I am continuing the post about trying to make new installer images. I have been trying to achieve this lately and I will tell you what I experienced and what you can expect in the future.
As you are probably well aware of, the Debian installers ditched yaboot and introduced Grub as bootloader. With the installation images which can be downloaded from the official Debian ports place it was possible to still use yaboot until July 2019. The images which I created and can be downloaded from the instructions page are based on the 2019-07-07 Debian images. These images are sort of bridge between the old era and the new era. I could still make those images boot with yaboot and it was still possible to install yaboot at the end or after a reboot.
I am now working with the latest Debian images which can be found in the 2019-11-22 folder. I am also able to make these kind of images myself now. What I found out is that these images cannot be respinned anymore with a yaboot bootloader. For some reason that I am not aware of, the installer does not work properly anymore when booted from yaboot. What I also found out yesterday was that the latest powerpc NETINST image installs MintPPC fine but does not allow me to install yaboot. At least for the moment I can’t do this, maybe I can fix it somehow with another trick. So I can’t boot the newly installed system. I think it is fair to say that I have to say goodbye to my old friend yaboot and start investing time in using Grub. It is never nice to replace something that I am familiar with, and that always did the job, with something new. Things change, so I have to follow I guess.
What I had in mind was to replace the NETINST images with a desktop image, that would allow an installation without the need of downloading all the packages from the internet. I can tell you that that is something I did not achieve. I am perfectly able to spin the same kind of images which Debian produces, i.e. NETINST images, but it is impossible for me to make desktop isos. It is not a huge problem but it would make the installation more predictable. With the NETINST images the person willing to install MintPPC needs to be lucky that all packages which are needed are in a stable state on the Debian ports server. If the installation fails, it is best to look at the syslog and see which package could not be installed. One has to wait then until that package is available in the mirror.
So what can we expect in the future then? What I see coming is an installation image for both powerpc and ppc64, which is based on the latest kernel and kernel modules, i.e. similar to the image that can be downloaded from the 2019-11-22 folder, adapted to install MintPPC. The installation image boots with the help of Grub and the freshly installed MintPPC will also boot by Grub. What I will do now is try to find a way to repair Grub after installation. At the moment Grub is broken on powerpc/ppc64 as it is unable to retrieve the right open firmware path to the hard disk.
I am still working on the project, so please don’t give up on MintPPC. In the future I am sure that knowledegable people can solve the Grub issue and then it will be (almost) no problem at all anymore to install MintPPC (except for the fact that we do not have a stable repository).
At last I want to wish you a nice day!