iBook G4 - Ubuntu

Discussion in 'PowerPC Macs' started by DitchDoc83, Sep 4, 2011.

  1. DitchDoc83 macrumors newbie


    Jul 25, 2011
    Hey guys,
    I've got an iBook G4 (OS X 10.4.11). I'm trying to boot with an Ubuntu CD and nothing is working. I tried Startup Disk, but the CD is not showing up there. I tried hold the c and d keys (not at the same time) on start up, nothing. I tried holding shift during start up, only Mac HD showed as an option.

    I am very new to the world of Linux and this will be my first Linux computer. Any help would be appreciated. And again, I'm a noob at this.

  2. AdrianK macrumors 68020

    Feb 19, 2011
    Are you sure it's a PPC version of Ubuntu you've got?
  3. DitchDoc83 thread starter macrumors newbie


    Jul 25, 2011
    Thanks guys. I am downloading 10.04 and going to try that.
  4. zen.state macrumors 68020


    Mar 13, 2005
    Just wondering.. are you under the assumption that it will somehow be faster than Mac OS simply because it's Linux? If that is your expectation I am here to tell you that you will be disappointed.

    I have run at least 4-5 different PowerPC distros of Linux on many different PowerPC Macs. None performed any better than OS X 10.4 or 10.5 and in fact they all ranged from a bit to a lot slower.

    PowerPC versions of Mac OS are far more optimized for Apple hardware than any open source OS could ever hope to be.
  5. SuperJudge macrumors 6502


    Apr 2, 2008
    The Triangle, NC
    To add to that, you'll also need to track down proprietary drivers for AirPort because BroadCom never open-sourced the drivers for its Mac offerings.

    As a Linux sysadmin, PPC Linux just makes me sad. I just brought a 12" PowerBook and a G4 Mac mini back to Leopard after a few months on Debian Squeeze and Ubuntu 10.04 respectively. You won't get versions of most of the good software. Your browser will almost certainly be FireFox 3.6. If you think that PPC OS X is getting the short end of the stick, try your hand at using a community supported distro of Linux. The Mac mini might be getting a new life as a network appliance, and thus headed back to Linux, but the PowerBook will be staying an OS X machine.

    By all means, experiment with Linux on PPC because Linux is fun, especially on "weird" hardware, but don't expect miracles.
  6. DitchDoc83 thread starter macrumors newbie


    Jul 25, 2011
    I just want to learn about Linux. The iBook has been sitting around for almost a year and hasn't been used. I figured I would try and install Linux on it and play around to see what happens.

    Any advice you can give me would be great.
  7. DustinT macrumors 68000


    Feb 26, 2011
    Have fun! Linux is a great OS and I still drop back to it from time to time. Personally, running Mac OS X is obscure enough. I like to have access to a wide range of software.

    But, there's some trick that only linux can pull off. Enjoy exploring it.
  8. MacinDan macrumors regular

    Jun 26, 2010
    MintPPC is good for newbies. Ubuntu is unsupported and very buggy.

    Also, more experienced users can greatly reduce the amount of RAM the system requires (by running Openbox instead of Gnome for example), so indeed linux can be much faster than OS X, especially on laptops.
  9. goosnarrggh, Sep 12, 2011
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2011

    goosnarrggh macrumors 68000

    May 16, 2006
    The community PowerPC repository for Ubuntu Natty (11.04) currently serves up the current (6.0.2) release of Firefox. MintPPC Linux has it also.

    I see that Firefox 7.0 for PowerPC is successfully building in the Debian experimental branch.

    I suspect, over time, that the primary reason for embracing Linux won't be for performance reasons, but rather, to hopefully maximize the amount of time users can continue to receive up-to-date security patches.

    For now, you can still get security patches for Firefox 3.6.x on PPC OS X. I think the same is true of Microsoft Office 2004 and 2008.

    But we've just seen a high-profile case of an OS X security flay (relating to Safari and invalid SSL certificates) being patched for Snow Leopard and Lion, but not backported to Leopard.
  10. Caleuche, Sep 12, 2011
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2011

    Caleuche macrumors newbie

    Sep 9, 2011
    Edit: umm, I missed that bit about trying to learn Linux.

    If that's your goal, you probably want an old x86 machine. Linux support for x86 is ridiculously better, both in terms of OOTB hardware support and getting helpful advice. Old x86 hardware is absurdly common, and almost all of it will run Linux.

    [Original post follows.]

    My 2c, as the current owner of a Powerbook G4: go Debian. It's not as out-of-the-box friendly as OSX, and doesn't support the hardware as well, but works quite well anyway.

    (Disclaimer: I'm a Linux geek, so I do have something of a bias.)

    Anyway, there are a few things to watch out for...

    - Airport needs firmware in the non-free repository, I think. (I didn't bother, since I use my Powerbook as a desktop workstation.)

    - I don't know about the iBook's Mobility Radeon 9200, but my Powerbook's 7500 is not well supported by Linux; 2D acceleration is poor and 3D nonexistent. In such cases it's probably better to use Linux's radeonfb framebuffer and the Xorg fbdev driver. If the the 9200 is supported though, by all means use the radeon driver.

    - Most Linux desktops are designed for newer computers, and will show window contents while resizing a window. This does not go well with old Macs, especially when using the fbdev driver. The workaround is to tell your window manager to show only outlines when resizing - which is what OS 9 and OS X 10.3 did by default. But note that, because of the way the Xorg display server works, the display will freeze when resizing a window if you do this - the only thing updated will be the window's outline. This is generally okay, but some media players will pause sound output when they detect the display being frozen. Xmms is one such media player; Xine is another. VLC on the other hand will just keep playing.

    (If you get the impression that Xorg is a horrible kludge, that's because it is. :p )

    So yeah. Don't expect any miracles as far as desktop performance goes. Applications will probably launch quickly and be fairly responsive on a G4, but complex 2D rendering will be slow, and 3D more than likely won't work.
  11. MacinDan macrumors regular

    Jun 26, 2010
    Many Radeon cards need nonfree linux firmware installed to get 3D working. Which coincidentally is the same package that includes the Airport firmware. Go to this page and see the section "Installing Proprietary Firmware."

    If you have it successfully installed, then you can generate a xorg.conf file (it's not generated by default anymore) and add several options to the "radeon" driver for even better frame rates.
  12. tom vilsack macrumors 68000

    tom vilsack

    Nov 20, 2010
    ladner cdn
    100% agree! have been there done that also,linux will run slower

    stick with tiger and use tenfourfox browser...or depending on your ibook's speed and ram...run leopard

    ps: i have nothing against linux...have been using different distros since the old redhat 5.2 days...i run lastest ubuntu on a acer c-50 netbook i have,and puppy linux on a older eee......but on a ibook...no thanks...just to slow!
  13. Caleuche macrumors newbie

    Sep 9, 2011
    MacinDan: right you are, 3D requires nonfree firmware. And once the firmware is installed it actually seems to work quite well, thought 2D rendering is still sluggish.

    BTW, tip for those who find Linux horribly slow on Macs (or on any legacy systems): set your GTK theme to "Raleigh." GTK engines are surprising resource hogs; the built-in theme is much lighter, if somewhat less pretty.

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