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The Ubuntu installer is able to install to Firewire disk partitions. However, booting into the installation can be challenging.

First, the BIOS has to find the boot loader (for instance grub or yaboot) and this depends on your hardware's capabilities. Second, the boot loader has to find the kernel and initrd. It will use BIOS calls, so this again depends on your BIOS. Finally, the kernel will boot, but may not find the root partition on the disk, because the initrd is missing the modules to access the drive. If this your case, rebuild your initrd to include the missing modules (see man mkinitramfs and man update-initramfs).

Installing on a Mac

These instructions won't work, as the Ubuntu kernel does not have the necessary bits compiled in -- SCSI, fw support, and sbp-2. See http://macubuntu.blogspot.com/ for step-by-step instructions on how to get this to work.

Original post

This page needs a bit of love, imported from bugzilla #1181

Here you have a link to a howto to boot from a harddisk.

I'm not sure if the link will be valid too much time so here you have the important bits:

3. i. Next is to locate the firmware path of the FireWire drive:

# find /proc/device-tree/ -name disk@\* | grep -i firewire


3. j. Next it is time to create the yaboot.conf file on the FireWire drive. The config file shown below was based on the FireWire address above.

# pico /mnt/fw/boot/yaboot.conf


init-message=”Welcome top Yellow Dog Linux! \n Hit <TAB> for boot options.















I believe the partition=4 line can go in the image= section which is where it belongs. If one has several boot images then a different partition might be needed. However, it was done this way for simplicity. Since this example only uses one FireWire drive with one install of YDL it is not necessary to move the line. The ofboot line should be the firmware path to the FirwWire drive.

3. k. Now we must “bless” the drive so that it can be seen by the Apple boot loader.

# ybin -v --boot /dev/sda2 --nonvram --config /mnt/fw/boot/yaboot.conf

3. l. You should now be ready to boot the FireWire drive using the Mac boot loader. In order to get to the Mac boot leader you must restart the machine:

# shutdown –r now

And hold down the keys:


3. m. You should see a boot prompt and at this prompt type:

> boot fw/node/sbp-2/disk@0:2, yaboot

Note that the disk@0:2 is from the FireWire address and 2 is the bootstrap partition. This will change if you put the bootstrap on another partition number.

3. n. Now you should see the yaboot boot loader from the FireWire drive; you can just hit enter here and it will take you into YDL.

4: Firmware paths

To find the firmware path of your FireWire disk, type the command: ( find /proc/device-tree - name disk@\* | grep firewire ) Removing the /proc/device-tree gives the OpenFirmware path of the disk. Firmware aliases found in /proc/device-tree/aliases or lack of multiple firewire disks will allow a simplification of the path, as illustrated in our example.


Boot/ExternalHardDisk/Firewire (last edited 2017-09-07 16:35:51 by ckimes)