Install on 512k eMac G4


I have got a 2005 17" CRT eMac G4 with 512k ram running 10.4 Tiger and I am thinking of putting Ubuntu Mate on it. I already use it on my Raspberry Pi and on some old intel based notebooks at work (I am a teacher). I am excited about getting this going but only have a 10.3 install disk for the eMac so wouldn’t be able to go back to Tiger easily. Also the Superdrive is broken so I will have to use another mac in Target mode to do the install. Basically I only want to do this if there is a reasonable chance of it working properly. I would love to hear success stories and advice about how to fix any likely faults


I say don´t do this!

Do not install under 2GB RAM, 128MB Graphics and at least g4 1.5Ghz (better use dual-G5)

For your eMac, I suggest to try out “MorphOS 3.9”, chances are, your Hardware is supported (there is a list)



Thanks Elowan, looks like I can upgrade to 2Gb ram and it has 1.25Ghz so almost strong enough for Mate.


Yeah, this should work / install - but do not expect things to be “snappy” and very responsive.

Got it running on MacMini 1.42Ghz 1GB RAM and it was crawling along… on a 1.67Ghz 2GB PowerBook, it was running ok (just tried from live DVD). Fastest till today was my DualCore G5 with 7GB RAM, tried the 15.10. live DVD (because my 16.04 beta does not work) and it was really fast.

So, yeah - I think it would run somehow (if your graphics Card is supported), but not as fluent as OS X


Actually Mate is usable with 512k, and I would certainly recommend you try it first before spending money upgrading ram. Installing via usb is the best way to go if your cd/dvd drive is broken and you can install onto a usb flash drive if you don’t want to go through repartitioning. If you want to learn linux then PowerPC is a perfect way to do so because it challenges you and everything is pretty much already documented. If you are not prepared to seek out answers, then stay clear. Try a 14.04 distro until 16.04 is better documented.


Thanks for the advice. Since posting I have done some more research and it looks like Lubuntu or Mate PPC might be my best bet. The 2Gb upgrade I was looking at was only £5 on ebay so worth a punt anyway. Using USB is problematic on eMac although it would be ideal to preserve the original 2004 10.4 install as well. I love Mate but I might save it for intel-based machines. Either way, I am looking forward to the challenge!


Now, did you installed it on emac?

please tell us, how it runs…


I will be trying this later in the summer, I am collecting the information at the moment as where I am going there is only mobile internet. I am a bit worried that if the wifi doesn’t work straight away, the install is doomed as there is no ethernet where I keep the eMac. Also I am not sure if using my MacBook 2,1 in target mode will work instead of the broken internal DVD. I will let you know but it will be in a couple of months time…


WiFi will not work straight away - but it´s not too hard to get it working


Is there anything I can download and put on a stick before I go that will help me get it going? It has an airport extreme card, I think.


HI @smnbldwn,

I don’t have one but this might help you a tad? . :thumbsup:


Thank you for the tips. I tried over the holidays but couldn’t get a clean boot off a USB despite following all sorts of tricks from the internet (I just got a black screen). What I did manage to do is check the spec and its a 1.25 GHz model with 512Mb of RAM. Its also runs Tiger really well and its as quick as my current 2011 iMac at home! Its a shame nothing is compatible any more. So next year, I will buy a firewire DVD and boot from that, I will also get 2Gb RAM upgrade so it can run Mate or Lubuntu. It should be fine, it is still a nice computer.


It’s no surprise to me that Tiger is fast. The best thing to use would be TenFourFox if you want to keep using the emac.

It sounds to me like you’re experiencing a graphics problem, rather than a USB problem. See which hit 12.10 and beyond.

USB is very easy to do on any PowerPC machine. Sadly the internet is full of people who tell you it can’t be done, is tricky or give very poor instructions on how to do it.

I’m not sure why you are putting it off to next year, but it should take you max 5 mins to get Lubuntu 12.04 booted from a USB drive. This would tell you if linux is something you want to preserve with on the machine. Personally I’d take it to the recycling centre.


Thank you for your comments. The reason I am putting it off is that the eMac is in another country and I won’t have any more time there until next summer. I will try and chase up the graphics problem then too. Fair point about recycling but I like the old thing and enjoy playing around with old hardware to make it useful again. I hate throwing stuff away because of planned obsolescence.


Just a quick update, I recently acquired a 15" 1.67GHz Powerbook and have got it running Ubuntu Mate 16.04. Fab OS! Its a little bit slow so I am bumping the RAM up from 1GB to 2GB. I am so impressed with how the hardware all works and how easy it is to configure. I also tried Debian 8 but am much happier with Ubuntu Mate! Now to try again with the eMac, I will go to 2GB RAM before I even try!