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Installing AOSC OS on PowerPC/PPC64-based Macintosh Computers

Note: Due to limited device availability, PowerPC 32-bit (powerpc) port of AOSC OS is only tested on G3/G4-based, NewWorld Apple Macintosh computers; PowerPC 64-bit (ppc64, Big Endian) port of AOSC OS is only tested on G5-based Apple Macintosh computers. So yes, these ports are Macintosh-specific as it stands now.

As stated above, this guide is specific to installing AOSC OS on PowerPC-based (old!) Apple Macintosh computers, using the Yaboot bootloader. Installation is aided with a copy of Debian or Ubuntu Live CD/DVD. Manual installation of AOSC OS on these computers may be quite complex, and each step is crucial for a successful installation - please do not skip any steps!


Choosing a Tarball§

All PowerPC 32/64-bit tarballs are generic (universal for all supported devices), the only thing you would have to do here is choosing your favourite one - appropriate for your taste and your use case.



We are not going to discuss the deployment of Container and BuildKit in this guide, please check for the guide in AOSC Cadet Training.

Getting Lubuntu Live§

For the purpose of this guide, we recommend that you use a copy of Lubuntu 16.04 LTS, from one of the variants below:

Now, dump the image(s) to your USB flash drive - most NewWorld PowerPC Macintosh supports booting from USB devices.

# dd if=nameofimage.iso of=/dev/sdX bs=4M


Booting Lubuntu Live§

You may either boot Lubuntu from a USB flash disk, or from a CD/DVD disc - use the latter only if you can't boot from USB, or if you are using a USB 1.1-based G3 system (burning ISOs should be very easy, not really worth covering here).

Booting from USB Flash Disk§

Try holding Option key right after pressing the power button. If a blue screen with your flash drive show up, you are lucky as you just need to wait until the watch cursor changes back to the normal pointer, click on the Lubuntu image, then on the right arrow to boot. If it did not work that way, please keep reading to make an attempt on manual booting with Open Firmware.

To boot from a USB flash disk, you will need to enter Open Firmware command line when booting up your Macintosh. Enter the Open Firmware command line with the following key combination:

Command + Option/Alt + O + F

After you are greeted with OK and a Open Firmware command line (should be white background with black text), enter the following command (assuming no USB hub or other flash disks are attached):

boot ud:2,\\yaboot

Note, boot command might differ, on an Early-2005 12-inch PowerBook G4 (1.5GHz G4), the command should be as follows (if using the command above, you will see a gray background with a "forbidden" symbol):

boot usb1/disk@1:,\\yaboot

You should be greeted with a boot menu:

Booting from CD/DVD§

Hold c while powering on your PowerPC Macintosh to boot from CD/DVD, you should be greeted with a boot menu:

Configuring Partitions§

PowerPC Macintoshs uses the so-called Apple Partition Map, which could sound very abstract to many modern (PC) system users. Special tools are also needed to properly partition a hard drive for installation. In a nutshell:

The first partition won't be able to be mounted as it is the partition map itself, while the second partition is HFS (not HFS+).

The guide below assumes that you do not have any operating system installed on your hard drive, and that no data will be kept (because if you do have an OS installed already, you won't need to get through all this hassle anyway - just resize one of the partitions and create another one for AOSC OS). We will partition the hard drive using the mac-fdisk utility, assuming you are installing AOSC OS onto /dev/sda:

# mac-fdisk /dev/sda

Then, in this exact order:

And the rest is up to you. G3/G4 systems generally comes with a (very) small amount of RAM, we recommend that you create a swap partition sized at least 4GB - to ensure daily usage.

Format the "Bootstrap" partition:

# mkfs.hfs /dev/sda2


First of all, mount your system partition (not the "Bootstrap" partition), for this guide, mount it at /mnt - assuming that the partition is /dev/sda3, as the first two will be taken by the "Map" and "Bootstrap" partitions:

# mount /dev/sda3 /mnt

Additionally, say, if you have /dev/sda4 for /home:

# mkdir -v /mnt/home
# mount -v /dev/sda4 /mnt/home

And now, un-tar the tarball:

# cd /mnt
# tar --numeric-owner -pxf /path/to/tarball/tarball.tar.xz

For a more exciting experience, add verbosity:

# cd /mnt
# tar --numeric-owner -pxvf /path/to/tarball/tarball.tar.xz

Initial Configuration§

Here below are some extra steps before you configure your bootloader - strongly recommended to avoid potential issues later.

/etc/fstab Generation§

If you have chosen to use multi-partition layout for your AOSC OS installation, you will need to configure your /etc/fstab file, one fast way to achieve this is genfstab:

# /mnt/usr/bin/genfstab -U -p /mnt >> /mnt/etc/fstab

Bind mount system/pseudo directories§

# for i in dev proc sys; do mount --rbind /$i /mnt/$i; done

Commands in all sections below are executed from chroot.

But first of all, enter AOSC OS chroot environment:

# chroot /mnt /bin/bash

For G5-based systems, you may not be able to enter chroot, as the Lubuntu Live provided is 32-bit, while the system to be installed is 64-bit. Please install the following package:

# dpkg --add-architecture ppc64
# apt update
# apt install libc6:ppc64

Update, Your, System!§

New tarball releases comes out roughly each season, and it is generally a wise choice to update your system first - just to get rid of some old bugs since the tarball's release:

# apt update
# apt full-upgrade

Initialization RAM Disk§

Use the following command to create initialization RAM disk for AOSC OS.

# update-initramfs

Bootloader Configuration§

All commands below are run from within chroot.

PowerPC-based Macintosh systems use Yaboot as the default bootloader, to install Yaboot:

# ybin -v -b /dev/sda2

If you have installed AOSC OS on /dev/sda3, there is no need to make extra changes to the Yaboot configurations. If not, mount the "Bootstrap" partition:

# mount /dev/sda2 /mnt

And edit /etc/yaboot.conf according to the comments provided.

User, and Post-installation Configuration§

AOSC OS tarball releases comes with a default aosc user, and the root user disabled. We recommend that you change the name and password of the default user before you reboot into AOSC OS - while leaving the password empty for the root user - you can always use sudo for your superuser needs.

The default password for aosc is anthon.

All commands below are run from within chroot.

Renaming Mr. aosc§

To rename the aosc account:

# usermod -d /home/username -l username -m aosc

Where username is the new name you would want to have for aosc.

Resetting Password§

To reset the password for your renamed aosc user:

# passwd username

Where username is your new user name.

Enabling Root§

Although strongly discouraged, you can enable the root user by setting a password for root:

# passwd root

Decent Linux users need not the root user.

Setting System Timezone§

Timezone info are stored in /usr/share/zoneinfo/<region>/<city>.

# ln -sf /usr/share/zoneinfo/Asia/Shanghai /etc/localtime

Setting System Language§

AOSC OS enables all languages with UTF-8 encoding by default. In rare cases where you (really) want to disable some languages or enable non UTF-8 encodings, edit /etc/locale.gen as needed and execute locale-gen as root (which might take a long time).

To set default language for all users, edit /etc/locale.conf. For example, to set system lanaguage to Chinese Simplified (China):


Notes: After you rebooted the computer into the new system, you may use the localectl command to do this:

# localectl set-locale "LANG=zh_CN.UTF-8"

Setting System Hostname§

To set a hostname for the system, edit /etc/hostname. For example, to set the hostname to be MyNewComputer:


Notes: After you rebooted the computer into the new system, you may use the hostnamectl command to do this:

# hostnamectl set-hostname yourhostname

Extra Notes§

This section contains extra information regarding specific devices, and changes needed to fix some known issues found within the ports.

Uniprocessor or SMP?§

By design, we needed to provide two versions of Linux Kernel for PowerPC 32-bit systems, one for uniprocessor (or single processor) systems (any iMac G3/G4/G5, iBook G3/G4, and PowerBook G3/G4), and another for SMP-enabled multi-processor systems (some PowerMac G3/G4/G5).

At Yaboot prompt, pressing Enter will boot the aoscuni, or the Kernel for uniprocessor systems (it will work on SMP systems, but showing only one processor core); type in aoscsmp and press Enter will boot the Kernel for SMP systems (do not use this on uni-processor systems, as the Kernel will lock up at the first instance).

ATI Systems§

Some PowerPC Macintosh models comes with ATI graphics, and this can be problematic, as the system may lock up randomly when running X11. We will have to disable 3D acceleration to get these systems usable (albeit slower OpenGL performance throughput).

Mount the "Bootstrap" partition:

# mount /dev/sda2 /mnt

And edit /etc/yaboot.conf, to add radeon.agpmode=-1 to each append= lines.

Wild Colors with OpenGL§

Arrrrrghhh! Stop shouting about this, we can't do anything about this until the Kernel DRM and Mesa developers have big endian systems on their hands.

Gosh! Minecraft in blue and red is infuriating.