Comments and HTML

This post is simply to explain to all the commenters here that Blogger's comment system fully supports HTML.  This will allow you to make URL's clickable and such.  Once I have spare time to write more CSS code here, I want to try and make it so URL's in comments will be made clickable automatically, but until then (and I'm not even sure how successful that will be), you can use HTML.

Here is the code required to make URL's clickable within comments:
<b><a href="">URL Title</a></b>

I added code to make the link bold, because otherwise it will not stand out, and will blend in with the rest of the text.  As I'm sure you all know already; bold is the language of clickable links here.

So there you go... you can all now use this and other code to make your comment links clickable. I'm not exactly sure what, if any, limits Blogger put on the extent of supported HTML, but I know that url code works perfectly.

Happy HTMLing!

Debian Bug Reporting Party!

This is my second post title in a row that ends in an exclamation point. But before I get voted off the island, I thought it would be a good idea to have a post dedicated to the reporting of Debian bugs great and small. I could kick it off by whining reporting my findings and linking to various bug reports I've left, and then you the reader can confirm and augment my bug report with your own additions. Then in the comments section, you can tell us about bugs you've run into and we can confirm and resolve to file a report to the ever-responsive bug squashing gods.

I've been switching over to Debian Jessie and I've run into several bugs that seem to be PowerPC issues. There are of course KMS issues with Xorg's radeon driver (black screen, system freezes, broken suspend), but I'm not sure there's much point in leaving bug reports since Xorg developers have basically said they don't have the hardware or inclination to debug our issues. This is a bit of a conundrum since KMS will now be required to use the radeon driver, and those of us who can't switch because of the above bugs are stuck with the fbdev driver and an unaccelerated desktop.

That said, maybe we can find a more receptive audience with sound bugs. The one I'm most interested in is this Clementine bug. It crashes whenever I try to play a music file, and it happens on all three systems I've used it on. I've never seen anyone else report a similar bug, so my question is, can anyone on PowerPC get Clementine to play files? Or is it just me?

Another bug I found is tangentially related to Clementine. Clementine pulls in gstreamer1.0-alsa as a recommended dependency, but with that package installed, all other GStreamer players crash. After I uninstalled gstreamer1.0-alsa, GStreamer apps like Rhythmbox and Banshee could once again play files. Again, I haven't seen this reported elsewhere, so maybe it's a PowerPC thing.

Definitely a PowerPC thing is this soundcard-detect issue, also reported and commented on in many other places. Hopefully somebody's working on it behind the scenes, or maybe the next bug report will be the magic one?

Finally, two other audio bugs: Quod Libet's equalizer plugin failed, and I can't get an audio server with jackd2.

In kernel bug news, I found a couple. First, hibernate isn't working for me, and second, when DPMS powers off the screen after 10 minutes of inactivity, the backlight won't come on after I wake it. The only way to turn the backlight back on is to toggle the brightness keys. This is on my iBook using the fbdev driver; I haven't tested it with KMS on my Powerbook as I've not upgraded that to Jessie yet.

As for GUI bugs, I found a massive one — as in it makes your icons massively oversized. This only happens in GTK3 applications when using an SVG icon theme, so an easy workaround is to ditch SVG icons or GTK3 apps.

In terribly sad news, xfburn appears to crash whenever I add files in preparation for a data burn. The package maintainer had nothing to say, but another developer with an interest seemed to think this was a PowerPC, or at least a 32-bit, issue.

This brings up something else. In the bug reports I've filed, package maintainers haven't been exactly jumping off their stools to respond. In a lot of these reports I left backtraces and everything, but there appears to be precious little debugging. Maybe if more PowerPC users chime in, we can get a better response. Or at least make developers feel really really guilty inside when they don't do anything.

Any bugs you've come across that really bug you? Leave them in the comments, and me and hopefully others can try to confirm them and organize a party of pitchfork and torch bearers to show up at a developer's doorstep.

Wanted: G5 Author

Have a G5?  Run Linux, Mac OS and other OS?  Have a legitimate background in technology, and would enjoy writing about it?  PowerPC Liberation needs you.

The G5 chip has always been very under-represented here, and not because of intent, but because the stance of this blog has always been to write from direct experience, not conjecture.  So since none of us who write here own a G5-powered machine, we can't really write from that perspective.

Logout from viva PowerPC has an open invite to be an author here, and that offer will always be there if he wants it.  He is about the only truly qualified G5 user I know of.

Anyone else, please send your details, and perhaps some sample writings, to powerpcliberation at gmail dot com.  In your details, please explain why you want to write here, along with how you're qualified to do so.  Only serious and qualified applicants will be considered.

The number one thing we need here is a G5-based Linux/Debian user; with some Mac OS and other operating systems peppered in.  So if you're a strict Mac OS only fanboy-type user; don't waste your time or ours.

Grab a Qup ;) of QupZilla!

Admit it, you laughed.

A reader and starter of this Ubuntu forum thread alerted me to the existence of a (relatively) new browser with the pun-proliferating name QupZilla. Since it's a good idea to have at least two web browsers on your system, and since Midori seems to be having difficulties lately, I'm on the lookout for a second browser to complement Iceweasel. And being a webkit browser, QupZilla seems to fit the bill.

So is it any good? Upon first opening it, it looks familiar, very much like Firefox from the pre-Australis days. This isn't the eccentric interface of Midori which was developed to the interests and needs of its author rather than a general audience. With QupZilla there are no surprises, but there are many features. This isn't one of those minimalist webkit browsers, either. Besides the usual bookmark, password, and cookie management, there are also built-in features that are rather like some popular Firefox and Chrome extensions. So it comes with AdBlock, FlashBlock, and Greasemonkey as well as Speed-Dial, an RSS reader, and Videoner, which opens video links in an external program.

Its performance on Linux is practically indistinguishable from Iceweasel. They use almost identical amounts of memory and I didn't perceive any differences in page loading times.

Additional features let you link to an external download manager if you want more than the built-in one, and enable user agent management either globally or on a site-by-site basis. There's also a web inspector, so this is a mature browser even though it's relatively new on the block.

Overall, I have to say I'm really impressed. The only downside for me is the lack of a NoScript-like feature, but maybe if we cross our fingers and email the developer they'll make our wish come true.

QupZilla is in the Debian Jessie repository with a newer version in Sid, so go give it a look!

Taking a Walk With Debian Jessie

It's about that time in Debian's release cycle again where Testing enters a feature-freeze and all of Debian's worker bees hunker down and concentrate on bug squashing for their next stable release (yes, my metaphors are terrible). Also, they've recently come out with Jessie Installer Beta 2, so what better time to check out how Jessie's coming along and see if it'll crush our dreams or not?

In order to do this, I wanted to do a clean install instead of upgrading from Wheezy and having the safety valve of falling back on the old kernel. No safety nets here! Also, it's on a testing machine. I'm not gonna risk my stable install for you people. So onto the exercise. How does Jessie measure up?

The installer itself remains very familiar. It's only toward the end where it throws in something new: fresh choices for the desktop environment. In addition to the usual Gnome, KDE, LXDE, and XFCE, they also have options for Cinnamon and Mate. Good to know, but I was in a hurry and deferred installing a desktop environment for later.

To get a GUI up and running quick, I installed Openbox over the base system along with Xorg and LightDM and rebooted. It didn't take long for things to go wrong. For some reason LightDM didn't want to start up, so I replaced it with Slim, which is what I should've done in the beginning since it's much faster, and tried again. This time I got past the login screen but quickly found there's an issue with the radeon driver. This G3 iBook has an ATI card in it, so I need the radeon driver to give me at least 2D desktop acceleration, but I'm getting kicked back to the fbdev driver instead. Either the radeon driver is broken or it stopped supporting another slew of cards. I'm not sure which.

So to get an acceptable picture, i.e. without psychedelic colors, with the fbdev driver, I had to enter the yaboot parameter "Linux video=radeonfb:1024x768-32@60" at boot. This gives me a usable desktop, though video playback is unacceptably slow. So there's showstopper number one.

Showstopper number two is sound. As in, I have no sound. This bug has been around and reported on for over a year now and still isn't fixed. Basically, in many iBook models and some Powerbooks and perhaps others, the machine ID isn't read correctly so the sound card isn't seen. Patches have been proposed, but still no fix. Worrying.

At this point, do I have to say suspend is broken? Didn't think so.

As for new and exciting things Jessie offers, one is Mpv, an Mplayer fork that supports https streaming. Also there's Compton, a compositor that expands on xcompmgr, adding window and menu transparency and many bug fixes. Also, I saw Abiword is now at version 3.0, so just for laughs I decided to install it and see if it was any less awful than my previous experiences with it. And it was not quite as awful. I would put it around 80% as awful, so keep up the good work!

If you used Wheezy when it was in testing and were impressed by its stability and lack of bugs, Jessie is sure to be a letdown. There are major problems with video and sound, even this late in the development cycle. Some people can get around the radeon issue by disabling the radeon framebuffer and enabling KMS, but KMS for me is too unstable so it's not an option. Downgrading the radeon driver to the Wheezy version drags you into dependency hell and is probably unwise, so of course that's what I'm gonna do. I still don't know what I'll do about sound, though. Compile a new kernel? Or to be more accurate: learn how to compile a new kernel and then compile a new kernel? Or maybe I can try my "ignore it until it goes away" approach to problems. It doesn't always work, but when it does it's a thing of beauty.

The Liberating Luddite

Dan, the renowned founder and author of PPC Luddite, has joined the PowerPC Liberation writing team.  Please join me in welcoming him.

I feel truly honoured and privileged to have someone like Dan be part of this blog.  In my opinion this will bring an already close PowerPC community even closer.

For at least the next couple months, I will be taking a total break from active blog activity, like posting and commenting etc.  I will still be handling the administrative side of things, and commenting where I really feel a need on occasion, but the over two years of running this place has left me in dire need of a total break from the active side.

This doesn't mean Dan will no longer be a writer when I return; far from it.  He will be an author here for as long as he desires.  He isn't here as a temporary replacement, but rather just arriving at the time I needed help.

Don't think I'm tired of blogging, because I'm not, and I plan on this blog being around for many years to come.  I have a chance now to spend more time with my girlfriend over the next couple months, which is something we rarely do more than a couple hours in the evening before bed, as we both have very busy lives.  I just need some real life time away from all tech that isn't directly work related.  I shall return refreshed by early next year.

For now it's the Mark (fiftysixk) and Dan show here, and I know you will enjoy it, so just sit back and take it all in.

So again, welcome to the Liberation family, Dan!

Power Mac G4 cooling project: Phase 3 - Orientation swap

Hello and welcome to the third installment of the Power Mac G4 cooling project. If you missed the last two installments here are the links...

Power Mac G4 cooling project: Phase 2 - The baseline
Power Mac G4 cooling project: Phase 1 - The plan

In this installment I will be changing the orientation of my 120mm side panel fan and my 60mm CPU fan. Originally the CPU fan was oriented to draw external air into the case and onto the CPU heatsink. The Apple OEM heatsink for my Quicksilver did not have a fan on it; however, my third party CPU has two 40mm fans on top of it. With that in mind, I will orient the 60mm fan to expel the internal case air out of the case. The Quicksilver's CPU, RAM and GPU all live very close together. I suspect that expelling all of that hot air may bring the temperatures down. The results will answer that for us. The 120mm side panel fan is originally oriented to draw air out of the case. I will be changing it's orientation to draw external air into the case. I suspect that using the 120mm fan to draw air into the case may help the GPU temperatures; again, the results will answer that for us.

At the end of phase 2, I came to the conclusion that, on my Quicksilver, nap mode was enabled by default under OS X. With that being said I will not be performing an idle test without nap mode enabled.

I will note the difference in temperature taken, from the baseline temperature taken in phase two.

With all that said, onto the tests!

Ten minutes of idle. OS X 10.4.11:
CPU: 39°C, -3°C
GPU: 43°C, +1°C
RAM: 36°C, -3°C
Exhaust air: 33°C
Intake air: 36°C, +2°C

Ten minutes of idle. Debian Wheezy:
CPU: 38°C, -4°C
GPU: 43°C, +1°C
RAM: 36°C, -6°C
Exhaust air: 33°C, +1°C
Intake air: 38°C, -4°C

This very interesting already. Swapping the orientation did benefit the CPU and the RAM temperatures. There is a catch though; the benefit comes at the expense of the GPU temperature. A one degree increase is not large but this is just at idle. Once I actually start taxing the GPU with something like Quake III; I suspect that the increase in GPU temperature will grow larger.

I will start with the web browsing test. I am curious to see how the GPU temperature increase trends. I will have three tabs open, PowerPC Liberation, and Newegg. I will bounce between and Newegg just as I did in phase two.

Surfing under TenFourFox 31. OS X 10.4.11:
CPU: 48°C, -3°C
GPU: 46°C, +3°C
RAM: 39°C, -4°C
Exhaust air: 36°C, +2°C
Intake air: 38°C

Surfing under Ice Weasel 24.7.0. Debian Wheezy:
CPU: 51°C
GPU: 46°C, +3°C
RAM: 39°C, -4°C
Exhaust air: 36°C, +2°C
i Intake air: 39°C, +1°C

This keeps getting more and more interesting! The GPU temperature did slightly increase, going from a one degree increase to a three degree increase on both platforms. The RAM temperature also maintained it's decrease under both platforms. This is where it gets interesting, I managed to completely loose my CPU temperature decrease under Debian. This makes me start to question the benefit of this orientation swap. It looks as if, when pushed hard enough and long enough, the CPU temperature rises to the baseline temperature. So far I have gained ground on the RAM temperatures and CPU idle temperatures; while loosing ground on the GPU temperature and possibly the CPU temperature under higher usage.

Now lets see if I can erase the drop in the CPU temperature again by pegging the CPU at 100%. To do this I will perform the DVD rip test again. This is the same DVD rip test from phase 2 using using Handbrake 0.9.1. under Mac OS X.

The DVD rip results are...
CPU: 57°C, -4°C
GPU: 43°C, -3°C
RAM: 39°C -9°C
Exhaust air: 36°C
Intake air: 38°C, -4°C

Just when I thought this could not get any more interesting, it did. For the DVD rip we have a drop in the CPU and GPU temperature. We have a sizable nine degree drop in the RAM temperature. My theory on this is as follows. The CPU, RAM and GPU are very close to each other on the Quicksilver motherboard. The DVD rip is very taxing on the CPU. Out of all the tests I run this test is the hardest on the CPU. The CPU being taxed like that will obviously generate more heat. I suspect that the generated heat stays in that area. The RAM is next door to the CPU and the back of the GPU is right next door to the RAM. Now that I am immediately expelling the hot air with the 60mm fan I do not believe that the CPU heat is staying in that area as much as it did prior to the orientation swap. With that being said, the DVD rip is not very taxing on the GPU at all. The AVI playback tests and the Quake III tests will be more GPU intensive. Let us see what happens when I get the GPU to put out some heat.

The third test will be the playback of the resulting AVI file. I will use VLC under OS X and Debian. In addition to VLC, I will test mplayer in Debian.

OS X 10.4.11 VLC 0.9.10 full screen playback:
CPU: 43°C
GPU: 43°C, +4°C
RAM: 38°C, -1°C
Exhaust air: 33°C
Intake air: 38°C, +4°C

OS X 10.4.11 VLC 0.9.10 windowed playback:
CPU: 43°C
GPU: 43°C, +1°C
RAM: 38°C, +3°C
Exhaust air: 34°C
Intake air: 38°C, +5°C

Debian Wheezy VLC 2.0.3 full screen playback:
CPU: 43°C, -3°C
GPU: 46°C, +3°C
RAM: 38°C, +4°C
Exhaust air: 34°C, -2°C
Intake air: 39°C, +5°C

Debian Wheezy VLC 2.0.3 windowed playback:
CPU: 43°C, -3°C
GPU: 43°C
RAM: 38°C, -4°C
Exhaust air: 34°C
Intake air: 38°C

Debian Wheezy mplayer svn34540 full screen playback:
CPU: 43°C, -3°C
GPU: 43°C
RAM: 38°C, -4°C
Exhaust air: 34°C
Intake air: 39°C, +3°C

Debian Wheezy mplayer svn34540 windowed playback:
CPU: 43°C, -3°C
GPU: 42°C, -1°C
RAM: 37°C, - 5°C
Exhaust air: 34°C
Intake air: 38°C

Quake III Arena OS X 10.4.11:
CPU: 54°C, -3°C
GPU: 44°C, +1°C
RAM: 40°C, -3°C
Exhaust air: 36°C, +2°C
Intake air: 37°C, -1°C

Now it is time for my final thoughts on this experiment. I was honestly convinced that using the 120mm fan to draw air in; combined with using the 60mm fan to expel the CPU and RAM hot air would bring the temperatures down. I did not want to make such a claim without having data to back it up. That is where these tests come in.

I was wrong in regards to the effect of switching the 120mm fan's orientation. The tests, for the most part, had raises in the GPU temperature. Even though I am blowing cooler external air onto the GPU using a 120mm fan, the GPU temperature went up. I believe the reason for this is the fact, that by switching the orientation, I have given up a large form of exhaust. The heat generated by the GPU and the PCI area does not have the immediate exit it had before.

Switching the orientation of the 60mm fan however; did cause drops in the CPU and RAM temperatures. The tests, for the most part, confirm my theory about this area of computer. Immediately expelling the hot CPU and RAM air usually lowered the CPU and RAM temperatures.

The results are mixed. Since this has negatively affected portions of the system; I do not believe I can recommend this orientation swap as an improvement to a Quicksilver's cooling system. The cooling system in it's stock form does not perform poorly; therefore I do not see the sense in raising some temperatures for slight decreases in other temperatures. The mission of this project is to make it as good as I possibly can. I believe that this orientation swap misses that mark.

That brings us to a fork in the road. That is where to go from here. I could add a fan to the top of the airport bracket like Zen has in his Power Macs and test it's impact. I could also opt to replace all of my fans with Noctua or Antec fans, then test the impact.

I look forward to feedback. I hope you all have enjoyed this project so far.

Proposed new PowerPC portables

An entrepreneurial fellow named Roberto has contacted me - and it would appear the Luddite also - about the potential for a new PowerPC-based laptop; which also is intended to run Linux.

I am not yet actually putting my support behind this, but since Roberto seems genuinely motivated about it, I thought it was well worth mentioning here.  I simply don't know enough about the project, and if it has enough resources to turn this into a reality.  He claims to be close on a logic board.

I have mentioned many times before that I'm not much of a laptop/portable user, so this wouldn't be an overly desirable thing for me personally, but Mark (fiftysixk) is a portable user, as are many of the readers here.

It will be interesting to see if this actually becomes a reality, but being a laptop, no matter the architecture, there is a lot more engineering involved.  Almost anyone can make a desktop/tower; hence the Mac-clone days back in the 90's, but a laptop is much more challenging.  We shall see what happens.

I give Roberto my sincere best wishes in this project.

GNU/Linux PowerPC Notebook

Our Digital Future

OpenMedia - an international nonprofit that fights for internet rights and freedoms - is putting together what they summarize as "a crowdsourced agenda for free expression" as an answer to the many lobbyists representing many international corporations, in nations all over the world, trying to restrict net neutrality for their own benefit, but this deals more specifically with copyright.

This isn't a specific protest against anything, but more a way to document people around the earth who want to keep the internet as free and open as possible.  Think of it as a preemptive voice of the people before things can be swayed the way that benefits corporations instead of regular people.  This will positively impact the way we can create and share things, and try to ensure it stays that way.

This is why I love OpenMedia, because they are always thinking a couple steps ahead.  They are truly international in their representation of all internet users on earth.  The fact that Creative Commons backs them in all their causes is big for me also.

They propose three key recommendations to keep things fair for all:

Recommendation 1: Respect Creators

"We believe in respect for artists. Having a fair and flexible copyright system means that artists can make a living off their work, while users have the freedom to share, collaborate and create online."

Recommendation 2: Prioritize Free Expression

"The results of our crowdsourcing project demonstrate that participants value the principle of free expression above all other priorities for copyright."

Recommendation 3: Respect Democratic Processes

"Citizens, particularly young people, are increasingly questioning the legitimacy and effectiveness of traditional models of governance and hierarchical processes of decision-making; a new method befitting the era of participation is sorely needed."

They conclude...

"When it comes to government decisions that will affect all of us, OpenMedia doesn’t just want a seat at the table – instead, we actively work to put citizens at the center of government decision-making, and our own decision-making as an organization. In order to include as broad a community as possible in the conversation about copyright laws, we came up with several online engagement tools and strategies that were as simple and user-friendly as possible."

So please throw your support behind them, no matter where you live on the earth, by adding your voice to the cause and being part of the citizen-powered report.

 Our Digital Future: A Crowdsourced Agenda for Free Expression


I meant to share this YouTube channel with you much earlier, but never got around to it.  Better late than never, right?

Linux4UnMe is run by a very passionate, funny, and seriously dedicated Australian, and much like me, he doesn't mince his words.  He doesn't even have a hint of any type of filter, and that is what makes his videos so great.  He even makes the odd hip hop track.

He is mainly a Gentoo user, but also gives a lot of time to other worthy distros, like Debian and Mint.  He is an x86 user, but much of what he does is architecture-neutral.  

There is always a fairly good balance of GUI and text demos, so there is content to suit all levels of users.  Not all, or even most, of his videos are tutorials though; a lot of the content is also based around strong opinion built on a lot of fact and logic.

My personal favourite of all his videos (he has almost 400) would be this rant about why Ubuntu sucks, and why Debian is so much better.  In that video he really shows how passionate and knowledgeable he truly is.

I hope you enjoy his videos and passion for Linux as much as I do.

Sudo vs Root

There has long been a debate, especially among Linux people, as to whether it is better to do administrator tasks as root or via sudo.  For me the debate is won by personal need and use alone.  If you are the lone user, and all that exists is your user account and root access; all you really need is root.

Sudo is better suited to systems with multiple users, and where each requires different limitations; along with also being able to see the logs of each user, and how they're using the abilities they do have.  It's largely for users that you don't trust with the root password, whether based on their skill (worried that they might mess something up) or based on pure trust; maybe both.

My advice is that if you don't trust the ability or intent of someone, then don't let them use your computer.  It would be better to provide them with their own, but that isn't always an option at companies or schools.

Using sudo also requires you to enter sudo in front of commands, which when you add the space needed after equals five extra characters piggybacked onto virtually every command you ever type to get important things done.

For me the best and most direct way to get restricted privilege tasks done (in Debian), will always be when logged in as a standard user and accessing root from the Root Terminal.

Use sudo when truly needed, but even in many of those cases you could get by with root if you add in some trust and discretion.

The main point is that if you trust in your ability, and the ability of those that also have access to your hardware, you never really need to bother with sudo.  I don't.

Like I said...  use it when you truly feel you need to; otherwise it's just an unneeded extra hurdle IMHO.

My personal method for installing anything in Debian or MintPPC:

1. Login to the GUI with your user account

2. Open the Root Terminal (found in the accessories menu)

3. After entering your root password, type:

apt-get install packagename

You know that old expression that goes "keep it simple stupid"?  In this case it's more appropriate to say keep it simple evolved one; since you're using Debian after all.

Several readers have emailed me about this over time, so now you all know where I stand on the whole sudo vs root thing.  Sudo is safer for the paranoid and/or less capable, but root is the best quick & dirty of all; especially if you have the confidence and ability to backup using it.

If you want to learn about using sudo in Debian, read this.

Power Mac G4 cooling project: Phase 2 - The baseline

It is finally time to kick this project off, so lets go! I will get some preliminary information out of the way first.

The temperature in my room is 80°F/27°C.

My Radeon 9800 Pro has a fresh thermal paste job using Arctic Silver 5.

My Motorola G4 1.33GHz 7455B has a fresh thermal paste job using Cooler Master High Performance Thermal Compound (HTK-002).

My memory sticks have heat spreaders on them.

Before I get creative and start moving fans around and swapping them out I need to get a set of baseline temperatures. I will be using the stock fans in their original locations and orientations. I will use the resulting baseline as a metric to determine the success of all the future cooling modifications during this project. Dan (PPCLuddite) suggested using CHUD in OS X for nap mode and powernowd in Debian for CPU frequency scaling. These should obviously help bring the temperatures down so I would like to test them out. Unfortunately I have hit a snag. I am unable to get powernowd working on my Quicksilver. I fear that my CPU is not compatible with powernowd. When I run powernowd as root I get the following results...

powernowd: PowerNow Daemon v1.00, (c) 2003-2008 John Clemens
powernowd: Found 1 scalable unit: -- 1 'CPU' per scalable unit
/sys/devices/system/cpu/cpu0/cpufreq/cpuinfo_max_freq: No such file or directory

For grins I ran the same command on my iBook G3 as its CPU does scale with powernowd. Here are it's results...

powernowd: PowerNow Daemon v1.00, (c) 2003-2008 John Clemens
powernowd: Found 1 scalable unit: -- 1 'CPU' per scalable unit
powernowd: cpu0: 400Mhz - 700Mhz (2 steps)

I do not have an original Quicksilver CPU so I am currently unable to test against that fear. After running dmesg I found the following encouraging line.

[ 0.000000] Processor NAP mode on idle enabled.

Even though I cannot currently get my CPU to scale with powernowd on my Quicksilver, at least I have nap mode in both Debian and OSX. I feel like I have talked enough, lets get onto the tests and results, shall we?

Ten minutes of idle. OS X 10.4.11. CHUD nap mode disabled:
CPU: 57°C
GPU: 43°C
RAM: 43°C
Intake air: 38°C
Exhaust air: 33°C

Ten minutes of idle. OS X 10.4.11. CHUD nap mode enabled:
CPU: 42°C
GPU: 42°C
RAM: 39°C
Intake air: 34°C
Exhaust air: 33°C

Ten minutes of idle. Debian Wheezy:
CPU: 42°C
GPU: 42°C
RAM: 42°C
Intake air: 34°C
Exhaust air: 34°C

My first stress test will be web browsing. I will have three tabs open, PowerPC Liberation, and Newegg. During the test I will flip between FrozenCPU and Newegg, browsing both sites for fans.

Surfing under TenFourFox 31. OS X 10.4.11:
CPU: 51°C
GPU: 43°C
RAM: 43°C
Intake air: 38°C
Exhaust air: 34°C

Surfing under Ice Weasel 24.7.0. Debian Wheezy:
CPU: 51°C
GPU: 43°C
RAM: 43°C
Intake air: 38°C
Exhaust air: 34°C

Now for my second test. I will rip a portion of a DVD using handbrake under OS X. I will be using Handbrake 0.9.1. My codec choice will be XviD. My average bitrate choice will be 2000kbps. I will be using 2-pass encoding and the AVI container. These settings came from Zen's excellent XviD guide. I recommend reading it if you haven't already.

The DVD rip results are...
CPU: 61°C
GPU: 46°C
RAM: 48°C
Intake air: 42°C
Exhaust air: 36°C

The third test will be the playback of the resulting AVI file. I will use VLC under OS X and Debian. In addition to VLC, I will test mplayer in Debian.

OS X 10.4.11 VLC 0.9.10 full screen playback:
CPU: 43°C
GPU: 39°C
RAM: 39°C
Intake air: 34°C
Exhaust air: 33°C

OS X 10.4.11 VLC 0.9.10 windowed playback:
CPU: 43°C
GPU: 42°C
RAM: 41°C
Intake air: 34°C
Exhaust air: 33°C

Debian Wheezy VLC 2.0.3 full screen playback:
CPU: 46°C
GPU: 43°C
RAM: 42°C
Intake air: 36°C
Exhaust air: 34°C

Debian Wheezy VLC 2.0.3 windowed playback:
CPU: 46°C
GPU: 43°C
RAM: 42°C
Intake air: 38°C
Exhaust air: 34°C

Debian Wheezy mplayer svn34540 full screen playback:
CPU: 46°C
GPU: 43°C
RAM: 43°C
Intake air: 36°C
Exhaust air: 34°C

Debian Wheezy mplayer svn34540 windowed playback:
CPU: 46°C
GPU: 43°C
RAM: 42°C
Intake air: 38°C
Exhaust air: 34°C

This experiment needs more first person shooters. Time for some Quake III Arena!

Quake III Arena OS X 10.4.11:
CPU: 57°C
GPU: 43°C
RAM: 43°C
Intake air: 38°C
Exhaust air: 34°C

This has been fun. I could have just cheese balled my way through this and used something like geek bench. I opted to use real world tasks instead as they are more important to me than benchmarking software magic numbers.

I did notice something interesting about CHUD and OS X nap mode. I belive that OS X, for my Quicksilver, enables nap mode by default. I can install CHUD, turn off nap mode and watch my temperatures climb. I can then turn it back on and watch them go back down. This is where it gets interesting. If I turn nap mode off using CHUD, then remove CHUD and reboot, my temperatures will go back down to nap mode levels. In the article Dan brought to my attention this is not the case. The MDD owner in the article can monitor his temperatures using software and watch them drop after enabling nap mode with CHUD. Based on my findings and the MDD owner's findings, I believe CHUD's benefits will vary model to model.

Given the period of time the Quicksilver came from, I do not believe these temperatures are bad. The highest temperature I got was 61C during a handbrake rip. I have seen plenty of PCs of similar vintage push out higher temperatures. However, I want the absolute best for my Power Mac. Despite these positive results, I still feel like I can make improvements to the cooling. I will continue to keep pushing onward.

The next phase will be experimenting with the fan orientation. Stay tuned and thank you for reading!

New ARM powered Freescale MCU sets modern example

While this is not a PowerPC chip; it is a RISC chip, and sets a perfect example for the modern predominant path of most RISC chips.  For those that don't know, an MCU (Micro-Controller Unit) is a type of SoC (System-on-Chip); which means it has the CPU, RAM and ROM on-chip to run embedded applications.  These are typically used in jets, cars, power generators and many other industrial based applications.

There are also PowerPC specific MCU development options like this that have been around for a while, and put all the capability directly in the users hands.  Much like Unix and Linux in the software realm; these SoC hardware and embedded development tools are only limited by the ability and imagination of the user.

This is why we should embrace the fact that we are no longer computing within the mainstream (and never really were); because even the current path of RISC steers far away from user friendly.

Solutions like these can literally turn engineering dreams into reality. 

Power Mac G4 cooling project: Phase 1 - The plan

I am excited to report that I am ready to kick off the Power Mac G4 cooling project. I have gathered all of the hardware I need in order to move forward. The goal is to incrementally upgrade the cooling fans and experiment with different intake/exhaust orientations all while monitoring the pertinent temperatures inside the case. All temperatures will be compared against the temperature of the original fans in their original locations. I will start simple by working with the existing fans and their mounting locations. Then I will move onto upgrading the existing fans while maintaining the same mounting locations. Ultimately the goal will be to add additional fans by changing the location of the hard drives and utilizing the liberated floor space of the case. Any case modification will have to absolutely look professional and clean. The ultimate goal is still in the brainstorming stages, the project will build up to that point. I want the project to be incremental so that it will benefit users of all comfort levels. I imagine that cutting up Power Mac cases may not be for everyone.

I have a hardware solution to monitor temperatures. I will be using a NZXT Sentry 2 to monitor the temperatures of 5 locations in my Power Mac G4 Quicksilver. The Sentry 2 was a pleasant surprise. It monitors two more locations than the other product I was looking at. The Sentry 2 also offers fan control in addition to temperature monitoring. The idea was to use this to temporarily monitor the temperatures during this project however I may wind up using it permanently some how. I was also able to buy it locally so I did not have to pay shipping.

I will be monitoring the...

Intake temperature

Exhaust temperature

RAM temperature

GPU temperature

CPU temperature

This will be a fun project. I look forward to sharing it with you all.

Flash is really dead

I know I sound like captain obvious here. I am also sure that 99.9999998% of you reading this blog would never humor the thought of running flash on a PowerPC Mac OS. However I just saw something very serious on the TenFourFox Development blog. Cameron Kaiser wrote about a full blown flash exploit. This vulnerability is as serious as they come. You can read more about it at the link above.

You may see or know people who choose to roll the dice and run flash on a PowerPC Mac OS in 2014. Some even go to lengths as far as tricking websites into thinking they have a later version than what they do, while in reality they have the same old insecure version under the hood. I've heard some arguments for it. "Most of the bad stuff on the web is written for Intel macs, it won't run on my PowerPC." "The chances of me getting hit are so astronomically low." The first claim is simply not true when it comes to this new exploit as it will run on a PowerPC mac. The second argument is simply a gamble. We here at PowerPC Liberation will not gamble with security or advise people to do so, no matter how "good" the odds are.

The good news is that there are plenty of flash alternatives at our disposal. We just need to adapt and implement them. Dan at PPC Luddite has a whole section of his blog dedicated to flash alternatives. When you start up TenFourFox, its start page also gives you links to QuickTime enabler and MacTubes enabler.

We have plenty of good options to get around using flash on our Power Macs. I know you already knew this, but just in case you didn't, it is time to put flash to rest on Power Macs, end of story.

Unexpected inspiration

This is more of a general computing entry than it is a technical one.

A large portion of my job is supporting guest speakers and special events. Every Friday we have an astronaut come in and speak to the public. This past Friday was no different. I was asked to support Colonel Jerry L. Ross during his presentation. My actual task was to simply insure that his microphone and power point worked properly. During these events it can be easy to focus on the technology more than the speakers message to their audience. This event was technically simple, therefore I was able to listen to his message. I am thankful I was able to, I took something away from it that you all may appreciate.

During the middle of his speech Colonel Ross talked about how early he became interested in the US space program. When he was very young he scrap booked about the space program and by the age of ten he decided he was going to be a part of it. This was not just a kid committing the "When I grow up" cliche. You know, the "I want to be a doctor" or "I want to be a scientist". Prior to this point he had daydreamed about it. From this point forward It was a calculated decision. That is rather ambitious for a ten year old if you ask me. He then informed the audience that he was not the best student. That may strike you as odd. Many people, including myself are quick to assume that brilliant people, such as astronauts, must have been good students. What he said next really resonated with me. I wish I had wrote down exactly what he said but I will try to poorly paraphrase it. When you fail you don't quit. Take a step back and look at the situation. See what you can do differently and keep at it. He informed us that he often had to do that academically. It was a real challenge for him that he had to work through.

When I thought about what Colonel Ross had just told us and then paired that with his career, two things stood out to me. He really did practice what he had just said, when he met challenges and failures he did not quit. He kept at it, trying different approaches and solutions until he succeeded. It was also very obvious that the man has incredible resolve. He decided at the age of ten he was going to be an astronaut and he absolutely accomplished that and then some.

You may be wondering what that has to do with us. I know there are plenty of readers here who have already made the switch to a free/open/secure OS. Now I am going to speculate that there may be readers here who are still on the fence about making the switch. Maybe you have one foot in the pool but you often get intimidated or aggravated. I would say that I am still in a journeyman phase myself. I have an x86 Debian Wheezy Machine at work and two PowerPC Debian Wheezy Machines at home, all of which are daily driven. With that being said I am not a master by any stretch of the imagination. Challenges still arise for me. It is easy to get aggravated and maybe even think thoughts such as "This is a lot easier on Windows or OS X" or "I'll never figure this out." This where Colonel Ross's words really apply to me. When you fail you don't quit. Take a step back and look at the situation. See what you can do differently and keep at it. When I heard him say that I thought to myself, "That's a great way to look at challenges." and "If I applied that same resolve to computing could anything really stop me?" I can already tell you from first hand experience, there is nothing like the feeling of meeting a computing challenge head on and coming out on top. The learning and experience you gain as result is priceless.

That is what I really want to impress upon you all. I know taking the plunge from an easy environment like Windows or OS X into the world of free and open source software can be intimidating. I have experienced that first hand, I still hit bumps in the road. When you take the plunge it will be challenging. If you want to make the transition to becoming a more empowered user, start by simply making the decision. Decide that no matter what, you will become an empowered user. If any challenges arise you will meet them head on. Research them and keep attacking them until you overcome them. Not only will you accomplish your goal, but you will have learned and experienced so much along the way.

I really enjoyed the message and figured that you all might enjoy it as well. I hope it as enjoyable for you as it was for me.

A final push against TPP

I'm sure many of you know about the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement that the United States, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam have been working on for almost 10 years.  Well, they have recently been trying harder than ever to get it passed, but thanks to over 3 million people speaking out against it so far they have agreed to meet with OpenMedia, an international nonprofit that fights for internet rights and freedoms.

OpenMedia are making a final push to get an online petition and feedback from people to help guide them at these meetings with the TPP people.  You don't need to live in one of the nations above to sign the online petition and share your thoughts.  The link is below.

OpenMedia - Face to Face with Internet Censorship

The TPP will increase internet censorship and decrease privacy, so have your say while they're listening.

Tackling BSD

Before I head off in a couple weeks, I wanted to deal with a question I tend to get every 3-4 months.  The question is why don't I write a BSD guide, or can I help them install BSD from scratch.

These questions are a bit ridiculous, since that is not at all how one should approach BSD for the first time.  It is the type of thing that you read a book about before you even attempt using it.  There are BSD install guides out there, but that won't teach you most of the fundamentals you'll need to get by.  The main problem with install guides is that you don't really grasp what you're doing.  You're really just going through the motions that someone else figured out for you.  You can approach Linux like this in limited ways, but not BSD.

If you really want an install guide then use the ones on the BSD sites, but I won't be linking to any, since I cannot promote that way of learning if you're coming to the table with a totally blank BSD slate.  Instead, I will link to BSD books you should read first.

BSD is actually less user accessible than Linux, and that is saying something.  You need to use it to truly understand that.  It's not that it gets in your way, but more that it's just on another level.  BSD is the closest modern remnant to true UNIX.  Linux on the other hand is a UNIX-like OS, but in an off on its own sense; which means it's based on many of the same concepts and ideals, but not the same code or direction.  BSD is also technically UNIX-like, as it's not the original AT&T version, but it is the truest form of UNIX today.  The most proper thing to call BSD is a UNIX clone.  GNU/Linux was designed by largely UNIX people to be more user accessible, and include features those developers couldn't get into UNIX at the time; for whatever reasons.  GNU literally stands for GNU's Not UNIX.

These days things are a lot more open in the UNIX/BSD world, and there are multiple BSD variants that have been released in the last couple decades, but it's still BSD; the Everest of operating systems.

This is not an OS for the lighthearted user.  You've been warned.

A good list of BSD/UNIX books to read can be found here.  The list is a bit OpenBSD dominant, but that is my BSD of choice.  The next closest thing would be NetBSD. 

Hello from Houston

Hello everyone! I am very happy to be with you all. As you may already know, my name is Mark Elliott and I am going to be filling in for Zen while he is working abroad in Europe. I am very honored that Zen asked me to fill in for him. I have been a long time reader of PowerPC Liberation. Zen has been the driving force in motivating me to learn and use Debian. I am truly a better user and technician because of him. When he asked me to join the liberation the only natural answer was yes!

I do have some plans for a project involving my PowerMac G4 that I will be posting about here. My Power Mac is an upgraded Quicksilver. It has a 1.33ghz OWC Mercury Extreme CPU, a flashed Radeon 9800 pro and a PCI SATA controller with two drives attached. I have always wondered if I could improve the internal airflow by adding fans and possibly changing the existing fans with modern ones. I would like to keep the temperatures as low as possible while keeping fan noise at bearable levels. While experimenting I will use these thermometers to collect live data from various points inside of the case. This way we would have hard data to see if any changes made to the fans are helpful or detrimental.

I am absolutely thrilled to be here with you guys, it is going to be fun! If everyone would please join me in wishing Zen a safe, fun and productive trip to Europe.

Why negativity doesn't linger here

Negative things, or negative words, are the kinds of things that do need to be said from time to time, but that isn't the kind of information that should linger around.  This is why virtually all the negative things I have ever said about others, or their sites here, have been removed after a while.

It's the kind of information you get out there, but then ease off once everyone gets the point.  To linger in negativity is to live a negative life, or at least computing life.  I will be the first to admit that I have no qualms about speaking (or writing rather in this case) my mind, and don't mind being the rude but honest guy when I have to be, but the goal is always to do good things for the architecture and its users. 

There are things that need to be said from time to time; that is a fact of life.  After being said though, you should move on.  My goal is always for the well being  of computing on PowerPC, and in 2014 people can't stay in the 2007 bubble that Apple left PowerPC users in.  Because of the Apple culture, there are many people who never want to let it go.  They're addicted to the aesthetic and ease of use.  This has caused a lot of these people who also blog to spread the illogic of staying with 2007 Apple software tech.  Computing from the passenger seat with pride, and encouraging others to do so.  It is because of these people promoting devolution to others that has caused me to react in negative ways.

Since the main goal here is to help the architecture in the modern day, and do it in a way that promotes user evolution, not devolution; I always promote that users challenge themselves.  To push your own personal measuring stick past what you think the maximum length is.  Taking the role I have also requires me to tell the truth about the backward advice of certain blogs/sites.  It's a role that does weigh on me at times, but I am committed.

People who point out the honest and brutal truth are often seen as negative; even when all they're doing is telling truth.  I will admit that I have also added insults here and there, but the ignorant and limited nature of these people upsets my evolved user instincts.

Once these things have been said, whether about individuals, or even companies like CleverFiles, I let them sit here for a month or two, and then get rid of them.  I have done that consistently since I started this blog in August 2012.  The point is to keep the focus here on evolving the architecture and users; getting on with the task of helping more users become capable and self reliant at a computer.  Even if you really do prefer the passenger seat, you first need a thorough test drive in the drivers seat to be sure you made the right choice.  You can never truly have this with Mac OS.  You can still do all the offline things you like on Mac OS, and even online things you know aren't a security risk; like visiting a trusted website.

So in the spirit of keeping the focus on the helpful content here, I never really let negativity linger here.

The only things I have kept here are a fraction of the content that dealt with Low End Mac, and only because of the extreme eagerness of Dan Knight to encourage devolution.  He is the worst of the worst.  That information is on a whole other plane than negativity.  It's more like a legitimate warning to stay away from a devolved cult.

Social change

You may have noticed that the social networking share buttons that were here have all been removed, and it's on purpose.  There have been far too many facebook and other bots clogging up my stats and such.  I am also not at all a supporter of social networking, and want the people who find this place to find it because they intended to, and not because they stumbled upon some link on facebook or twitter.

I am not after pointless hits just to beef up my stats.  I couldn't care less about the amount of hits I get.

My main aversion to social networking is that it brings a lot of the ignorant masses this way; people who compute at a very simplistic and remedial level, and will find nothing of use here for the most part.  This is generally followed by questions from them; questions of the type that if you need to ask it, you won't be able to understand the answer in the first place.  People who just don't get it, and need to ask what is so great about PowerPC.

This place will always serve the more rare user who actually tries to advance themselves; rather than have a user lobotomy like most people give themselves when sitting at a computer.

The main point is that people who need to be spoon fed a link to this place to know about it, are usually (but not always) people who won't be after what is offered here.  There is no Apple fanboyism here, no help on how to stay in the passenger seat at your computer, and certainly no ignorant conjecture, so there is little here to appeal to the typical Apple user who is happy to stay in their user prison.

You still have the right to share the content here on social networks, but I have simply made it harder to do so.  If you find other ways to share it, be sure you follow all of the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License that this blog is licensed under.

I have no issue with other blogs or sites linking to me here, as they are typically like-minded; much like the people and organizations I link to in the "Recommended Elsewhere" section of the sidebar here.  It's only the social network sharing of content here that concerns me.

This is not some elitist move to keep out the average user; simply a diversion to keep away most of the people who likely won't want what is offered here to begin with, and a VERY large portion of the social networking user base are these people.

If you're someone who truly wants to advance your ability as a computer user, then welcome home.

MintPPC: Debian for the novice

***Important Notice***

The MintPPC site and server has been compromised.  It is recommended that you not use MintPPC now.  It is based on Wheezy, so it's now officially obsolete anyway.  The forum is currently the only thing online still, and its moderator (theos911) posted about it here.

Update (June 4, 2015)

The site and server are back up now, but again, MintPPC is based on Debian Wheezy (ver. 7), so with the release of Jessie (ver. 8) as the stable; Wheezy is now obsolete.  You can install the MintPPC package in Jessie, but it's all from 2011 or older.  The main point to running Linux on PowerPC hardware is to have modern, updated and secure software, and MintPPC is no longer any of those.  The developer lost interest, and so should you at this point.

I am leaving this original post below, but with the installation instructions removed.  Do not install MintPPC any longer!  Use regular/raw Debian now instead.  You can use my quick guide to a light Debian install found here, or you can go the much more comprehensive route by using the Luddite's guide.

Original Post:

Since this blog switched from Lubuntu to Debian as the Linux covered (almost a year ago now), there have been a number of people who visit here looking for an easier path to a complete Debian install.  One that is ready to go out of the box, with little or nothing left to configure or install afterward.

Debian, in its pure form, is not at all geared to be user friendly.  It has always been geared to people who are at least at an intermediate user level, if not advanced.  Even the largest standard Debian installs (GNOME and KDE) leave you with many things left to install and configure in most cases.  Which brings up my one gripe about Debian; they use GNOME as the default GUI.  If you've read any of the Linux content here, you know I am a big fan of lightweight GUI like LXDE.  In fact, Debian LXDE is my standard Linux these days, which is the same GUI found in MintPPC.

LXDE has a far lower CPU tax compared to GNOME or KDE, but in its raw form is a lot more simplistic in look and behaviour.  MintPPC puts a lot more polish on LXDE than I have ever seen, and in a good way. The last thing that aging hardware needs is a bloated GUI, and with MintPPC you get the perfect combo of light and pretty.

Everything from the custom LXDE menu, the default icons, wallpaper, the included software packages, and very user friendly package manager has a unique MintPPC feel, while still being the greatest Linux ever made.  MintPPC is exactly what Lubuntu should have been, but never was, and never will be.

The last time I installed MintPPC 11 (newest) was almost 2 years ago now, so I reinstalled it again last night on my testing system to refresh my memory.  The install couldn't have been more easy, and I would even describe it as easier than my Quick and dirty; light and fast method. 

Now you may be asking yourself...  'if the newest version is at least 2 years old, should I be installing it in 2014?'.  The answer is a resounding yes.  While Mint 11 was released in 2011, it was based on Debian Wheezy, which at the time was the testing release, but is now the stable.  That means it's secure, modern, and updated as needed for as long as Wheezy is supported by the Debian developers.  Since Wheezy has only been the stable release for about a year, it still has at least another year to go before Jessie (currently testing) will be the stable.

I would say that for at least the next 2 or more years, MintPPC 11 is a very viable and secure option for those who find standard Debian a bit too steep a learning curve, or those who just want a much more pretty and capable Linux out of the box, while still enjoying the performance benefits of LXDE.  There are even some added GUI tools (such as 'Powerprefs') which give you abilities normally only available via config file edits and terminal commands.

Think of it as a custom Debian LXDE, which is a lot more geared (whether by intent or not) to someone moving from Mac OS or Windows to Linux.  This is my number one recommendation to either a Debian novice, or any Linux novice.  Even advanced users who don't like things as stripped down as I normally do will find all they need.  I like it one hell of a lot, but I just personally prefer a very minimal Linux.  Many of you don't though, so here is your solution.  This one OS has all the qualities of real Debian, while also offering the much more user friendly and out of the box capability of Lubuntu; without all the Canonical BS.

The only things I felt the need to install afterward were Netatalk and Kupfer.

If you have any issues, the MintPPC Forum is a great place to go; where you can get help from fellow Mint users, along with the people who developed it.

So again, if you're new to Debian, and find it a bit intimidating, or just new to Linux in general, this is the way to go without a doubt. You can see some Mint11 screens here if you want an idea of what it looks like.

If MintPPC doesn't move any further (in terms of development of the MintPPC specific parts), then at least it will be a friendly steppingstone to help ease your transition into raw Debian.

I also took a couple screens myself:

Now accepting Bitcoin donations

There have been at least a few readers here who were interested in donating, but not with Paypal.  They asked for another option like Bitcoin or Litecoin, so today I finally got around to it, and PowerPC Liberation is now setup with a Bitcoin wallet to receive donations.

I just wanted to let those who were asking know.  Here in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada where I live, we actually have the worlds first Bitcoin ATM.  It converts your bitcoins into regular currency.

To make a Bitcoin donation, please go to the Support PowerPC Liberation page.

The belated tale of how I shut down the copycat

I never actually got around to telling the full story, but there really isn't much to tell; it was all really very simple to do.  I will tell the story, as I know some of you are interested to hear.

The first thing I did was report Aman Rai's copycat blog to Google through Blogger; this took about 2 weeks or more for a response, but they're Google.  They get millions of reports per day for all their services total.

While waiting for Google to get around to things, I contacted the company that Aman Rai had advertising on the copycat blog; Click 4 Support dot net.  After just 2 phone calls, I got through to their main payroll guy at their Boston-area headquarters.  This was the man directly responsible for paying everything for the company.  This included paying Google to advertise through their Adsense program.

This man was very understanding, and took action right away.  This got results within days, as the ad was removed before Google deleted the copycat blog.

About a week after that, I finally heard back from Google.  They asked me to clarify a couple things (so I did), and then a day or two later the copycat blog was gone, and Google informed me directly of this as well.  

People can say what they want about Google, but they stand up for their users content rights.

Everything I explained above was all the effort it took.  A report to Google, a couple phone calls, and a couple emails.  Done.  There really aren't any other details to tell.

I have had thoughts in the past about moving to wordpress, but this outcome has made me feel that my writing is very well protected on Blogger, so this is where I'll stay.

The most reliable Power Macs

A reader recently asked me a question I have been asked several times before via email. The question is usually somewhere along the line of "since Power Macs (pro towers) are the most reliable Macs, can you please list the specific ones that are best".

First off... "best" can be different with different people, as it depends on personal need as much as anything. That is something which is obviously a bit different with everyone.  For myself, reliability is paramount, and more important than performance.  For many users though, that is not the case.  Not that reliability isn't important to these people, but rather that performance with the stock CPU might be more important.

As I mention in my Why the Sawtooth is the greatest Mac ever made post from 2012, the Sawtooth is the most reliable, but every Power Mac tower made from February 1997 - July 2002 has a level of reliability that every Mac before or since has lacked.

For people who don't want to buy CPU upgrades, the Sawtooth isn't as good of a choice.  The stock CPU's range from 350-500MHz singles.  If you want more ready to go power, then the later Power Mac systems are the way to go.

If you're one of the loyal 8600/9600 luddites, then you have some of the most vast expandability in this group.  Sporting 6 PCI slots, a 1.5GB RAM capacity (double the newer beige G3), and the early stages of the easy open cases Apple became known for, the 9600 is a true beast.  The 8600 holds 1GB RAM, and has 3 PCI.   If you do things that can still be done on a 604 CPU, these are a very good choice.  Many of them also have G3 and G4 upgrades, but via a PCI based CPU socket.  Not the onboard socket, as it cannot fit a G3/G4.  The 8600/9600 towers are also about the biggest Apple towers ever made.  The G5 towers are about 2" taller, but that includes the handles, and the 8600/9600 are wider/bulkier.

For doing more modern or internet based tasks, it would be best to stick with the AGP equipped G4 towers, which only excludes the Yikes.  The Sawtooth and up also have a much faster memory controller.  The 8600 through to the Yikes move the RAM at speeds ranging from 50-280MB/sec, compared to 500MB-1GB+/sec for the AGP fitted G4's.

This is a list of all the truly reliable Power Mac towers (in chronological order):

  • Power Mac 8600
  • Power Mac 9600
  • Power Mac G3 Beige
  • Power Mac G3 Blue & White
  • Power Mac G4 Yikes (PCI Graphics)
  • Power Mac G4 Sawtooth (AGP Graphics)
  • Power Mac G4 Mystic (Gigabit Ethernet)
  • Power Mac G4 Tangent (Digital Audio)
  • Power Mac G4 Titan (Quicksilver)

The nine systems listed above give the ultimate combination of reliability and expandability.  They are virtually immortal.

There is no Power Mac G4 MDD or any G5 tower in the mix, because they both don't deserve to be in the same company as the above systems, unless you're a fan of your hardware having a good chance of potentially being dead one day.  The MDD ranges from 2-11x in how many times less reliable than all the above systems, and the G5's range from being 10-30x less reliable.  No joke.  I'm a certified Mac tech (and have been since before any of these towers were ever made), and know exactly what I'm talking about.

If you need as much performance as possible; without a CPU upgrade, along with reliability, then a dual 1.0GHz Quicksilver would be the best choice.

If you're like me and want reliability first, but still have good performance; a heavily upgraded Sawtooth is the way to go.  You also get an extra 512MB memory capacity with the Sawtooth vs. the Quicksilver and Digital Audio.  I have invested well over $1000 in upgrades on my main Sawtooth, so be sure this is what you want first.

Please direct any other questions related to this in the comments here.  That way everyone gets to read it, and read my answers.

A Highly Rated Win

The donated hardware, from Mark who runs Rated Win, arrived today, and with a couple bonus video cards that I wasn't aware were being sent.  I love surprise video cards!

Here is what was inside of the very well packed box he sent:

-Mac Mini G4 1.25GHz, 256MB RAM, 40GB HD

-iBook G3 600MHz, 14" screen, 256MB RAM, 40GB HD (painted blue)

-ATI Radeon 9600 XT 128MB AGP video card (DVI/ADC)

-ATI Radeon 9000 Pro 64MB AGP video card (DVI/ADC)

A big thanks to Mark once again!  A true contributing member in the PowerPC community!

I have already ordered a 1GB memory stick for the mini.  Only $22 new.

Freescale and the missing plane from Malaysia

Freescale has confirmed what I heard on local news a couple days ago.  They announced in this release that 20 of their employees were on that flight.

For those that don't know, Freescale is the creation of its parent company, Motorola.  I have been a massive supporter of theirs for decades, and long before Freescale existed, and were just called the Motorola CPU division.

This is a very sad day for me, but I cannot even imagine what the people and families of Freescale must be going through.

My heart goes out to everyone involved.

I don't really know what else to say about it.  It's too stunning to really put into words properly.

Lubuntu Purge

As a BSD user since the 80's, Lubuntu was my first real venture into the Linux realm.  Prior to that I had only toyed with Linux a few times for brief periods.  This was pretty much at the same time I started this blog in 2012.

Lubuntu was the first distro I had ever given a true test drive to, and during my 'I know BSD, but I need to adapt that knowledge to a Linux' state.  I had always known of Debian through reputation, but somehow chose Lubuntu first.

In the end, Debian is a far better choice, and it will be the only Linux covered here moving forward.  All of the Lubuntu content here will be removed soon, so if you want to archive some of it, do it now.  I am no longer going to promote, in any manner, an OS I wouldn't use myself any longer.

By next weekend, all the Lubuntu content here will be gone.  As it should be. 

Lubuntu, and all the different flavours of Ubuntu, are all built on a foundation of Debian; upon which they then add their own shitty, unstable, user friendly and bloated code.

This is not meant as an insult to Canonical, but fact is fact, and I no longer want anything to do with what they call an OS.

Creative Commons

I have decided to drop the copyright I had, and adopt a Creative Commons 4.0 International license to protect the content here.  The reason is that CC gives the users/readers more freedom here, and it actually protects the content more with a recognized and legal license.

The truly great thing about Creative Commons licenses, is that you can customize them to suit you personally.  You can decide what freedoms and limitations people have with your work through some simple settings you select when creating your license.

The specific license I chose was a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International.

Note the three terms listed in that license name (quoted text is CC's own summary):

Attribution -  "You must give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made. You may do so in any reasonable manner, but not in any way that suggests the licensor endorses you or your use."

Very simple and easy to understand language. 

Non-Commercial - "You may not use the material for commercial purposes."

This was added to prevent what happened with the copycat blog trying to mimic this blog for advertising money.

No Derivatives - "If you remix, transform, or build upon the material, you may not distribute the modified material."

I added this to stop the spread of misinformation, to stop people (like those that run Low End Mac) from latching on to my work, then adding ignorance to it.

If you feel you have worthy things to contribute to any and all content here, please feel free to contact me and ask permission.  If I find your additions sound and accurate, I will allow them.

A big thank you to Creative Commons for their nonprofit work.

Want to add a Creative Commons license to your work?  Create one here.

The copycat is no more

Good news!  Google has removed the copycat blog!

Before they did, I had the content thieves advertising funding source removed also.

A big thanks to Google for removing the blog, and to for removing payments, and their ad, from the copycat blog.

I will tell the whole story in detail, and help others learn from my experience through all this.  For now I am a bit unmotivated to write here after having my work stolen.

I think this speaks largely about the current state of things in the world.  An individual is almost a rare thing now, and many people are not bothered by others stealing writing.  So many people pretend to know things now by latching on to the education, experience, and hard work, of others.  Originality, and more importantly self education, are how I got where I am.  Not emulating others, or even worse, stealing work from others.

Dan at PPC Luddite spoke up on his blog about it, so a big thanks also goes to him.  A true member of the PowerPC community, and someone I consider to be the greatest friend and ally of this blog.  He's a true individual also. 

More when I'm motivated again.