[conspire] New user-friendly Linux distro for PPC (was: new laptop Fedora 13 with NVIDIA graphics card - yum update - now only blank screen)

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Wed Oct 20 22:50:01 PDT 2010

I commented to Ed Biow:

> Anyhow, sorry, but installation options for PowerPC are dropping fast.

...except when they're not.  There's a new PowerPC Linux distro, which
should appeal, even though it's a bit odd:  MintPPC 9, which is an
unofficial port of Linux Mint 9's LXDE Edition setup to Debian/PPC.
Linux Mint in turn, just to remind people, is yet another Ubuntu variant
with extra codecs and such, and the LXDE variant brings the benefit of
the LXDE desktop environment's significantly lower machine resource
requirements, relative to GNOME, KDE, and XFCE4.  

I've just downloaded the install ISO.  One of the quirks of _this_
project is that one starts by installing a _Debian_ ISO for PowerPC, and
the instructions page specifies a few manual Mint-ising steps to then
take, including running a shell script.

Installation instructions and download link:

But you have to login to the site before you're permitted to see that
page -- and I take a somewhat jaundiced view of that, so here are the 
instructions (less one picture).  The referenced shell script is now
mirrored at http://linuxmafia.com/pub/linux/system/mint-installer 

Installation MintPPC 9

Install a base Debian Lenny system. I opted for the minimal iso, which
one can burn to a USB stick or burn to CD. I install it this way as my
experience with CDROM installations are bad. Most of the time the
installer hangs on my PowerBook G3 Pismo as the CDROM cannot read some

1. USB base system installation

Download the minimal iso here
(http://ftp.nl.debian.org/debian/dists/lenny/main/installer-powerpc/current/images/powerpc/netboot/mini.iso). In Gparted make the USB stick empty. Find
also out here what the device name is for your stick (in my case
/dev/sda but it could be different). Then copy the content of the iso to
the stick:

	sudo dd if=/path/to/mini.iso of=/dev/sda

Then boot from the USB if your Mac is capable of doing this. One of my
Pismo is, the other not, don't ask me why. They are both the same.
Boot in open firmware by holding option+command+o+f. Then find out which
is the device:

	dev / ls

You should see somewhere usb with an extra entry disk, write that number
down usb19 or something in my case. Then have a look at the devalias:


Now it's either usb0 or usb1 which is associated with usb19. This is
your boot device, in my case usb1. Then boot:

	boot usb1/disk at 1:2,\\yaboot      (or)
	boot usb0/disk at 1:2,\\yaboot

Continue with installation type.

2. CDROM installation

Burn the iso onto a CDROM and boot from it (hold C down while booting).

3. Installation type

If you type TAB, you will find several installation methods. You then
type "expert" as we will be installing Squeeze from a Lenny
netinstaller. We cannot yet install Squeeze natively as there is still a
bug in the Debian Installer with respect to yaboot.
We will install a base system without a graphical user interface. We
will add that later ourselves. At the "Choose Mirror" page I selected
Squeeze-testing as the Debian version to install. Later I opted for no
additional installer components.

In the partioner you select Manual. I hope you know what to do here, it
can seriously damage your contents of your drive if you don't know what
you are doing. You need a bootloader partition, a partition with EXT3
set as root (/) as mount point and you need to format that partition.
You will also need some swap space the amount of your RAM. It will look
similar to this:

[picture omitted]

I chose as kernel linux-image-2.6.32-5-powerpc. I took all generic
drivers in initrd.

In the Package Manager I opted for non-free as well. In the "Select
software" section I unticked the graphical environment with the space
bar, as we will add it manually later. Let it install everything and
reboot into base system.

4. MintPPC installation

	wget http://mac.linux.be/files/Isadora/mint-installer
	chmod +x mint-installer
	sudo passwd

Login as root (su) with your root password. First we need to install
sudo as it's not in the base install:

	apt-get install sudo

Then add yourself to the sudoers list.

	nano /etc/sudoers

then add your own username under root and copy it like it is:

	root   ALL=(ALL) ALL
	jeroen ALL=(ALL) ALL

CTRL-x and y to save. You can now logout of the root shell (CTRL-d).
Start the installer as sudo.

	sudo ./mint-installer

This will install all the required packages for Linux MintPPC. If
something freezes, you can always reboot and run the installer again.
Just make sure that the system is 'clean', by doing:

	sudo dpkg --configure -a

Make sure that everything is installed. You might break the installer
with CTRL-C before the MintPPC specific programs are going to be
installed. Just run the installer again from the start. It might add
other programs. If nothing changes anymore, continue with installation
of the MintPPC specific programs.

When everything is installed, just before rebooting, you could stop the
installation here to adjust the X settings, if you know of a working
xorg.conf file for your type of Mac. If you don't know what to do, type
"y" for reboot.

After this: reboot...

5. Post installation

In the GDM login window select as Session: "Linux Mint LXDE"
Then login with your username and password. I would make the Linux Mint
LXDE the default for future sessions.

NB If you see a distorted GUI, or no GUI at all, go to the MintPPC
forum (http://www.mintppc.org/phpBB3/). I will try to solve your problem there.

The first thing you will notice is that the desktop is not "finished".
Just go to Preferences -> Openbox Configuration Manager and select
"Mint" as theme. Now righ click the Desktop with F11 and go to
Wallpaper. Take a nice picture from /usr/share/backgrounds/mint-lxde. I
use Talento-1.jpg. You have to set the Wallpaper mode to "Stretch to fit
the screen". You will have a background on your Desktop then. I tried
many things to have this done automatically, but I did not succeed.
Sorry about that. Now it's time to enjoy Linux MintPPC 9.

If you are installing MintPPC on a PowerBook G4 Aluminium then I would
go for an extra kernel module to prevent overheating. Add therm_adt746x
to /etc/modules. Make sure to also install cpudyn:

	sudo apt install cpudyn

6. Known problems

The Mint installer could not be ported due to a missing library in
Debian. If the library will ever be available I will port Mint installer
and let you all know via the home page.

There is some problem with the automatic extraction of the firmware of
Broadcom wireless devices, needed for the b43/b43-legacy driver in
b43-fwcutter. It can be done manually. See the forum

If you have questions, remarks or suggestions, go here

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