How useful is linux on an iMac G4?

Discussion in 'PowerPC Macs' started by Dinkhart, Feb 28, 2017.

  1. Dinkhart macrumors newbie

    Dinkhart

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    Feb 27, 2017
    #1
    It would be great to get some more use out of my iMac G4 20in, which is maxed out and currently running leopard. Would something like Ubuntu make my iMac more usable, esp considering internet (YouTube, flash, etc) and general speed? I understand that it's unrealistic to think a PPC Mac could ever come close to "modern", but I'd love some more mileage out of this iMac.
     
  2. pochopsp macrumors 6502

    pochopsp

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    #2
    Try Lubuntu. I have lubuntu 14 installed on my MDD and (apart from hardware video board acceleration), it works fast and well
     
  3. casperes1996 macrumors 65816

    casperes1996

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    #3
    I wouldn't necessarily recommend Ubuntu - and I'm not really sure the latest versions run on PPC hardware, but! Linux could definitely get you more usage out of it. You'd be able to run the latest versions of browsers like Firefox, and probably Chrome, though I'm not sure if they support PPC as of their latest versions. That means full support for some of the latest web technologies.
    Some other Linux distros are also way less resource intensive and still look nice enough.
     
  4. pochopsp macrumors 6502

    pochopsp

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    #4
    Ubuntu mate 16 and lubuntu 16 are still supported on PowerPC computers. Chrome has never been developed for PowerPC Linux, only Firefox has. The biggest problem is the lack of drivers for the video card. Only newer ones which you can use on G5 have full 2D and 3D acceleration
     
  5. Dinkhart thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dinkhart

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    #5
    Food for thought. I'll give Lubuntu a try, if that fails ubuntu mate. I've tried dual booting ubuntu on my intel MB Air running Sierra with very mixed results (Disk Utility couldn't recognize my ubuntu partition after it was formatted EFI), hopefully a PPC Mac will act better
     
  6. topbanana_, Feb 28, 2017
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2017

    topbanana_ macrumors member

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    #6
    It should work fine but won't be a screaming speed demon of course (even on a 1.25 if that's what your one is) - Once you have Ubuntu-Mate etc loaded play with some different desktops, no need to install Lubuntu as well just install the LXDE desktop after installing Mate - Also i would highly recommend E17 Enlightenment (newer versions not available in standard PPA so you would have to build from source but not needed the v17 that is available in the standard package manager runs fine) - it is very light and fast but still quite nice in the looks department.

    Also consider using Midori or some of the other (non Webkit) lighter weight browsers rather than Firefox that work fine in PPC Linux eg Xombrero - have a look through the package manager and browse.

    Finally if you have a problem booting after the intial install follow these simple instructions https://ubuntu-mate.community/t/sol...tall-flashing-questionmark-g5-powermac/5782/4

    This thread may help also as it discusses Ubuntu Mate on an iMac G4 https://ubuntu-mate.community/t/so-...-ubuntu-mate-on-a-few-old-macs-i-have/6814/13

    Ubuntu Mate 16.04 is fully supported with security etc updates until April 2019 for PowerPC, I'm getting updates quite regularly - every few days.
     
  7. Dinkhart thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dinkhart

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    #7
    With any luck I'll perform the installation this weekend, and will be sure to post results here. Thanks
     
  8. CooperBox macrumors 6502a

    CooperBox

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    #8
    Some 6 months or so ago I saw an ad for an iMac G4 17" 1.25GHz. (That particular USB2 model happens to be my 2nd best iMac 'flavour' after the 20").
    It was reported to be in good condition, and as it was cheap, thought if nothing else it could eventually be useful as a spares machine. Went along to see it and found it had Lubunto 12.04 as the main OS. Apparently the seller was an IT specialist, a great fan of Linux, and had loaded Lubunto onto the iMac for the fun challenge. He showed me some very basic functions which I was only half interested in, as I'd already decided I wanted the iMac based on condition and price alone. It wasn't mentioned that the OS did not recognize the optical drive. I asked a few additional questions and it became clear that he was a PC guy and not too familiar with Macs.
    Once back home with the machine, I started to play around with it, and although it connected to the internet it was a pain to use, and also with other apps not something I could live with. For info, I'd previously installed Linux Mint on a 2007 Intel MacBook and quite enjoyed it, but Lubunto 12.04 on this iMac - no way! Even playing music with the media player that came loaded, made the processor cough & splutter.
    It soon became obvious that the optical drive was defective, so I changed it for a spare superdrive I had available, and loaded up Leopard. The transformation on performance was sheer magic compared to Lubunto, just as if it had been given a heart transplant, and after previously struggling with attempts at a very slow waltz - was now dancing the tango.
    Incidently I'm getting more mileage than I ever thought possible from my G4 iMac's, especially after installing CorePlayer (excellent 720p video playback), and particularly 'DroneCatchers' YouTube Player & TenFourFoxBox scripts.
    I'd been very interested however to hear of your own experiences with a Linux distro on the G4 iMac.
     
  9. Dinkhart thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dinkhart

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    #9
    Yikes. Lubuntu definitely isn't the way to go then judging by your experience. What excited me most was better internet, maybe ubuntu mate would work better? I wouldn't want to go ahead with this if it could potentially slow down the iMac, leopard's pretty fast.
     
  10. pochopsp macrumors 6502

    pochopsp

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    #10
    If you try Linux on PowerPC wanting it to be faster than OS X, you'd better not installing it then. As regards flash player, the version we have on OS X is better than the open source one you can find (maybe) on Linux for PowerPC. Linux is less resource demanding, and light desktop environments make your Linux installation very fast and smooth. Just be aware that these computers are OS X native, and have PowerPC processors, while the most part of PC processors in the world are x86 architecture, so many Linux apps and drivers are not optimised or even inexistent in PowerPC code. You will have fun with Linux, you will have a newer operative system than leopard, and many apps such as Firefox, midori, open office or simple 2D games will run fast and well, but it won't never be better than OS X. Probably you won't be able to get hardware acceleration for your video card due to the lack of PowerPC graphic drivers on Linux. So my suggestion is to have a dual boot installation, having OS X alongside Linux on your hard drive on two separated partitions. Ubuntu, Lubuntu, Xubuntu, Debian, it's your choice and you'll have to do some tweaks to make each of them working properly.
     
  11. casperes1996 macrumors 65816

    casperes1996

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    #11
    As far as I know, Mate is actually more resource intensive than the LXDE from Lubuntu. That said, I believe XFCE might be more lightweight? (Xubuntu). Regardless, since people have said you won't have hardware accelerated graphics, I doubt you'll experience the system really feeling faster even if CPU tasks will run the same or even faster than Leopard. Graphics performance plays a large part in how fast a system feels to use, as even if it takes just as long to load something as it would without the graphics, you get a nice smooth animation to look at, making it feel better.

    Compared to Leopard however, you will get new internet features. If you load up a modern website on the version of Safari you'll be able to run with a PPC compatible version of OS X you won't be able to render the site properly most the time, which you pretty much always will be able to under Linux, even if it will run slowly. So that's sort of where it's at. Leopard will feel faster (probably), but Linux will get you modern features, at least on the web.
     
  12. Dinkhart thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dinkhart

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    #12
    Ok. I would say that I am a bit more hesitant than before, now that I'm more informed. I'll take all these things into consideration. Thanks guys
     
  13. casperes1996 macrumors 65816

    casperes1996

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    #13
    As someone else said, you can always dualboot. Keep Leopard on disk whilst still trying out Linux to see how it floats your boat, and get the best of boat worlds (see what I did there?)
     
  14. Dinkhart thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dinkhart

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    #14
    That's a good point, although I shudder to think of the time I dual booted Ubuntu with Sierra on my MBAir and Disk Utility couldn't recognize the linux partition. I ended up not using Ubuntu all that much so I figured I'd erase ubuntu and reclaim the space for macOS. But because macOS couldn't recognize the linux partition, I couldn't reclaim the space and now I have 24GB (!) of unallocated space on my disk, which I still haven't gotten around to fixing. But that was an Intel incident, maybe PPC will be friendlier to linux.
     
  15. bobesch, Mar 1, 2017
    Last edited: May 5, 2017

    bobesch macrumors 6502a

    bobesch

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    #15
    The wish to get better performance with Linux on PPC-Macs reminds me on a dialogue in the film "Family Man"
    Jack: "Don't you see? I'm talking about us finally having a life... that other people envy."
    Kate: "Oh, Jack. These people already do envy us."
    ;)

    PS: any killer-feature apps/speed-improvents, that are worth the effort?
    My PPCs with Leopard are fully connected, run Office, play/stream music; play/stream video, play 360/720p YouTube etc. ...
    For a Linux-novice like me it might be easier to go and chop wood and get a new mac for the earnings (and have fun running latest Ubuntu in a VM then :) )
     
  16. casperes1996 macrumors 65816

    casperes1996

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    #16
    I don't get that though. Disk Utility recognises my Mint partition fine. What file system did you use for Ubuntu then? And even then, the CLI should be able to help you out.
    Intel should be better with Linux though, since most Linux targets x86 first and foremost.
     
  17. Dinkhart thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dinkhart

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    #17
    My ubuntu partition was formatted EFI, now it's not formatted at all haha. Also, what's the CLI?
     
  18. bobesch macrumors 6502a

    bobesch

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    #18
    I use Ubuntu as a virtual machine with VMware Fusion. Works fine and I don't need to hassle with partitions etc.
    One thing, that annoyes me on latest Ubuntu-versions out of the box is, that RemoteDesktop/ScreenSharing/VNC sessions are somehow awkward due to the visual effects.
    I didn't search for a way, how to switch them off but I'm not very good into Linux...
     
  19. casperes1996 macrumors 65816

    casperes1996

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    #19
    A bit confused what you mean by this. EFI stands for extensible firmware interface, and isn't a file system. You can have an EFI partition on a drive, but the EFI partition, most the time, is itself formatted as FAT. The EFI partition provides the system with firmware information about the drive such that it doesn't need an operating system to understand and interact with it.
    Did you mean what CLI is in general or what the specific commands are? For the sake of being sure, I'll reply to both

    1) CLI stands for command line interface. Anything you write in the Terminal is communication through CLI

    2) Can't remember the specific commands, but it's part of diskutil. Try looking through the man pages. I think it should work if you just do "diskutil list" to get the partition ID for the previously Ubuntu partition, then "diskutil remove diskxsy" with x and y replaced by identifiers, and then lastly resize the main partition, which I believe can be done with "diskutil cs resize 100%" but I'm not entirely sure about any of these command, since it's been a while since I've done it, so you better do a bit of looking into it before you try them out.
    I have had a similar issue once, where I formatted a partition for Windows with NTFS, but then for some reason I couldn't get Windows installed on it, and through the Windows installer, deleted the partition, returning it to free space.
    Then when I tried merging the free space into the main partition through OS X, it wouldn't and I had to do it through the Terminal. The basics of what I did is the above, but the commands may be a bit wrong.

    PS. All used commands are documented, aside from the core storage one to resize the cs volume, which at least wasn't documented when I used it, but there are still loads of internet articles on it.
     
  20. Dinkhart thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dinkhart

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    #20
    Ah, I was unaware that EFI isn't a file system:rolleyes:. Right now the former Ubuntu partition is no longer EFI or FAT or anything else, for that matter - it's just unallocated space. I've considered booting from the Ubuntu installer (which recognizes the empty space, unlike macOS) and formatting it as FAT - think this would help macOS recognize the partition in Disk Utility? As for CLI, I wasn't familiar with the abbreviation. The diskutil command in Terminal does not bring up any evidence whatsoever of my missing 24GB partition, so I won't be able to merge it with Macintosh HD. My plan with the missing partition is to back up all my data with Time Machine, wipe the entire disk, and restore.
     
  21. casperes1996 macrumors 65816

    casperes1996

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    #21
    Right, OK.
    So yeah - Formatting it with the Ubuntu installer should technically work, but when I had the previously mentioned problem with the Windows installer also ending up with unallocated space I could do nothing with, it didn't help. (tried formatting it both with Disk Utility which did see the free space in my case but just couldn't touch it, and it just failed when trying to format it, and the Windows installer which managed to format it, but still left it untouchable by OS X).
    If it is just marked as free space right now, running the diskutil cs resize 100% command (I think you need to be in recovery mode, and as previously mentioned, command might not be exactly that, but similar) should do the trick actually. When I got to the point where i had only free space and it wasn't formatted or anything that was all I had to do to fix it. Reason OS X couldn't touch the free space in my case, I found out, was because it had somehow escaped from the Core Storage container, and so Disk Utility couldn't just resize the partitions or anything, and I had to rebuild the container around the entire drive, to resize it.
    Alternatively, your backup, wipe, rewrite plan should work just fine too.
     
  22. Dinkhart thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dinkhart

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    #22
    As I'm unfamiliar with the command line and am petrified of making a mistake and ruining my Air's disk (it's my work computer), I'll probably go with Time Machine. But I appreciate the command line advice!
     
  23. casperes1996 macrumors 65816

    casperes1996

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    #23
    Sure, no problem :). Though in general, it's close to impossible to fully ruin it, and you'd almost always be able to get it back to a functioning state somehow.
    If for some very strange reason you end up having problems and the Time Machine thing doesn't work (Which it should), just let me know and we'll work it out.
     
  24. KawaiiAurora macrumors 6502

    KawaiiAurora

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    #24
    Gonna ask a bit of an out of topic question but still on topic ;)

    I wish to run Ubuntu 10.04 on my PowerMac G4 and on the live CD, everything is okay except for the Radeon 9700.

    Before you say "No graphics acceleration doc!". I know the Radeon 9600 works on Ubuntu 15.04 so it's probably a driver issue.

    Lubuntu 14.04.5 works like a dog
    Lubuntu 16.04.1 works like a snail
    Haven't tried 12.04 yet
    Ubuntu 10.04 is okay except for the GPU
    Ubuntu 8.04 was blazing fast back in '10-11
     
  25. casperes1996 macrumors 65816

    casperes1996

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    #25
    Sure it works with the AGP connection I believe the PowerMac G4 uses?
    Anyway, which drivers have you tried? Do the MESA drivers work with such an old card? Usually the best
     

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