PowerPC Macs - second life

Discussion in 'PowerPC Macs' started by pet84rik, Aug 2, 2017.

  1. pet84rik macrumors member

    pet84rik

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2017
    Location:
    Prague, Czech republic
    #1
    Hi guys,
    I do not know if someone will point me to the solution on any of these issues, so consider it mostly as my rambling about the current state of using PowerPC Mac.
    So, what do I have and what is my goal? I am having a PowerMac G4@400 with 1 GB of RAM, iBook G3@500 with 576 MB RAM (12") and PowerBook G4@1,5 with 1,25 GB RAM (12").
    First of all, PowerBook G4 is working well with Leopard, it was my main PC during the PowerPC week challenge. If I ever get my hands on cheaper solution for some kind of SSD for IDE/PATA and I will have a courage to get over those millions of screws, I will change that and no other SW changes are required. So this is OK, working with TenFourFox, Leopard Webkit, irssi, VLC, ...

    PowerMac G4 is kind of special, it was my first PowerPC Mac and also my first Mac at all. Currently not so much used since it is pretty loud and I prefer to have a laptop for my bedtime usage. But my goal is to have an alternative OS, maybe some *BSD. And I would like to have the same on my iBook G3. But, there are issues. And a lot of them :) I will try to rather sort it by OS than machine.

    OpenBSD - probably the most usable OS, no Firefox or any kind of modern and fully capable browser, but these machines are more usable with lightweight browser like links or dillo for basic browsing. But on both machines (actually, on all, including PowerBook G4) there is an issue with mouse cursor slowing down during everything (opening a window or even clicking on menu or opening a confirmation dialog). It reminded me old times with Windows 2000 when DMA was disabled and every IO action caused the same issue. I have never tried to search for a solution but I hope that there is some. Also, there is no sound on iBook G3, I can set volume, I can switch between speakers and headphones, but still no sound (works OK on PowerMac, so I know how to set that in OpenBSD :) )

    NetBSD - not detecting ethernet on PowerMac, not booting at all on PowerBook and I was not able to start it from a disk after installation on iBook G3. This is probably (at least the iBook situation) caused by error between keyboard and a chair, so this ight not be an end.

    FreeBSD - The least explored OS yet, I only booted to netinstall CD on iBook, I did not get an IP from DHCP and that was the end of trying. I am not sure if I want to use FreeBSD anyway because of lack of binary packages (if I am not mistaken).

    Debian Linux - issues with X on PowerMac, working better on iBook, but still, some issues. First of all, similar cursor slowing down during almost everything, but not so much as in OpenBSD (so I could live with that). Good thing is that there is Firefox, so if I would like to use heavy browser, I can. Sound is working ,which is great, VLC is crashing (and that is not so great). Also, my concerns are about the future, Debian 8 will be the last supported version. Yes, I know, still better than non-supported Tiger with much less SW, but comparing to *BSD. So I think it is just in my head.

    So, conclusion. What I would like to have is OpenBSD with working sound on iBook and solved that mouse issue. Otherwise it is great, nothing is crashing, so even if there are less packages in OpenBSD repository, it works. The second option would be Debian, since I do not know anything about NetBSD and FreeBSD since those did not worked on any of my machines yet.

    Worst case is MacOS X. Not that it would be a bad OS, I just want this to be the last option because I already have a working MacOS X installation on PowerBook and I would like to have something else on my other PowerPC machines.

    Anyone with similar issues or solution for them? Thanks in advance (yeah, it is long, so you deserve a huge "thank you" for even finishing it).
     
  2. AphoticD macrumors 6502a

    AphoticD

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2017
    Location:
    Queensland, Australia
    #2
    Sounds like you're having fun with your PowerPCs.

    If you have an ATI based card in the Power Mac G4, you could also try MorphOS as an alternative. Reading through their Hardware Compatibility page says that Audio is only supported on the 3,4 (DA) through to 3,6 (MDD) Power Macs, but otherwise, this could be fun to play with to see how it performs. Although I haven't bought a license (yet), I've seen MorphOS run fast and efficient as it is optimised for the G4's Altivec Engine (G5 models 7,2 and 7,3 are also supported).

    With Debian's X related issues, have you tried the various boot parameters for disabling AGP mode, etc? See How do I get graphics working?

    I really don't know anything about the *BSD's, so feel free to share your results!
     
  3. pet84rik thread starter macrumors member

    pet84rik

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2017
    Location:
    Prague, Czech republic
    #3
    Hello AphoticD,

    thank you for your reply. For the Debian Xorg issue, I have never got far because I was stupid and prefered "install before read" :-D But thank you for your link, I will test it again for sure. As far as we talking about PowerMac G4, ethernet / audio is a bit easier because in BSD/Linux I can use other PCI cards from x86 world, but that is a bit more difficult in laptops :-D

    I should give a MorphOS a try, that is for sure.
     
  4. MysticCow macrumors 6502a

    MysticCow

    Joined:
    May 27, 2013
    #4
    Why has MorphOS never been supported under NVidia? In the all-in-one world, they'd just need to make it against an iMac G4. In the Mac tower world, it gets a bit more complicated, but wouldn't those old high-end iMac G4's be the perfect start to getting MorphOS running on more Macs?
     
  5. backyardvoodoo macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2016
    #5
    FreeBSD, for a period of time, didn't even have binary packages for amd64. This was at the start of the pkgng transition.

    Don't know much about NetBSD but it seems to always be a pkgsrc adventure if you want to have anything running outside of the base system.

    OpenBSD looks the most promising. Check out the deck by landry@ the macppc port maintainer: https://rhaalovely.net/~landry/eurobsdcon2016/ The chicken and egg problem I think they have is the lack of users (which may be due to the lack of better platform support): the mailing doesn't seem to be active at all, see http://marc.info/?l=openbsd-ppc&r=1&w=2. On the other hand the OpenBSD folks are clearly cross platform minded. It's worth reaching out and offering help.

    I've had good overall experience with Debian 8 on my iBook though I did have sound issues in some apps and suspend / resume didn't work. The world of GNU/Linux seems to be converging rapidly these days towards a similar set of architectures, similar init system (systemd), similar packaging (snappy, flatpak, AppImage). Some notable outcasts are VoidLinux, Alpine, Guix but there is no hope for any PPC32 support there obviously.

    MorphOS is paid and closed source so we are at the mercy of a small group of developers who have day jobs to do.

    So yeah there goes my own rant too I guess haha.
     
  6. MysticCow macrumors 6502a

    MysticCow

    Joined:
    May 27, 2013
    #6
    But Morph is also the fastest of any of the OS-es available to PowerPC. I want to run a Morph box, preferably one of the G4 minis that can run it right out of the box.
     
  7. AphoticD macrumors 6502a

    AphoticD

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2017
    Location:
    Queensland, Australia
    #7
    The Mac mini G4 does appear to be one of the best options for running MorphOS. The typically underpowered Radeon 9200 mobility chip and a ceiling of 1GB of RAM appears to be ample for Morph to swiftly get to work. I don't think there is multi-processor support built into the system, so there's no point running a dual CPU energy hog with it.

    All Aluminum PowerBook G4s, except for the 12" are supported and seem to have all their features working. The only real problem I've found with running any non-Mac OS on a Mac portable is the "foreign" feel of the trackpad. No matter what settings I've tried in various operating systems, the trackpad just never feels "right".

    This also goes for running Windows on a MacBook. It seems like Apple's implementation of tracking is just spot on and no other developer has been able to replicate this same feel on Apple hardware.
    --- Post Merged, Aug 3, 2017 ---
    I don't know anything about writing graphics drivers, but Nvidia support would definitely get them more users. It's hard to say if the effort would pay off for them, but it's a niche operating system running on niche, legacy hardware, making it a tiny market to begin with.

    Good on them though, I hope they keep working on it.

    All this talk about MorphOS... I think I'll take the plunge and buy a license, download the SDK and have a proper play with it on my mini.
     
  8. pet84rik thread starter macrumors member

    pet84rik

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2017
    Location:
    Prague, Czech republic
    #8
    So, my plan is to get that iBook to work, I will have 12 hours to spam #openbsd on IRC :-D and I will try to solve those 2 issues.
     
  9. Dronecatcher macrumors 68000

    Dronecatcher

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2014
    Location:
    Lincolnshire, UK
    #9
    This 100%. It make's a world of difference having imprecise cursor control - make the whole OS seem awkward.
     
  10. backyardvoodoo macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2016
  11. pet84rik thread starter macrumors member

    pet84rik

    Joined:
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    #11
    As of today, unexpected happened. Lubuntu is working OK, no mouse cursor slowing, sound working, no apps crashing. At least version 14.04 is pretty much OK with this iBook. I thought that it would be impossible to even boot it properly but it works. I installed Dillo and it is much faster than on OpenBSD or Debian. I do not know how, but I am glad and I am reporting :-D

    Right now I am running upgrade to 16.04 and I am so nervous :-D
     
  12. AphoticD macrumors 6502a

    AphoticD

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    Queensland, Australia
    #12
    Great news! Midori browser is also pretty fast on the older machines. I hope the 16.04 update goes well, but I have a feeling it might be a bit heavy on for the G3.
     
  13. pet84rik thread starter macrumors member

    pet84rik

    Joined:
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    Prague, Czech republic
    #13
    I will test it as much as I can, I know that 4.x kernel can be a bit "over the top" on these slower machines (and it does not matter if it is PPC or X86). But it would be great to have a 16.04 release since it will be supported for a while.

    I do not have this G3 iBook very long but I like it, it is much more quiet compared to PB G4 (probably I will need to clean it a re-apply thermal paste, etc.) and 12" is ideal. So if that machine will work just fine with irrsi, dillo (or other browser, I will check that - firefox works but well, it is slow, as expected), some audio player - I would be very happy :) And if not with 16.04, I already know that 14.04 will work for me for a while as well. But in that case, I will go for netinstall and some tiny window manager and very limited package of apps. That could also make a great Youtube tutorial which I can edit on PB G4 in iMovie :-D
     
  14. backyardvoodoo macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2016
    #14
    Awesome! Have you got suspend/resume working?

    My plan also includes trying OpenBSD 5.8 out as it still shipped with Firefox, working Midori and Otter.
     
  15. pet84rik thread starter macrumors member

    pet84rik

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    Apr 19, 2017
    Location:
    Prague, Czech republic
    #15
    I do not use suspend, but I will try that once I return from work..

    In case that 5.8 still had a package for Firefox, it would be interesting to at least try to compile (I know, a week long job for G3) Firefox, if not the lastest one then 45ESR.
     
  16. backyardvoodoo macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2016
    #16
    The problem is mostly Firefox itself I believe, I think it's worth first trying to compile version 39 on 6.1, then progressing towards 45-esr. NetBSD, Debian and TFF have done it.

    That said, my personal experience using OpenBSD on different hardware from Atom to G4 1Ghz to Intel i7 is that it feels much slower than Linux in all interactive tasks. I had that mouse lag you described on a Thinkpad T450!
     
  17. pet84rik thread starter macrumors member

    pet84rik

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2017
    Location:
    Prague, Czech republic
    #17
    The only thing that makes me curious is that there is no mouse lag in (L)Ubuntu (at least not in 14.04). I do not know about 16.04 because I needed to go to work before the upgrade was done. But in case it will work the same in 16.04, this whole thing is just about some settings, kernel option, etc.. If Debian has that lag and Ubuntu does not, I can not imagine anything closer in terms of OS.
     
  18. pet84rik thread starter macrumors member

    pet84rik

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2017
    Location:
    Prague, Czech republic
    #18
    Upgrade to 16.04 was not successful. I was getting the bad feeling when I came home and upgrade was in a state of asking if it is OK to delete about 100 obsolete and not existing packages. So after the reboot, I only get to fsck and then just the cursor in the upper left corner. No disk activity after this.

    My next step will be 16.04 netinstall with just a basic setup, no X, no nothing. I will not surrender :-D
     
  19. pet84rik thread starter macrumors member

    pet84rik

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    Apr 19, 2017
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    #19
    So, installation of 16.04 from netinstall ISO was successful, machine downloaded all packages needed for a base install, rebooted, booted OK. And guess what - no ethernet card found.
    That is like... I do not know, I am unlucky or what..
     
  20. Dronecatcher macrumors 68000

    Dronecatcher

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    #20
    I think that's just Linux for you. After watching a Youtube clip of a chap sucessfully installing Lubuntu on his G3 iBook, I tried it - exact same distro (16.04), exact same spec iBook....would it work? No.
     
  21. pet84rik thread starter macrumors member

    pet84rik

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    Prague, Czech republic
    #21
    I will try that find out the reason but it is so dissapointing when you have a nice working system from netinstall CD and not working existing installation. I will have 2 free days to investigate, so I need to buy some coffee and chocolate :-D
     
  22. pet84rik thread starter macrumors member

    pet84rik

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2017
    Location:
    Prague, Czech republic
    #22
    Some steps forward. Ethernet not working is due to some naming issue, I was looking for a solution for about 30 minutes until I noticed that in /etc/network/interfaces is different number in device name than it is listed in ifconfig -a. I changed that and rebooted, now I have internet right after the boot, no need to manually dhcp the correct interface. Why this difference in name, that will be a question for future generations :-D
    So, right now, I am moving forward to install xorg and some window manager and basic set of apps.
     
  23. pet84rik thread starter macrumors member

    pet84rik

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2017
    Location:
    Prague, Czech republic
    #23
    OK, I was not able to get more than 8 bit colour in 16.04 :-D So I have tried Debian again and it actually works if I do not use any heavy desktop env. I installed Fluxbox and yes, it is OK.
    skryn4.png
     

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