Install Debian with unsupported graphics card - part 1

From: Tilman Heinrich (
Date: 01/04/04

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    Date: Sun, 4 Jan 2004 13:50:09 +0100

    Hi folks,

    this is the story of installing Debian on a 9500 PPC with a Permedia
    graphics board not supported by the installed kernel. The card is a
    FormacGA4 (no usable results from google) and finally identified as
    equiped with a Permedia-chipset.

    # Step 1.
    After booting from hfs-bootfloppy and booting the root image with the
    initial OF-framebuffer device I was able to partition the HDD's,
    setting up the on-board network and fetching the base system from the
    nearest mirror. But after setting up the bootloader (quik) and
    rebooting the system there was a blank screen with no signal from card
    - the suggested atyfb setting didn't work because there was no ATI-

    # Step 2
    Resetting the boot device by zapping PRAM (alt-cmd-P-R) gave me the
    chance to boot the root image from floppy again as a rescue system.
    After mounting all the previously installed partitions with the setup
    program at tty1 I switched to tty2 and prepared the system to log in
    from a serial console with:
    - 'mount proc -r proc /target/proc' for successible running quik from
       inside the chroot /target
    - 'chroot /target' and setting a root password
    - adding 2 serial getty lines to [/target]/etc/inittab _and_
                T0:23:respawn:/sbin/getty -L ttyS0 9600 vt100
                T1:23:respawn:/sbin/getty -hL ttyS1 19200 vt100
    - adding this terminals to [/target]/etc/securetty (editor nano)
    - rerunning quik

    # Step 3
    With the next boot there were two serial console connections possible,
    ttyS0 with 9600 baud at the modem port and ttyS1 with 19200 baud at the
    default console port with Xon/Xoff handshaking both.
    For using the serial console I took an apple modem cable in combination
    with a serial nullmodem cable to a PC...

    After logging in, the first task was to kill the initial base-config
    process and its childs running at the inaccessible tty1. (May be this
    can also be done at Step 2?) Restarting the base-config from serial
    console let me finish the installation.

    # Next Tasks
    The system is intended for server and so the current state may be
    sufficient if the missing packages are installed by apt.
    But a PowerPC without local consoles is unsatisfactory and so the
    choice is a developping system to build a suitable kernel...

    Tilman Heinrich

    The only stupid question is the unasked one.

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