The truth about Linux

A lot of people have always claimed that Linux isn't very good.  They have also claimed that PowerPC Linux is buggy.  This is all very wrong for the most part.

Ubuntu is really the only distro that is overly buggy, and on x86 as well.  It's the curse of the constant release cycle that is to blame for this.  For those that don't know, every 6 months they release a new version, whether it's ready for the masses or not.  No matter how many bugs exist, they just keep pushing them out.

With Debian, this is not the case at all.  The Debian developer team doesn't promote their testing builds to stable until they are truly ready.  The testing builds (currently Jessie) spend at least 2 years in that state.

The downfall for most people is that Debian is aimed at the intermediate to advanced level users.  The ones that don't need their hand held.  It comes a lot more raw out of the box compared to Ubuntu, and thats the point.  Most Linux users like to configure everything themselves.  They don't want a bloated and eye candy rich experience, because that defeats the whole purpose of running Linux in the first place.

Linux is very much a DIY OS.  It is what you make it.  Nothing more, nothing less.

There are even some people that use Mac OS who have the balls to say Linux is dead on PowerPC.  What are these people smoking?  It is Mac OS that is dead on PowerPC, not Linux.  Linux is still very actively developed for PowerPC.  When it comes to Debian it is still officially supported.  That means it's not a community development project like Ubuntu/Lubuntu PowerPC, and it's not just limited to PowerPC and x86.  There are a total of 13 CPU types with official support, including ARM and SPARC.  All 13 of these chip types get full support from the official development team.

In the end, any OS is only going to be as capable as the person using it.  Period.  That is an indisputable stone cold fact.  If the user has limited ability, then so will the OS.

Don't blame Linux because you don't have the ability to make it do all you desire.  If you cannot bend it to your will, then you need to gain more skills so you can.  Again, it will not hold your hand like Mac OS.  You need real ability that goes far beyond pointing and clicking, and you need to learn most of it yourself, or it will never sink in.  These are not things you can have spoon fed to you.  You need to learn the theory behind what you're trying to do first, and then learn the steps you need to take.  People who say that Linux isn't good are really saying that they lack ability; whether they realize that or not.

I learned all that I know on my own.  I didn't have anyone to spoon feed me all these things.  You can do the same.  If all you want to do forever is point and click, and put as little thought as possible into your computing, then you'll be stuck in that rut forever.

I understand that most of you come from the Mac OS world.  A place where you can point and click your way out of any issue or task.  This is not at all what Linux is, and it never will be.

Linux allows the freedom to do anything you desire.  All you need is the ability to use it properly; this takes time.  If you put in the effort, I can promise that you will get great returns from it.  If you just want to compute at the lowest common denominator level, then I'm not even sure why you would visit this blog in the first place.

Linux and BSD = total control, and ongoing skill advancement.

Mac OS and Windows = very little control, and ongoing skill decline.

Choose wisely!     

Our first birthday!

I started this blog a year ago today, and a lot has happened in that time.  I have taken on everything from the greatness of the PowerPC architecture, to the backward immorality of Low End Mac.

In January of this year, the blog was made even better with the addition of Dr.Dave.  A veterinarian, and a man of many skills, Dave has been one of the greatest things to ever happen to this blog.  Together we have made this place a lightning rod for progressive ideas on how to move this amazing architecture forward, and keep those PowerPC Macs the healthiest and most secure they can be.

We have fought against the backward thinking ignoramuses that try to convince people to use only outdated and non-secure MacOS.  The good news is that this group is shrinking all the time.  Almost on a daily basis, in fact.  To those that were in denial, but have now seen the light, that is what this blog is all about.  There are now a lot less people pushing this backward thinking, so this has given the Dr. and myself a lot more time to concentrate on what is important, security and computing skill advancement.

Looking forward, we will continue on the same path we have always taken.  A path of advancement, with a big dose of unfiltered truth to munch on along the journey.

A big thanks to all our readers also.  Without you guys there would be no one to read what we write.

To help us celebrate our first birthday, we ask you to share what this blog has meant to you, and how it has helped you not only learn, but understand things you already knew in a different light.

Long live PowerPC, skill advancement, Debian, BSD, and this blog.

Three boring weeks with Debian 7

Debian 7.1 is boring. There, I said it and I meant it. Now, you have to understand that in my day job I do surgery, taking animals to a plane of existence not far from death, and boring is good. Very good. Sudden and unexplained jumps or drops in heart rate, drops in blood pressure, crashes of any kind are bad, very bad. Boring is what I want in the surgery suite, and, thanks to Debian I am discovering it is also what I want from my computing experience. In three weeks with Debian 7.1 I have yet to experience a crash, an application lock up, just works. Boring may just be the highest compliment any Linux distro or any OS can receive.

The Universal Operating System indeed.

I liked my boring Debian PowerPC experience so much that I decided to put Debian 7.1 on a old Dell laptop I had a end of life version of Linux Mint on, and discovered Debian can be all exciting and crashy, if you have a weird exotic hardware configuration, as the Dell does. This is a PowerPC blog so I won't bore you with the details, but suffice to say early 2000 Dells with Pentium M's present some unique challenges.

Now....for the ultimate question, can it play youtube? It's still amazing to me that now, above all else watching funny cat videos is the litmus test for any computer in 2013. I am happy to report that yes, I can play youtube on this old Powermac. Firstly, all of the cross platform alternatives detailed so eloquently by the ppcluddite here work. My preferred method he describes is the Youtube EZ Download/Open With method. Why? Well, you can hand the video off to mplayer, and in the preferences for Open With you can add some of the luddites' mplayer arguments and thereby get good playback without issue. For some people however this seems to be a right click to far, and they have to be able to watch youtube inside the bloody browser. I am happy to say even that is easy peasy, with the Greasemonkey script Viewtube. Now, in the past I've tried using Totem and mplayers mozilla plugins with this method on other PowerPC Linux distros and it does not work, period. But VLC's plugin works well for me, and has a couple advantages to boot.

If you haven't already done so, install Greasemonkey in Iceweasel from the add ons (under tools, just like Firefox, cause it is Firefox) and head over to You have two options there, either plain old vanilla Viewtube or Viewtube_VLC. In regular Viewtube you select the VLC plugin from the drop down menu at the top of the player window that says "Auto". Viewtube_VLC will only use VLC's plugin, so that step is already done for you. You of course need to install the VLC plugin by firing up a terminal and typing at the prompt (assuming you have added yourself to the sudoers file, otherwise you will need to do this as root):

sudo apt-get install mozilla-plugin-vlc

I have not bothered with mplayer or Totem's plugin due to past experience, but if you are willing to install them and report back in the comments I'd appreciate knowing if the past issues are sorted and they work for you.

Advantages? Unlike Totem and mplayer plugins which, if they work, insist on loading upwards of 20% of the video into cache before they play, VLC's pretty much starts playing the video immediately. Also, search ahead works (doesn't in either of the above plugins, on any platform), which is quite nice. The VLC plugin controls are limited, but with Viewtube's controls you have all of the control you need over the video. The fake fullscreen feature (it's the plus button on the right hand side) in viewtube also works well. Basically its all good.

Other options for youtube playback on Debian are minitube or smtube. Current versions of both are in the experimental (Sid) repositories. I have not tried either as I personally have no desire to descend into the fires of dependency hell. Minitube uses ffmpeg and gstreamer, and in my experience loading experimental versions of both will absolutely, positvely break something. Recall that I want my Debian boring. Speaking of which, below are some incredibly boring screenshots of applications on Debian 7.1 in action on my Powermac G4.

Next up for the dr., loading Debian 7 onto a Tangerine ibook with a couple compact flash cards to replace the ancient, tiny and loud stock HD. I suspect that this endeavour will not be boring, at all.