Is is possible to NetBoot a G3 iMac?
July 19, 2005 11:55 AM   Subscribe

The hard drive in my iMac G3/350 just died. Can I reconfigure this machine to NetBoot?

In my living room I've got two G3 iMacs. One is a G3/350, and it used to run 10.2.8. I only use it to SSH to a couple of Unix hosts that I use. I keep very little data on it, and when I do use it for "stuff", almost always the information is coming off .Mac or another Mac in the house. Other than that, its only purpose is to ping some hosts, and Elm me my mail.

Sitting next to the G3 is a G3 iMac DV+. It's running 10.4. Both machines have Ethernet ports, so can I reconfig the G3/350 to NetBoot off the iMac DV+?

I've googled the hard drive installation instructions for this generation of iMac (second, if that matters) and while they seem ok (I've installed a few drives in older PowerBooks and iBooks), I have absolutely no time for such fun.

Ideally I'd like to reconfig the G3/350 via Open Firmware to look for a boot device on it's EtherNet port, but I don't know how. I'm also a little hazy on how to setup the iMac DV+.

Is this possible or am I better off taking the time hit or paying some shop to install a new hard drive?
posted by Mutant to Computers & Internet (7 answers total)
i believe you have to have Mac OS X server to host the volume to netboot from - and it's more complicated than just pointing at an image and clicking 'netboot this drive'.

it's really not that difficult to swap out a drive from an iMac. It will probably take you less time than to install OS X server, create a netboot image, and configure it as a netboot volume.

(btw to get a mac to look for a netboot device you just hold down the option key at boot chime, or you can press N to force it to netboot mode)
posted by sammich at 12:22 PM on July 19, 2005

There's a decent article here about configuring a Mac for network booting. This is targeted towrds booting NetBSD, but you'd be using all the same protocols, so it applies.

The short of it is, if you hold down the 'n' key on boot, your mac will try to boot over the network.

If you boot into open firmware by holding down the alt key during boot (IIRC), then change the boot-device variable. The command is "setenv boot-device enet:[0],filename" where filename is the name of the file to boot from. Then do "reset-all" to reboot.

Set up your server to do bootp and you should be set.

Actually, do this in reverse: set up your server for bootp, try to boot your mac using the 'n' key, and when that works, change the settings in open firmware.
posted by plinth at 12:31 PM on July 19, 2005

I believe sammich is correct--you need Mac OS X Server to host the netbooting image, and it's not terrifically easy either. Someone I used to work with who is a real Machead (well, was more of one than I was at the time) had to fiddle a bit to get NetBoot working, if memory serves.
posted by cyrusdogstar at 1:41 PM on July 19, 2005

For G3 iMacs, hold down Command-Option-O-F to boot into open firmware.
posted by mbrubeck at 3:06 PM on July 19, 2005

I put a new hard drive into my iMac G3 400 and it was pretty painless -- maybe 20 minutes.
posted by birdherder at 7:22 PM on July 19, 2005

Get an external Firewire enclosure, and boot from that. Easiest option by far. You can even set the mac to always boot from firewire through the Startup Disk pane in System Preferences.

On a Powerbook/iBook/Mac Mini, booting from an external 3.5" drive via Firewire is actually significantly faster than booting from the internal 2.5" drive.
posted by blasdelf at 9:10 PM on July 19, 2005

Unfortunately, the iMac 350 doesn't have Firewire. (At least, mine didn't.)
posted by mbrubeck at 9:20 AM on July 20, 2005

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