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:


  1. I couldn't agree more about MintPPC being a great PowerPC Linux distro, especially on PowerBooks... But, there is that nagging little detail that their website hasn't been updated since December of last year. What's up with that?

    1. One of the contributors to MintPPC was on here a while ago. It seems as though life has gotten in the way of the main developer. An understandable thing.

      The post from last December is just to mention the forum was back online after being down. The forum is still active, and there is no shortage of users loyal to it from what I can see.

    2. My concern about MintPPC has more to do with the future. Will there be a MintPPC 12 based on Debian Jessie?

    3. I'm the wrong person to ask, as I have nothing to do with Mint development.

      Perhaps Brian or theos911 (the one I mentioned had commented here before about the stop in development) can give a better answer.

      Another way to think is that Debian versions span a much longer time than any other Linux. So MintPPC, like Debian, is slow to make new versions. All based on the Debian philosophy of if your code is good enough, then you don't need new versions all the time. Stability and longevity before sloppy speed coding, and constant fixes to cure said slop. Much like the Canonical slop I have spoken of before.

    4. I have no more information than anyone else. Like theos911 mentioned, Jeroen has gotten busy with his life, so he hasn't been posting on the forums these days. He hasn't mentioned moving forwards with his distro at all. Prior to 11, he had done some porting and testing, and made frequent forum updates on his progress. If he's been doing any work using Jesse, he hasn't mentioned it at all.

      As you said, though, MintPPC is a great way to start with Linux for PPC users. It's how I got my start with modern Linux (having used Mandrake and Red Hat in the early '00s), and I've learned a lot in the past two years. If MintPPC doesn't continue, transitioning to Jesse should be relatively painless for me once it goes stable, which is a great point that your article made.

  2. A few more MintPPC tips:

    1. The Debian mirrors will generally install up-to-date packages; at least the ones that have been added to the repros. It doesn't hurt to add the backports repro as well (deb wheezy-backports main contrib non-free to /etc/apt/sources.list), since you'll pick up some more updated packages.

    2. If you have an oldworld Mac, there's a boot CD available for you. Just go to the forums, click the Manuals link, and look for the topic "MintPPC 11 Oldworld Powermac boot/install CD available". I put this CD image together using a method outlined in another post in the forums to run MintPPC on my Wallstreet PDQ, and it works perfectly (and doesn't run all that painfully either). An MD5 sum is also available for the image.

    3. A list of some errors are likely to pop up at the end of the install. These are (in my experience on a number of PPC macs) safe to ignore.

    4. Be sure to visit Jeroen Diederen's other site (Jeroen is the main developer/maintainer of MintPPC) for xorg.conf files if you're having video troubles:

    Good luck!
    "oldmacguy" on the MintPPC forums

    1. Correct on the mirrors and up-to-date packages. After install there wasn't a single update to be found. I was left with Wheezy 7.5 when it was done.

      There was some error at the end that didn't warrant concern. I forget the exact wording at the moment.

    2. Sorry... that first sentence should have said: "The Debian mirrors will generally install up-to-date packages; at least the ones that have been added to the repros, DURING THE INSTALL (caps emphasis on the part that was left out)." That should make more sense now...

  3. Minty Jessie

    1. Very cool. Is this an official MintPPC release being worked on, or just an upgrade to Jessie testing that you did?

  4. Thank you for the guide. It's just what I needed to move my project forward.

  5. I had MintPPC installed on an original bondi-blue iMac with 233 MHz G3 about 3 years ago — but only for a short time before I sold the Mac. While this really is a low performance system (processor reaching 100% saturation most of the time), it was usable and the UI is indeed very nice. My concern however is, can I consider this Linux recent enough? Do I get the Debian and other software updates automatically?
    Sorry, but what I like about L/X/Ubuntu are the LTS-releases, giving you 3 to 5 years of service with one installation (currently using 14.04LTS on a 2006 CoreDuo MacBook, multi-monitor-support is mediocre, everything else works fine, even the cam).
    I am quite illiterate in the Unixes and Linuxes and far from the intermediate user-level you did mention. However, if we talk about plain Debian, MintPPC or the Ubuntus, isn't this all Debian just with different GUIs and various support/update-"mechanisms"?
    Regards, Th.

  6. I recently installed MintPPC 11 on a 400mhz G3 iMac slotloader with 1024mb of ram and a single command got the correct xorg.conf file and copied it to the correct place. It was an easy install and it even plays Youtube videos.