(Category) (Category) Linux on PowerPC FAQ-O-Matic : (Category) MkLinux :
My system can't find the bootstrap.conf file
Probably the most common problem faced by users setting up MkLinux boxes is the failure of the system to find the bootstrap.conf file. This document attempts to cover the most common causes of this problem. It is divided into two broad sections: the general hardware problems section and the version- specific section.
Please note that this is by no means a complete list of causes. Please add anything else you find to the appropriate section.

David A. Gatwood
jonh@cs.dartmouth.edu, marsmail@globegate.utm.edu

Answers in this category:

Release-specific problems:

DR3 (and pre-DR3):

                The most frequent causes of bootstrap.conf not found messages
                when working with the RedHat Installer (pre-DR3 and DR3) are:

                        1.      an attempt to use an HFS+ partition (you must
                                use standard HFS, _NOT_ HFS+).
                        2.      specifying the wrong partition number in
                                lilo.conf -- remember, adding partitions may
                                cause numbering changes.
                        3.      not specifying the partition number at all in 
                        4.      specifying the wrong drive letter, or specifying
                                it as if you were using the DR2.1 numbering.
                                See SCSI numbering below.
                        5.      attempting to use a drive on a SCSI controller
                        6.      miscellaneous problems with IDE drive booting 
                                (see hardware section).
                        7.      miscellaneous problems with Quantum Fireball
                                drives in certain hardware configurations (see
                                hardware section).

        SCSI Numbering:

                If you are used to using DR2.1, you should note that the SCSI
                numbering changed between update 6 and pre-DR3.  The partition
                number should be the same, but the letter for the drive is

                With pre-DR3 (and a few wip's before dr3alpha1), sda is the 
                first drive on the first bus, sdb is the next drive, etc.
                until you run out of drives on that bus, followed by the
                drives on the next bus, etc.  It should be noted that the
                majority of systems have only one usable bus (i.e. not
                cards).  The exceptions are some varieties of 8100, the
                {7,8,9}500, {7,8,9}600, and possibly the 7300 (and clones
                of these systems).

                On systems with multiple busses, bus 0 is the internal bus, and
                bus 1 is the internal/external bus.

                If you find this too confusing (probably badly written), 
                download a _current_ version of pdisk (you should be able
                to find it at ftp://ftp.mklinux.apple.com/pub/wip/pdisk )
                and use that to determine both the correct drive letter
                and partition number.


        Under DR2.1, the SCSI numbering (lettering?) system is as follows:


        where x is...

        a -- SCSI ID 0
        b -- SCSI ID 1

        Drives should not occupy the same SCSI ID, even on different busses,
        as one of them will not show up.  This is one possible cause of
        bootstrap.conf not being readable, as is simply incorrectly choosing
        the letter.

        The number portion of the drive's number is the partition number.  Be 
        careful, since different partitioners give this number in different
        ways (some don't count the driver partition, etc.).  If all else
        fails, download pdisk (from ftp.mklinux.apple.com) and ask it for
        the partition numbers.
General Hardware and Kernel Problems:


        Users with the factory drive at SCSI ID 0 on the internal bus may
        not be able to boot from that drive.  To find out if this is causing
        your boot problem, look for a line that says "MESH targets at: 0, 3".
        If you don't see your internal drive's SCSI ID number (normally 0),
        then your drive exhibits this problem.

        Two possible workarounds currently exist: either change the drive's
        SCSI ID, or move the drive to the (slower) internal/external bus (1).
        The first has the advantage of not degrading performance, but you'll
        have to find a jumper to bridge across two pins on the hard drive.
        For more information, see the FAQ-O-Matic entry on getting the
        PowerMac 7600/120 to boot (this applies equally to a very small number
        of 7500 and 7600/132 users as well).


        In some cases, certain drives will fail to work on these systems on
        the internal SCSI bus.  This may or may not exhibit the same symptoms
        as the above.  If you are using a current Mach Kernel and the system
        refuses to boot from your drive, try changing SCSI busses.  To do this,
        simply fold the system open, unplug the SCSI cable from the motherboard
        and plug it into the connector right beside it.

Machines with IDE Internal Drives:

        Desktop machines:

                New G3 desktop machines -- these machines have been reported to
                        work by removing the internal IDE Zip drive.  Also,
                        be sure that the hard drive is on bus 0 and the CD-ROM
                        drive is on bus 1.  Apparently, at least in some cases,
                        MkLinux will fail to start up if the drives are
                        reversed.  Swapping cables seems to fix this for some

                Original G3 desktop machines
                    It may be possible to boot these machines by swapping the
                    hard drive and CD-ROM drive connectors.  If, in booting,
                    your system shows the internal hard drive at ide1 and the
                    CD-ROM drive at ide0, reverse the cables on the backs of
                    the two drives and try again.

                    In general, though, these machines often require the
                    SCSI disk workaround to boot MkLinux from an IDE drive.
                    This usually manifests itself in the form of a signature
                    error, followed by a complaint about partition n size zero.
                    There are two workarounds currently known:

                            1.  install on a different drive.  This only impacts
                                installations on IDE drives, and thus installing on
                                (and from) a SCSI drive should avoid such problems.

                            2.  partially install on a Zip cartridge or other SCSI
                                drive -- see the "Zip Trick" at the bottom of this

                Other (603e) desktop machines with IDE drives:
                        These machines may behave much like the original G3
                        desktop machines, and the "Zip Trick" may work.  It
                        should be noted that SCSI may not be supported on
                        all systems.  I'm not sure.

        Laptop machines:

                        PowerBook support has improved dramatically recently, and this section
                        attempts to reflect the changes.  While some PowerBooks will boot with
                        the stock Mach Kernel, several bugs in the adb handling code were worked
                        around recently, and I've rolled all of the PowerBook-specific changes
                        into a single test kernel.  You can find this kernel at:


                        in addition, the test kernel without the PB2400-specific patches (very
                        much a work-in-progress) is available as ...powerbook.gz.old just in
                        case these changes cause problems for some other system (problems seem
                        unlikely, and the current kernel works fine on my G3 laptop).

                        additional information on various models is below.

                    Patches for PB1400 support were contributed by Andrew
                    Fyfe (bandr@best.com).  You can download the patches from:


                    This machine seems to have problems because of either
                    a dangling or missing second IDE bus.  I'm not sure which.
                    This will result in a freeze during the hard drive probe.
                    The current test kernel appears to allow partial support,
                    though no complete successes have been reported.  Please test
                    this kernel, however, as your mileage may vary, and every
                    problem report adds more information about the problems
                    that remain.

                    This machine suffers similarly to the 2400 when the
                    floppy drive is in the media bay (or with the bay empty).
                    Inserting a CD-ROM drive instead seems to allow the
                    machines to boot.  This machine will boot with the
                    stock kernel, but the PowerBook test kernel is
                    recommended for stability reasons.

                    This machine appears to be broken in several respects,
                    the most blatant of which is the lack of external SCSI
                    support.  I'm not familiar enough with the SCSI code
                    (or indeed with the 5300) to speculate on why this is
                    the case.  Your mileage may vary....

                PB G3 -- original
                    This machine should boot (albeit with adb problems)
                    even with the stock kernel.  The PowerBook test kernel
                    is still recommended for stability reasons.

                PB G3 Series
                    This machine requires the PowerBook Test Kernel for
                    booting off of the IDE drive.  The stock kernel will
                    not identify that any IDE drives/busses exist.
                    Initial reports suggest that hard drives in the media
                    bay will not be handled correctly (treated as CD-ROM
                    drives) and won't be usable for install purposes,
                    though it might be possible to use them for additional
                    storage or for holding RPMS.  As I have no media bay
                    hard drive for mine, I'm not of much help on this one.

                Other PowerBooks:
                    Various other PowerBooks have various problems.  For instance,
                    some machines have no external SCSI support.  If you know the
                    working/non-working status of machines not listed here or
                    workarounds, etc. that should be listed here, please send
                    me email at marsmail@globegate.utm.edu.

Jaz Drives:

        Jaz drives may be the cause of unusual boot problems.  This has been
        reported even in cases when the Jaz drive is not the boot drive.  Some
        users have reported that inserting a cartridge before boot may prevent
        this behaviour.  Internal Jaz drives seem to be particularly problematic
        (or more accurately, Jaz drives connected to the internal bus on dual-
        bus machines).  Moving these to the external bus may prevent these
        problems in certain cases.

        Further, removable drives in general may show lots of "recovered errors".
        Some users have reported that turning off write verification may
        reduce these rather annoying messages.  At this time, it is unclear what
        effect this may have on the integrity of data on the cartridges in
        question.  Make such a change at your own risk.

IBM Drives:

        Drives made by IBM may cause problems with the Mach Kernel's SCSI driver
        if target-initiated sync negotiation is turned on.  If such a drive causes
        a kernel panic, try installing or removing the jumper marked TI from the
        drive and see if that fixes the problem.  Also, some users have reported
        problems with certain IBM drives designed for SCSI-wide adapted down to
        normal SCSI when used on the internal SCSI bus of dual-bus machines.  If
        you have such a drive and it causes kernel panics, try moving the drive
        to the external bus.

"Zip Trick":

        This trick is designed for booting a handful of machines that, for
        whatever reason, have IDE drives whose contents cannot be read
        directly by the Mach Kernel (i.e. to read bootstrap.conf, etc.),
        but _are_ accessible once the vmlinux server starts up.  The reason
        for this peculiar behavior is as yet unknown.


                1.      Place the installer on a zip cartridge, boot.
                2.      Install according to the instructions, on the IDE drive
                3.      Download a copy of the vmlinux server from your nearest DR3 mirror.
                        This currently means to grab the file vmlinux.gz from within the
                        latest wip directory (/pub/wip/98xxxx).
                4.      Decompress this as necessary with MacGzip or other utilities.
                5.      Place this vmlinux into the mach_servers folder on the zip cart.
                6.      Use BBedit or another program that understands Unix linefeeds to
                        modify the bootstrap.conf file within the mach_servers
                        folder (on the zip cartridge) as follows:

                        a.      Change the root device from /dev/ram to /dev/hda#, replacing #
                                with the partition number of your root partition.
                        b.      Change the filename listed from vmlinux+installer to vmlinux
                        c.      Be sure to save with unix linefeeds.

                7.      Edit lilo.conf in your preferences folder (on whatever drive your
                        computer is booting from).  If it is set to boot from the ide drive
                        (/dev/hda*), change it back to boot from the zip drive (the same
                        value that it had for the install procedure).
                8.      Boot MkLinux.
If you get an error that states "Cannot set boot_device 'xxx'" be sure the
partition you are refering to is not a HFS+ partition.
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