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I've got a Macintosh PowerPC G5 running on Mac OSX 10.4, it's a bit too old to upgrade to 10.5 and 10.4 doesn't have compatibility with much.

I decided to install Ubuntu instead, I have attempted to make a bootable USB install however it didn't boot through the USB and I wasn't able to access the boot priority because it required a password (this is a hand-me-down I decided to try and fix up).

I also burned a bootable CD installer however it turns out the CD-Drive on the PowerPC seems to have died off.

Is there any other method to get Ubuntu onto this Mac OS X 10.4 PowerPC? I tried installing rEFIt as was mentioned in other posts but apparently it's not compatible either.

Any advice greatly appreciated, thanks :)

Elías

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I just did this with an iBook G4 (PowerPC CPU) and did a whole blog post about it! You can install Ubuntu via USB, but it requires some tricky hackery. You can read the whole post here, but I'll provide the basic steps in this answer.


  1. Download the correct ISO & make a bootable USB stick however you want.

  2. Stick the USB stick in the Mac & start the Mac up while holding Command + Option + O + F. This will boot the Mac into Open Firmware. Once you see the screen go white with some text on it, you can release those keys.

  3. Type boot ud:,\\:tbxi and the Mac should start booting from the USB.

From there, it's relatively smooth sailing, depending on your hardware. If you have any issues, comment on my answer and I'll do my best to help you!

If you're the more DIY person and want to figure out solutions on your own, read the PowerPCKnownIssues wiki page - it's a great help.

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  • Very cool! I did as you suggested, the only problem was it just booted up normally. So no booting from USB yet. I'm at least happy to see some reaction from the computer. I'm fairly sure I typed it in correctly, is there be anything else I can do? – Elias Andrason Jan 26 '15 at 16:42
  • @EliasAndrason Yeah. Shut down & boot into Open Firmware again. This time, type in dev usb0, and then enter ls. If you see something like /disk@1 returned from the ls command, comment back here. – RPiAwesomeness Jan 26 '15 at 16:46
  • Ran into another snag. After "dev usb0" I'm asked to enter the password. I appreciate your quick replies! Anything I can do now? Also, I noticed you said "boot ud:,\\:tbxi" on your blog, and a slightly different version here. Is that significant? – Elias Andrason Jan 26 '15 at 17:12
  • @EliasAndrason I'm sorry, it should be boot ud:,\\:tbxi, I mis-typed. Try that (with two back-slashes.) Open Firmware commands are so cryptic :D – RPiAwesomeness Jan 26 '15 at 17:20
  • Tried twice with the corrected code, same deal. It flashes a screen with text but only for a fraction of a second so I can't make out the message. – Elias Andrason Jan 26 '15 at 17:23
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In my experience, when booting from a usb on an old PowerPC Mac, using a 3rd party tool or something included in your OS does not work. (This only works on macOS or Linux as far as I know. Maybe with another Unix based OS with a terminal(I'm not sure.)) Comment on my response to tell me if I put something wrong in the Linux section (my understanding of linux is not as good as macOS)

USING MACOS

  1. Once you've downloaded your iso file and have plugged your USB stick into your computer open up a terminal.

  2. Type diskutil list it should show a list of drives and their partitions. Find your USB drive.

  3. Next, type diskutil unmountDisk /dev/disk2 where /dev/disk2 is changed so it matches up with your USB stick. Note: if this command comes back with unmount failed use sudo diskutil unmountDisk /dev/disk2 It may ask for your password.

  4. Next, type cd to go into wherever you have your .iso saved. If you saved it to your downloads all you should have to do is type cd /Downloads.

  5. Finally, type dd if=YOURISONAMEHERE.iso of=/dev/disk2 Make sure you use the device from step 3. IF this fails with permission denied you can type sudo dd if=YOURISONAMEHERE.iso of=/dev/disk2. Again use the device from step 3. You may be prompted for a passoword. This may take a while depending on the size of your USB stick.

6.Remove the USB stick from your machine and plug it into the PowerPC Mac. Turn on the Mac and hold COMMAND+OPTION+O+F

7.Then type boot ud:,\\:tbxi.

USING LINUX

  1. Once you've downloaded your iso file and have plugged your USB stick into your computer open up a terminal.

  2. Type sudo fdisk -l it should show a list of drives and their partitions. Find your USB drive.

  3. Next, type sudo umount /dev/sdX where X is changed so it matches up with your USB stick. It may ask for your password.

  4. Next, type cd to go into wherever you have your .iso saved. If you saved it to your downloads all you should have to do is type cd /home/yourusernamehere/Downloads.

  5. Finally, type sudo dd if=YOURISONAMEHERE.iso of=/dev/sdX bs=4M && sync Make sure you use the device to replace the X from step 3. You may be prompted for a passoword. This may take a while.

6.Remove the USB stick from your machine and plug it into the PowerPC Mac. Turn on the Mac and hold COMMAND+OPTION+O+F

7.Then type boot ud:,\\:tbxi.

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On Openfirmware type dev / ls and take note of the path to usb disk. Then create an alias for it with devalias ud /ht@0,f2000000/pci@2/usb@b/disk@2 (use your path). Then boot as before.

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