Uptime lament

Had to shutdown my SparcStation 2 today for relocation. It had an uptime of 332 days. The box is running OpenBSD. Read More ›

Tiger confirmed to run on PowerBook G3 Lombard

Ok, I’ve confirmed that Mac OS X 10.4, Tiger will run just fine on the PowerBook G3 Lombard. I suppose “just fine” is debatable, but it’s definitely up and running on my overclocked (466Mhz) Lombard and seems usable to me. It is a bit sluggish, of course, and the spinning beachball appears more often than I would like. The machine is even usable with VoiceOver running.

Anyway, there you have it, folks. I will go back to running Gentoo PPC on my Lombard, but I know many Lombard users out there want to run Tiger. Just follow the instructions provided in my previous post for creating a hacked Tiger installation DVD.

As a side note, there were several other models listed in the OSInstall.dist file that may be made to run Tiger, as well. Check it out! Read More ›

Installing Tiger on Lombard

Ok guys, I know what I said earlier about not getting Tiger to install, but I got to thinking about it and I had an idea. After digging around on the Tiger Install DVD, I found my answer. Here’s what I did to get the installer to install on my Lombard:

First, I created a CD/DVD master image from the Tiger Install DVD using Disk Utility. Then, I mounted the image. Then I found the OSInstall.dist file in /System/Installation/Packages/OSInstall.mpkg/Contents on the image. Near the top of the file is a line that specifies a list of “badMachines”, or some such. In that list is “PowerBook1,1”, the model code for the PowerBook G3 Lombard. I simply modified that entry to read “PowerBook3,1”. I then unmounted the image and burned it to DVD-R. My Lombard booted right up the installation DVD as it had before, but this time I received no error messages regarding unsupported hardware.

So, there you have it! It turned out to be much simpler than I had expected. Now, I must admit that I have not performed the installation of Tiger yet, so I cannot yet verify that the installation will complete successfully, but I plan to install a new HD in the machine and test it out at least before going back to Gentoo. I really don’t think Tiger will perform very well on this old machine, but it’s fun to try it out. :)

Now, a note for Lombard users without a DVD drive: I would expect that you could perform the same operation on the CD version available as a special order from Apple. Read More ›

Xserve G5 Hardware RAID pains

Who knew it could be so hard to install a PCI hardware RAID controller in an Xserve G5? Well, I learned about this unexpected difficulty today. I write about it here because I think the experience may be useful to others.

The task for today was to upgrade from a single 80GB SATA drive to 3 80GB SATA drives in a hardware RAID-5 configuration. (I chose the hardware RAID solution because I just don’t quite trust software RAID.) I really didn’t this task would be as challenging as it turned out to be. The first major roadblock came when I discovered that I needed a video card installed in order to perform the reinstallation of Mac OS X Server. You see, Xserve G5s don’t come equipped with video cards. These are entirely optional. Now, that wouldn’t normally be a problem, as I would perform the installation on my powerbook, with the Xserve in Firewire Target Disk Mode. However, because the new drives would be connected to the new PCI RAID controller, and not the main SATA controller, Firewire Target Disk Mode would not work. The only way to do the install was to use a PCI video card. So, I ran down to the local Mac store and picked up an ATI Radeon 9200 PCI ME w/ 128MB DDR. (Yes, quite a bit of overkill for my purposes, but it was all that was available. The Xserve booted up to the new video card just fine and I thought that was the last of my challenges.

However, in order to set up the RAID array, I needed the “megaraid” command line utility, which required the Mac OS X Server (10.3.5) Install CD, and I only had the 10.3.3 CD. I thought I would have to get a newer CD shipped to me, but then I thought to check if perhaps I had the megaraid utility on my 10.3.9 install on my PowerBook. I was pleased to find that I did and promptly connected my PowerBook in Firewire Target Disk Mode to the Xserve and booted up to the PowerBook HD. It worked like a charm! The megaraid utility picked up the controller and all three disks, and a quick “megaraid -create auto” gave me a new RAID-5 volume.

Now I thought I had it made. Now that the array had been configured, the installation CD would see the disk and I could finish the install. I was mistaken. Not only did the 10.3.3 CD lack the “megaraid” command line utility, it lacked the RAID controller drivers, so no disks were detected on boot. My next attempt involved creating a custom installation CD by making an image of the original CD and copying the kext from my PowerBook into it. Unfortunately, this new Frankenstein CD resulted in a kernel panic and I finally realized I would have to give up and call Apple for a newer CD.

Sad ending, isn’t it? I really got creative and thought I had it licked so many times. I investigated a serial console installation, ssh-based remote install, ASR, netboot, etc., but I had to get that video card. And I managed to keep overcoming the hurdles put in front of me, but then to be set back in the end was a real bummer.

Well, on the way home, I realized I had one more option. And I really wish I would’ve thought of this sooner, because I think it has a real chance of working. I should be able to boot up to my 10.3.9 (non-Server) installation on my PowerBook again from the Xserve and format the array and perform the install from the CD by simply installing the .mpkg on the CD. I had to do the same thing in order to get the Tiger WWDC build to install on my 17” PowerBook. Anyway, I think it has a real chance, but we’ll see. Anyway, I hope this story has helped someone else out there with this task. Remember, you need a video card. Also, make sure you have the Mac OS X Server 10.3.5 or higher installation CDs. Read More ›

I'm your firestarter

Oh, I really want one of these:


It is a “Swedish FireSteel.” That’s a cool toy. I’m generally quite successful using matches, and I don’t often go camping during monsoon or blizzard seasons, so it may not be the most practical gadget, but if I ever were caught in a freezing monsoon, I know that I could have a roaring fire, or at least a spark. Read More ›