iMac G5 ALS & Debian 8

vlark

macrumors member
Original poster
Mar 13, 2014
97
0
We made the jump to Lion-limited Intels (they can run iTunes 12.1.2 and sync with iOS 8.3 iPads, which my kids use for school), so now I want to try out Linux on the old iMac.

Does anyone know if the latest build of Debian supports the iMac G5 ALS? What issues do I have to watch out for during install? I'm planning to wipe the drive, so I'm not worried about dual-booting or anything.
 

SuperKerem

macrumors 6502a
Oct 29, 2012
861
252
We made the jump to Lion-limited Intels (they can run iTunes 12.1.2 and sync with iOS 8.3 iPads, which my kids use for school), so now I want to try out Linux on the old iMac.

Does anyone know if the latest build of Debian supports the iMac G5 ALS? What issues do I have to watch out for during install? I'm planning to wipe the drive, so I'm not worried about dual-booting or anything.
I wouldn't install Linux on a PowerPC Mac unless you're certain you know what you're doing. Why do you need Linux in the first place?
And if you still want to install Debian I *think* there's a separate PPC version.
 

Dronecatcher

macrumors 68040
Jun 17, 2014
3,712
3,569
Lincolnshire, UK
We made the jump to Lion-limited Intels (they can run iTunes 12.1.2 and sync with iOS 8.3 iPads, which my kids use for school), so now I want to try out Linux on the old iMac.

Does anyone know if the latest build of Debian supports the iMac G5 ALS? What issues do I have to watch out for during install? I'm planning to wipe the drive, so I'm not worried about dual-booting or anything.
I don't have direct experience of installing Debian on a G5 iMac (I did it on a Powerbook), though I'd guess audio, wireless, fan control and decent graphics will be areas you have to tinker with to get working.

You can try a live disk to get an idea, a different flavour like Lubuntu perhaps, I've found that the more 'bloated' releases give you audio & wireless but pay the price of being slow.

This is a great guide through Debian installation:

http://ppcluddite.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/installing-debian-linux-on-ppc-part-i.html
 

vlark

macrumors member
Original poster
Mar 13, 2014
97
0
I wouldn't install Linux on a PowerPC Mac unless you're certain you know what you're doing. Why do you need Linux in the first place?
And if you still want to install Debian I *think* there's a separate PPC version.
1) It's not about what YOU would or wouldn't do.

2) Why do my reasons for doing so concern you?

3) Thanks for the tip! I will look for that distro.

----------

I don't have direct experience of installing Debian on a G5 iMac (I did it on a Powerbook), though I'd guess audio, wireless, fan control and decent graphics will be areas you have to tinker with to get working.

You can try a live disk to get an idea, a different flavour like Lubuntu perhaps, I've found that the more 'bloated' releases give you audio & wireless but pay the price of being slow.

This is a great guide through Debian installation:

http://ppcluddite.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/installing-debian-linux-on-ppc-part-i.html
I'll try Lubuntu, but from what I've read, Debian is the most widely supported on PPC. The live disk might be the way to go, as you point out.

And thanks for the link! That seems like a useful, in-depth read.
 

lowendlinux

macrumors 603
Sep 24, 2014
5,248
6,495
Germany
Martin Wimpress the lead dev of Ubuntu Mate bought a PowerBook last year just specifically to build for PowerPC Macs meaning that it's not an after thought. If I were to install a Linux distro on PowerPC and didn't have Gentoo time that's the one I'd use and I'd throw him a couple bucks because he built it intentionally. Just Pick up his 14.04 image and give it a go it'll be supported for 4 more years.
 

Dronecatcher

macrumors 68040
Jun 17, 2014
3,712
3,569
Lincolnshire, UK
Martin Wimpress the lead dev of Ubuntu Mate bought a PowerBook last year just specifically to build for PowerPC Macs meaning that it's not an after thought. If I were to install a Linux distro on PowerPC and didn't have Gentoo time that's the one I'd use and I'd throw him a couple bucks because he built it intentionally. Just Pick up his 14.04 image and give it a go it'll be supported for 4 more years.
That's what I don't understand - despite it being made specifically with a Powerbook in mind - it doesn't work without tinkering. I've tried Ubuntu Mate 14.04 on two Powerbooks, between them, graphics, wifi, battery support, keyboard backlight and sound didn't work. I know how to fix these separately but why not include all those drivers in the first place - that first hurdle is enough for some people to totally dismiss Linux?
 

lowendlinux

macrumors 603
Sep 24, 2014
5,248
6,495
Germany
That's what I don't understand - despite it being made specifically with a Powerbook in mind - it doesn't work without tinkering. I've tried Ubuntu Mate 14.04 on two Powerbooks, between them, graphics, wifi, battery support, keyboard backlight and sound didn't work. I know how to fix these separately but why not include all those drivers in the first place - that first hurdle is enough for some people to totally dismiss Linux?
I don't know TBH. It's been so long since I've had a PowerPC Mac I don't know the variations through the years anymore. I would imagine it will continue to get better since there is someone actively building for them but like all things it's going to take time and a bunch of testing and bug reports from the community. If there is interest we the MR community could probably spin the various fixes into an .iso and drop it onto a droplet so it could/should work OOTB.
 

556fmjoe

macrumors 68000
Apr 19, 2014
1,888
1,555
That's what I don't understand - despite it being made specifically with a Powerbook in mind - it doesn't work without tinkering. I've tried Ubuntu Mate 14.04 on two Powerbooks, between them, graphics, wifi, battery support, keyboard backlight and sound didn't work. I know how to fix these separately but why not include all those drivers in the first place - that first hurdle is enough for some people to totally dismiss Linux?
Apple used a lot of hardware from vendors who aren't friendly to open source projects. Anything Broadcom is a pain and NVIDIA is notoriously bad. There's currently a bug in Mesa that prevents graphics acceleration on ATI GPUs, but that seems fixable, whereas NVIDIA GPUs are pretty much a lost cause. Apple's one button trackpads are a problem too.

Honestly I was very unimpressed with Ubuntu on my PowerBook. It was terribly bloated and slow, yet still had the issues you mentioned. OpenBSD works so much better out of the box with no tinkering required, with the exception of wifi (I use a USB), suspend/resume, keyboard backlighting (don't care), and GPU acceleration. Sound works fine, all the keyboard buttons for brightness and volume work fine, and it is very fast with a lightweight window manager. I wish it had GPU acceleration, but that's not a huge deal for me personally.
 

Dronecatcher

macrumors 68040
Jun 17, 2014
3,712
3,569
Lincolnshire, UK
It's great that these options are out there, everyone should at least give one distro a go given the chance. I always come back to OSX though, as I've yet to find any Linux faster - even when I had Debian with Openbox. If security was my absolute top concern I'd think differently however.
 

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