The PPC FAQ is a collection of questions and answers collected from the Gentoo PPC mailing lists and from Internet Relay Chat (IRC). Readers seeking support beyond this article should do so via the Gentoo forums or the #gentoo-powerpc channel on Freenode IRC.
What kind of PowerPC computer do I have and where can I find more information about it?
Welcome to Gentoo PPC! The PowerPC processor has been used in a number of popular computing devices, here are some links to help you figure out what type of hardware is in the machine on your desk.
How can I verify with OSX that the downloaded ISO is not corrupted?
First be sure you did not mount the ftp server with Finder and then copy the file with drag'n'drop. This will corrupt the ISO. Instead, use curl:
curl -O http://path/to/iso
You can check your MD5 sum using the md5sum tool provided with OSX. On versions of OSX without md5sum, you can use openssl capability to produce an md5 checksum.
openssl md5 /path/to/iso
Now compare this output with the appropriate file found on the server where you downloaded the ISO (the file will end with .md5 ). If it is the same, the ISO image downloaded correctly. Be sure you have not mounted it (e.g. with Disk Copy) yet!
Can I dual-boot Gentoo Linux and Mac OS X?
Yes you can! In fact, yabootconfig will automatically detect and setup /etc/yaboot.conf with Linux, Mac OS X and even classic Mac OS (see the PPC Gentoo Handbook for details on yabootconfig). The trick is in how you partition your hard drive. Before installing Gentoo, startup with the Mac OS X Install CD. Use the Disk Utility to partition the drive in your machine into two or three partitions. Alternatively, use parted from a recent Gentoo InstallCD, since that has been patched to handle HFS and HFS+ partitions. Parted is also able to shrink a partition so you don't need to delete your existing install. The first partition should be big enough to contain all your Linux partitions (root+swap+/home etc.). The format of this partition does not matter. The second partition should be for OS X. The third (and optional) partition should be for classic Mac OS. It is only required if you intend of being able to triple boot, since OS9 must be on a separate partition from OSX for this to work.
After partitioning, install Mac OS X and Mac OS 9 onto their respective partitions. Once installation is complete, start following the PPC Gentoo Handbook. When you get to the section on partitioning, use mac-fdisk to delete the large partition you created for Gentoo. In its place, create a bootstrap partition, root, swap, and any other partitions you wish to use with Gentoo.
If you have an OldWorld Macintosh (pre-iMac), follow a similar procedure as described above. However, use the Mac OS 9 install CD and the Drive Setup utility. OldWorld machines do not need a bootstrap partition.
If yabootconfig does not detect your MacOS partitions, you can manually add them to your yaboot.config. See the example yaboot.conf in the handbook for details.
I have an early NewWorld Mac such as the Blue and White G3. It should be compatible with the InstallCD, but on boot it returns an "Unknown or corrupt filesystem" error.
As a workaround, boot into Open Firmware by holding down the Apple+Option+O+F keys on startup. When the prompt appears, type:
The CD should boot as expected now, thanks to John Plesmid for this workaround.
I have an OldWorld Macintosh and need to use BootX. However, I am having trouble opening the BootX installer archive. What can I do?
You will need a new version of StuffIt Expander to open the archive. You can download it for free.
I have a Beige G3 machine. Can I install Gentoo Linux/PPC on a second IDE hard drive?
Early Beige G3 machines (those with a "Rev 1" motherboard with an ATI RageII+ chip) do not support slave IDE drives. To use a second hard drive with this machine, you would have to attach it to the internal or external SCSI connector or install a PCI IDE card. Later G3 machines do not have this limitation. See http://www.xlr8yourmac.com/G3-ZONE/IDE/index.html for more information.
I have a revision A or B iMac. I've replaced the hard drive with a larger one and now I can't boot into anything!
There is an 8GB limit for the root partition on these machines. Ensure that your root partition is less than 8GB and it should work as expected. This also applies to OS X and later versions of OS 9.
My /etc/fstab file has /dev/BOOT in it. Do I need to setup this line for my Apple bootstrap partition?
Maybe. If you are not using a separate boot partition ( /boot ) then you do not need this line and can safely just delete it from /etc/fstab The Apple bootstrap partition is not /boot and is not related in any way.
If you are using a partition type that's not natively supported by the bootloader (such as ext4 and yaboot), you will need to use a separate boot partition. In this case, you will want to specify /dev/BOOT in /etc/fstab.
When I rebooted, yaboot didn't work! Now, I'm stuck. How can I fix this?
It is probably just a misconfigured yaboot.conf The easiest way to fix this is to boot the InstallCD again, mount the Gentoo partition and check yaboot.conf for errors. You'll also need to run ybin -v -C /mnt/gentoo/etc/yaboot.conf to update the boot loader once you have finished. This can all be done without chrooting back into your install.
If you really just need to get back to OSX, try holding down the Option key on startup. This should give you a graphical selection of bootable disks. Choose OSX and remember to fix your boot problems later.
When I try to boot, yaboot only says "read error"! Why can't I boot?
You're probably using XFS for the root partition. While this is an option, yaboot has some issues accessing files with holes. To ensure that your kernel will boot, instead of copying the vmlinux file to /boot, simply cat the kernel as shown below.
cat /usr/src/linux/vmlinux > /boot/vmlinux
I installed an OSX update and now my computer only boots into OSX! How can I fix it?
Hold down the option key on boot. This will bring you to a graphical boot device selector. Wait until a hard drive with a penguin shows up and click on the icon. This will boot Linux install as usual. Once you've booted, rerun ybin -vto fix the bootloader.
I want to set the hardware clock from Open Firmware, is that possible?
To set the clock boot into Open Firmware (using the key combination of Apple+O+F). Once you are at the Open Firmware prompt, you can set the clock using the command below:
# decimal dev rtc sec min hour day month year set-time # The example below sets the clock to 1:23:45 June, 7th, 2000 ok 0 > decimal dev rtc 45 23 1 6 7 2000 set-time ok 1 >
Open Firmware will return with an ok after the clock is set. Type
mac-boot to continue booting after the clock is set.
I have a NuBus (pre-PCI) Power Macintosh or Powerbook. Can I run Gentoo on it?
Official Linux support for NuBus PPC Macintoshs has been dropped starting with Kernel 2.6, so an Installation of Gentoo Linux is actually not possible. You might try the kernel sources provided by the PPC/Linux for NuBus Power Macs Project and combine them with the official Gentoo PPC32 stage archive. Share your experiences with the Gentoo community.
I have an even older Powerbook or a Macintosh Quadra/Macintosh II/Performa/LC equipped with a Motorola (m68k) CPU. What about that?
Information for Linux in general and Gentoo in particular on these machines can be found on m68k.
I'm using a PC keyboard on my Mac. Which keys do I press to get the Apple equivalents?
|Mac key||PC key|
How do I open the CD-ROM tray on my Mac in the OpenFirmware environment?
The CD-ROM can be opened by pressing the left mouse button.
I'm running Gentoo on a PowerPC laptop. What packages should I install to enable laptop-specific functionality?
There are three main packages you will need to install:
- A tool that enables the brightness and volume keys on most PPC laptops as well as other Apple specific functionality. The current versions also work as a power manager and replaces pmud.
- Provides a graphical configuration editing tool for configuring pbbuttonsd including settings such as power-management, trackpad options, and various other preferences.
- allows CPU speed scaling for longer battery life. Other packages also provide the same functionality, such as cpudyn, cpufreqd, and speedfreq. It does not really matter which you chose, just ensure that you have the userspace CPU frequency scaling governor enabled in the kernel. This is the only governor that will work on PPC.
These packages can be installed by running the appropriate commands from the list below:
emerge --ask app-laptop/pbbuttonsd app-laptop/powerprefs sys-power/powernowd
You should edit /etc/pbbuttonsd.conf or use powerprefs to better suit your needs. The behavior of the Fx-keys can be controlled here as well as many sleep options. To switch the Fx-keys to the OSX behavior, set KBDMode to fkeyslast. You can turn off touchpad tapping by setting TPMode to notap. Many other options are available, see man pbbuttonsd.conf for details.
It is useful to add pbbuttonsd and powernowd to the boot runlevel so that they are started when the computer boots. To do this on OpenRC issue:
rc-update add pbbuttonsd boot
rc-update add powernowd boot
There is no way to use the Ctrl key like on Mac OS X, but just about any key or combination of keys can be mapped to emulate the second and third mouse-button. The values can be obtained with the command line utility showkey from the console. Note that this program does not work as expected from X and should only be run from the console. To use this feature, enable the following options in the kernel:
[*] Apple Desktop Bus (ADB) support [*] Use input layer for ADB devices [*] Support for mouse button 2+3 emulation
The keyboard to mouse button mapping values will need to be set in /etc/sysctl.conf Here is an example using the F11 and F12 keys:
# Enable mouse button emulation dev.mac_hid.mouse_button_emulation = 1 # Set 2nd button to 87 - F11 dev.mac_hid.mouse_button2_keycode = 87 # Set 3rd button to 88 - F12 dev.mac_hid.mouse_button3_keycode = 88
Other commonly used keycodes are 125 (The Apple key) and 96 (The Keypad Enter).
To activate these settings:
sysctl -p /etc/sysctl.conf
Apple Powerbooks and iBooks that use the Appletouch driver, can alternatively configure multi-finger tapping to allow 2nd and 3rd button control. See the documentation for this driver for configuration options.
How can I configure my Airport card?
The Airport card is an 802.11b device based on the Lucent Orinoco chipset. To use this card in Linux enable these kernel options:
[*] Wirless LAN Drivers & Wireless Extensions <*> Hermes chipset 802.11b support (Orinoco/Prism2/Symbol) <*> Apple Airport support (build-in)
Once the kernel is configured, userland tools will be needed to configure the wireless settings. Emerge the net-wireless/wireless-tools for iwconfig and other wireless tools.
As an example of using iwconfig, to set the ESSID to home_essid:
iwconfig eth1 essid home_essid
For a generic guide to setting up wireless with Gentoo, please see the Wireless guide in the PPC Handbook.
How can I configure my Airport Extreme card?
The Airport Extreme is an 802.11b/g card that is included with modern Apple portable computers. It is based on the Broadcom 43xx chipset which is supported by the native b43 driver project. It has been included in the 2.6.24 kernel. Note that the driver should select the proper driver between b43 and b43-legacy. The firmware used for these two drivers is different, with the legacy version supporting older 4306 cards. Systems with a 4306 card need to build both. Otherwise it should be safe to only build b43. To enable either driver, mac80211 must be selected first.
Networking --> Wireless --> <M> Generic IEEE 802.11 Networking Stack (mac80211) Device Drivers --> Network device support --> [*] Wireless LAN (IEEE 802.11) <M> Broadcom 43xx wireless support (mac80211 stack) [*] Broadcom 43xx debugging <M> Broadcom 43xx-legacy wireless support (mac80211 stack) [*] Broadcom 43xx-legacy debugging
After compiling the kernel, be sure to emerge the net-wireless/b43-fwcutter package to install the firmware and get a copy of the firmware. The instructions for this are found at: linuxwireless.org, and follow the directions for extracting the firmware.
For a generic guide to setting up wireless with Gentoo, please see the Wireless guide in the PPC Handbook.
Will the internal modem work?
As of March 26th, 2015 information in this section of the PPC FAQ appears to be out of date. Follow the rest of "Will the internal modem work?" section with caution!
On older Macs, the internal modem is a regular serial device. In addition to PPP support and I2C support, enable this kernel option to use it:
<*> PowerMac z85c30 ESCC support (CONFIG_SERIAL_PMACZILOG)
Newer Macs use a USB device which only has a driver from Linuxant. Unless you have purchased a key from Linuxant, this driver will only work at 14.4 and will not support FAX. To install the driver, emerge
net-dialin/hcfusbmodem (this package is no longer in the Gentoo ebuild repository) which will provide /dev/ttySHCF0. Then set up PPP like usual. Further information about the installation can be found at http://www.linuxant.com/drivers/hcf/install.html
Does sleep work on my iBook/PowerBook?
As of March 26th, 2015 information in this section of the PPC FAQ appears to be out of date. It is likely sleep is now supported by the kernel for older Apple iBook/PowerBook systems.
Sleep used to work well with the User Mode Setting kernel drivers, but modern X servers using KMS do not sleep properly at this time.
How do I get sound playback working?
There are two approaches to sound on modern kernels: OSS or ALSA. OSS is the older of the two options and has been deprecated, but still functions well for many older Macs. ALSA is the newer method and will continue to be supported in the future. We recommend that you use ALSA unless you have problems with it.
If you include the OSS driver in your kernel, the ALSA driver will not load.
In addition to configuring the kernel, users who should have access to the audio devices need to be added to the appropriate group with the gpasswd command:
gpasswd -a username audio
If the kernel is set up correctly, but you can't hear any sound, ensure that the main mixer volume is turned up and that the device is not muted!
The sound card on Macs is connected through the i2c Keywest/PowerMac bus, not the PCI bus. You will not see the card listed when viewing the PCI bus or when using alsaconf. This is less of a problem then you might imagine, because all Macs use the same driver for sound, but you will need to insure that you have i2c Keywest/PowerMac support in your kernel.
If you compile in ALSA support, you need to also compile in i2c Keywest/PowerMac support. Failure to do this will result in kernel panics on boot!
Sound setup with ALSA
For ALSA, we'll set up both the regular ALSA drivers and the OSS emulation layer so that we can still use legacy OSS only programs. Use make menuconfig to select the following:
Device Drivers - I2c support ---> I2C Hardware Bus Support ---> <*> Powermac I2C interface (Keywest on 2.6.15 and older) Device Drivers - Sound ---> <*> Sound card support Advanced Linux Sound Architecture ---> < > PowerMac DMA sound support <*> Advanced Linux Sound Architecture <*> Sequencer support <*> Sequencer dummy client <*> OSS Mixer API <*> OSS PCM (digital audio) API [*] OSS Sequencer API
Depending on the age of the machine, the correct sound driver should also be enabled. On more modern machines such as Aluminum PowerBooks, new iBooks or G5's the
Apple On-board Audio driver should be used. For older machines, try the ALSA PowerMac driver instead.
Older Machines ALSA PowerMac devices ---> <*> PowerMac (AWACS, DACA, Burgundy, Tumbler, Keywest) Newer Machines Apple Onboard Audio driver ---> <*> Apple Onboard Audio driver <*> layout-id fabric <*> support Onyx chip <*> support TAS chip <*> support Toonie chip
You can also configure these as modules and ensure they're loaded on boot, but it's easier to simply compile it all in.
Please make sure that
PowerMac DMA sound supportis turned off, otherwise the ALSA module will not be able to load.
For more information on configuring ALSA, please see ALSA.
If you are using the alsa-driver package instead of building it into the kernel, the ALSA_CARDS variable should be set to
powermacfor older Macs or all of
aoa-tooniefor newer Macs.
Sound setup with OSS
Again, this section is only for those who refuse to use ALSA - a modern sound driver.
With make menuconfig, select the following:
Device Drivers - I2c support ---> I2C Hardware Bus Support ---> <*> Powermac I2C interface (Keywest on 2.6.15 and older) Device Drivers - Sound ---> <*> Sound card support <*> PowerMac DMA sound support
Or configure as modules and ensure they're loaded on boot.
dmasound_pmac module does not load, try enabling
i2c-core in the kernel or as a module.
If anyone dares to still use OSS sound, please test the ALSA drivers instead and report any regressions to the ALSA Bugzilla. Thanks!
How do I make my Mac power up after a power failure?
The Power Management Unit (PMU) in most Macs has the ability to turn the Mac on again after a power loss. This feature is controlled by the PMU options found in /proc . To enable this feature, set
server_mode to 1, to disable it, set
server_mode to 0.
echo "server_mode=1" > /proc/pmu/options
Unfortunately, this setting is turned off again after the machine restarts. To ensure that your system always starts with power on after power failure enabled, add the line above to /etc/conf.d/local.start
I see lots of "IN from bad port" errors in my kernel dmesg, how do I fix that?
This is caused by drivers written for devices that you don't have on your system. These messages are usually harmless, but it's a good idea to disable the unused drivers anyway. See below to match up port numbers with kernel configuration options. Note that even if the numbers don't match, try disabling these kernel options anyway, most PPC machines don't use these drivers.
Device Drivers - Input device support ---> [*] Miscellanous devices ---> < > PC Speaker Support
Device Drivers - Input device support ---> Hardware I/O Ports ---> < > Serial I/O support < > i8042 PC Keyboard controller
Device Drivers - Character devices ---> Serial drivers ---> < > 8250/16550 and compatible serial support
If you have another IN from bad port message that you're not sure about, please let us know!
I can't emerge a package, and get an error about it being masked. What should I do?
There are two common reasons why a package will not emerge: either it hasn't been tested on PPC or it has been tested, but hasn't yet been marked stable.
!!! All ebuilds that could satisfy "bar" have been masked. !!! One of the following masked packages is required to complete your request: - app-foo/bar-1.0 (masked by: missing keyword)
If your package has not yet been tested on PPC, you will need to first mark the ebuild with the ppc keyword. This is done using the ekeyword tool which is part of the app-portage/gentoolkit-dev package. Mark the ebuild ppc and regenerate the manifest file so that it reflects the changes:
ekeyword ppc /var/db/repos/gentoo/app-foo/bar/bar-1.0.ebuild
ebuild /var/db/repos/gentoo/app-foo/bar/bar-1.0.ebuild manifest
Once the ebuild has been keyworded, you can now emerge it as usual. Test the application and if it works, please report it as a bug so one of the developers can add the keyword.
This change will only last until the next sync. If you need a more permanent fix, you can maintain a Portage overlay. See the portage documentation for more information on maintaining an overlay.
!!! All ebuilds that could satisfy "bar" have been masked. !!! One of the following masked packages is required to complete your request: - app-foo/bar-1.0 (masked by: ~ppc keyword)
If your package already has the ~ppc keyword, you have two options. Either follow the above instructions and replace the ~ppc keyword with ppc, or you can use /etc/portage/package.unmask to unmask the specific package. The second option is preferred simply because it will not be undone by an
echo "=app-foo/bar-1.0" > /etc/portage/package.accept_keywords
If the /etc/portage directory does not exist, make sure to create it first.
Now emerge the package as normal. Once you're sure the application is stable, please report this as a bug so the developers can add the keyword.
Does Gentoo/PPC have support for Adobe Flash?
Well, not really. Macromedia has not supplied a Linux/PPC binary and open source implementations are incomplete at this time. However, there are two projects that can play many flash objects, gnash and swfdec. Both are capable of playing back YouTube movies and lots of other popular content.
Does Gentoo/PPC have a Java plugin?
Yes, a Java plugin is available with IBM's Java 1.6. Note that not all Java applications work with this Java version yet.
As of June 2015 a binary version of Icedtea (compliant to Java 6 and 7) built for Gentoo/PPC is now available.
Alternatively, you can build Icedtea from source.
What is required for DRM?
When emerging x11-base/xorg-server, make sure the
dri USE flag is enabled. The
VIDEO_CARDS variable should be set in /etc/portage/make.conf with a value aligning on the video card:
VIDEO_CARDS="radeon" for Radeon support,
VIDEO_CARDS="nouveau" for Nvidia support and so on. For a backup option, add
fbdev to the list of VIDEO_CARDS, this driver should always work.
Make sure in the kernel configuration the following options are set:
Device Drivers - Graphics Support ---> <*> /dev/agpgart (AGP Support) [*] Apple UniNorth support [*] Direct Rendering Manager (DRI support) <*> ATI Rage 128 -*- Support for frame buffer devices <*> ATI Rage 128 display support
Device Drivers - Graphics Support ---> <*> /dev/agpgart (AGP Support) [*] Apple UniNorth support [*] Direct Rendering Manager (DRI support) <*> ATI Radeon [*] Enable modesetting on radeon by default - NEW DRIVER
Device Drivers - Graphics Support ---> <*> /dev/agpgart (AGP Support) [*] Apple UniNorth support [*] Direct Rendering Manager (DRI support) <*> Nouveau (nVidia) cards [*] Support for backlight control
For nVidia and Radeon devices using kernel mode setting (KMS), be sure to disable the built in frame buffer devices, these prevent the KMS drivers from starting.
The /etc/X11/xorg.conf file may require editing depending on the card setup. Ensure that the device driver selected is the specific driver for the device, (such as radeon or nouveau). Also check that the DRI extension is loaded and not commented out.
I've installed X.org and configured it correctly, but the radeon or nouveau driver is missing. What's wrong?
I have a VBIOS or "Invalid I/O allocation" error in my xorg.log. Is this a problem?
No, this is simply X.org probing your video card. It attempts to open the x86 only video BIOS and fails, leaving one of these messages. It's harmless, don't worry about it!
When using OpenGL DRI or playing movies, the system sometimes freezes hard unexpectedly. What can I do?
Your system may not cope properly with AGP support. The easiest solution is to add the following line to the "Device" section of /etc/X11/xorg.conf
If you are still having trouble, please try disabling dri in the xorg.conf to see if the problems go away.
I recently emerged Xorg, but when using it, my international keyboard layout does not work correctly. The main keys work fine but I am unable to compose special characters like the "at" sign. The startx output says something like "could not load keymap, falling back to default keymap". What is wrong?
Check that the permissions on /var/tmp are set to drwxrwxrwx. If not, change them by running chmod a+rwx /var/tmp. This will allow Xorg to load keymaps properly again.
How do I play Audio CDs?
NewWorld machines have no audio connection between their CD-ROM drive and their sound hardware. Therefore, audio information must be read as data and then piped to the sound hardware. This is possible using Audacious, which reads the audio off the CD over the ATA cable, decodes it in software and sends it to the sound card over the PCI bus as digital data.
emerge --ask media-sound/audacious
To play a CD, just fire up audacious. If you're having playback trouble, you may need to open up the Preferences Plugins CD Audio Plugin menu and select the CD drive. Make sure Digital audio extraction is checked.
Can I access my ext2/ext3 partitions from OSX?
OSX can support the reading and writing of ext2/ext3 partitions by using the kernel extension provided by the ext2fsx project.
When using MOL, you cannot access a partition that is currently being used by Linux.
Which Portage USE flags do not work on PowerPC machines?
If you're using an old flat profile, (deprecated, pre 2005.0) look at /etc/portage/make.profile/use.mask for a list.
If you're using a cascaded profile, (2005.0 and onwards) look at /var/db/repos/gentoo/profiles/default-linux/ppc/use.mask for a list.
How can I set up distcc with my x86 box?
If you've got another faster computer, you can set up distcc to compile binaries for your slower PPC processor. It is better to do as much building as possible on the faster machine; if possible, do not build on the slower computer. Read the DistCC Cross-compiling article to learn how. You may also want to read the Gentoo Embedded Handbook to learn more about cross-compiling.
Can I buy a CD of Gentoo Linux/PPC?
Unfortunately not. Currently, the stores listed on Stores offering Gentoo products only offer media with Gentoo for the x86 and x86-64 (Intel 32-bit and 64-bit) platforms.
This FAQ hasn't answered my question. What do I do now?
A good first step is to browse through the relevant PPC documentation here on the Wiki. The PPC-specific mailing list. Gentoo on PPC (Forums topic) is an open bulletin-board for discussion of all PowerPC issues. Also, there is usually a lively discussion on IRC. Join us on #gentoo-powerpc on Freenode IRC (
General information about Linux on PowerPC can be found at penguinppc.org.
This page is based on a document formerly found on our main website gentoo.org.
The following people contributed to the original document: Rajiv Manglani (rajiv), Lars Weiler (pylon), Jochen Maes (sejo), Joseph Jezak (josejx),
They are listed here because wiki history does not allow for any external attribution. If you edit the wiki article, please do not add yourself here; your contributions are recorded on each article's associated history page.