I am trying to install Linux on my Xserve G4, a NewWorld PPC Macintosh computer. The issue is: I have no CD drive, so all those helpful comments like "Just boot from Linux using a LiveCD" don't work for me.

I have disk images. I have a spare hard-drive that I can reformat until the blocks go bad.

  1. Is it possible to boot from a Linux disk with the standard PPC OpenFirmware bootloader?
  2. If not, how do I boot into Linux? All steps must be taken from the FreeBSD platform known as Mac OSX, or OpenFirmware

I asked a similar question on the AskDifferent forum, no more than 20 views and no replies, so I am coming here.

Thank you all.


If you have another machine on the network capable of running a tftp server, then you could try a network install.

this URL may help:


it covers booting with open firmware from CD, hard disk, USB, and TFTP.

  • Ah, wonderful, it tells me how to get yaboot working on my root drive, regardless of OS... Now, how do I get those files? Every guide I have seen simply says "Those files you got from the Linux distribution" etc... All 3 PPC Linux distributions I have only have yaboot, maybe ybin, and yaboot.conf, none of the other files... Thank you! – Aviator45003 Jul 20 '12 at 11:44

I was able to boot to USB on XServe G4. I was using the "memstick" bootable image I obtained from FreeBSD


I inserted my USB stick into the first usb port (in OF, it is known as "usb0") Note, this has to be done directly for some reason; you can't insert the USB stick into a hub. So, I have the USB stick inserted directly into the XServe and the mouse and keyboard in a hub. By the way, I am using a plain ol' 1GB San Disk Cruzer. You don't need anything fancy.

enter image description here

XServe USB Port

When I booted the XServe G4, I held down the the Altkey (I was using a PC keyboard, the Apple keyboard equivalent is Option)while the powering on, and the XServe started looking for all the possible boot devices.

After about a minute, it found the USB boot partition (as well as the other boot partitions installed). OpenFirmware Boot Screen. The first drive is the FreeBSD Boot partition (I had already done the install using this method). The 2nd is the FreeBSD USB Install, the third is the OS X partition that lives on the same drive as the first and finally, I have a drive with OS X install instead of using a CD-ROM. (It was much faster this way)

Select the device and click the arrow; in this case, select the USB drive. You will then see the boot messages: OpenFirmware USB Boot

After about a minute or two, you should be able to proceede with your install:

FreeBSD USB Install


You can mount a CD (not using any tray) using Daemon tools, or something similar, and then mount it a Drive (e.g. E:/). Then just reboot your Linux machine, and it should boot up with the CD image.

  • Don't have a Linux machine, only OSX. – Aviator45003 Jul 20 '12 at 11:45

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