Porting Linux (ppc, and m68k), NetBSD, and OpenBSD, to the Mac

Earning Apple support for the OpenMac projects


OpenMac refers to the multiple efforts at porting different flavors of UNIX to the Macintosh and PowerMacintosh platforms, primarily representing the Linux for PowerPC and MacBSD projects.

In the past, the OpenMac teams have seen their efforts blocked by the lack of accessible information for Apple's low-level hardware interfaces. This has led to stalled projects and generally negative feelings about something most interested parties feel strongly about.

This collection is intended to spur relations between the OpenMac projects and Apple Computer. We hope to accomplish this by documenting our needs, and presenting them with factual and compelling arguments for supporting the work. To this end, we have been in contact with Apple employees at various levels, and are currently building summary documents to circulate within Apple.

Although it started as a document regarding OpenMac OS developer issues, this page has become a public bulletin board for our progress. Please keep in mind, though, that this is not the forum for asking about using or beta- testing Linux and NetBSD. For more information about finding, installing, and using these products, check out the reference links at the end of this page.

Current Information

Status of Free Unix-like Systems

Allen Briggs maintains a document describing the current state of projects to port major free operating systems to the PowerPC. If you have any more recent info, please send him some mail.

OSF Linux and Apple Collaboration

Apple has been supporting an OSF project to port Linux running on a Mach kernel to the PowerMac hardware. A preliminary version of this has been released (as of May 17th, 1996). Apple has also issued official information about this.

This information both pleases and challenges us to make the most of this window of opportunity. We are focusing our efforts on ensuring that the necessary information and documents are made available to all of the people and projects that can benefit from it.

Key Issues: What needs to be documented?

As part of our commitment to extract the necessary information from Apple, the following list describes the hardware interfaces that we still need documentation for. As information is requested, or outstanding requests are satisfied, this list will be updated. Printed and online documents are recorded and tracked on the references page.

Here is the outstanding list of requests:

Note: As new information on CHRP or PPCP is being published, rich information is being released to the public. Several of the above interfaces appear similar to those documented in the Macintosh Technology in the Common Hardware Reference Platform document, but it's unclear if they are the same as those used in the current PCI PowerMacs. When the document has been evaluated, some of these issues may be resolved.

Finding More Information

Linux Resources on the Net

NetBSD Resources on the Net

Macintosh and Mac Developer Resources on the Net

Other Mac and UNIX Resources on the Net