Manual installation

If the installer doesn't suffice for you, you can also install the system manually. For that, you will need a working Linux system on the hardware, which means a Void live image, a live image of any other distro, or some other environment.

Preparation

You will need the following:

  1. A Linux environment
  2. A static binary copy of the xbps package manager, available at https://repo.voidlinux-ppc.org/static/ - not needed on a Void system

Don't worry about the archives being marked musl, these work the same on glibc as well. The key point here is that the binaries are statically linked, so they will work on any distribution/environment regardless of the software packages you have. You just need to get the right archive for the endianness you want.

Booting and setting up environment

Boot your Linux removable media. If you don't know how to, follow the boot instructions.

If the environment is not Void, grab your static xbps copy.

# wget https://repo.voidlinux-ppc.org/static/xbps-static-0.53_1.ppc64le-musl.tar.xz

or:

# wget https://repo.voidlinux-ppc.org/static/xbps-static-0.53_1.ppc64-musl.tar.xz

or:

# wget https://repo.voidlinux-ppc.org/static/xbps-static-0.53_1.ppc-musl.tar.xz

and then:

# mkdir sxbps && cd sxbps
# tar xvf ../xbps-static*.tar.xz

You don't need most of the binaries, the one you are interested in is xbps-install.static, located in usr/bin.

Also, everything mentioned in this guide should be run as root.

Time

The time may be set incorrectly, especially on old Macs with bad batteries or in VMs. Use the date command to set it to at least the correct day.

Setting up the target drive

See the Partitioning Notes for more details about partitioning your disk.

Once you have partitioned your disk, format the / and mount it:

# mkfs.ext4 /dev/sdXN

Now we have a target filesystem at /dev/sdXN. Mount it:

$ mkdir -p /media/rootfs
$ mount /dev/sdXN /media/rootfs

Installing initial system

Let's assume we have a target rootfs partition mounted at /media/rootfs, as set up in the section above. Change your current directory to the usr/bin location where you extracted the static xbps archive, so that xbps-install.static is present in the current directory.

Then proceed to install a minimal system. Again, anything # foo is a comment.

# export XBPS_ARCH=ppc64le
# ./xbps-install.static -R https://repo.voidlinux-ppc.org/current -r /media/rootfs -S base-voidstrap

This will get a minimal system installed. Alter XBPS_ARCH as needed, for example for 32-bit musl it will be ppc-musl. We're not installing a full system yet, as we're not sure about the outside environment's software selection. The smaller the system is, the less likely it is to result in a failure.

Now we will need to set up the target so that we can chroot into it.

# cp /etc/resolv.conf /media/rootfs/etc
# cp /etc/hosts /media/rootfs/etc
# mount --bind /dev /media/rootfs/dev
# mount --bind /proc /media/rootfs/proc
# mount --bind /sys /media/rootfs/sys

If the dev, proc and sys directories do not exist in the target for some reason, create them. This is a sign of a failed configuration step, if the output of xbps-install doesn't show any errors, you should probably be fine.

Now is time to switch to the target system and install the rest of it.

# chroot /media/rootfs

If the configuration failed for whatever reason, reconfigure the installed packages. You can most likely do this anyway, it will not do any harm, but it should not be necessary if the initial system installation did not fail.

# xbps-reconfigure -f base-files
# xbps-reconfigure -f -a

Configuring the system

We can proceed to install everything else.

# update-ca-certificates
# xbps-install -S
# xbps-install base-system

For glibc targets, it is necessary to enable a locale. The list is in /etc/default/libc-locales. You then need to reconfigure the appropriate package. For example:

# sed -i 's/#en_US.UTF-8/en_US.UTF-8/' /etc/default/libc-locales
# xbps-reconfigure -f glibc-locales
# echo 'LANG=en_US.UTF-8' > /etc/locale.conf

You also need to set a timezone and a hostname.

# echo 'TIMEZONE="Europe/Prague"' >> /etc/rc.conf
# echo foo > /etc/hostname

You need to set the root password, otherwise you will not be able to log in in the target system.

# passwd root

Finally, enable some services by default.

# ln -s /etc/sv/dhcpcd /etc/runit/runsvdir/default/
# ln -s /etc/sv/sshd /etc/runit/runsvdir/default/

You need dhcpcd for internet access (it's set up for DHCP out of box, can be configured for static IP) and sshd is optional. You can pre-enable any other services in /etc/sv the same way.

Bootloader setup

OpenPOWER

As OpenPOWER systems use Petitboot, which is embedded in the firmware, there is very little you have to do. Only a few things:

# xbps-install grub-utils
# mkdir -p /boot/grub

We only install the utils, as we'll be using those to generate a GRUB configuration file, which Petitboot can read and parse. Edit /etc/default/grub to update your kernel commandline. It is also a good idea to add the following line:

GRUB_DISABLE_OS_PROBER=true

This drastically reduces the time needed to generate the configuration file, and os-prober is kinda useless on Petitboot anyway as it scans every storage medium separately.

# update-grub

PowerPC Macs

We will need to install the OpenFirmware bootloader:

# xbps-install grub-utils grub-powerpc-ieee1275

Also utilities to deal with HFS:

# xbps-install hfsutils hfsprogs

Let's assume the bootstrap partition is /dev/sdXM. Create a mountpoint for the bootstrap partition, format it and mount it:

# mkdir -p /media/bootstrap
# dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/sdXM bs=512
# hformat -l bootstrap /dev/sdXM
# mount -t hfs /dev/sda2 /media/bootstrap

And proceed to install the bootloader, then unmount the bootstrap partition:

# grub-install --macppc-directory=/media/bootstrap /dev/sdXM
# umount /media/bootstrap
# rmdir /media/bootstrap

Unfortunately, that's not all you need to do. You still need to bless the directory with the bootloader and set up the file type for the boot script:

# hmount /dev/sdXM
# hattrib -t tbxi -c UNIX :System:Library:CoreServices:BootX
# hattrib -b :System:Library:CoreServices
# humount

Finally, generate the configuration file:

# update-grub

It is also recommended to uncomment the following line in /etc/default/grub:

GRUB_TERMINAL_OUTPUT=console

and then run update-grub again. This is necessary because graphical GRUB is very slow on Macs and in virtual machines it will not work at all. You can also add GRUB_DISABLE_OS_PROBER=true to prevent update-grub from scanning other drives, which speeds it up considerably.

Other OpenFirmware

We will need to install the OpenFirmware bootloader:

# xbps-install grub-utils grub-powerpc-ieee1275

Then we will need to install the bootloader into the PowerPC PReP boot partition, with some files going to /boot/grub. That's easy:

# grub-install --boot-directory=/boot /dev/sda1 # must point it to the PReP partition
# update-grub

Before doing update-grub, maybe tweak your /etc/default/grub, see the OpenPOWER section.

Booting

A system set up like this should be bootable. For usage, follow the Void Linux handbook: https://docs.voidlinux.org/