::documentation::getting started  

Getting started with Linux/mac68k

Step 1: Determine if your Mac is supported

Step 1a: Check the list of supported machines

Before you do anything, you should check to see if Linux supports your system. See the machine status page and the FAQ hardware requirements section for details.

Step 1b: Ignore the list of supported machines

So you checked the list of supported machines, and it said that your Mac wouldn't work. Well, don't let that stop you! Remember that most of the information we have is based on user reports and developer testing of releases probably obsolete by now. Your mileage may vary. Give it a shot!

Step 2: Perform a test boot

Step 2a: Download the necessary components

You need three things to test Linux on your system: the Penguin booter , a kernel, and an initial RAM disk ("initrd") image. You have some choices here.

Debian version (approximately) 4.0 aka "etch-m68k":

Download the CD image (contains kernel & RAM disk)

Debian 3.1 aka "Sarge":

Download the kernel and the RAM disk image.

Debian 3.0 aka "Woody":

Download the kernel and the RAM disk image.



  • The latest latest 2.2 kernel is available from the download page. (Not for use with Debian 4 or later.)

Penguin booter: Penguin is the MacOS program used to boot Linux. Penguin 19 is the current version, although Penguin 18 and Penguin 17 also work for many people.

RAM disk:If you just want a command prompt with a few simple commands, to test whether your hardware is supported, try one of these:

Step 2b: Launch Penguin

At this point, you should have a kernel, a RAM disk image, and the Penguin booter downloaded and unstuffed somewhere on your hard drive. You're almost ready to try booting Linux!

But first, we need to tweak MacOS. Please read the FAQ section, "Why won't Linux boot on my machine" for some important information about Penguin compatibility.

You'll need to select a suitable video mode (no need for this if your Mac has Valkyrie graphics, since the Linux driver is capable of video mode switching).

Open Penguin and choose "Settings" from the File menu. Penguin 18 and later divide these settings between the "Kernel" and "Options" tabs. Click the button next to "Kernel:" and select the kernel you downloaded. Check the box next to "Ramdisk:" and choose the initrd image you downloaded. In the command line, enter "root=/dev/ram". The row of check boxes (Auto boot, Color by Penguin, etc) below the command line should all be unchecked.

Click OK. Select "Boot Now" from the File menu. Penguin will load the kernel and initrd and boot you into Linux.

Step 2c: Hope it works

After a short time, the cursor will stop moving and the screen will turn black with a black-and-white penguin in the upper-right hand corner of the screen. A few seconds later, the console will come up and you will see the normal Linux messages scrolling across your screen. This is accompanied by a color Penguin in the upper-left-hand corner (unless you are using kernel 2.0).

A few more seconds into the process, and a line like "VFS: mounted root" should show up. If you are using the Debian ramdisk, this should be followed by a window with some information about Debian in it. Otherwise, you might just get a "login:" message or a command prompt. If you get this far, and the keyboard works, then Linux will probably work for you!

Step 3: What to do next

Step 3a: Installing Debian

If you were able to successfully boot Linux, the next step is to install Debian or Gentoo on your system. This document is not a guide to installing a distro. There are some install guides provided here.

Step 3b: Aaargh, it didn't work!

Don't give up! Not everybody gets it to work on the first try. Try booting with a different kernel, from the list above. There is information in the FAQ about solving hardware problems.

Good luck!

Valid HTML 4.01 Transitional Valid CSS! Copyright © 2000-2010 Linux/m68k for Macintosh Project.