Installing OpenBSD on MacPPC

Have a soon-to-be-unobtanium Power Mac G5 collecting dust ? Well clean the ol’ girl off and put her to work!i Here are the steps to installing single-bootii OpenBSD on MacPPC :

1. On target machine, download ISO from openbsd.orgiii and properly burn to blank CDiv or obtain physical disks already so burned
2. Shutdown target machine
3.1. Remove and replace hard drive from target machine or,
3.2. To reuse the existing hard drive, using a Firewire cable, plug target machine into another Firewire-equipped Macv
4. Boot the target machine while holding down the T-key. Release the key when the dancing Firewire logo appearsvi
5. Launch Disk Utility on the non-target machine
6. Erase the hard drive of the target machine and reformat as Mac OS Extended (Case-sensitive, Journaled) after which you’ll unmount and eject the target machine drives.vii
7. Shutdown target machine
8. Boot target machine while holding down Option key
9. Select CD
10. Install OpenBSD to your preferred tastes and specificationsviii
11. Once congratulated on your completed install, reboot
12. As soon as reboot commences, press and hold Command-Option-O-F simultaneously to launch Open Firmware. Type `setenv boot-device hd:,ofwboot` to instruct your machine to boot into OpenBSD by default going forward.
13. Type `boot hd:,ofwboot /bsd` to boot into OpenBSD right fuckin’ now!ix

Now to install TRB… Any questions ?

___ ___ ___

  1. She can’t possibly be too wrinkly, saggy, and out-of-shape for you, she’s made of aluminum! []
  2. Dual-booters are free to fuck around with the bizarre partitioning requirements of OpenBSD all they want. I ran out of patience trying to salvage Mac OS 10.4. The OpenBSD Installation Notes go into some detail on this, if detail still insufficient for my blockheadedness. []
  3. Making sure to verify the SHA256 hash and GPG signature, as ever. This isn’t optional. What, were you raised by wolves ?   []
  4. The proper CD burning part involves the following sub-steps on a Mac :

    1. Insert a blank disc
    2. Open Terminal
    3. Type `hdiutil burn ~/PathToYourISO/filename.iso`


    1. Insert a blank disc
    2. Start Disk Utility.
    3. Click File > Open Disk Image > ISO to be burned.
    4. Select ISO from volume list in left sidebar.
    5. Click the “Burn” button and follow the prompts.

    Don’t bother with USBs if you can avoid it. At least in my experience, Open Firmware can have difficulty even recognising that they’re plugged in at all, much less that they contain an ISO. []

  5. A guide using other UNIX-like OSes is beyond the scope of this modest article. []
  6. This will boot the target machine into Target Disk Mode, allowing it to be treated as an external drive by our other Mac. []
  7. The “Security Options” during aren’t to be ignored on the Erase either. I tried the quick Zero Out Erase and ended up with a suite of impossible-to-troubleshoot install errors later on. Go for the 7-Pass Erase. It should only take a day or two and there’s really no rush here.   []
  8. When in doubt between setting x or y, look up the individual options! If you’ve never ventured into GUI-less waters before, it won’t be at all intuitive. Take your time. Or just hit enter a lot and take the defaults as they come. []
  9. Success will look much like this (with or without the visual artefacts) :

    OpenBSD on Mac Pro G5 (PPC)


4 thoughts on “Installing OpenBSD on MacPPC

  1. IIRC TRB does not yet run on big-endian.

  2. Mitchell says:

    Nice, I plan on doing this with an old Dell Precision machine I have. Is the plan to run it exclusively as a node? Or will it be a workspace to learn Unix and get comfortable working from the terminal? Have any issues arised from using a Mac?

    Thanks for the post!

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