I Am Bismark

i am a nerd

so, i got this kooky idea that it would be cool to be able to use linux on my computer without destroying my OSX install. macs can boot from firewire drives, and my ipod can be used as a firewire drive… so, i decided to install linux on my ipod.

if you are a geek, read on. if not, skip to the end. first, i needed to figure out how to partition my ipod without destroying its music playback capabilities. this actually wasn’t very hard. you can’t just toast the entire thing, because the ipod firmware is on a small partition at the beginning of the drive. after backing up the firmware partition using dd, i then backed up the ipod’s OS which is on the large partition using ditto (first i took off all of the music so there was very little to backup). using pdisk, i resized the 18.9gb partition to 14gb, and left the other 4gb empty. using ditto again, i put the os back onto the 14gb partition, and it worked like a charm. i didn’t even need to do a restore. then, booting up with an ubuntu install cd, i started the linux installation process. this is where i hit a snag. apparently post 1999 macs use whats called a newworld apple bootloader partition on the harddrive instead of a ROM. i decided it was just easiest to let the installer automatically set up the partitioning, but at the very end of the install process, everything croaked. it said it couldn’t find the newworld partition, so it wouldn’t boot. well crap. here is what i’ve found out so far. the boot loader that is used for booting linux on newworld ppc machines is called yaboot, and that is what is supposed to be loaded onto this partition. i bet that because the ipod is an external drive, the yaboot.config file didn’t get set up correctly. i am looking into manually editing this config file to see if i can’t get the settings pointing to the correct partitions. in order to load yaboot, i am going to have to find out if/how the apple open firmware (which is stored on the newworld boot partition on my internal disk) sees the ipod. if my tinkering with the yaboot config file doesn’t cause the ipod to be automatically recognized as a bootable drive, then i might be able to use open firmware commands to point to the ipod’s partition to run the boot loader. in the end, this is all rather moot because the ipod harddrive was not built to handle loading operating systems, so using for anything more than a short period of time will basically fry the drive. i guess it is just for the geek factor of it all..

end of geekiness. i am looking forward to school starting again.

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