So after a bit of research I think I want to try Ubuntu Mate on a few old macs I have

Hey there,

First of I would like to say thanks to everyone who has helped keep support for the PowerPC architecture.

I have 3 systems I am thinking of installing Ubuntu MATE 16.04 on:
Mac Mini G4 (1.5 GHz, 1GB RAM, Radeon 9200)
eMac G4 (1.42 GHz, 2GB RAM, Radeon 9600)
iMac G4 (1.25 GHz, 2GB RAM, GeForce FX 5200 Ultra)

All these systems have SSDs installed to help improve performance. Is there anything I should keep in mind while installing? I have done some research, but I guess ultimately is any recent version of Linux a better option than Mac OS 10.5 for recent software such as browsers/office etc?

Troubles I would likely encounter? I have installed many distros in the past on regular pc hardware, but this is the first time I try on a PowerPC machine.

Thanks in advance for any help.

The iMac G4 should be able to boot and install from the Live DVD just fine. The others? I don’t know as I’ve heard there are still problems with graphics adapters in PowerPC.

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I would only bother with Option 2. and even this will be a sluggish/laggy experience. (if you want to install with a GUI/Desktop). Option 1 has got Little RAM and bad 32MB Raedon (if you want to run @1920x1080, Forget about that). The 3rd Option wont even Show a usable Desktop, I guess, because of NVIDIA Card that lacks propper kernel/Drivers Support.

So i think 2. is your best bet.

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Dave Barnes is correct. The imac is the best due to the nvidea card. Elowan is incorrect, certainly with regard to the radeon 9600 card. Keeping Mac OS X is the best option for all machines though.

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Yeah? I am incorrect? Why?

GeForce fx5200 is inferior to the ATI 9600 (besides of broken kernel support for NVIDIA cards)
Did you try to install MATE to a Mac with NVIDIA? No?`I did and it´s not working (only with setting extra kernel parameters) + having graphics run via CPU instead of GPU - which slow down things on G4´s even more.


(on top of that, the eMac´s G4 CPU is faster by ~20% or so) - so I suggest to try it with the eMac first

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I assumed that the iMac would likely be the best bet. I assumed going in that none of the machines would exactly be screamers, but will try to optimize as much as possible. I won’t get to it for a few weeks, but want to go in prepared.

If Ubuntu Mate won’t work, which other distros have as much support for PPC? It seems like Mate is the only thing I can do to bring some life back to these ancient machines.

I appreciate all the responses so far.

Fixes were added to the “nouveau” KMS driver starting with Linux kernel version 4.3 specifically for the iMac G4 and iMac G5 (model PowerMac 8,1 only). I don’t have any PowerPC hardware with Radeon graphics, therefore I don’t know what the problems are. I also don’t have eMac, Mac Mini, or any other models so I can’t comment on problems.

Getting the old Apple hardware to run Linux is mostly guesswork. There are no “published” hardware programming documents.

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I will make sure to update my findings next month.

These hardware comments relate to PowerPC:

With an nvidea card should have 3d and 2d acceleration in 16.04. The only thing you may have to do is to turn off MSI interrupts via a boot parameter.

With a radeon card (unless you have a high end powerbook) you will have to force PCI mode to stop freezes, again via a boot parameter. The 9600 card won’t have 3d acceleration in 24 bit colour unless you recompile packages.

Whilst many are not bothered about 3d acceleration, you can considerably boost performance by running compiz 0.8.*. And this needs 3d acceleration (preferably not in PCI mode). You can downgrade the xorg stack to get faster 3d with a radeon 9200 card, but again this doesn’t work well with the 9600.

Mate applications are not the fastest and you’ll be better using many of the applications from Lubuntu. Personally I don’t think there is much point in using Mate unless you use it with compiz.

The Javascript in Firefox is considerably slower than TenFourFox, and this is the main reason that I recommended you stick with Mac OS X. TenFourFox is also well tested before release so you’ll have much lesser hassle.

These are the main issues you’ll come across, I would take issue with the guesswork comment.

Nouveau openfirmware fix:

Does a tech document exist for Apple/NVidia based PowerPC hardware to tell us how to read the BIOS tables and address the hardware?

Sorry Dave I misunderstood what you were saying. Yes for a developer there is a large amount of guesswork, but there is Darwin which is open source and that does provide a certain amount of info. For a user I don’t think guesswork or random Internet searches is the answer.

Finally getting around to this.

Downloading the ISO to burn on a DVD now. I am cautiously optimistic. First up will be testing on the eMac G4.

Our PowerPC forum can use the input. Let us know how it goes :slight_smile: