7448 chip is ready for space

Running at 1267 MHz, and with Altivec to assist it, this radiation hardened version of the G4 based 7448 will be a big boost over the G3 chips in the 200-300 MHz range that are currently being used.

I wonder if the next Mars Rover will be 7448 powered.  It takes at least a few years to implement new chips into hardware that will go to space, simply because of how deep the engineering and testing has to go. 

Read more about it here:

e2v Release Space Qualified GHz-Class Microprocessor

Ubuntu forum has been compromised

For those of you with accounts on the Ubuntu forum, I wanted to let you know it has been compromised. 

I received this email from the forum sysadmin:


You are receiving this message because you have an account registered with this address on ubuntuforums.org.

The Ubuntu forums software was compromised by an external attacker. As a result, the attacker has gained access to read your username, email address and an encrypted copy of your password from the forum database.

If you have used this password and email address to authenticate at any other website, you are urged to reset the password on those accounts immediately as the attacker may be able to use the compromised personal information to access these other accounts. It is important to have a distinct password for different accounts.

The ubuntuforums.org website is currently offline and we are working to restore this service. Please take the time to change your ubuntuforums.org account password when service is restored.

We apologize for any inconvenience to the Ubuntu community, thank you for your understanding.

The Canonical Sysadmins.

I doubt that Debian would ever suffer such an exploit on their forum.  Canonical has become more sloppy as the days, months and years go by.

Shame on you, Canonical.

Quick and dirty; light and fast

About three days ago, a reader asked me to just write a short Debian install guide for a PowerPC system with a very small hard drive.  A guide isn't even needed.  All you need to know are a couple basic steps and you'll have a nice lightweight Debian install, with a very small drive footprint.

The light and small footprint factors are very complimentary indeed.  The PowerPC systems with the smallest drives are generally the slowest ones.  Their small drive actually forces you to make the right OS choice if you want any semblance of performance.

While this type of install is most beneficial to the slowest of PowerPC hardware, it can also have a good benefit on productivity with the fastest of hardware.  I keep it light no matter what OS or hardware I use, and I see the benefits all round with everything I use.  If you have any G3 or a slower G4, then you should at least give this method a test drive on your machine.

Here are the very simple steps to getting an ultra-light Debian install.  One that is actually lighter than Puppy Linux, and just about any Linux with a GUI.  For PowerPC users, this is the absolute best method to get the most out of your hardware on Linux.  This is easily the best route to take for a slower machine you want to dedicate to internet use.

I am going to use Debian stable (Jessie) in this install.

Step 1:

Download the Netinstall ISO image

Step 2:

Burn the image to a CD and boot it by holding down C.  At the Yaboot prompt, press enter or return to start the install.

Step 3:

When shown the options of what to install, deselect everything (even the GUI) but utilities at the very bottom.  Laptop users will also see a preselected option called "Laptop"; you will obviously want this selected for best hardware support.

The reason I say to deselect the GUI, even though these options are extended in the Jessie installer, is that installing a GUI from the Debian installer adds a lot of extra software packages that you may not want.  Installing the GUI manually afterward gives you just the GUI itself, without all the extras like LibreOffice, Gimp etc.  Remember, this is supposed to be a light install. 

Step 4:

Once it reboots you need to login as root with root/root pass you chose at install.

Step 5:

Once you have logged in as root, simply type the following:

apt-get install lxde

It will default to getting it from the same mirror you chose for the Debian install.

When the LXDE install is done type:


 It will then boot to a GUI login screen for LXDE.  Login with your user account.

Step 6:

Install whatever else you desire once logged into LXDE with your user account.  When you install this way you get no extra apps at all; not even Iceweasel, which is Debian's fork of Firefox.  It's not exactly lightweight, but is needed for the times when you need a heavily standardized experience.  It just works when the lightweight browsers need config.

Fire up the "Root Terminal" and type:

apt-get install iceweasel

Then simply keep using apt-get to install whatever else you desire.  Once the terminal is done an install you can simply tap the up arrow and get your last command.  Then you simply just replace the package name to keep installing everything else.  Jennifer didn't want office software or anything, just the OS and browser.

Other things I recommend installing for basic internet and system use:

  • sylpheed (lightweight email client)
  • luakit (lightweight webkit based browser)
  • xxxterm (lightweight webkit based browser) 
  • transmission (lightweight bit torrent client) 
  • pidgin (multi-protocol instant messenger)
  • netatalk (package for networking with Mac OS systems)
  • synaptic (gui for apt) (useful when you have a need but don't know package names)
  • hardinfo (system profiler-like app with benchmarks)
  • kupfer (very powerful but light app/document launcher)

If you also want some music on the system, I would try either 'rhythmbox' or 'audacious'.

Thats about it.  If you want LibreOffice, GIMP and all the other stuff that installs with the other Debian images then just use one of them.  The purpose of this install method is to stay light.  You could easily get by on 128 MB RAM with the install I just took a brisk pace through. 

You also get Openbox with LXDE, so you can still take advantage of all the configuration possibilities that Dan the PPC Luddite offers on his blog, along with Urukrama's guide

If you need any other details about the install then just ask in comments and I will add them.  I wrote this quickly without much time to spare.  Debian is very easy to install.  Just follow the onscreen instructions and you'll be fine.

Keep in mind that this install is designed around the idea of Debian being the only OS for a dedicated, lightweight and secure system.  I made this as simple and direct as possible.  Use your oldest/slowest PowerPC hardware first to see the true value of light.

When I do the exact above type of install, I am left with a Debian LXDE setup that only uses about 49-54 MB RAM after login.  You really can't beat that for a modern OS.  It would even be hard to beat that if you went back 5-10 years.

Debian's path is already lit by the Luddite

A couple readers have asked me to write a Debian Install guide, but there is no need.  There is already a great guide in existence from our close friend Dan the PPC Luddite.  Dan is a Debian chef of master class levels, and his guide can help you turn your install into a gourmet dish.

If you just want Debian as the only OS on the hardware in question, then you can easily install it without help in most situations.  You don't need to know any commands unless you tell it not to install a GUI.  If you want to tinker with other OS and such on the same machine, and other more specific things, then Dan's guide is for you.

The best reason to use Dan's guide is all the PowerPC-specific configuration help it gives.  Proper configuration is key to having a great Linux install when you're done.

Here are all five parts of his install guide, which he updates continually:

Part I - Pre-Installation

Part II - Installing the Base System

Part III - Installing the GUI 

Part IV - Configuring Stuff 

Part V - Bugs & Quirks 

The only real thing I would change is installing LXDE, rather than just Openbox as Dan does.  With LXDE you still get Openbox, along with all the added LXDE greatness.  Openbox comes totally raw out of the box.  It takes a lot of config to get it just right.  LXDE is more of a personal choice, but I can promise that a lot of Linux newbies will adapt far better to it.  I also recommend Fluxbox.  It's kind of a middle ground between LXDE and Openbox in terms of pre-configured things. 

I am working on more Debian content of my own, but I don't like redundancy in the community, so there will be no Debian install guide here, at least for now.  The Luddite's guide is very well done, and has a very capable user with legitimate experience behind every word.  You can trust Dan as much as us to look out for your computing well-being.

All Apologies

Dr. Dave here, it's been a month since my last post so I thought I'd apologize for the big break. This is not due to a lack of interest in PowerPC! It is in part due to a very hectic and full work schedule, but also due to yet another video chip failure on my ibook G4 1.07 ghz. This is now the third ibook (one G3 and two G4's) that has gone south due to the video chip becoming unseated from the board. I could of course try and "flame it" back down as others have famously done, but at this point I really want to move away from the ibook line as a whole. In part I kept with ibooks so I could use one machine as a parts mule for the other, but that is clearly a flawed plan when the video chips keep failing. I was debating my next PowerPC step when...

...A retired University professor I've known forever called. He was about to toss a Power Mac G4 he hadn't turned on in three years into a dumpster, after removing the hard drive of course. The specs? A 1.4 ghz (Giga Designs) upgraded Sawtooth (AGP graphics), 2 GB of RAM with a ATI Radeon 9200 with 128 MB of VRAM. I think everyone who reads this blog would sensibly do what I did, and throw themselves between the dumpster and the Power Mac.

Inspired by Zen's recent post  I decided to skip Lubuntu PPC or MintPPC and just go the the heart of the matter, ie the shiny new Debian 7. As with Zen, I'm happy to report the install was utterly painless, just a click or two here and there. In fact, I'd have to say it was one of the least painful Linux or Mac OS X installs I've ever done. Hat's off to the Debian PowerPC team, whoever and wherever you are! It's early days for me and Debian 7, but so far it is hella impressive. Debian 7 PowerPC is stable, secure and sweet. There are a few things to learn and do differently if you are more familiar with 'buntu land, but nothing major.

After 25 years I now no longer have any working Mac OS installs, PowerPC or Intel. It's my intention to use Linux exclusively in the future, as I don't really do any content creation that would require OS X, and find VLC and Mplayer wholly adequate for my media playback needs. With Debian 7 I've got Firefox 17.0.7 and luakit for my web browsing, and a host of audio players to choose from. Who needs OS X Maverick, anyway?

Near future posts will cover youtube playback, office suites and other neat things.


That is the number of known security vulnerabilities that have yet to be fixed for all Mac OS X versions, 337.  These vulnerabilities range from 2001 to the present and a large majority of them are specific to the PowerPC era at Apple.

A full list and explanations of these security vulnerabilities can be found here:

Apple Mac OS X Security Vulnerabilities 

It is not my intent to give anyone worry, but there are far too many of you in denial.

Over the last few days I have gotten a few emails from people who became concerned with Mac security. Rather than babble on and on and confuse those people further, I simply wanted to show a clear and direct example of all the vulnerabilities.

The point is that even OS X 10.8 has several issues with security while the PowerPC compatible versions hold a majority of them. Obviously the Intel versions of 10.4 and 10.5 have the same issues, but I can assure you that a majority of Tiger/Leopard users are PowerPC owners.

Your PowerPC Mac running Linux, at least for online activity and security, is more capable, and certainly safer, than a brand new Intel Mac running Mountain Lion.