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VirtuallyInsane

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Nov 16, 2018
333
433
Are there any PowerPC Linux/Ubuntu/Alternative that's not Lubuntu (already tried 16.04, it's not bad but it's not for me) and Feinix doesn't load (I used a DVD R like they said to, and it doesn't want to work after I install it) and will run well on my PowerBook G4?

My specs are:

PowerbookG4 12"
1 GHz RAM
1.25 GB RAM

It runs decent (though not perfect) on Tiger and is a bit crap on Leopard (and I don't want to keep it on Leopard and go through all the commands/download things to improve the performance when Tiger runs much better), but I am looking a lightweight, modern alternative with all the basic programs (a fast browser that's not based around InterWeb PPC/ TFF G4/7450 Version- it runs too slow, but it works fine on my iMac G5), with a fan control app and a good range of apps.

Oh yeah, it has to be easy to install as well. I am a complete Linux noob. And if it can dual boot/not take up the whole partition, even better.

Any suggestions? Thank you.
 
Are there any PowerPC Linux/Ubuntu/Alternative that's not Lubuntu (already tried 16.04, it's not bad but it's not for me) and Feinix doesn't load (I used a DVD R like they said to, and it doesn't want to work after I install it) and will run well on my PowerBook G4?

My specs are:

PowerbookG4 12"
1 GHz RAM
1.25 GB RAM

It runs decent (though not perfect) on Tiger and is a bit crap on Leopard (and I don't want to keep it on Leopard and go through all the commands/download things to improve the performance when Tiger runs much better), but I am looking a lightweight, modern alternative with all the basic programs (a fast browser that's not based around InterWeb PPC/ TFF G4/7450 Version- it runs too slow, but it works fine on my iMac G5), with a fan control app and a good range of apps.

Oh yeah, it has to be easy to install as well. I am a complete Linux noob. And if it can dual boot/not take up the whole partition, even better.

Any suggestions? Thank you.

I’ma pull up the SuperWikiPost from this forum to throw out the ideas of trying out maybe Void Linux, Debian sid, or even Adelie Linux as other versions which might work. OpenBSD might be another to look into. There’s also MorphOS (the direct descendant of Amiga), which has kind of an interesting licence but is known to work well on most G4s.
 

Dronecatcher

macrumors 603
Jun 17, 2014
5,209
7,795
Lincolnshire, UK
I am looking a lightweight, modern alternative with all the basic programs
Which doesn't really exist for PowerPC - closest is Morphos but it's not compatible with your GPU.
Any other OS that is modern is also heavier than Tiger and Leopard - unless you run it from console which will limit you considerably.

You also said you're a Linux noob - Linux hates noobs - be prepared to get your head down and start learning terminal commands :)

The Lubuntu remixes from @wicknix are your best noob friendly Linux installs but if you're prepared to suffer a little, Void makes most sense - but you'll never escape the basic truth of using old hardware to try and run modern code.

I say stick with Tiger or Leopard, slim the installs down to the bone and enjoy all the abandonware made specifically for your hardware :)
 

AphoticD

macrumors 68020
Feb 17, 2017
2,283
3,462
It has gotten to the stage now where you really can't do all the modern things on your 20 year old PowerBook G4. It's a great little machine, but you've got to make a special use for it. Like finding your fave retro games or dedicating the machine to a specific task (or range of tasks). The general purpose use-case of a newer Mac or PC just isn't going to apply here.

I use my PowerBook G4 almost daily with a trimmed down Tiger (i.e disabled spotlight, dashboard, and a few other background tasks), as I chip away at my various projects in Xcode and Textwrangler. I can quite easily run Remote Desktop [Admin] (or ssh) on Tiger to connect to and control all my other Macs to get quick access to a modern browser and my file servers.

There are PowerPC Macs being used for tasks like audio production and writing, but going online is getting trickier as each year passes. In saying that, we have simple, lightweight workarounds - Like using Retrozilla w/ Frongfind as a super-lean search console with the tone of the 2000's era.

I can quite easily install modern versions of tools like git, curl, python3, zsh (w/ oh-my-zsh) using MacPorts and run the old iTerm on Tiger and I am happy tinkering away on my PB12" with a decent battery for quite a few hours at a time each night, before getting thrown back into all the modern tech and services in my day job.

To kind of answer the OP; Of all the alternative operating systems for these Macs, I keep coming back to Tiger (and Leopard on the top-end G4s and G5s) as nothing else feels "quite right" and has been full of shortcomings or sub-par performance when compared to OS X. This is purely opinion, but could be part of the reason why most PowerPC linux distros have come to a halt.
 
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TheShortTimer

macrumors 68030
Mar 27, 2017
2,790
4,916
London, UK
It runs decent (though not perfect) on Tiger and is a bit crap on Leopard (and I don't want to keep it on Leopard and go through all the commands/download things to improve the performance when Tiger runs much better), but I am looking a lightweight, modern alternative with all the basic programs (a fast browser that's not based around InterWeb PPC/ TFF G4/7450 Version- it runs too slow, but it works fine on my iMac G5), with a fan control app and a good range of apps.

Oh yeah, it has to be easy to install as well. I am a complete Linux noob. And if it can dual boot/not take up the whole partition, even better.

I concur with the other posters, especially @Dronecatcher. If you don't want to "go through all the commands/download things to improve the performance" of Leopard, then Linux on a PPC Mac really won't be good choice for you because a significant amount of time and effort will be spent doing exactly that - and unlike macOS, there'll be no guarantee that it will even yield success. A couple of years ago I attempted to set-up Linux on an Intel Mac and eventually threw in the towel after weeks of troubleshooting.

Stay with Tiger and tweak Leopard - actually tweak both of them. It would only take a couple of hours at the most. You won't get through Linux that quickly, especially as a noob... :)
 
I concur with the other posters, especially @Dronecatcher. If you don't want to "go through all the commands/download things to improve the performance" of Leopard, then Linux on a PPC Mac really won't be good choice for you because a significant amount of time and effort will be spent doing exactly that - and unlike macOS, there'll be no guarantee that it will even yield success. A couple of years ago I attempted to set-up Linux on an Intel Mac and eventually threw in the towel after weeks of troubleshooting.

Stay with Tiger and tweak Leopard - actually tweak both of them. It would only take a couple of hours at the most. You won't get through Linux that quickly, especially as a noob... :)

Adding to all the helpful advice supplied by everyone here, we have a post which summarizes some of the bigger, mostly one-time tweaks one can make with Leopard on The Leopard Thread wikipost.
 

Amethyst1

macrumors G3
Oct 28, 2015
9,409
11,563
I am looking a lightweight, modern alternative with all the basic programs (a fast browser that's not based around InterWeb PPC/ TFF G4/7450 Version- it runs too slow, but it works fine on my iMac G5), with a fan control app and a good range of apps.
It's a shame that the 12" PB's GPU rules it out, because MorphOS seems to tick most of the boxes. It's modern, lightweight, fast and has a "decent" browser, plus the ability to run 68k Amiga applications.
 

Doq

macrumors 6502
Dec 8, 2019
474
721
The Lab DX
I made a post on my blog about this very topic and while it's non-exhaustive and very Linux-focused there's way more options than you might think.

If you follow the guide, Debian is quite easy to get going, but if you're seriously allergic to the terminal than maybe not.

OS X is the play, unless significant progress happens on the PowerPC port of Haiku-- highly unlikely.



Sidebar, if your RAM is running at 1GHz I'm concerned please return it to stock clock speed before something goes wrong. 😅
 

lepidotós

macrumors 6502a
Aug 29, 2021
668
743
Marinette, Arizona
I made a post on my blog about this very topic
Add in sections for CRUX and BonSlack when you get the time to dive back in! They're still maintained as well, although BonSlack (by extension of Slackware) 15.0 is a lot heavier than 14.2, asking for at least 1GB RAM, which limits you to the last G3s and later. T2 SDE also still supports ppc32 and 64, but it's less a distribution and more a distribution maker. I'll be playing around with it once I get the chance.​
 
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Doq

macrumors 6502
Dec 8, 2019
474
721
The Lab DX
Add in sections for CRUX and BonSlack when you get the time to dive back in! They're still maintained as well, although BonSlack (by extension of Slackware) 15.0 is a lot heavier than 14.2, asking for at least 1GB RAM, which limits you to the last G3s and later. T2 SDE also still supports ppc32 and 64, but it's less a distribution and more a distribution maker. I'll be playing around with it once I get the chance.​
I will keep a note of these as I'm considering putting together stratum tarballs for Bedrock on PPC.
 
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mortlocli

macrumors 6502a
Feb 23, 2020
686
635
FreeBsd 13.2 was announced yesterday on distrowatch, including one for PPC. I've never tried it but think it's rather tricky to set up. Guess that's the latest one out there??

I too agree with the others..the last Mac OS for your system is the smooth way to go..Linux if you like (or have the time) to tinker.
 

lepidotós

macrumors 6502a
Aug 29, 2021
668
743
Marinette, Arizona
@Doq Patrick Volkerding still supports Slackware 14.x alongside 15.0, so BonSlack 14.2 should still be a viable option for G3s and, according to the website, even 600s (though that might just be a descriptor for ppc32 as a whole).

@mortlocli I tried FreeBSD 13.1 on Benbridge a couple of months ago, but it didn't go well. Radeon isn't supported, whereas it is with Linux. FreeBSD kind of gives me the feeling it's preoccupied with servers, where OpenBSD feels more like a free software purist's laptop OS. It even has drivers for the pgt wireless card in my Sharp PC-MM2, and maybe the Transmeta AGP bus but I don't know how to enable that.​
 

mortlocli

macrumors 6502a
Feb 23, 2020
686
635
Yes..I've read of those sorts of experiences before..kinda seems like PPC was included almost like an afterthought. I would have liked to have seen Haiku on a PPC..has a cute factor.
 
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Yes..I've read of those sorts of experiences before..kinda seems like PPC was included almost like an afterthought. I would have liked to have seen Haiku on a PPC..has a cute factor.

The BeOS-Haiku gap for G3–G5-era Power PC Macs was always a bit of a head-scratcher: that would have been a wonderful place to at least start the Haiku project after the last Be-on-PPC Macs were the “G2” 604s.
 

mortlocli

macrumors 6502a
Feb 23, 2020
686
635
The BeOS-Haiku gap for G3–G5-era Power PC Macs was always a bit of a head-scratcher: that would have been a wonderful place to at least start the Haiku project after the last Be-on-PPC Macs were the “G2” 604s.
Maybe that was because they thought Apple was going to buy them out..so held off making it available???
but instead Apple went for the NeXT OS. They only offered. BeOS about a third of wot they paid for NeXT which also included Jobs coming back as well.

Not sure if the time frame fits for that...but yeah - is a puzzle as to wot was going on to have missed that opportunity. Money factors..?
 
Maybe that was because they thought Apple was going to buy them out..so held off making it available???
but instead Apple went for the NeXT OS. They only BeOS offered about a third of wot they paid for NeXT which also included Jobs coming back as well.

Not sure if the time frame fits for that...but yeah - is a puzzle as to wot was going on to have missed that opportunity. Money factors..?

The late ’90s, ca. 1996–97, was when Be were hoping to drag Apple hardware into the next decade/century, so yes, by the time the first G3s went out the door, Steve had found his way in the door, kicking out Be in the process, along with all the Mac clone hardware. The BeBox never had a chance.

Thinking of a different multiverse in which Apple bought out Be and their developers, to be subsumed into Apple, but several years later, passed on doing the same with PA Semi, letting PA Semi to fully realize the optimized outcome of multicore, low-power PowerPC chips. :D
 

VirtuallyInsane

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Nov 16, 2018
333
433
I’ma pull up the SuperWikiPost from this forum to throw out the ideas of trying out maybe Void Linux, Debian sid, or even Adelie Linux as other versions which might work. OpenBSD might be another to look into. There’s also MorphOS (the direct descendant of Amiga), which has kind of an interesting licence but is known to work well on most G4s.

Oh yeah, I tried Adelie as well but I couldn't get it installed because I needed an ethernet connection and I didn't have an ethernet cable at the time, so I forfieted it. It was also a bit slow to load at times. I hear Debian is meant to be good. I know OpenBSD from Action Retro. He put it on a G3 Machine, I think and it seemed to run well on it.

Is MorphOS the one you pay for a full license? If so, I saw some videos on that, and it seems a bit limited for my tastes. But I didn't know it worked well on G4 too.

Which doesn't really exist for PowerPC - closest is Morphos but it's not compatible with your GPU.
Any other OS that is modern is also heavier than Tiger and Leopard - unless you run it from console which will limit you considerably.

Yeah I wouldn't want anything heavier than Tiger/Leopard to be honest lol. And running it from the console doesn't really seem ideal to me.

You also said you're a Linux noob - Linux hates noobs - be prepared to get your head down and start learning terminal commands :)

The Lubuntu remixes from @wicknix are your best noob friendly Linux installs but if you're prepared to suffer a little, Void makes most sense - but you'll never escape the basic truth of using old hardware to try and run modern code.

Yeah, I didn't think that Linux disliked noobs that much though. I like the concept of Linux in theory and running it on a PowerPC machine, but in practice it doesn't seem to fare well, unless you have a High End G4/G5. I only have one G5 Machine (my iMac) and I don't want to mess with it until I upgrade the Harddrive to something better.

I had a go with Lubuntu 16.04 and it worked alright but it was a bit too slow on the Powerbook G4. But I guess you're right. I should go with the software that runs on it and it was designed for, even if it's been out of date for the past 14 years, at least. (Well, 15-16 for me now that I am just running Tiger).

I say stick with Tiger or Leopard, slim the installs down to the bone and enjoy all the abandonware made specifically for your hardware :)

Yeah, I am trying to optimise Tiger for this machine; it has a 250 GB SSD installed in it, I put 10.4.11 on it for the meantime, and I installed lightweight programs (FStream, Arctic Fox works much better than Interweb or TFF on it, I did some things in settings).

It has a big enough space, if I ever change my mind and want to dual boot Linux. IF anything good ever comes out.

It has gotten to the stage now where you really can't do all the modern things on your 20 year old PowerBook G4. It's a great little machine, but you've got to make a special use for it. Like finding your fave retro games or dedicating the machine to a specific task (or range of tasks). The general purpose use-case of a newer Mac or PC just isn't going to apply here.

I use my PowerBook G4 almost daily with a trimmed down Tiger (i.e disabled spotlight, dashboard, and a few other background tasks), as I chip away at my various projects in Xcode and Textwrangler. I can quite easily run Remote Desktop [Admin] (or ssh) on Tiger to connect to and control all my other Macs to get quick access to a modern browser and my file servers.

Yeah, it's a shame because I love the design and the 4:3 aspect ratio of it, and the iBooks too. I used to have a 14 inch iBook and I loved the screen on that. But now, it doesn't want to work. I was using it as my main portable Leopard machine until I got my firewire enclosure.

But yeah, I am using the PB G4 for radio stations, some writing and light web surfing. Nothing overly severe. It kinda sits on my desk as a media player of sorts. It can run video fine from PPCMC as well. And I am trying to strip it down as much as I can. Spotlight is a killer and I am glad I turned it off.

I can also stream music in VLC/iTunes by taking it from files/my Mac Mini server. It works a treat most of the time. It's good you can use yours for programming and screen share too. Stuff like that is simple enough.

There are PowerPC Macs being used for tasks like audio production and writing, but going online is getting trickier as each year passes. In saying that, we have simple, lightweight workarounds - Like using Retrozilla w/ Frongfind as a super-lean search console with a 2000's era tone.

I can quite easily install modern versions of tools like git, curl, python3, zsh (w/ oh-my-zsh) using MacPorts and run the old iTerm on Tiger and I am happy tinkering away on my PB12" with a decent battery for quite a few hours at a time each night, before getting thrown back into all the modern tech and services in my day job.

Frogfind is a cool search engine. Used it on my iMac G5 before to tinker around, and I like it.

Yeah, I can write for a good while on my iBook 12 inch (that is pretty much primarily a writing machine now) without being distracted, which is nice. It's good to be supported on an older machine for your needs, whenever you can be.
To kind of answer the OP; Of all the alternative operating systems for these Macs, I keep coming back to Tiger (and Leopard on the top-end G4s and G5s) as nothing else feels "quite right" and has been full of shortcomings or sub-par performance when compared to OS X. This is purely opinion, but could be part of the reason why most PowerPC linux distros have come to a halt.

Maybe I should just run Tiger, then. Linux is a nice concept, but if Tiger/Leopard is the most stable, then I might as well stay with them for now.

I concur with the other posters, especially @Dronecatcher. If you don't want to "go through all the commands/download things to improve the performance" of Leopard, then Linux on a PPC Mac really won't be good choice for you because a significant amount of time and effort will be spent doing exactly that - and unlike macOS, there'll be no guarantee that it will even yield success. A couple of years ago I attempted to set-up Linux on an Intel Mac and eventually threw in the towel after weeks of troubleshooting.

Oof. Weeks? That's so annoying! It's annoying that it didn't tell you the exact file that was corrupting the Linux version on your Air. I thought it would actually run better on an Intel Mac, and be more supported.

Stay with Tiger and tweak Leopard - actually tweak both of them. It would only take a couple of hours at the most. You won't get through Linux that quickly, especially as a noob... :)

Yeah, I think I will do that lol. I am sure it would take me some time and dedication to do that; if it took me almost a whole day to create an HTML 4 website page from scratch, I can't imagine how long it would take to learn Linux lol.

Adding to all the helpful advice supplied by everyone here, we have a post which summarizes some of the bigger, mostly one-time tweaks one can make with Leopard on The Leopard Thread wikipost.

Thank you, I'll have a look. Tweaking Leopard will help a lot. I tweaked Tiger and it runs a lot better now.

It's a shame that the 12" PB's GPU rules it out, because MorphOS seems to tick most of the boxes. It's modern, lightweight, fast and has a "decent" browser, plus the ability to run 68k Amiga applications.

Yeah. I bet it probably would have ran better on my 14 inch iBook lol. It was 1.33 GHz and running Leopard before it died on me (should fix that someday, or try to).

I made a post on my blog about this very topic and while it's non-exhaustive and very Linux-focused there's way more options than you might think.

If you follow the guide, Debian is quite easy to get going, but if you're seriously allergic to the terminal than maybe not.

OS X is the play, unless significant progress happens on the PowerPC port of Haiku-- highly unlikely.

Thank you, I had a look and you have a decent list there. Some of those options, I would never have thought about or considered using, or knew existed. I bookmarked your blog to come back to.

Yeah, I would need to spend some time learning all the commands and remembering them to use Terminal.

Hasn't Haiku been in development for years and nothing really has happened? That's a bit of a bummer but oh well, nothing we can do about it.

Sidebar, if your RAM is running at 1GHz I'm concerned please return it to stock clock speed before something goes wrong. 😅

Lol, I mean my processor is 1 GHz ;) My RAM is like 133 MHz BUS speed or something. Yeah 133 lol.
 

lepidotós

macrumors 6502a
Aug 29, 2021
668
743
Marinette, Arizona
Yeah, I didn't think that Linux disliked noobs that much though.
It doesn't, it's an emotionless jambalaya of software. What it is, is powerful and doesn't prevent you from doing things not in your own best interest -- but if you're willing to understand that it is something different and not try to apply a mindset from a completely different OS, you shouldn't have a problem with it.
In many ways, 2009 was still well in the early cosmic background radiation of the Linux desktop (sysvinit was still king, stable releases were the default, Wayland was but a twinkle in Red Hat's eye, and rpmdrake was the height of graphical package management), but 7-8 year old me wasn't set in my ways so I came to learn it and it's as brainlessly easy to use now as Windows is for most people, and less time consuming to set up and keep maintained. Plus, more universal.
My personal experience with both ppc (Void, Debian Sid) and amd64 (Slackware, Kubuntu, Fedora, Mageia) is that it's set up and forget the terminal exists if you want it to be. The only legitimate purpose I open the terminal up for on my daily driver Surface Laptop 3 running Fedora 37 is to install or update software, something I could do with dnfdragora but that doesn't work for whatever reason (maybe wayland?). That's not to say killing X and just going tmux+wordgrinder+links+etc. isn't fun, but it isn't necessary, either.​
 
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wicknix

macrumors 68030
Jun 4, 2017
2,607
5,266
Wisconsin, USA
It has gotten to the stage now where you really can't do all the modern things on your 20 year old PowerBook G4
Ehh, i beg to differ a little here. There isn’t much i can’t do on my 12” PB running Void Linux. Now, i’m not a gamer, so take that out of the equation. I can browse the modern web with a few 2022 webkit based browsers, i can watch and download YT videos, i can stream Twitch streams, i can even stream to Twitch, i have an up to date office suite, i have multiple ways to stream and download music, i have multiple ways to create music, i can listen to ham radio, railroads, local radio, country rescue etc, i can edit audio/video, i can use discord web (or connect through other 3rd party means), i have a current build environment to compile pretty much anything i want, etc etc. Other than a few DRM locked down services (skype, zoom, etc) there isn’t much that little 12” PB can’t do. Sadly Void is now EOL, but a recompile of specific software here and there will keep my PB updated enough for quite a while yet.

Any other OS that is modern is also heavier than Tiger and Leopard
I really do enjoy Tiger/Leopard, but honestly, i have more installed in 4gb on Void than what Tiger requires for space to install. So by that right, a properly configured minimalistic Linux (with a lightweight desktop and a slew of software) is actually more trim and optimized than Tiger IMHO. It just takes somebody with good knowledge of Linux to make it that way (and a distro that isn’t bloated like Debian and it’s variants). Sadly most default PPC Linux installs aren’t set up that way, but it can be done if you have the time and knowledge.

a fast browser that's not based around InterWeb PPC/ TFF
Sadly nothing new-ish exists for Tiger/Leopard that isn’t Mozilla based. To speed them up, use a hosts file to block ads system-wide and use umatrix or noscript to block unwanted scripts. You will notice a huge speed boost. Otherwise, Otter Browser (webkit based) on Linux flies, as does OWB (webkit based) on MorphOS. Or try RetroZilla, ArcticFox, DarkWeb, or Links2 as they are all lighter than IWPPC/TFF. They just aren’t quite as “web compliant”, but are fine for general browsing.

If you want newer software, browsers, etc, i say go the Linux route. It wont be as easy on PPC like it is on x86, but you’ll learn, and (hopefully) have fun along the way. If you want nostalgia and period correct software, stay with OS X and tweak the heck out of it. Both are fun. That’s why i have multiple machines. Each one can be dedicated for different purposes. :)

MorphOS is great if you grew up on C64/Amiga and are looking to rekindle your past. It’s super lightweight, fast, and small with thousands of software titles available from the last 30 years. It will not however be a good daily driver desktop replacement as it lacks an office suite, and there isn’t a lot of “MOS specific” software (yet). It also really isn’t very stable. It crashes quite often, but luckily it will reboot to desktop in 5-10 seconds. It’s web browsers / email client are the shining stars of MOS, the rest of the OS is kind of “meh”. It’s fun to tinker with, and was worth the license registration to me to save an otherwise lame duck mac mini G4 and relive my youth, but it is not a “magical" OS X replacement by any means.

Cheers
 
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i can listen to ham radio, railroads, local radio, country rescue etc, i can edit audio/video, i can use discord web (or connect through other 3rd party means), i have a current build environment to compile pretty much anything i want, etc etc. Other than a few DRM locked down services (skype, zoom, etc) there isn’t much that little 12” PB can’t do. Sadly Void is now EOL, but a recompile of specific software here and there will keep my PB updated enough for quite a while yet.

You’re able to run gqrx on a 12-inch PowerBook in Void? :O
 
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