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  iMacLinux Edition Friday, 06 June 2003  

iMacLinux: Linux Installation Guide

The good news is that installing Linux on the iMac is pretty painless. The installation process can vary depending on the Linux distribution you have selected. Linux on the PowerPC has come a long way, below we have listed links to the installation guides for several of the popular distributions available for the iMac. We have provided an overview of the installation process so you know what is involved.

Vendor specific Installation Guides

  • Mandrake Installation Guide
  • SuSE PowerPC Instructions
  • Yellow Dog Installation Page

In our opinion, Mandrake have done a very good job at providing easy to follow instructions to installing Linux. If you are new to Linux, or new to Linux on the PowerPC, we suggest you take a look at Mandrake, especially if you own an iMac.

Installation Overview

Before you install Linux on your iMac, you must decide whether you want to run Linux as the only operating system on your iMac, or if you want to dual-boot with MacOS or MacOS X. In either case you will need to reinstall your system unless you are placing Linux on an external drive or have free unpartitioned space on your iMac's hard disk. You should backup any data you wish to keep and don't have on removable media, prior to attempting an installation.

With either installation option, we recommend that you partition your system using the Drive Setup utility that is provided on your software install CD. Simply place this CD in your iMac, and reboot, holding the C key after the chime until the system boots off the CD. Then select the Drive Setup icon in the utilities folder on the CD. This will allow you to initialize the hard disk, !!! WARNING !!! Make sure that you have backed up your data first. The Mandrake Installation Guide has screenshots of this process on pages 2 thru 5. This process is good for any distribution. If you plan on having both MacOS and Linux on your system, you need to partition space for MacOS (HFS Extended), Linux (can be free or set as Linux partitions within Drive Setup if you have a MacOS 9.x or higher software), and we recommend a HFS standard partition to enable you to transfer files from Linux to MacOS. Linux, at this time, cannot write to HFS extended partitions. If you want to run the boot loader from a HFS partition, you should include a HFS standard partition to place yaboot. This is not necessary if you have an older iMac an plan to boot using BootX from MacOS. At this point, install MacOS and configure it as you desire. If you plan on just running Linux, insert the CD media and reboot. Most Linux distributions will boot off CD by pressing the 'C' key, just like the Apple media.

Ejecting the CD

If you encounter a problem ejecting the CD, perhaps because it is locked when booting from MacOS CD, you can overcome this quite easily. When your iMac powers up, enter OpenFirmware (you do this by holding down the alt, command (apple symbol key), O and F just as you hear the chime on boot). If you are successful, you will get a white screen with a prompt. Here type eject cd and the CD will eject, insert the linux cd. At this point, some distros will work if you type boot cd. Otherwise you will have to reboot, press and hold the C key.

Linux Installation

At this point you will boot into the installer of your chosen distribution. We recommend you follow the instructions listed above for the available distributions. If you use a distribution that is not listed or find that the vendor provided instructions are less than helpful, please contact [email protected] and we will compile a vendor-neutral guide.

Other Linux Installation Guides

Author:   John Buswell
Version:   1.00
Last Update:   2001-11-23 17:16:56
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