Fedora Core 2 on your iBook (or Mac)

Why Fedora?

Because its cool on your white iBook! Many folk run Debian (I used to too), some do Gentoo, Mandrake has a smattering of users, as does SuSE (payware). Yellow Dog Linux is the other popular alternative, but Fedora is definitely cool.

This document is now frozen and will not be updated further.

UPDATE (13/09/2004): This guide now specifies only how to get Fedora Core 2 on your iBook/Powerbook/Macintosh. For all purposes as to how to get the current development tree (aka Rawhide), and what Fedora Core 3 will eventually be, Fedora Core on your Macintosh (Fedora PPC) is the more accurate guide.

My iBook G4

It's called cho and has a 933MHz G4 PowerPC, with 384MB of DDR SDRAM. It comes with an ATI Radeon 9000 with 32MB of RAM, and has an Airport Extreme card (this will not work under Linux, because its a Broadcom card). Sleep currently does not work either.

It should also be made clear that Fedora has been known to run on the following list (basically any NewWorld Mac will work):

What you need to do

  1. Since we don't have a bootable ISO just yet, you might consider mirroring the entire tree from the Duke mirror - http://fedora.linux.duke.edu/fedorappc/. This is the current Fedora Core 2 tree (that we best know of!).
  2. Burn the boot.iso file from images/mac.
  3. If you want to dual-boot with OS X, make sure OS X is installed first, and you've left some free space for your install of Fedora. When you are installing OS X, click the Installer menu item, and go to the Disk Utility. I just split my 40GB disk into two, equally.
  4. Setting up an NFS share on the machine where you mirrored the Fedora development RPMs are what you need to do next. This is done fairly simply, and a useful guide is one by Daniel Owen, titled Howto install Fedora Core over NFS. Note: You can also perform this via HTTP or FTP.
  5. Place the CDROM containing boot.iso into your Mac, then hold down the C key (so you boot from the CDROM).
  6. Type mac, as its the only yaboot option, then the Fedora Core install starts; select NFS image. If you're inclined to, mac text will work just as well.

    Some Macs will have issues with just running "mac", so try running mac noprobe instead, while the loader module gets fixed. Also, it's known that on the iMac DV, the installer does not come up in graphical mode, so it is mandatory you boot with mac text.

  7. You now need to find a driver for your NIC - using the "sungem" drivers generally work for eth0 (the wired Ethernet card), and then allow DHCP to provide network information (or provide it manually). To get the Airport working on machines that support it (like the iBook G3 or the older PowerBooks), you can use the "airport" modules (which load hermes and orinoco).
  8. NFS Setup screen pop's up, and you need the NFS server name and the Fedora Core directory - fill those in appropriately.
  9. Now, the Fedora Core installation actually starts - I choose a Workstation installation. This choice is up to you, of course.
  10. When it comes to disk partitioning, make sure you use Disk Druid - the autopartitioning doesn't add the Apple Bootstrap partition (but it works otherwise). I created about 18GB for /, using an ext3 filesystem, and a 512MB partition for swap. The Apple Bootstrap partition is of size 1MB only - make sure its the first partition, even before your OS X partition(s). The types marked "Foreign" are OS X partitions (in my case, Apple HFS+). Take careful note to which partition / is - you'll be needing this information later for yaboot.
  11. Network configuration is next, I've set it to use DHCP - this is also where you can add a hostname if required.
  12. Firewall setup comes next, then language support, and the timezone selection. Choose a root password, and let the install continue! (this entails a bit of waiting till the packages are all installed)
  13. Once the installation is done, reboot. If you don't want to do boot into mac rescue as per the following step, you can break into a console using Ctrl+Alt+Fn+F2, and jump to step 15 directly.
  14. Use the boot CD, to boot into the mac rescue mode. As a rescue method, it's probably most convenient to use the NFS image, and repeat steps 7-8 again.
  15. Then chroot to /mnt/sysimage and grab the hfsutils-*.ppc.rpm package (you don't need -devel). Install it.
  16. You should make sure that there's an /etc/yaboot.conf that looks alright, since this is anaconda generated.
  17. Now you need to know what partition has the boot flag set - you can view this by using the parted utility, and typing print. Look for the boot flag to be set, and notice the minor number.
  18. Using /dev/hda
    (parted) print
    Disk geometry for /dev/hda: 0.000-28615.781 megabytes
    Disk label type: mac
    Minor    Start       End     Filesystem  Name                  Flags
    1          0.000      0.031              Apple
    2          0.031      0.058              Macintosh
    3          0.059      0.085              Macintosh
    4          0.086      0.113              Macintosh
    5          0.113      0.140              Macintosh
    6          0.141      0.390              Macintosh
    7          0.391      0.640              Macintosh
    8          0.641      0.890              Patch Partition
    12         0.891      1.890  hfs         untitled              boot
    10       128.891   9270.792  hfs         Apple_HFS_Untitled_2
    9       9270.793  27847.781  ext3        untitled
    11     27847.781  28615.781  linux-swap  swap                  swap
    Table 1: An example of the output from parted.
  19. Then, run yabootconfig -r /dev/hda2 -b /dev/hda5 where -r is the root device, and -b is the boot device. You may need to enter the location of the kernel image - /boot/vmlinuz-*. If following based on the earlier example in Table 1, the command should be yabootconfig -r /dev/hda9 -b /dev/hda12.
  20. Thats it. Exit, and reboot! You should now be able to boot into Fedora Core.

Fiddling with yaboot

  1. You can now edit your /etc/yaboot.conf to add a few more "interesting" options:
  2. Don't forget to run ybin when you've made your changes!

Getting X to work

system-config-display doesn't quite work yet for the iBook G4's (but they work on the G3's and possibly lots of other video hardware). Yellow Dog Linux provides Xautoconfig, which is a mighty useful tool - Paul Nasrat has repackaged the .src.rpm, so all you have to do is rebuild it. (src.rpm / pre-built RPM). X works automatically after this tool is run.

Adding more interesting yum repositories

By default, your /etc/yum.conf would be pointing to the development tree for Fedora Core. Currently (as of this writing), thats on the road to Fedora Core 3, and thats not what you want.

David Woodhouse has created some yum repositories that are a must have, as well - he has Fedora Core updates, as well as some extra Fedora Core 2 Mac packages (like Extras). A relatively useful yum.conf should look like:

name=Fedora Core $releasever - Development Tree

name=dwmw2 FC2 Mac

name=FC2 PPC Updates

Keep in mind that the updates [fc2-updates-ppc] mean that you don't need to track Rawhide, if you've done the installation from the Duke mirror. This can provide a lot more stabler system for you, especially if you use your Mac often and want to stick with Fedora Core 2.


Mac's come with one mouse button, and Linux'es like to have 3-mice buttons. Editing /etc/sysctl.conf and adding dev/mac_hid/mouse_button_emulation=1 will fix this. Now pressing Fn+Alt on the keyboard will provide a right-click, and Fn+Apple key will provide a middle-click.



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Last Updated: Mon Sep 13 11:29:27 EST 2004
Created: Sat May 15 03:19:38 EST 2004
Colin Charles <byte@aeon.com.my>, © 1996-2004