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.