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Installing Gentoo through Target Disk Mode on an old iMac G3
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Joined: 02 Jul 2006
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 27, 2007 11:14 pm    Post subject: Installing Gentoo through Target Disk Mode on an old iMac G3 Reply with quote

Guys, I have a strange question to ask.

I have an old iMac G3 on which I'd like to install a basic Gentoo setup. It used to have MacOS 9, until that got borked, and then Ubuntu 5.1, iirc, which got strangely borked (I suspect my younger brother + software updates...). The machine still works pretty well, and I'd really like to get a proper Gentoo install running, but... I have a problem.

The optical drive is shot. It reads only one disc - the one that's already in there. I've tried everything short of dismantling the iMac itself, including booting the Open Firmware dealio, and it simply won't eject. The slot drive doesn't have that nice little pinhole you can force eject through either, so I'm running out of ideas on how to boot off the CD.

However, I do have a spiffy new Macbook and a Firewire cable, and I've been able to boot the G3 in Target Disk Mode through that. I can now manipulate the partition table and access the hard drives, so the question I have to ask is...

Is it possible to install Gentoo on that iMac this way? After a quick search I've come across a few articles which all assume either a bootable floppy disk (doesn't exist) or a pre-existing install (also does not exist). I then remembered that I could just download the appropriate stage, edit a few files and hope for the best, but iirc during the installation, around the chroot bit, you have to copy over some stuff from the Live CD environment (networking info et cetera) which I won't have, seeing as there is no Live CD environment. I suspect the networking bit wouldn't be a problem - router, dhcp and so on - but I'm not sure about mounting proc, dev and so on.

I've also found bits about installing to an external FW drive, which would be similar - TDM is basically that I believe - would that help in any way? How could I ensure the system worked for the old G3 instead of the spiffy new x86 Macbook? What would I need to do?

Any help will be appreciated :D thanks!
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Joined: 28 Apr 2002
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 28, 2007 12:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, first things first. Have you tried holding down the mouse button on startup? This will eject any CD in any mac. :) Which iMac G3 do you have exactly? afaik, they all have eject buttons, they're just hidden behind the dust flap on the slot loading ones. Did you try ejecting from open firmware? Typing
eject cd
in OF can eject the disk on all PPC macs too.

As for installation, sure, you can install in target disk mode, but there's a few tricky bits. Since you can't chroot, you'll need to manually bless the HFS bootstrap partition and configure it by hand. Luckily, that's not too hard. :)

Basically, create partitions and unpack the stage3 on the target disk. To setup the bootstrap partition, format it with hformat (part of hfsutils), copy ofboot.b, yaboot and yaboot.conf from the install CD to this HFS partition. You will need to adjust yaboot.conf here to reflect your partitions. Use the kernel and initrd from the install CD. Once the partition is complete, you need to bless the bootstrap partition using
hattrib -b

Another issue that needs to be resolved is setting a root password. The easiest method is to back up /etc/shadow and replace it with one containing a password you know. Replace it after you boot with the backed up copy and set the password properly once you've booted.

Well, those are the tricky parts. You'll need to setup networking manually after you boot since you won't have a DHCP client, but otherwise, it shouldn't be too tricky. Feel free to let us know if you have problems.
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