Netboot/Netinstalling Mac OS X with a Linux server

At the moment BJ’s old Apple Powerbook G3 laptop seems to have crapped out. It can’t boot off its hard drive (it times out and then eventually boots in read-only mode after a while) and booting off CD media seems to have just as pathetic results. I guess the hard drive, the DVD-ROM drive and possibly the entire ATA bus are ratshit.

Anyway, not being one to bow out of a challenge (or the jibes from my wife that I might have to get a “Mac Guy” to help me out, pffft), I’ve been looking into possibilites of getting this thing going. Being the kind of that I am in the line of work that I’m in, I instantly thought “Aha, network install. How hard can that be?” I do these everyday at work and their easy as all hell.

Well not in the Mac world (well OK, its kinda easy, but involved at the same time). Basically you need a Mac OS X Server (which I don’t have a copy of, nor do I have a spare Mac lying around to setup anyhow). So I thought, someone has to have figured out to setup a Linux box to serve out Netinstall requests of Mac OS clients. Thankfully, I was in luck. It looks like it requires patching ISC DHCP server, and then the request requires pretty standard open source software which comes with pretty much any distro of Linux or *nix.

It looks like there is some binary RPMs for distros that swing that way. If I get the time I guess I’ll compile some Fedora RPMs. Might even stick ’em online if I get the time.

Hopefully I’ll have this all up and running by tomorrow, and I’ll be able to report back some success. If I fail, I’ll guess I’ll probably go for the install off a firewire drive option (Yeah, I know. Its easier than setting up a Netinstall server, but it ain’t as much of a challenge 🙂 )