Trisquel on ppc64el: Talos II

The release notes for Trisquel 11.0 “Aramo” mention support for POWER and ARM architectures, however the download area only contains links for x86, and forum posts suggest there is a lack of instructions how to run Trisquel on non-x86.

Since the release of Trisquel 11 I have been busy migrating x86 machines from Debian to Trisquel. One would think that I would be finished after this time period, but re-installing and migrating machines is really time consuming, especially if you allow yourself to be distracted every time you notice something that Really Ought to be improved. Rabbit holes all the way down. One of my production machines is running Debian 11 “bullseye” on a Talos II Lite machine from Raptor Computing Systems, and migrating the virtual machines running on that host (including the VM that serves this blog) to a x86 machine running Trisquel felt unsatisfying to me. I want to migrate my computing towards hardware that harmonize with FSF’s Respects Your Freedom and not away from it. Here I had to chose between using the non-free software present in newer Debian or the non-free software implied by most x86 systems: not an easy chose. So I have ignored the dilemma for some time. After all, the machine was running Debian 11 “bullseye”, which was released before Debian started to require use of non-free software. With the end-of-life date for bullseye approaching, it seems that this isn’t a sustainable choice.

There is a report open about providing ppc64el ISOs that was created by Jason Self shortly after the release, but for many months nothing happened. About a month ago, Luis Guzmán mentioned an initial ISO build and I started testing it. The setup has worked well for a month, and with this post I want to contribute instructions how to get it up and running since this is still missing.

The setup of my soon-to-be new production machine:

  • Talos II Lite
  • POWER9 18-core v2 CPU
  • Inter-Tech 4U-4410 rack case with ASPOWER power supply
  • 8x32GB DDR4-2666 ECC RDIMM
  • HighPoint SSD7505 (the Rocket 1504 or 1204 would be a more cost-effective choice, but I re-used a component I had laying around)
  • PERC H700 aka LSI MegaRAID 2108 SAS/SATA (also found laying around)
  • 2x1TB NVMe
  • 3x18TB disks

According to the notes in issue 14 the ISO image is available at and the following commands download, integrity check and write it to a USB stick:

wget -q
tar xfa debian-installer-images_20210731+deb11u8+11.0trisquel14_ppc64el.tar.gz ./installer-ppc64el/20210731+deb11u8+11/images/netboot/mini.iso
echo '6df8f45fbc0e7a5fadf039e9de7fa2dc57a4d466e95d65f2eabeec80577631b7  ./installer-ppc64el/20210731+deb11u8+11/images/netboot/mini.iso' | sha256sum -c
sudo wipefs -a /dev/sdX
sudo dd if=./installer-ppc64el/20210731+deb11u8+11/images/netboot/mini.iso of=/dev/sdX conv=sync status=progress

Sadly, no hash checksums or OpenPGP signatures are published.

Power off your device, insert the USB stick, and power it up, and you see a Petitboot menu offering to boot from the USB stick. For some reason, the "Expert Install" was the default in the menu, and instead I select "Default Install" for the regular experience. For this post, I will ignore BMC/IPMI, as interacting with it is not necessary. Make sure to not connect the BMC/IPMI ethernet port unless you are willing to enter that dungeon. The VGA console works fine with a normal USB keyboard, and you can chose to use only the second enP4p1s0f1 network card in the network card selection menu.

If you are familiar with Debian netinst ISO’s, the installation is straight-forward. I complicate the setup by partitioning two RAID1 partitions on the two NVMe sticks, one RAID1 for a 75GB ext4 root filesystem (discard,noatime) and one RAID1 for a 900GB LVM volume group for virtual machines, and two 20GB swap partitions on each of the NVMe sticks (to silence a warning about lack of swap, I’m not sure swap is still a good idea?). The 3x18TB disks use DM-integrity with RAID1 however the installer does not support DM-integrity so I had to create it after the installation.

There are two additional matters worth mentioning:

  • Selecting the apt mirror does not have the list of well-known Trisquel mirrors which the x86 installer offers. Instead I have to input the archive mirror manually, and fortunately the hostname and path values are available as defaults, so I just press enter and fix this after the installation has finished. You may want to have the hostname/path of your local mirror handy, to speed things up.
  • The installer asks me which kernel to use, which the x86 installer does not do. I believe older Trisquel/Ubuntu installers asked this question, but that it was gone in aramo on x86. I select the default “linux-image-generic” which gives me a predictable 5.15 Linux-libre kernel, although you may want to chose “linux-image-generic-hwe-11.0” for a more recent 6.2 Linux-libre kernel. Maybe this is intentional debinst-behaviour for non-x86 platforms?

I have re-installed the machine a couple of times, and have now finished installing the production setup. I haven’t ran into any serious issues, and the system has been stable. Time to wrap up, and celebrate that I now run an operating system aligned with the Free System Distribution Guidelines on hardware that aligns with Respects Your Freedom — Happy Hacking indeed!

12 Replies to “Trisquel on ppc64el: Talos II”

  1. Shame the hardware isn’t cheaper. I have it running on QEMU, but the desktop is very slow. How’s the performance?

    Also, note that Debian doesn’t force you to install non-free software, specially if you don’t reinstall.

    • Thanks for reading! They have increased the price, I was lucky to buy my machines some time ago when they were perhaps 50% cheaper.

      Yeah I imagine QEMU is slow. My experience is that ppc64el QEMU feels slower than arm QEMU for some reason, at least on my x86 laptop.

      My production Talos II Lite machine (18-core v2 CPU) running Debian since almost 2 years now feels snappy (it is hosting this blog, and several other VM’s including disk-intensive compilation hosts). It is comparable to my Dell R630 2x2680v3 x86 server when building and re-installing virtual machines and doing other normal operations. I suspect that a proper benchmark would put the R630 ahead of my Talos (which is single-CPU only). During interactive use, I don’t notice any significant difference one way or the other.

      My concern with non-free software in Debian is that the installer now includes non-free software, so you can’t install Debian without downloading non-free software any longer. I have lost trust in the Debian community to guard against non-free software, since the majority of members don’t appear to regard this as a serious issue. I don’t feel confident that upgrades won’t pull on non-free packages eventually. For example the releases notes for Debian 12.1 mentions several non-free packages – – and I suspect this will just get worse over time rather than better.


      • Downloading the installer may include non-free software. It may even allow you to install Debian when you would otherwise be unable to – but it’s definitely not mandatory and you have the option to remove all of it, leaving you in exactly the same place as if you had downloaded a Trisquel once installed.

        Given the option of Debian being entirely open about what is happening, unlike some other distributions, and being able to install an OS and then choose to uninstall packages (and not to include the non-free-firmware repository) or not being able to install at all, which is better for all users?

        I note also that this is being syndicated on – is there a that might be more appropriate for you?

        • Hi Andy! I think the difference between the Debian 12 installer and the Trisquel installer (or even the Debian 11 installer) is that the Debian 12 installer contains non-free code. It may not run it by default, but I’m concerned with presence of the non-free code in the first place.

          I’m not aware of a, but I’m hoping the site is not inappropriate for discussion about derivatives?


  2. I strongly prefer a fully free distribution for my Talos II. I still use Debian as my main system, and I installed GUIX when it was released for PPC64. Later I tried out Triquel as a dualboot option.

  3. Can you xpain more this “you can chose to use only the second enP4p1s0f1 network card in the network card selection menu.”?
    I had a blackbird and without success to get wifi , as i got a message that not any controller network was found.

    • Hi! The Talos II has two physical ethernet RJ45 connectors, and they show up in the installer as enP4p1s0f0 and enP4p1s0f1. The first port is overlaid with BMC/IPMI and you may not want to expose that to your local untrusted network. I don’t know if the Blackbird uses a differenet ethernet controller or how that would show up… sorry! Wifi is often problematic, so I suggest using a normal PCI ethernet card that is known to work with Trisquel if the built-in Blackbird ethernet controller is causing problems.


      • Thanks for reply, Blackbird it have 3 ethernet port, so yeah one ethernet port is for BMC, however not any port is detected by the netinstaller, so i already talked with Luis Guzman to include all trisquel to iso to install it offline.
        It’s weird that net installer doesn’t detect any ethernet port in Blackbird, it’s assumed that blackbird is libre


        • Interesting – both Talos and Blackbird uses BCM5719 and it works by default on Talos. Maybe kernel log contain some hints? A USB ethernet adapter may help to get it installed.

          • Hello i got install Gnu Trisquel 11, by using a old libre wifi card it was detected by netinstaller, i got huge issues on way to get installed but i did. At the moment writing this message from Blackbird and Trisquel. : )
            However i still have issue to burning new firmware to BMC, to fix wrong DATE and SUSPEND.
            Can you Simon create a Blog or Video to see howto get connect to BMC through Ethernet port ip address.
            Thanks of advance.

  4. FWIW, I can confirm that more recent ISO image from 2023-10-07 also works okay. SHA256 checksum on tarball:

    d46bf2b5a9bf4ba33493da3256089130d0ecad436e4d2412d2ae7e0caf41887b debian-installer-images_20210731+deb11u9+11.0trisquel14_ppc64el.tar.gz

  5. Pingback: Trisquel on arm64: Ampere Altra – Simon Josefsson's blog