Saturday, June 24, 2006

Got My Mac Mini

I may have waited seventeen months, but I bought a used PowerPC G4 Mac Mini through eBay. I'm running the Debian PowerPC port on it. Why? It's so darn simple. Download and burn .iso, boot in Mac Mini. Easy. I couldn't do that with FreeBSD. The only wrinkle I encountered involved trying to manually create the partition table. I repeatedly received an error (which I have since forgot), so I let Debian create the partition for me. Here is what it set up:

macmini:~# df -h
Filesystem Size Used Avail Use% Mounted on
/dev/hda3 72G 3.9G 65G 6% /
tmpfs 252M 0 252M 0% /dev/shm
macmini:~# fdisk -l /dev/hda
/dev/hda
# type name length base ( size ) system
/dev/hda1 Apple_partition_map Apple 63 @ 1 ( 31.5k) Partition map
/dev/hda2 Apple_Bootstrap untitled 1954 @ 64 (977.0k) NewWorld bootblock
/dev/hda3 Apple_UNIX_SVR2 untitled 153281251 @ 2018 ( 73.1G) Linux native
/dev/hda4 Apple_UNIX_SVR2 swap 3018219 @ 153283269 ( 1.4G) Linux swap

Block size=512, Number of Blocks=156301488
DeviceType=0x0, DeviceId=0x0

Why the PowerPC and not the Intel model? Diversity. Diversity equals survivability on the Internet. I buy Dr. Dan Geer's argument, and I want this box to survive the next target-of-opportunity worm or unstructured threat. I realize a structured threat will find G4 assembly programming a slightly higher obstacle than Intel assembly, but that might buy me some time. In any case, I was able to retire a much larger, noisier, slower, and electricity-hungry HP Visualize B2000 workstation by buying the Mini -- without changing how I do business. The PA-RISC box ran Debian too. Beautiful.

2 comments:

Brian Best said...

Richard,

I believe that when partition for a Mac there is one particular "gotcha". You need to create a 1MB NewWorld partition in order for the system to boot. If you are manually partitioning and forget to add this partition the Debian installer will not let you proceed. The guided partitioning will automatically set this up for you.

Regards.

Richard Bejtlich said...

Thanks Brian -- Debian helped me not ruin the system, I guess!