Nice and Easy

Well, after something like fourteen hours of tedious work, I’ve managed to install Debian Linux on my old G4 iBook.  I was up til 2am last night, ten tabs open on the Windows browser, multiple USB devices hanging off the Mac, a jerry-rigged Frankenstein lying on the rug.  I was whispering random boot incantations into Open Firmware, which really sucks incidentally, until finally it worked:

boot usb0/hub@1/disk@1:,\yaboot

I managed to boot off of a USB Hard drive, painstakingly formatted in HFS because that’s what Powerpc Debian wants; not HFS+ which would have been so much easier.  I’d assembled a makeshift bootable HD by unpacking the Debian Netinstall ISO onto the HD, then copying the kernel and boot files to the root.  There’s been a CD stuck in the internal drive of my laptop for a few years now, and my Mac refused to boot off of a USB CD drive for some stupid reason.  Well, one of the reasons was a bad burn of a disc image.

So it booted off of the hard drive, but the installer expected to find the packages on the CD device, which wasn’t mounted.  Ah, so close… attach the drive, mount the cd, whir and spin, read the packages, please be good–success!  With bleary late night eyes I nuked my OS X partitions and took the leap of faith, unpacking Debian onto my laptop.

This is not to mention the time I spent trying to boot off a firewire disc or the pinche thumb drives.  Or how I managed to format the USB disc as HFS by “evaluating” MacDrive (terrible stuff) then pirating Disc Warrior (eh, it’s okay) to repair the terrible job that MacDrive did.  Or the thousand times I pressed eject on my laptop, hoping that sinister CD might finally pop out…

And not to mention all the howling I did to Beth about how much all of this sucks and how frustrating it was, the whole thing a fickle, un/mis-documented puzzle.  Following breadcrumbs through Internet forums, trying to gain wisdom from anonymous comments, throwing solutions at the wall, savoring the challenge yet getting destroyed by it.

Now I’ve gone from beautiful, slow OS X to a crude, nerdy default Debian desktop.  OS X is fine, but my laptop is six years old and Apple seems to relish in planned obsolescence.  But now I’ve stepped away from the “Genius Bar”, I’m over here in the corner with the geeks in my penguin tuxedo and ugly fonts.  As it should be.

1 comment


April 13th, 2010

Welcome back!