OldWorld Macintosh Computers

Install procedure for OldWorld Macs

This page is OLD and probably contains errors, out of date information, security flaws or other problems. I am keeping it around because it might be helpful to someone.

I refurbished and gave away old computers to people for a while as a service project.This post is from when I was involved in that.

We give these computers away, and want to provide people with comptuers with legal software on them. Since we want to stay legal, we can’t just use the one OS9 CD we have, on every computer. We will use Mac OS7 as the first stage boot OS since it is available for free from Apple’s site. You may be able to skip or simplify some steps if you don’t need to worry about having enough legal copies of systems.

Boot process summary:
OldWorld Macs can only (easily) boot into Mac OS. We’ll create a 50 Meg Mac OS partition with Mac OS7 installed on it for this stage. The computer boots to Mac OS. From Mac OS, you run BootX which boots Linux from within Mac OS. Mac OS can’t see the Linux partitions, so you must place a copy of the Kernel and initrd (initial RAM disk) on the Mac partition.

You will need:
Mac OS install CD/Disks — I will refer to this as OS9, but others may work.
A copy of Stuffit Expander (comes on OS9 install CD)
Mac OS 7 image parts from Apple’s site
Ubuntu install CD

I) Setting up the install process

1) Boot from the OS9 CD and partition the HD into at least three parts. Partition 1 should be 50 Mb, in the Mac format (Not the Extended Mac format!) . Partition 2 should be about 200 Mb, which will be used for OS9 during the OS7 install. The rest can be free space.

2) Install OS9 on one the 200 Mb partition. It should hold a full install of OS9. A full install is convenient because it includes Internet support and Stuffit Expander.

3) Boot to the installed OS9.

4) Download or otherwise aquire the OS7 disk image parts.

5) Decompress the 19 OS7 image parts with Stuffit Expander. Run the first one and a new disk will apear on the desktop with the OS7 installer in it. Install a minimal OS7 to the 50 Mb partition.

6) Download or copy BootX to the OS7 partition.

7) Copy initrd.gz and vmlinux from the PowerPC Ubuntu install CD. Both files can be found in install/powerpc on the CD. They should be placed in the “Linux Kernels” folder in the BootX folder on the OS7 partition.

8) Boot to OS7.

II) Installing Ubuntu

9) Insert the Ubuntu CD and run BootX. Choose vmlinux as your kernel. Choose “Options” and select initrd.gz as the initial ramdisk. Click “Linux” to boot to Linux.

10) When the install process has already installed the kernel, switch to a console. Mount the OS7 partition.
You may have to modprobe the following modules first: mesh, sd_mod, hfs

11) Copy the kernel and initrd images to the OS7 partition. Note that vmlinux and initrd.img are symlinks, you need the real files!

12) Wait for the Ubuntu install process to finish. It should display a warning at the end that a bootloader could not be installed, and tell you what the root partition is. Write down this partition, you will need it.

III) First boot?

13) Boot into OS7 and run BootX. Use the newly copied kernel and initrd.  Put the root=/dev/sdWhatever which was told to you in step 12 into the kernel arguments line. Click Linux.

14) If you get dropped into a busybox shell, don’t dispair! You just need to create an initrd that will probe the modules you need. See creating a custom initrd.

Creating a custom initrd.img for oldworld machines

The initrd.img tutorial is now a separate page as it applies to more than just old Macs.

Starts to boot, but can’t mount swap home, etc.

If you have two disks on an OldWorld Mac, the Ubuntu installer seems to get mixed up when creating the /etc/fstab file. Try editing it and check if /dev/sda should be /dev/sdb and vice versa.

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