Current support for Xserve G5

Nathan Whitehorn nwhitehorn at
Fri Jun 11 00:41:48 UTC 2010

On 06/10/10 13:20, Paul Mather wrote:
> In our lab we have two Xserve G5 servers.  We'd like to keep using these, but, because of EOL issues with Mac OS X, I am looking for an Open Source replacement.  My preference is for *BSD---preferably FreeBSD or NetBSD.  When I looked a while ago, it seemed that the Xserve G5 was either not supported or not very functional under these two OSes.  (NetBSD, for example, had no support for the onboard SATA controller and so could only run diskless via netbooting.)
> I just looked at the FreeBSD/ppc project Web page and was happy to see the Apple Xserve G5 as reported as running for FreeBSD 8.1.  Can anyone tell me whether this runs fully for the stock Xserve G5 hardware, or does it have some serious limitations to deployment, as mentioned for NetBSD above?

It is fully supported, and we use G5 xserves for building PPC binary 
packages, so they are quite stable. The only caveat is that 64-bit PPC 
support will first be appearing in the 9.0 release series, so you will 
only be able to use 2 of the 4 GB of RAM in your machines with 8.1.
> The Xserve G5 hardware we have is as follows:
> Machine Model: Xserve G5
> CPU Type: PowerPC G5 (3.0)
> Number of CPUs: 2
> CPU Speed: 2.3 GHz
> L2 Cache (per CPU): 512 KB
> Memory: 4 GB
> Bus Speed: 1.15 GHz
> Boot ROM Version: 5.1.7f2
> This appears to be same specification as described at this Web page:
> Assuming this hardware is fully supported, I'd be looking to do a clean install of FreeBSD onto it (replacing Mac OS X).  I looked at the ISO install instructions at the FreeBSD/ppc project Web page but they are written for "FreeBSD/PPC 6.0-RELEASE install.iso" and state right at the top that G5 is not supported.  Hence, they don't offer any advice regarding installing onto a headless, keyboardless Xserve G5. :-)
> Does anyone have any more up-to-date instructions?  I've run -CURRENT on NetBSD/alpha, NetBSD/pmax, and FreeBSD/i386 before, so running on the bleeding edge is within my comfort zone.

I have put a more recent install guide at Thanks for 
pointing out the old link on the web site -- I'll try to get that fixed. 
You should also be aware that the GENERIC kernel on PPC does not have 
SMP enabled by default, so you will likely want to build a new kernel 
after installation.

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