Debian Testing for my iBook G4


I was thinking about which OS to install on iBook yesterday. I just got over a pretty frustrating experience in that department and was looking for something not too easy but more enjoyable. So Jessie is now stable and since my iBook is my "testing" machine why not install Stretch on it? The freeze is probably lifted for testing so I want to see how long I can ride before my sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade results in me getting hit with a serious bug. This is what a "testing" machine is for right? ;-) So I went and got the netinst iso from Debian and began the install. When the cd boots it asks how you want to install and I chose the options install desktop=xfce. I really like XFCE, it is not as lightweight as LXDE but it has some more features that I prefer on my DE. The rest is pretty much what you would expect on a Debian install. It just worked. Once your system reboots remember you need to enable KMS if you have any desire for a good DE experience. I use the following setting on my iBook:

Linux radeon.modeset=1 video=offb:off video=1024x768-32 video=radeonfb:off radeon.agpmode=-1

Then when your login to the desktop you will need to make the changes permanent. Sudo does not come installed you can su to root and install it or you could just run nano -w /etc/yaboot.conf as root and add those parameters like below:

image=/boot/vmlinux
label=Linux
read-only
initrd=/boot/initrd.img
append="quiet splash radeon.modeset=1 video=radeonfb:off video=offb:off video=1024x768-32 radeon.agpmode=-1"

image=/boot/vmlinux.old
label=old
read-only
initrd=/boot/initrd.img.old
append="quiet splash radeon.modeset=1 video=radeonfb:off video=offb:off video=1024x768-32 radeon.agpmode=-1"

If you want to find out what screen resolution you need to set for your machine it can be fount at the everymac website. Remember to run this command after you finish editing to apply your changes sudo ybin -v. Setting up wireless was pretty straight forward. You will need to add contrib and non-free to the /etc/apt/sources.list file and run sudo apt-get update. Since I have Broadcom BCM4318 chip I just need to install the firmware-b43-installer package and reload the b43 module. On G4 iBooks and PowerBooks to get sound to work you will need to manually load the snd-aoa-i2sbus module and add it to the /etc/modules file. Then run the command alsamixer to set the PCM channel to 80. You need to install the pauvcontrol package as well. I also added the pmu_battery module so I can have a working battery indicator. This basically what I did to get a working system. The only issue I ran across was the xfdesktop4 service was consuming 100% cpu when I would right click on the desktop. There was already a related bug that I added my comments. I spent the rest of the evening theming my desktop. I am huge fan of Numix themes and icons so below are some screenshots. BTW does anyone want to take a guess as to how long I can ride in testing before an upgrade really hurts me?


Hello from Texas!


Thanks zen for the intro. Here is a brief summary about me and how I got here.

I am a network engineer in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. I have been doing networking since about 2008 mostly on Cisco routers, switches, and firewall appliances. I have ventured to other network/security platforms since my start. I administer Big-IP F5 appliances, Check Point and  Juniper firewalls. I really love being a network engineer. I find the whole field fascinating.

I really got into working with PowerPC just because I wanted to get PowerBook G4 working again. It was my first computer I bought in 2006. I just loved it, then Apple moved on to Intel and you saw support for it just go away. I bought a MacBook Pro in 2009 but I never could get rid of my PowerBook. So fast forward to 2014, I pulled it out again and decided to try to see what could I use it for. Leopard was unsupported so I wanted a modern OS hence Linux. I got Xubuntu installed and working pretty easy, but there were still some issues I was working through. The biggest was video playback. Then someone on the Ubuntu forms recommended Dan's site PPC Luddite. I was blown away with what I found there. Talk about a wealth of information! Then I discovered that there was a whole community of people out there keeping this platform (which contrary to Apple is NOT dead) going. Through Dan I found PowerPC Liberation where I came accross Zen's post,  "Claim your computing freedom". It is probably one of my favorite posts on what Linux offers, freedom on your computer! So this is where how I got to where I am on PowerPC.

My blog  covers my exploring other distros and how they work on PowerPC. I do not really consider myself an expert, I like to say I am an adventurous noob :-) So far I have dealt with Debian, the Ubuntu flavors, and just recently Gentoo. I plan to cover OpenSUSE and the BSDs as well in the future. I will also eventually cover networking and security related issues as well since that what I mostly do at my job.

My main machine was a PowerBook G4 1.67Ghz running Debian, but it just died this morning. So time to look for another. I have an iBook G4 that i use for testing and a PowerMac G4 that needs some work to get going, I hoping in time to get a G5 and possibly a mac mini to add to my collection.

I am looking forward to contributing and learning from everyone here.

Yet another author, and a new view on images


As I have said before...  we will always be adding new authors here.  The author of IT musings on Linux, PowerPC, Networking, and Security, rican-linux, is the latest to join the fold, so please help me welcome him.

He is a Network Engineer, and has been a very fast learner with Linux.  Seems like the type that just gets Linux from the start.  He recently successfully installed Gentoo on his iBook, which if you've tried that you know is no small feat.


A note to all authors about the image policy here

For the entire life of this blog I have kept a no embedded images or video policy for all the authors.  After some time and reflection I have realized that this may hold you back to some degree; in regard to expressing something fully without being limited to text only.  We are largely visual creatures after all.

The goal was to keep the blog as light to load as possible for older systems, but a few screens can't hurt anyone.  So to all the authors - you now have total image freedom in your posts.  Share your screens, window grabs, whatever.

Feel free to embed video also, but just don't go crazy.

I wanted to address this publicly because several readers have asked why we never show screens directly in posts, but now we will.

Debian Jessie becomes the new stable


Yesterday (Apr. 25), Debian released Jessie (version 8) as the new stable edition of their Linux OS.  I have yet to try it as a stable release, but plan on installing soon.

Being that this is a Linux-heavy blog, you can expect a lot of new content about the Jessie stable release from our authors here - when we have time of course - so keep checking back in to catch it.  Once I give it a thorough once over, I will be sure to share my thoughts on it.

For now - try it and share any findings.

By the way...  the new testing release is named "Stretch".  I wonder if that name has a deeper meaning?  As in to really "stretch" the time it spends in testing.

When You Need to Memtest Your RAM


My Powerbook recently suffered a mild health crisis. It started when I woke it from sleep one morning and it immediately gave me a kernel panic. I rebooted and got another immediate kernel panic, at which point I sighed and thought, "Here we go..." I actually thought I fixed the problem by reseating the RAM, since the kernel panic plastered a bunch of helpful text across my screen saying something about "illegal memory instruction." But alas it was only a short-lived fix as the kernel panics returned soon after.

It turned out the lower RAM slot was dying, and in fact it finally died permanently later that day and now the Powerbook was only reading 512 MB of memory (the upper slot). Dead lower memory slots were a common problem in aluminum Powerbooks, though Apple's AppleCare extension program for this model is long past. I could either re-solder the slot joints back in place or replace the entire logic board. Since I don't have soldering skills handy, replacing the logic board it was!

Fortunately I have a spare, identical Powerbook for just such an occasion. For awhile, I've wanted to take apart both Powerbooks and combine the best parts from each, so events provided the impetus. After much surgery (basically moving the hard drive, trackpad case, and LCD display to the spare which had a good bottom case and logic board), the patient came out more-or-less intact. I used these iFixIt tutorials, which I can't recommend enough. If any of you want to do something like this, let me offer a tip. When following the tutorials, always refer back to each step one-by-one, even if you've done it a few times before and think you have the hang of it. Because eventually you'll overlook a step and wonder why the trackpad case won't pull off the left side even though you're bending it out of shape and then you realize you forgot to take that side's screws out. Now, I didn't do this myself, of course. That would make me the stupidest person on the planet. I'm merely writing to enlighten you, dear reader.

Unfortunately this wasn't the end of my adventures. I also ordered a pair of one gig RAM DIMMs to max out my memory. I'm starting a family photo scanning project and I'll be working with some very large picture files. So naturally I installed the new RAM and got a kernel panic. Then I rebooted and the System Profiler's diagnostics showed the bottom slot failed and was only reading 512 MB. At this point I'm thinking this isn't my lucky week. After reseating the RAM, everything seemed to work until more kernel panics returned. At this point it was finally time to test the RAM (when Darth Vader targets me in his cross hairs, he says, "The ennui is strong in this one.").

To test, you need a unix program called memtest. An installer is available for download at Command-Tab, which installs the executable into your /usr/local/bin. Version 4.22 supports both PowerPC and Intel. Once you have it, you can reboot into single user mode (command-s at the chime) and run the command "memtest all 2". Over the next couple of hours you'll see either a bunch of "ok"s or a bunch of failures. I saw failures. The good news is the seller agreed to give me a refund almost instantly after I sent a request.

Memtest is also bundled with Applejack, another troubleshooting utility that runs in single user mode. I saw other sites trying to sell memtest for a fee, but it's freeware so I don't know what that's about.

I'll try my luck with new RAM again, but right now I'm glad to have two functioning slots even if they're housing my old 512 MB DIMMs. Finally on the subject of scanning, check out these posts at Quadras, Cubes, and G5s about digital photography and scanning on a 7300. Very interesting.

Aloha from South Dakota


Thanks to everyone for the warm welcome and the kind introduction from Zen! I really do appreciate it. I'll likely keep this post short and sweet.

A little about myself.  My full-time job is as a network administrator, but I also manage the IT infrastructure of another growing company part-time.  My real passion is with programming, but I leave myself too little time to do it unfortunately.  Using PPC hardware has helped keep that passion alive and strong though.  Other than that, I love virtualization technologies and spend a lot of time learning the ins and outs of them.  I still consider myself very new to PowerPC hardware, so if anything is ever out of line or incorrect, don't be afraid to correct me.  I consider it a valuable part of my learning experience.

When writing for my blog, PowerofPowerPC, I try incredibly hard to stick mostly to the facts and I plan on doing the same here. I'll be focused mostly on G5 content as other hardware is already covered by the other writers. This works out well as I have not done anything G5 related on my own blog up to this point. There, I mostly stick with older PPC portables and G4 desktops and that will likely not change anytime soon.

I currently own 3 G5 Power Macs, all of which have been freely donated to me through various means.  If it wasn't so incredibly expensive to ship these heavy beasts, I'd be more than willing to donate the other two to individuals who would put them to every day use.

My daily G5 is a 2.3 GHz dual core running with 16 GB of RAM.  You can read more about this machine's specs on the hardware page. The machine's hostname is appropriately set to (in my opinion) BigMac.

If you have any post ideas, topics, or issues related to the G5 Power Mac we could try to work through together, please let me or one of the other writers know. I'm looking forward to further expanding and sharing my knowledge of both PPC hardware and software.