Current support for Xserve G5

Paul Mather paul at
Fri Jun 11 00:23:22 UTC 2010

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?

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.



PS: If it turns out that FreeBSD is not well-supported on the Xserve G5 but you know of some other Open Source OS that is, please chime in with suggestions.

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