Installing Linux on a powerpc Mac: powermac powerbook G4 mandrake 9.1 vs. gentoo PPC 1.4 vs. yellow dog 3.0.1 (yellowdog)
Forget Mandrake 9.1 for powerpc:
The installer is seriously buggy. It wouldn't read the A key on my
G4 powerbook nor did it have support for my video card. It couldn't
even read the disk on my powermac G4. There are numerous bugs in the
software and problems with partitioning. Since it is what I had first,
I tried to install it a score of times before my list of workarounds
ended up in a dead end with no video card support on the powerbook.
Gentoo is a thing of beauty. Unfortunately, it doesn't understand the
most recent firmware on my G4 powermac and yaboot couldn't mount the
root partition. My kernel wouldn't read the keyboard on my powerbook.
Of course, it is possible that with some slightly different options,
that would not have happened, but the answer wasn't obvious at all.
With gentoo, everything is pretty much a matter of compiling from
source. It is like a simply designed kit for a biplane with beautifully
varnished wood and stainless steel cables all provided and all the
instructions you need to build the engine. But it wouldn't work on
either mac after carefully reading the documentation for every kernel
Yellow Dog Linux took Red Hat 9 from the hands of its exhausted
developers and made it even nicer. It installed perfectly, first time,
on both computers. After my problems with the other distributions of
Linux, I was glad I bought Yellow Dog's installation support, and I
received some useful pointers from one of Terra Soft's people on some
software installation issues. The brightness and volume up/down/mute
keys work perfectly on the laptop, and the battery meter of gkrellm
does the trick. It suspends perfectly when it is closed, and after
messing around with a weak AirPort basestation, I bought a cheap 4-port
router with 802.11b built in, and the gui support for wireless network
configuration worked perfectly.
After doing a text-based install and specifying the correct resolution,
my CinemaHD 23" display booted up perfectly first time, and support for
dual processors is also built in. Audio on the powerbook didn't work
the first few boots, and now it is has corrected itself somehow, possibly
after an upgrade with yum (yellow dog's update manager). Soundsticks also
work perfectly (unlike in Red Hat 9).
I guess the main thing that Tera Soft would like to be known for is that
Yellow Dog is a beautiful turnkey linux solution that runs on nice Apple
hardware and is very familiar to users of Red Hat.
I eschew all forms of advertising and would never wear a logo, but for
a change I was very pleased to put the sticker on the lid of my laptop.
Just Yellow Dog's way of marking its territory, I guess...
It goes without saying, that my sole relation to the makers
of Yellow Dog Linux is that of a paying, satisfied customer.