Installing Leopard on a G4 from an Intel Mac over Firewire

LRH uses a Powerbook G4 running Tiger. For various reasons we both wanted to upgrade her Powerbook to Leopard and last night was my first attempt. It turned out to be an exercise in frustration and stupidity. Frustration for 3-4 hours lost on the project and stupidity for not realizing why it didn’t work the first time.

Usually, installing an OS on a computer is a straightforward process, especially with a Mac. However, we had the unfortunate added complication of a defective CD drive, so the install media had to be remotely mounted and used.

1st Attempt:

  1. Connected G4 Powerbook to Intel Macbook Pro with a firewire cable and booted the G4 Powerbook into target disk mode. Note that target disk mode is a way of turning a Mac into a giant external hard drive.
  2. Booted the Macbook Pro from the Leopard install DVD and formatted the remote drive on the Powerbook G4 to GPT. Installed Leopard.
  3. Reboot the G4 Powerbook only to find a welcome screen consisting of two buttons displaying a curved arrow and a right-pointing arrow respectively.

It turns out that the open firmware on the G4 does not understand the GPT partition structure used by Intel-based macs.  Booting from Intel hardware invoked this method of installation that required GPT to be used before the OS could be installed.

What I Should Have Done:

While it should be possible to install Leopard by booting from the Macbook Pro a much easier solution is to just make the Macbook Pro appear as a disk on the Powerbook.

Booting the Macbook Pro into Target Disk Mode should make its DVD drive show up as a bootable drive on the Powerbook and the install should happen with the correct hardware being identified so the older partition structure will be used.

Internet Black Holes (the invisible /dev/null beast)

The University of Washington has some great ongoing research projects. This one made national news at MSNBC (article: here). The Internet’s backbone consists of many thousands of routers speaking the TCP/IP protocol. TCP/IP was designed at DARPA (the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) to allow network traffic to take multiple routes to a destination. This provides for communication if one or more of the routers fails – a likely scenario in the event of a nuclear war. Because destinations can be reached though multiple routes, each individual path may or may not link to its destination. If it doesn’t link, any traffic that uses that route gets lost, forever. Never before have these ‘bad routes’ been charted. The CS department developed a tool to search for and track these black holes and they affectionately called it UW Hubble.

Check it out:

While Installing Gentoo Linux I Erased My Windows NTFS Partition

I’ve been using Ubuntu for my desktop OS and my labmates finally convinced me to replace it with Gentoo. They are heavily in favor of the Portage package management system and Ben spent some time earlier today showing me the coolness of Gentoo. I returned convinced of its superiority and was determined to have it installed on my system by the evening.

Got the installer live CD, fired it up and did an incredibly stupid thing – I used the partitioning util that comes with Gentoo to configure THE WRONG DRIVE. Yes, I killed the partition table of my windows partition thinking it was a different disk where I wanted to install Gentoo.

Fortunately I found a kick-ass util called TestDisk: The great thing about this program is that it can scan for lost partition data and restore it. In the case of NTFS its a bit more complicated because this filesystem has two boot sectors – a primary one and a back-up located elsewhere on the drive. If there is a mismatch the filesystem will be unreadable. This was the case for me and I just figured it out and restored my Windows drive! Phew… my thesis is on that drive and its not done yet!!!