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How To Install MkLinux

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Note: If you haven't read the Readme First file yet, you will probably need to do so before too long.  Why not go back and read it now, before you get needlessly frustrated? In any case, you are certain to want to have a copy of this file on hand when you are installing MkLinux. Print it now!

MkLinux Developer Release 2.1:  How to Install MkLinux DR2.1

Before You Install

Before installing MkLinux DR2.1, be sure to check the MkLinux Web site ( for any updates posted since DR2.1 was released. Read any announcements and instructions carefully.  We may, for example, recommend that you use a patch archive or install a more recent version of the Mach Kernel System extension than the one included with this release.

If you already have DR2 installed

It is important to note that the DR2.1 Installer will recreate the filesystems on your disk, then populate them with MkLinux DR2.1 files.  If you already have a DR2 system installed, be sure to read the appropriate sections of the file "Readme First" before updating to DR2.1.

System Requirements

This release should perform properly on any supported Power Macintosh (or equivalent) system with at least 16 megabytes of RAM and 500 MB of available hard disk space. At present, MkLinux provides support for NuBus-based systems using the PowerPC 601 processor and for PCI-based systems using the PowerPC 604 processor.  The following systems have been tested:

   ¥ NuBus/601 systems - Power Macintosh 6100, 7100, and 8100 systems;
      PowerComputing 100 and 120 clones. 

   ¥ PCI/604 systems - Power Macintosh 7200, 7500, 7600, 8500, and 9500 systems

Other systems may work, but we haven't tested them, so you're on your own... (Let us know what you find out!) Finally, check the web site ( for notes and updates before you try anything!

We are sorry, but as of this release, MkLinux still does not contain support for systems using the PowerPC 603 or 603e chips (many Performa models, the Duo models, or the Powerbook models). We expect support for these machines eventually.  Keep watching our Web site!

File System Preparation

Note: If you are upgrading a previous MkLinux system to DR2.1 and do not wish to change your partitioning, you do not need to repartition your drive. Skip down to the next section.

You will need at least 500 MB to install MkLinux; the installer loads a full system, and you will need space to grow as you add files, unpack archives, etc. You may use Apple HD SC Setup or any disk partitioner that can create A/UX type partitions. (The pdisk partitioning utility, included in the Apple Utilities folder, can create A/UX type partitions). Your target drive may have any legal SCSI ID (0-6).

We recommend that you use a dedicated hard drive for installing MkLinux. For ease of installation and to avoid any potential loss of data, donÕt share the drive you use for your primary MacOS filesystem.

Existing Macintosh drives usually come pre-configured such that the entire drive is taken up with one or more MacOS (HFS format) file systems. This will not work for MkLinux, which uses its own filesystem format (not HFS!). Consequently, your disk must be partitioned properly in order for you to install and use MkLinux.

    Warning: Partitioning is a tricky business. Be sure to save any important files that
    are on the drive (programs, data files, etc.) before you try to repartition the disk!

Unfortunately, for this developer release, partitioning is a manual process that must be performed before you begin the actual installation. The process you will use to create the disk partitions will vary, depending on the utility you are using. MkLinux currently uses the same basic partitioning structure that was used for Apple's A/UX product, so most utilities should support setting up the partitions.

The two most important partitions are swap and root Ñ you cannot run MkLinux without these. The swap partition is used as backing store for the MkLinux virtual memory system. The root partition holds the core elements of the MkLinux system: utilities, drivers, etc.

It is common to create a usr partition for the more dynamic portions of the OS. Local applications should go into the /usr/local directory. This allows them to be backed up for safety, updates, etc.

The swap partition will usually be at least 32 MB; currently, MkLinux swap partitions can be no larger than 128 MB. The root partition should be at least 100 MB (400+ MB if you don't have a separate usr partition). The usr partition, if present, should be at least 350 MB.

Creating the partitions in preparation for installing MkLinux will require your becoming intimately familiar with a disk drive setup utility. You may want to use HD SC Setup, which came with your Macintosh (and which we've included on the CD-ROM). No matter which utility you use, you will need to go into the partition setup portion of the utility. You will also, in all probability, need to use the more advanced (e.g., custom) modes of partitioning. We hope to simplify this process in a future release of MkLinux.

The first step in repartitioning is making sure there is sufficient free space available on the drive. This does not mean free space as listed in the Finder window. Instead, it refers to space that is not assigned for use by any filesystem such as HFS. You may have to shrink or delete existing MacOS fileystems before you proceed. Remember that you will need about 500 MB of otherwise unassigned drive space. Once the space is available, you will need to allocate it, as:

    |  Partition Map  |
    |     Driver      |
    | Root (slice 0)  |  <==   root partition (100+ MB; 400+ if no usr partition)
    | Swap (slice 1)  |  <==   swap partition (32 - 128 MB)
    | Usr  (slice 2)  |  <==   Optional usr partition (350+ MB)
    |   MacOS Disk    |  <==   Optional

Other partitions can/may exist but we're not going to cover that here (in any case, note that MkLinux currently supports fifteen partitions!). If you have trouble setting up your partitions to look something like what is shown above, review the documentation for your partitioning utility. If you are still having trouble, look for help on our web site. Finally, the various MkLinux mailing lists (e.g., mklinux-setup :-) stand ready to help you get things running.

MkLinux Installation

Once the drive is partitioned, things gets much easier. Double-click on the Install MkLinux application, then answer the various questions it presents.  To ensure that the installation process runs smoothly, we recommend that you quit all other applications while installing MkLinux.

The installer will create appropriate file systems, then load them from the MkLinux distribution. It will also install a few files in your MacOS system folder, including:

¥ the MkLinux Control Panel to control booting of MacOS/MkLinux

¥ the MkLinux Booter extension which is used to switch boot the Macintosh into MkLinux

¥ the Mach Kernel file which takes over the booting process for bringing up MkLinux

There will be at least one long pause during the installation process. This is caused by the manner in which the files are packaged for splitting across a root partition and a usr partition. Please be patient.

After the installation process is complete, quit the Installer application.   Be sure Virtual Memory is turned off in the Memory Control panel.  Run the MkLinux Control Panel and select which operating system you wish to run on your next system restart. Then restart. You can, for convenience, restart directly from the control panel.

When you restart into MkLinux, a great deal of information will scroll down your screen. If all goes according to plan, it should finish up with a login: prompt. When this happens, you have a running MkLinux system (congratulations!). You now need to name it, set up its networking connections, etc. Getting Started covers these tasks, as well as giving you some pointers on MkLinux usage. Please print a copy; you'll need it while you're setting up MkLinux.

Note: Be sure to check our web site ( for current information, updates, tips, mailing lists, etc. At a minimum, you should subscribe to mklinux-announce and mklinux-answers!

Possible conflict with NuBus-based Power Macintosh systems

Users of NuBus-based Power Macintoshes (6100, 7100, 8100 series) may experience problems with the DR2.1 MkLinux Booter System Extension.  While this is rare, it has been reported. If you have a NuBus-based Power Macintosh, and experience a Bus Error with a "Bomb Box" when booting MkLinux, you should replace the MkLinux Booter System Extension with the previous version.

The previous version of the MkLinux Booter can be found in the folder "DR2 MkLinux Booter" in the "Archives" folder within the "MkLinuxFiles" folder on the MkLinux installation CD-ROM.  Before installing this version of the MkLinux Booter, be sure to check the MkLinux Web site to see if there has been an update which will solve this problem.

If no update is available, drag the DR2 version of the "MkLinux Booter" Extension to your System Folder under MacOS.  You should see a dialog telling you that Extensions need to be stored in the Extensions folder. Click the OK button to confirm. If you do not see this dialog, open the System Folder and drag the MkLinux Booter file into the Extensions folder.

You should then see a dialog alerting you that an item named "MkLinux Booter" already exists in this location. Confirm that it is OK to replace it with the one you're moving.  Check the settings in the MkLinux Control Panel and reboot the system.