5.1. Booting the Installer on PowerPC

5.1.1. Booting from a CD-ROM

The easiest route for most people will be to use a set of Debian CDs. If you have a CD set, and if your machine supports booting directly off the CD, great! Simply insert your CD, reboot, and proceed to the next chapter.

Note that certain CD drives may require special drivers, and thus be inaccessible in the early installation stages. If it turns out the standard way of booting off a CD doesn't work for your hardware, revisit this chapter and read about alternate kernels and installation methods which may work for you.

Even if you cannot boot from CD-ROM, you can probably install the Debian system components and any packages you want from CD-ROM. Simply boot using a different media, such as floppies. When it's time to install the operating system, base system, and any additional packages, point the installation system at the CD-ROM drive.

If you have problems booting, see Section 5.3, “Troubleshooting the Installation Process”.

Currently, the only PowerPC subarchitectures that support CD-ROM booting are PReP and New World PowerMacs. On PowerMacs, hold the c key, or else the combination of Command, Option, Shift, and Delete keys together while booting to boot from the CD-ROM.

OldWorld PowerMacs will not boot a Debian CD, because OldWorld computers relied on a Mac OS ROM CD boot driver to be present on the CD, and a free-software version of this driver is not available. All OldWorld systems have floppy drives, so use the floppy drive to launch the installer, and then point the installer to the CD for the needed files.

If your system doesn't boot directly from CD-ROM, you can still use the CD-ROM to install the system. On NewWorlds, you can also use an OpenFirmware command to boot from the CD-ROM manually. Follow the instructions in Section, “Booting NewWorld Macs from OpenFirmware” for booting from the hard disk, except use the path to yaboot on the CD at the OF prompt, such as

0 > boot cd:,\install\yaboot

5.1.2. Booting from Hard Disk

Booting from an existing operating system is often a convenient option; for some systems it is the only supported method of installation.

To boot the installer from hard disk, you will have already completed downloading and placing the needed files in Section 4.5, “Preparing Files for Hard Disk Booting”. Booting CHRP from OpenFirmware

Not yet written. Booting OldWorld PowerMacs from MacOS

If you set up BootX in Section 4.5.1, “Hard Disk Installer Booting for OldWorld Macs”, you can use it to boot into the installation system. Double click the BootX application icon. Click on the Options button and select Use Specified RAM Disk. This will give you the chance to select the ramdisk.image.gz file. You may need to select the No Video Driver checkbox, depending on your hardware. Then click the Linux button to shut down MacOS and launch the installer. Booting NewWorld Macs from OpenFirmware

You will have already placed the vmlinux, initrd.gz, yaboot, and yaboot.conf files at the root level of your HFS partition in Section 4.5.2, “Hard Disk Installer Booting for NewWorld Macs”. Restart the computer, and immediately (during the chime) hold down the Option, Command (cloverleaf/Apple), o, and f keys all together. After a few seconds you will be presented with the Open Firmware prompt. At the prompt, type

0 > boot hd:x,yaboot

replacing x with the partition number of the HFS partition where the kernel and yaboot files were placed, followed by a Enter. On some machines, you may need to use ide0: instead of hd:. In a few more seconds you will see a yaboot prompt


At yaboot's boot: prompt, type either install or install video=ofonly followed by a Enter. The video=ofonly argument is for maximum compatibility; you can try it if install doesn't work. The Debian installation program should start.

5.1.3. Booting from USB memory stick

Currently, NewWorld PowerMac systems are known to support USB booting.

Make sure you have prepared everything from Section 4.4, “Preparing Files for USB Memory Stick Booting”. To boot a Macintosh system from a USB stick, you will need to use the Open Firmware prompt, since Open Firmware does not search USB storage devices by default. To get to the prompt, hold down Command-Option-o-f all together while booting (see Section 3.6.1, “Invoking OpenFirmware”).

You will need to work out where the USB storage device appears in the device tree, since at the moment ofpath cannot work that out automatically. Type dev / ls and devalias at the Open Firmware prompt to get a list of all known devices and device aliases. On the author's system with various types of USB stick, paths such as usb0/disk, usb0/hub/disk, /pci@f2000000/usb@1b,1/disk@1, and /pci@f2000000/usb@1b,1/hub@1/disk@1 work.

Having worked out the device path, use a command like this to boot the installer:

boot usb0/disk:2,\\:tbxi

The 2 matches the Apple_HFS or Apple_Bootstrap partition onto which you copied the boot image earlier, and the ,\\:tbxi part instructs Open Firmware to boot from the file with an HFS file type of "tbxi" (i.e. yaboot) in the directory previously blessed with hattrib -b.

The system should now boot up, and you should be presented with the boot: prompt. Here you can enter optional boot arguments, or just hit Enter.


This boot method is new, and may be difficult to get to work on some NewWorld systems. If you have problems, please file an installation report, as explained in Section 5.3.5, “Submitting Installation Reports”.

5.1.4. Booting with TFTP

Booting from the network requires that you have a network connection and a TFTP network boot server (DHCP, RARP, or BOOTP).

The installation method to support network booting is described in Section 4.6, “Preparing Files for TFTP Net Booting”.

Currently, PReP and New World PowerMac systems support netbooting.

On machines with Open Firmware, such as NewWorld Power Macs, enter the boot monitor (see Section 3.6.1, “Invoking OpenFirmware”) and use the command boot enet:0. PReP and CHRP boxes may have different ways of addressing the network. On a PReP machine, you should try boot server_ipaddr,file,client_ipaddr.

5.1.5. Booting from Floppies

Booting from floppies is supported for PowerPC, although it is generally only applicable for OldWorld systems. NewWorld systems are not equipped with floppy drives, and attached USB floppy drives are not supported for booting.

You will have already downloaded the floppy images you needed and created floppies from the images in Section 4.3, “Creating Floppies from Disk Images”.

To boot from the boot-floppy-hfs.img floppy, place it in floppy drive after shutting the system down, and before pressing the power-on button.


For those not familiar with Macintosh floppy operations: a floppy placed in the machine prior to boot will be the first priority for the system to boot from. A floppy without a valid boot system will be ejected, and the machine will then check for bootable hard disk partitions.

After booting, the root.bin floppy is requested. Insert the root floppy and press Enter. The installer program is automatically launched after the root system has been loaded into memory.

5.1.6. PowerPC Boot Parameters

Many older Apple monitors used a 640x480 67Hz mode. If your video appears skewed on an older Apple monitor, try appending the boot argument video=atyfb:vmode:6 , which will select that mode for most Mach64 and Rage video hardware. For Rage 128 hardware, this changes to video=aty128fb:vmode:6 .