bootable directly from the Hard Disk.

* Make a Boot Floppy.

* Eject the Floppy.

Links for Further Information

The official Linux-apus doc and FAQ is at:


Another source of valuable information is the Linux-m68k web site and faq found at:


There you will find lots of information regarding Linux on the amiga platform that is common to Linux-m68k and Linux-apus.


Well, this little guide tries to explain all the particularities of the Linux-apus installation of Debian. The rest of it is quite similar to any other Debian/powerpc installation, as well as the generic Debian installation. You will thus find further info in the Debian documentation directory as well as in the other generic Linux information sites and docs.