iBook G4 - Powerpc

This is a discussion on iBook G4 - Powerpc ; Hi, I'm thinking about getting a laptop for college. I'm pretty sure I'm gonna go with an Apple iBook G4. I'm choosing this because I like the chassis design - no sharp edges, nothing to break etc. I do not ...

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  1. iBook G4

    Hi, I'm thinking about getting a laptop for college. I'm pretty sure
    I'm gonna go with an Apple iBook G4. I'm choosing this because I like
    the chassis design - no sharp edges, nothing to break etc.

    I do not plan on running Mac OS though. I've always been an
    open-source kind of guy, so I plan on using Debian GNU/Linux.

    I have used debian for years, but on an x86. I have heard that since
    Linux is an intel 386+ based OS, that it is unbearably slow running on
    a powerPC chip. Can anyone confirm this for me?

    Also, all Mac's have hardware from the same vendor, Apple. (Well, not
    always apple, but exclusive to apple usually) Does this mean that
    installation of Linux distributions will be easy since they should have
    drivers for every component in every Apple? In theory, this would make
    sense, but I'm not so sure.

    Thanks in advance,
    Mike


  2. Re: iBook G4

    On 2006-02-13, mlehman0@gmail.com wrote:

    > I have used debian for years, but on an x86. I have heard that since
    > Linux is an intel 386+ based OS, that it is unbearably slow running on
    > a powerPC chip. Can anyone confirm this for me?


    Where the heck did you hear this? Linux runs really well on my
    iBook G4. A whole lot faster than OS X.

    > Also, all Mac's have hardware from the same vendor, Apple. (Well, not
    > always apple, but exclusive to apple usually) Does this mean that
    > installation of Linux distributions will be easy since they should have
    > drivers for every component in every Apple? In theory, this would make
    > sense, but I'm not so sure.


    In practice, it will likely be more challenging for some devices.
    For example, there's no public specs on the Airport Extreme, which
    would likely be included with the iBook, so you either specifically
    need to request the old Airport, or attempt to get the bcm43xx driver
    working. It's not that difficult, but the driver is definitely
    not stable yet. Similarly on the trackpad--the appletouch kernel
    driver was only recently added to the kernel, and IME is a little
    quirky. (For some reason which I haven't dealt with yet, the trackpad
    occasionally dies after sleeping, and only a reboot helps.)

    At any rate, you'd also likely have to go get some of these drivers
    yourself. Almost certainly the bcm43xx drivers, possibly the
    new kernel with the appletouch driver. It's also true that the
    Broadcom chipset in the Extreme is used in other wireless cards
    that are found in x86 boxes, so it's not exclusive to Apple. (In
    fact, I am pretty sure the firmware I'm using for my bcm43xx
    came from a Windows driver file.)

    But beyond the newer or proprietary-driver hardware, I think you'd
    find the iBook a nice box, and not any more difficult than an x86,
    and certainly as fast as a comparable x86 laptop.

    --keith

    --
    kkeller-usenet@wombat.san-francisco.ca.us
    (try just my userid to email me)
    AOLSFAQ=http://wombat.san-francisco.ca.us/cgi-bin/fom
    see X- headers for PGP signature information


  3. Re: iBook G4

    mlehman0@gmail.com wrote:
    > Hi, I'm thinking about getting a laptop for college. I'm pretty sure
    > I'm gonna go with an Apple iBook G4. I'm choosing this because I like
    > the chassis design - no sharp edges, nothing to break etc.
    >
    > I do not plan on running Mac OS though. I've always been an
    > open-source kind of guy, so I plan on using Debian GNU/Linux.
    >
    > I have used debian for years, but on an x86. I have heard that since
    > Linux is an intel 386+ based OS, that it is unbearably slow running on
    > a powerPC chip. Can anyone confirm this for me?
    >

    It is not slower than corresponding x86 chip (that is: a slow x86 chip).
    Most Linux applications now nothing about "AltiVec" which just rests
    there. If you plan to do some numeric calculations, you can get an
    AltiVec aware BLAS ("basic linear algebra subsystems") for Debian like
    distributions, and then your matrix operations may run much faster (and
    you pray the BLAS you get is not too buggy). My timings have shown that
    the same non-graphical numeric program runs just as fast under MacOS X
    and Linux in the same piece of hardware. This was based on having
    optimized BLAS in Linux (MacOS X has the optimized BLAS originally). X11
    is much slower than graphical interface in Mac, though. So "faster" and
    "slower" depend on the things you do.

    > Also, all Mac's have hardware from the same vendor, Apple. (Well, not
    > always apple, but exclusive to apple usually) Does this mean that
    > installation of Linux distributions will be easy since they should have
    > drivers for every component in every Apple? In theory, this would make
    > sense, but I'm not so sure.
    >


    New iBooks comes with things like WiFi card as standard, but it won't
    work in Linux. Probably you will lose something else, includind 3D
    accelaration for your GPU. Some third-party proprietary software (Adobe,
    Flash) may be unavailable or outdated and buggy.

    If you really want to get a laptop for Linux, it is probably better to
    get an x86. You can install Linux in iBook, but you will probably have
    life much easier and faster with an x86. The only reason to get an iBook
    is that you also want to try MacOS X. I bought an iBook in order to use
    it with Linux, but now I consider uninstalling Linux completely. MacOS X
    co-operates with Linux quite nicely, and at the moment MacOS-iBook is a
    more viable alternative with my Linux desktop than Linux-iBook (mainly
    because I can rsync my home directory with WiFi under MacOS but not
    under Linux).

    cheers, jari oksanen


  4. Re: iBook G4

    mlehman0@gmail.com writes:
    >Hi, I'm thinking about getting a laptop for college. I'm pretty sure
    >I'm gonna go with an Apple iBook G4. I'm choosing this because I like
    >the chassis design - no sharp edges, nothing to break etc.


    You could also look around for PC-style notebooks with a similar
    chassis, or wait for the Intel-based iBook (and then maybe wait some
    more before Linux supports it).

    >I have used debian for years, but on an x86. I have heard that since
    >Linux is an intel 386+ based OS, that it is unbearably slow running on
    >a powerPC chip. Can anyone confirm this for me?


    The PPC 7447a/b/7448 in the iBook G4 is not the fastest CPU around,
    but it's far from unbearably slow. It works nicely for me. To give
    you some idea, here's some data from
    :

    Lower is faster:

    - Athlon (Thunderbird) 800, Abit KT7, PC100-333, RedHat 5.1 2.49
    - iBook G4 12", 1066MHz 7447A, 512KB L2, Debian Sarge GNU/Linux 2.62
    - Powerbook G4 12", 1500MHz 7447A, 512KB L2, MacOS X 10.4.2, gcc 3.09

    >Also, all Mac's have hardware from the same vendor, Apple. (Well, not
    >always apple, but exclusive to apple usually) Does this mean that
    >installation of Linux distributions will be easy since they should have
    >drivers for every component in every Apple?


    Installation of Debian on an iBook is not particularly easy or hard;
    it is a little different, because there is a different boot loader.

    The driver situation has very little to do with the installation; as
    soon as the basic drivers (hard disk etc.) work, the installation
    works. Other drivers may be missing, though.

    Linux distributions tend to have drivers for every component supported
    by Linux.

    Generic components are more likely to be supported than stuff that is
    exclusive to Apple, and stuff that is longer on the market is more
    likely to be better supported than some newfangled stuff.
    Fortunately, Apple uses a lot of generic stuff, and the rest does not
    change much, so a lot of stuff in the iBook is supported.

    However, Apple, like other laptop manufacturers, changes the stuff
    inside their machines without giving them a new name, so be cautious
    if you see stories about stuff working with an iBook G4 (or any other
    laptop); by the time you buy the laptop, the components may have
    changed, and the new components may not be supported (or supported
    fully) by Linux. If you wait for some time, the component may be
    better supported by Linux.

    One thing in the recent iBook G4s that's not supported, and is not
    likely to be, is the WLAN (Airport Extreme; they even have this stuff
    in their Intel-based MacBook rather than the Linux-supported Intel
    Centrino WLAN:-(). But you can buy some USB WLAN device supported by
    Linux (I use a Netgear MA111).

    - anton
    --
    M. Anton Ertl Some things have to be seen to be believed
    anton@mips.complang.tuwien.ac.at Most things have to be believed to be seen
    http://www.complang.tuwien.ac.at/anton/home.html

  5. Re: iBook G4

    Jari Oksanen writes:
    >The only reason to get an iBook
    >is that you also want to try MacOS X.


    I had three reasons for getting an iBook, and MacOS X was not one of
    them (I actually never ran MacOS X on my iBook):

    - I could get a US keyboard for it, but not for most other notebooks.

    - It has a PPC CPU (with Linux-supported performance counters), which
    is useful for the work I do.

    - It was the cheapest 12"-laptop around (and there were rather few
    offerings in that size).

    - anton
    --
    M. Anton Ertl Some things have to be seen to be believed
    anton@mips.complang.tuwien.ac.at Most things have to be believed to be seen
    http://www.complang.tuwien.ac.at/anton/home.html

  6. Re: iBook G4

    Yeah, i think I'm going to try to find a PC with the same chassis
    design. The no-wlan is a big turnoff for me. Hey, Anton, do you know
    any particular models that are similar in design?


  7. Re: iBook G4

    mlehman0@gmail.com writes:
    >Yeah, i think I'm going to try to find a PC with the same chassis
    >design. The no-wlan is a big turnoff for me.


    You might want to make that known to Apple. It might help them
    reconsider their hardware and their approach to Linux, and maybe by
    the time you buy your next laptop, they may offer something you like
    better.

    >Hey, Anton, do you know
    >any particular models that are similar in design?


    Sorry, no, I don't follow these things much. However, with PCs, too,
    you have to be careful about the hardware components and the Linux
    driver support, especially with laptops where dropping in something
    else is impossible or at least inconvenient. The Centrino WLAN is
    supported.

    - anton
    --
    M. Anton Ertl Some things have to be seen to be believed
    anton@mips.complang.tuwien.ac.at Most things have to be believed to be seen
    http://www.complang.tuwien.ac.at/anton/home.html

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