The most recent version of these essays can be found at http://linuxmafia.com/~rick/faq/.
("That's what you get for swimming in the shallow end of the gene pool.")
Economy of expression is a good thing. So, rather than have to repeat myself continually, I'm posting my top rants here, for ready reference. Many of you (readers) will be visiting today because I pointedly referred you to the "#"-tagged URL of some particular item, below.
Table o' Contents
- Modems . . .
- Hardware . . .
- Linux Tire-Kicking . . .
- Virus . . .
- Proprietary Warez . . .
MacLinux . . .
- What version of Linux would work on my Macintosh?
- What version of Linux would work on my PowerPC-based Macintosh?
- What version of Linux would work on my Motorola 68k-based Macintosh?
- Crybaby . . .
- Netiquette . . .
- Miscellany . . .
Depends on whether your Mac is a reasonably recent model, based on the Motorola/IBM "PowerPC" CPU family (i.e., a "PowerMac"), or a very, very old model based on the Motorola 68000 ("m68k") CPU family.
This takes a little explaining. There were two separate efforts to build a Linux for PowerMacs. One is based on a traditional-type Linux kernel tailored for the PowerPC chip, and is dubbed the LinuxPPC kernel. (If you see references to "Pmac/Linux", this was an early separate development effort now merged into LinuxPPC.) A different group, earlier, constructed a Linux "personality" layer on top of the highly portable Carnegie-Mellon "Mach" microkernel, and the result was dubbed the mkLinux kernel. They intentionally present the same program interface to executable programs.
Distributions based on the now-antiquated mkLinux kernel will work on either PCI-bus PowerMacs or on (very old) PowerMacs using the older NuBus architecture. The LinuxPPC kernel used to be PCI-bus only, but later gained the ability to support NuBus devices via a clever software add-on. (Caveat: The mkLinux kernel cannot support Macs whose keyboards and mice are USB-type, because the Mach variant used doesn't support USB.)
The groundbreaking but now-defunct distribution based (mainly) on the LinuxPPC kernel was, somewhat confusingly, also called LinuxPPC, published by LinuxPPC, Inc., and was derived from the two non-profit Linux/PPC Developers Reference Releases, which in turn were closely based on Red Hat. It had a very large and active user/developer community, but is no longer a reasonable option.
The second and oldest surviving LinuxPPC-based distribution is Yellow Dog Linux, published by Terra Soft Solutions, Inc. Terra Soft's product is kept current, though it seems to miss a lot of deadlines, and seems to specialise in commercial polish and support. It is based on Red Hat / Fedora.
The all-open-source RHEL-rebuild CentOS distribution has a robust PPC build.
PLD Linux Distribution is a flexible RPM-based distribution maintained by a group of volunteers mainly based in Poland.
Another LinuxPPC-based distribution is the "sarge" (v. 3.1) and "etch" branches of the Debian distribution. Debian for PowerPC CD-ROMs are available from LCS/Net North West (and possibly other vendors), or the files can be retrieved from the Net.
A distribution named Linux from Scratch, aimed at teaching about the internal workings of a distribution, has a variant with a LinuxPPC kernel.
Vidalinux Desktop OS is a cutting-edge GNOME + KDE desktop distribution built on a Gentoo foundation.
The Mandriva (formerly Mandrakelinux) v. 10.1 desktop-oriented distribution supports PPC.
Holon Linux is a Japanese-language distribution based on Red Hat and featuring updates using Debian's apt-get utility.
Vine Linux is a Japanese-originated update of Red Hat 6.2 with integrated Japanese-language support.
Slackintosh (unmaintained since July 2004) is an unofficial Slackware port to PPC.
ASPLinux (of Russia) produces some versions as PPC ports, which can be found on some of its mirror sites.
MontaVista Software's MontaVista Linux (formerly Hard Hat Linux) is mostly intended for embedded use, but can also be used for general-purpose computing.
Last, a LinuxPPC-based version of the SUSE distribution was available for a while for Apple PowerMacs and IBM RS6000s (as always, only some models of each). The consumer-oriented variant was discontinued after v. 7.3, but well-heeled Linuxers can still buy SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for IBM pSeries (Power4 and Power5).
The only mkLinux-based distribution thus far was called (again, somewhat confusingly) MkLinux, which was published by Prime Time Freeware and funded by Apple Computer, but is now defunct.
Last, the TurboLinux distribution for PowerPC, formerly detailed here, appears to also be defunct.
Note: All twenty-one surviving distributions for the PowerMac have problems with particular Mac models and add-ons, so check their compatibility lists carefully.
It should also be mentioned that System Rescue CD has a PPC build of its live CD, but (as of 2004) is still in beta. (Gentoo's beta PPC live CD is probably more functional.)
There are also some non-Linux Unix options that might be of interest: Apple Computer offers MacOS X and MacOS X Server, which graft the Macintosh look and feel onto a BSD (Berkeley) Unix software layer (those BSD underpinnings being dubbed "Darwin"), which in turn was constructed using a fork of the Mach microkernel (but no longer with appreciable hardware abstraction, and therefore no longer running as a microkernel). As such, OS X is a reissue and update of its immediate pre-corporate-acquisition ancestor, NeXT Computer's NeXTStep / OPENSTEP. There's also MachTen from Tenon Intersystems, Inc., a BSD Unix running atop the Mach microkernel that in turn runs on the Macintosh OS. Last, you can always use the ever-handy NetBSD, OpenBSD and FreeBSD operating systems (but only on PCI-based PowerMacs, not NuBus ones). (At one point, Apple also sold a version of IBM's "AIX" Unix variant tailored for the PowerMac, but those were vanishingly rare.)
The effort to support m68k Macs centres around yet another variant of the Linux kernel, called "Linux/m68k". Take care not to confuse this with "mkLinux", which is for PowerMacs, not m68k chips. (Some have added to this confusion by promoting the meaningless term "MacLinux". Don't be among them.)
The main distribution for the Linux/m68k kernel is Debian "sarge" (3.1) and "etch". Debian m68k is now a full-fledged and reliable system, particularly on Amiga and Atari machines based on Motorola m68k CPUs, but also on m68k Macs. There remain some problem hardware-support areas on Macs, so check the port's current status via the Linux/m68k for Macintosh FAQ and the main Linux/68k FAQ.
The equally ancient offerings Eagle Linux and Whiteline Linux/68k (both based on Debian 2.0) appear to have vanished.
Happy MacLinux is fairly current (newest release = 2003), but may well be Japanese-language-only.
Other Unix options for m68k Macs: Apple once published A/UX for these machines, but it was always rare (and sluggish) and was long ago discontinued. Tenon Intersystems's MachTen, a BSD (Berkeley) Unix layer running atop the Mach microkernel that in turn runs on the Macintosh OS, is still available for m68k Macs. Last, you can always use the ever-handy NetBSD and OpenBSD operating systems.
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