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z970mp

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OpenBSD is an alternative operating system to Linux and Mac OS X on the PowerPC platform. Save for Debian Sid, it is newer. It is by nature more secure due to its extremely extensive vetting and review of each line of code. It is inherently faster thanks to the lightweight kernel and lack of systemd. When compared to Linux, it has better compatibility with PowerPC machines. It has a far tidier and easier to understand file system than Linux. It is also the most well-documented system in the world (meaning there's a manual page for everything).

However, OpenBSD also has a smaller package library than Linux. It does not support FireWire or sleep mode on iBooks / PowerBooks, and its graphical environment (X Window Server) also does not support as many nVidia cards as Linux, so installed GPUs will likely be an ultimate deciding factor for most people, at least for desktop usage. For CLI use / server work however, OpenBSD is an excellent choice for most all models.

As always, contributions to this Wiki are greatly welcomed and highly appreciated. Thank you.


CLI + GUI GPUs

ATI Rage 128

ATI Radeon 7500

ATI Radeon 9000

ATI Radeon 9200


ATI Radeon 9700

nVidia GeForce FX 5200


CLI Only GPUs

nVidia GeForce 6600

Installation Guide

The latest version is currently 6.6, released on October 17, 2019. Get it here.

1. Burn the image to a CD, and connect your Mac to Ethernet. Reboot, and hold 'C' at the chime (or Caps Lock light), then press 'Enter' when you get to the boot prompt. After the installer finishes booting, just follow the prompts. Most of the time, you'll be pressing 'Enter'. That said, the below instructions will serve as extra pointers.

2. Enter 'I' when you are greeted by the installer to start the installation process. If you want to automatically boot into a login manager, answer 'yes' when asked about xenodm. Otherwise, press 'Enter' to boot to a console. Then, enter your username when asked to set up a user.

3. Press 'Enter' when asked about the root disk. If you have multiple disks, 'wd0' = Disk 1 and 'wd1' = Disk 2, so in this case, answer according to which disk you wish to install on. Enter 'yes' when asked if you are sure you want the MBR partition table on your selected disk. This will delete all existing data and automatically partition the entire drive for OpenBSD, so be sure you want to do this.

4. Press 'Enter' when asked the location of the sets (should be 'cd0'), and press 'Enter' when asked for the pathname to the sets (should be '6.x/macppc'). Press 'Enter' when asked for the set names (they should all be selected by default), and then answer 'yes' when asked to continue without verification. Now, you must allow the system to install.

5. Press 'Enter' to reboot once you are congratulated on the installation success. Hold Cmd + Opt + O + F at the chime to boot into Open Firmware, then enter 'eject cd' to eject the disc.


Now that we're in Open Firmware, let's tell your Mac to automatically boot OpenBSD when first start up.

6. Enter 'setenv auto-boot? true'. Now, enter 'setenv boot-device hd:,ofwboot'. Afterward, enter 'shut-down' to save, then turn your Mac back on. OpenBSD will come up, then automatically configure itself for first-time use. This will take longer than usual, please be patient.

Congratulations! The system has been successfully installed!

Post-Install

1. Log in as root (username: root, pass: your root password).

2. Carefully review 'man help' and 'man afterboot'.

3. Do 'pkg_add nano' to install the GNU Nano text editor, otherwise use vi.

4. You are now ready to install a desktop environment. Once you have, do 'nano .xinitrc', and enter 'exec' followed by the name of the desktop environment / window manager you want xenodm or startx to automatically start after login (ex. exec xfce4, exec lxqt, exec wmaker, etc.). Save with Ctrl + S, then close with Ctrl + X.


Desktop Environments

Xfce
Install: pkg_add xfce
Requirements: G3, 512mb RAM

MATE

Install: pkg_add mate
Requirements: G4, 512mb RAM

LXQt

Install: pkg_add lxqt
Requirements: G4, 512mb RAM

KDE
Install:
pkg_add kde4 (?)
Requirements: G5, 1gb RAM

GNOME

Install: pkg_add gnome
Requirements: G5, 1gb RAM

Window Managers

Openbox
Install: pkg_add openbox
Requirements: G3, 256mb RAM

Awesome

Install: pkg_add awesome
Requirements: G3, 256mb RAM

Window Maker

Install: pkg_add windowmaker
Requirements: G3, 256mb RAM

Web Browsers

Links
Install: pkg_add links+
Requirements: 604, 64mb RAM
Notes:
Very functional CLI-only Web browser. Continually updated.


NetSurf
Install: pkg_add netsurf
Requirements: G3, 256mb RAM
Notes: Install netsurf-fb for another CLI web browser.

Qute Browser
Install: pkg_add qutebrowser
Requirements: G4, 512mb RAM
Notes: Qt-based browser. Works best with LXQt or KDE.

Otter Browser
Install: pkg_add otter-browser
Requirements: G4, 512mb RAM
Notes:
Opera derivative, not unlike Vivaldi. Runs on WebKit.

Issues

503 Errors When Installing Packages -

Occasionally, you may get a 503 error when trying to install certain packages. This is a server fault, so the best you can do is to either try again immediately, or try again later.

- - - - - - - - - -

Any further questions may be answered by visiting (https://www.openbsd.org/faq/index.html) or (https://man.openbsd.org/).

- - - - - - - - - -

Enjoy Your OS!




This is a public Wiki -
Please contribute if you know something about OpenBSD that can make people's lives easier.
Thank you.
 
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Amethyst1

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Oct 28, 2015
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Great initiative, many thanks for this thread. I've been wanting to try OpenBSD on my PPC Macs for quite some time (have already played with it on x86 and ARM) so this is an excellent "excuse" to do so and contribute to this wiki, if I can.

Some tidbits:

- Judging from my experience with MATE (it's GNOME 2 after all) I'd say it's too heavy for a G3.

- Installing the xfce metapackage will give you a basic setup; additionally installing xfce-extras will give you a more complete setup.

- I think the Lumina desktop environment (lumina) and the fluxbox window manager it uses are available as packages for OpenBSD so could be added to the OP after verification. It's a nice little DE/WM and works well on... constrained systems.
 
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z970mp

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I had OpenBSD 6.1 working with GUI on an ibook (https://everymac.com/systems/apple/ibook/specs/ibook_g4_1.0_12.html) which is Mobility Radeon 9200. Knowing the OBSD approach I doubt the support has since been removed.
That’s interesting. Audio has worked OOTB for me on every PowerPC laptop I’ve tried OpenBSD on. Confirmed working on an IBook Dual USB 500 MHz, Dual USB 800 MHz, Dual USB 900 MHz, PowerBook G4 1.5 GHz, and PowerBook G4 1.67 GHz.
The B&W was my only test machine for this, so when it hung trying to connect to PulseAudio, I made the assumption.

Anyway, it's amended. False alarm. :)

Great initiative, many thanks for this thread. I've been wanting to try OpenBSD on my PPC Macs for quite some time (have already played with it on x86 and ARM) so this is an excellent "excuse" to do so and contribute to this wiki, if I can.

Some tidbits:

- Judging from my experience with MATE (it's GNOME 2 after all) I'd say it's too heavy for a G3.

- Installing the xfce metapackage will give you a basic setup; additionally installing xfce-extras will give you a more complete setup.

- I think the Lumina desktop environment (lumina) and the fluxbox window manager it uses are available as packages for OpenBSD so could be added to the OP after verification. It's a nice little DE/WM and works well on... constrained systems.
The only reason I didn't designate MATE for a G4 is that it hasn't been tested yet on a G3 w/ OpenBSD. Thus, I'd prefer if it was first tested and confirmed too slow on a G3 before locking it to G4s.

What about xfce-goodies? Is extras the equivalent, or does it do something more than goodies?

Right, everything should be verified first. That's why there's a "?" after the KDE install command, because I didn't actually test it.

I'm actually no longer currently running OpenBSD, as I'm waiting for 6.6 to release in October before installing again on my B&W.
 

556fmjoe

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Apr 19, 2014
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I'm on my phone at the moment, but I would make a few suggestions.

1. Use doas instead of su. Just add "permit persist username" to /etc/doas.conf and that's it.

2. On a laptop, get a Ralink or Atheros USB wireless adapter. The Broadcom based Airport card is worthless.

3. Fvwm and Cwm are in base. Cwm is my choice an all laptops.

4. Stick with pkg_add instead of adding additional package managers. It's simple and easier to use. "pkg_add -u" will update all installed packages. "pkg_info -Q package_name" will search for an available package called package_name and display it if available.

More when I get home
 
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556fmjoe

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FYI a recent change in -current makes the Airport card (bwi) in my PowerBook run significantly better. This is the first time I have not needed to use a USB wireless adapter.
 

556fmjoe

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Just got a 667 MHz (maybe) Tibook and OpenBSD is smooth as silk on it. Full 2D/3D acceleration works on the Radeon 9000. Wifi works fine via the wi driver, though that card cannot handle WPA2 so I am using a Buffalo USB. Overall system performance is quite good and better in some ways than my much later 1.5 GHz 12”.

Interestingly, this was listed as a 1 GHz machine and the CPU reports itself as a 7455, but only at 667 MHz. From what I could find, the 7455 Tibooks were either 867 MHz or 1 GHz, and the 667 MHz models did not have a Radeon 9000 (which this definitely does). Tis a mystery to me.
 
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Amethyst1

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Oct 28, 2015
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Just got a 667 MHz (maybe) Tibook and OpenBSD is smooth as silk on it. Full 2D/3D acceleration works on the Radeon 9000. Wifi works fine via the wi driver, though that card cannot handle WPA2 so I am using a Buffalo USB. Overall system performance is quite good and better in some ways than my much later 1.5 GHz 12”.

Interestingly, this was listed as a 1 GHz machine and the CPU reports itself as a 7455, but only at 667 MHz. From what I could find, the 7455 Tibooks were either 867 MHz or 1 GHz, and the 667 MHz models did not have a Radeon 9000 (which this definitely does). Tis a mystery to me.
The later (≥800MHz) TiBooks downclock to 667MHz and disable the L3 cache if run without a battery IIRC.
 
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556fmjoe

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The later (≥800MHz) TiBooks downclock to 667MHz and disable the L3 cache if run without a battery IIRC.
My battery is totally dead so this makes sense, thanks. Unfortunately new batteries are absurdly expensive so I will have to hunt for a used one
 

philgxxd

macrumors regular
Feb 11, 2017
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So the performance will even be better once a battery is installed.
- - Post merged: - -

OpenBSD is still on my try out list. I wanted to try it on my G5 quad but I think it would not use it to it's full potential because of lacking support for 64bit anyways
 

556fmjoe

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@556fmjoe why do you use OpenBSD over OSX or Linux even? Apart from security, is there anything it does more successfully?
It's cleaner, simpler, much better documented, and more reliable. The code quality in particular is significantly better than what you'll find on Linux.

Here's the OpenBSD version of the "yes" utility: https://github.com/openbsd/src/blob/master/usr.bin/yes/yes.c

And here's GNU's implementation: https://github.com/coreutils/coreutils/blob/master/src/yes.c

Here's OpenBSD's echo.c: https://github.com/openbsd/src/blob/master/bin/echo/echo.c

And GNU's: https://github.com/coreutils/coreutils/blob/master/src/echo.c

The differences are pretty stark with the simplest C programs shown here, and they are even more apparent in complex code. Generally, OpenBSD will take the most simple, direct, and obvious approach whenever possible and that philosophy shows up in their code, documentation, and utilities. Connecting to the internet from the command line for example is a straightforward affair on OpenBSD. It's usually a much more complicated process on Linux and varies from one distro to the next.

I use Linux often (Gentoo at the moment), but I'm inevitably unhappy with it.
 

556fmjoe

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Does that translate to applications? Are browsers and media players more efficient that Linux/OSX?
There's no built-in browser in base, though there is a set of audio tools included. 3rd party code is generally the same as on Linux; an inefficient, badly written program won't get any better on OpenBSD, though it will run with much better exploit mitigations. I do not notice much of a difference in performance.

Not strictly related to your question, but you may find the multimedia section of the FAQ interesting: https://www.openbsd.org/faq/faq13.html

And older, but still good paper on OpenBSD's sndio: https://www.openbsd.org/papers/asiabsdcon2010_sndio.pdf
 

rmckee78

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Sep 29, 2019
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Hi, I am attempting to follow these instructions, but when I get to the part where you enter "wheel..." it says that wheel is not found. None of the other steps following that work either, for example "pkg_add pkg_mgr" does not work, even if I run it as root.

I went down a rabbit hole with trying to change the installurl file, as suggested on another site, but that did not work either.

As a warning, I am a complete noob to this, so it is likely that there is something obvious I am missing. I got a iBook G4 with no OS and I have repeatedly failed to install any OS other than MorphOS so far.
 

z970mp

macrumors 68020
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Jun 2, 2017
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Hi, I am attempting to follow these instructions, but when I get to the part where you enter "wheel..." it says that wheel is not found. None of the other steps following that work either, for example "pkg_add pkg_mgr" does not work, even if I run it as root.

I went down a rabbit hole with trying to change the installurl file, as suggested on another site, but that did not work either.

As a warning, I am a complete noob to this, so it is likely that there is something obvious I am missing. I got a iBook G4 with no OS and I have repeatedly failed to install any OS other than MorphOS so far.
Yes, it will say wheel is not found. But it will have worked if you are able to log in as root with 'su'. For instance, there is no 'sudo' OOB. You must log in as root with 'su', and then do pkg_add AS root (you will see a '#' instead of a '$').

Installurl should be left to default, so I can't help you there.

Linux / OpenBSD is primarily recommended for desktop machines. If you just want to use your iBook as an easy, reliable day-to-day notebook, installing OS X Tiger or Leopard is recommended. Just get an iso from Macintosh Garden, and burn it to disc.
 

556fmjoe

macrumors 68000
Apr 19, 2014
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Hi, I am attempting to follow these instructions, but when I get to the part where you enter "wheel..." it says that wheel is not found. None of the other steps following that work either, for example "pkg_add pkg_mgr" does not work, even if I run it as root.

I went down a rabbit hole with trying to change the installurl file, as suggested on another site, but that did not work either.

As a warning, I am a complete noob to this, so it is likely that there is something obvious I am missing. I got a iBook G4 with no OS and I have repeatedly failed to install any OS other than MorphOS so far.
Just add "permit persist username" to /etc/doas.conf, where "username" is your actual username. Then you can run "doas [command]" to run [command] as root, like you would with sudo.

What happens when you try to pkg_add something? Do you have an internet connection?
 

MoerBoer

macrumors regular
Jan 27, 2018
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Since I've been tinkering with MintPPC and getting it running, would OpenBSD work on an Imac G5 ( being 64-bit and all )?
 
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The first post in this thread is a WikiPost, and can be edited by anyone with the appropriate permissions.