Setting Up Your Mac to be a Linux Netinstall Server

So, installing Linux from a CD or DVD didn’t work out for you. I guess it’s time to learn how to turn your Mac into a Linux netinstall server. Grab a couple of Mountain Dews, fill up on Cheetos, and let’s get cracking. There’s a fair bit of work to be done.

When all else fails, you can use your Mac as a Linux netinstall server to get Debian running on your PowerBook (Image Credit: Gergely)

Starting to Set Up Your Mac as a Linux Netinstall Server

This first step is the trickiest part of setting up your Mac as a Linux netinstall server. You’ll need to get macOS’s built-in Tiny File Transfer Protocol (TFTP) server working properly. FTP servers aren’t configured very intuitively in the first place. Apple makes this problem even more profound in macOS.

By default, the TFTP server in macOS hosts all of its files in /private/tftpboot. This is problematic, because that folder can cause permissions and ownership problems. I recommend moving it, but it ain’t that easy. First, you need to disable System Integrity Protection (SIP).

To disable SIP, you’ll have to boot to your recovery partition. You do that by rebooting and holding Option-R during the startup process. When Recovery mode boots, launch Terminal and enter this command:

csrutil disable

Then reboot back into normal macOS. Once logged in, open a Terminal window and issue these commands, one at a time:

mkdir /Users/[username]/tftpboot
chown [username]:staff /users/[username]/tftpboot
chmod a+rx /Users/[username]/tftpboot
chmod u+w /Users/[username]/tftpboot
sudo rm -rf /private/tftpboot
sudo ln -sf /Users/[username]tftpboot /private/tftpboot

These commands create the tftpboot directory, change ownership of the directory to your username and the “staff” group, and then change the permissions to make the directory accessible. Even though we only give your user account write permission, this can be a security concern. Make sure you shut down your TFTP server when you aren’t using it.

Testing TFTP to Make…

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