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Installing OS4 and Debian on the same harddisk

This is a step by step guide to installing AmigaOS4 and GNU/Linux Debian on the same harddisk.


  • It is not currently possible to install OS4 using an SiI680 IDE card. Debian, however, can be installed using such a card. Details on how to add SiI680 support are given throughout the guide.
    With regard to SiI680 support generally, see Notes.
    Specific notes for those who intend to use a motherboard-mounted VIA controller (as found on the AmigaOne-XE) are also included in this guide.
  • For users who wish to install the operating systems on separate harddisks, the steps apply precisely as they are outlined below; users merely need to ensure that they indicate the correct drive names where prompted to do so.
  • This guide is provided with no warranty whatsoever; the author assumes no responsibility for any possible damage, physical or otherwise, resulting from following the steps outlined here. Readers should note that there is a DMA problem when using GNU/Linux on the AmigaOne-XE models (possibly not on the micro-A1 - so far, test details are still lacking) which may lead to data corruption or loss. This guide outlines steps to be taken to avoid this, but this is no guarantee that all problems will be avoided. You should most certainly make backups of any data which you wish to preserve prior to following any of the steps detailed here.
  • This guide may, of course, be freely distributed.


You will require the following:


  1. Halt the boot countdown by pressing a key other than enter.
  2. In the "Integrated peripherals" section of the menu, delete the config name (normally "Default"); this will enable the second level bootloader menu.

Installing OS4

  1. Begin installing OS4 in accordance with the OS4 installation guide.
  2. When partitioning the harddisk, be sure to create:
    • At least one partition for OS4
    • At least one partition for Debian (filesystem-identifier: 4C4E5800 [LNX\00]); this must be made bootable.
    • A swap partition for Debian (filesystem-identifier: 53575000 [SWP\00])
    • Note that these are minimum requirements. The OS4 installation guide also mentions OS4 swap space, for example; create other partitions as you require.
    • Make a note of the order of the partitions.
  3. Complete the OS4 installation.
  4. If you own the first OS4 update CD (10.10.2004), then install this (SiI680 users require this step).

Installing Debian

  1. Boot from the AmigaOne Debian boot CD as described in the AmigaOne Debian installation guide. The following points are not addressed in the guide:
    • Debian addresses harddisk as /dev/hdX. 'X' is determined as follows:
      • Harddisk plugged into primary IDE port, master - /dev/hda
      • Harddisk plugged into primary IDE port, slave - /dev/hdb
      • Harddisk plugged into secondary IDE port, master - /dev/hdc
      • Harddisk plugged into secondary IDE port, slave - /dev/hdd
      Debian addresses partitions as /dev/hdXY; thus the first primary partition is /dev/hdX1, the second /dev/hdX2, and so on.
      Using the information above, determine the name of your Debian root partition (/dev/hdXY).
      NOTE: this is a rather cut down explanation of naming; it will probably suffice for an initial installation, but see, for example, for further details.
    • VIA users: When setting the bootargs variable, it is recommended that you include
         ide=nodma; thus, for example:
      setenv bootargs root=/dev/hda4 video=radeon:1024x768-8@70 l2cr=0x80000000 ide=nodma
      This will prevent the installation from occurring in DMA mode; the kernel on the installation CD includes a workaround to address various DMA issues, but it has not been my experience that this is entirely reliable using the VIA chipset.
    • Make a note of the full bootargs variable setting.
  2. Follow the installation steps as prompted by the installer and the AmigaOne Debian installation guide.
  3. When the installer offers to make the system bootable, press the key combination ALT F2 to swap to the ash console.
  4. Issue the following commands at the prompt:
    • cd /target/boot/ (takes you to the /boot/ directory).
    • nano-tiny a1boot.conf (starts nano-tiny, a small text editor; a1boot.conf is the boot configuration file for Debian on the AmigaOne).
    • VIA users: enter the following line:
         Linux /boot/kernel-2.4.26.img
      followed by the bootargs as mentioned in step 1 of this section.
      An example line:
         Linux /boot/kernel-2.4.22.img root=/dev/hda4 video=radeon:1024x768-8@70 l2cr=0x80000000 ide=nodma
    • SiI680 users: enter the following line:
         Linux-SiI680 /boot/kernel-2.4.26.img
      followed be the bootargs as mentioned in step 1 of this section; if you intend only to use the IDE ports on the SiI680, replace ide=nodma with ide=reverse (this will ensure that the naming as described in step 1 of this section still holds true), and add the options hde=noprobe and hdf=noprobe (ensures that the AmigaOne's internal IDE ports are not probed).
      An example line for SiI680 users:
         Linux-SiI680 /boot/kernel-2.4.26.img root=/dev/hda4 video=radeon:1024x768-8@70 l2cr=0x80000000 ide=reverse hde=noprobe hdf=noprobe
    • Press the key combination CTRL X followed by the Y key and then the ENTER key to exit and save the file.
  5. Press the key combination ALT F1 to return to the installer, and select the "reboot" option.
  6. You may find that you need to switch your AmigaOne off and then on again after this.
  7. On boot, you should now be presented with a menu along the following lines:

    1: Amiga OS4 (Default)
    2: Amiga OS4 (Debug)
    3: Linux
    4: Linux-SiI680

    You can use the arrow keys, number keys and ENTER key to navigate and select your OS. Select "Linux" to complete the installation.


OS4 and Debian are now set up. Note that Debian Woody is, by modern standards, a very old version of the operating system, and should be updated.


This guide was drawn up with the help of the thread "OS4 & Debian dual booting experience (edited)". Thanks goes to all those who contributed.

Written by: William 'WilleKe/ntm' White

Last updated: 25th December 2004.
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