Claim your computing freedom

Computing in 2012 is full of more fluff and BS than at any point in the past.  It’s all so pathetic that it sometimes makes me physically cringe.  Not only is most of it silly, but it’s also very constricting and limiting.  Too many technologies today force you to be locked into certain OS or hardware.  The only reason the industry gets away with all this is because regardless of people’s displeasure with things, they still continue using them.  This is a habit that too many practice, and the only way any of us can change this is to change our habits, and the devices and/or software we grow attached to.

Hardware, Software and other things

The only thing that I have attached myself to is the PowerPC architecture, and this is for no reason other than reliability and longevity.  When you have used something for 18 years, and it has never failed you, there is no reason to stop using it as long as it can still achieve all you need it to.  In terms of OS X, everything after Snow Leopard is covered in horrible.  Since 10.5 is so similar to 10.6, I find it a capable OS option for PowerPC while still not needing Intel hardware.  As a Mac tech I have no faith in 95% of the Intel hardware Apple has produced.  The early stuff in 2006-07 is still to this day the most reliable.  I am seeing a lot of 2009-10 model MacBook and iMac the last few months.  I have seen SATA controllers on unibody MBP just up and die about 4 times so far.  One failed intermittently and the others worked one moment then died the next.  The Mac Pro and Mini are the only current Macs I can recommend to people in good conscience, and those are easily the two least purchased.

Not only is much of the newer Intel hardware lacking in quality, but Apple has turned MacBook screens into glossy overdone iPad look-alikes.  It’s as if the cast of Jersey Shore helps design things at Apple now.  Everything is covered in a horrible, tacky, dithered mess.  Anyone with any computing needs beyond basic consumer stuff should be repelled by a dithered glossy screen.  I find them unusable personally, and the style is now well saturated in the desktop LCD market also. 

This deals with some of the things I mentioned in my “Why the Sawtooth is the greatest Mac ever” post.  I am referring to choosing a device based on its usability rather than its aesthetics.  No matter how pretty you find something like a computer or tablet; it needs to be a tool before anything else if you ever hope to get any practical use out of it.  If you’re really that obsessed over the look of something, then it would be far more practical to have a high res photo printed for your wall above your computer, and buy a device that will give you all the computing ability you actually need. 

People need OS and software selection whether they realize it or not.  You never know what needs will come along over the years, so having hardware that lasts and offers software flexibility is ideal looking forward. 

All the people still running PowerPC hardware would all be very wise to start adopting Linux into their computing world.  This is the best thing for all of us looking forward, because the more of us that use Linux, the more the OS will grow on the platform.  Apple dumped the architecture 7 years ago now so it's time for those of us still using it to pave our own computing path, at least in regard to achieving new abilities we don't get from old Mac software.  There is no reason to abandon the Mac OS versions our systems can run, but in terms of modern secure software Linux is the most logical choice.  BSD is an option also, but it is in no way user friendly, so anyone cutting their teeth on *nix for the first time is better off on Linux. 

Clinging onto Mac OS and its associated devices at this point is a bit of a fools game for PowerPC users.  You're just inevitably going to sink further into the New World Order Apple trash can.  More on this in a moment. 


I can understand the need some have for an iPhone, but an iPad is really obnoxiously bad and limited in so many ways.  It may be more capable than an iPhone, but as a portable computing option an iPad is one of the most limited and incapable devices that exist in the portable market.  Exactly how much capability are people willing to give up to own a certain device?  Apparently quite a lot. 

A 10 year old PowerBook is actually far more capable than any tablet, other than web or h.264 video.  If all someone wants to do on a tablet is video and web then go for it.  You will still be limited to what browsers and technology is available to you.  For those that want to do more than waste time on YouTube, and actually need some real computing ability, a PowerBook (or any portable that allows multiple computer OS) is a better option.  iOS is not a legitimate OS, and I will argue that to the grave.  It’s really Apple's attempt at stroking the lowest common denominator that is the general market trend now, and they started it. 

Apple has turned people into apes that are so caught up in dragging their fingers around, and using the motion sensor, that they don’t realize how much they're getting screwed.  When I say screwed, I mean by the price they pay; combined with the limitations that come with it.  Is embracing a gimmick or social status symbol worth all you give up?  Is a true computing device like a PowerBook really so much bigger, and is flipping a screen up (that you cannot drag your fingers across) really so bad for all the extra ability it gives you?  You could buy 2-3 quality used laptops for the price of an iPad.  This allows you to shape what OS and software you want working together, which puts you in the drivers seat of your computing journey; where you belong.  Even the best tablet OS cannot touch a full computer OS in any regard, other than touch access.  The truth is that the whole touch technology craze is as much a gimmick as anything else.  Small things amusing small minds.

I compute so much at home, that when I go out I use that as a break from technology.  This is why I don't need portability at all.  For those that truly do need portability, you're far better off with a full blown computer like a laptop.  A netbook is also far more capable than a tablet.  

The problem with some PowerPC resources online

It's obvious that anyone who writes PowerPC related content in 2012 does indeed care about the architecture, but most of them deal with things in a way which is influencing the reader to stick to this dead end Apple path.  The MacRumors PowerPC board, Low End Mac, and My Mac Collection are good examples of this.  All are done with good intent, but they are really just pushing people further down the dead end one way street.  I say that because all they do is point their readers to solutions for making their way in a dwindling market; rather than point them to liberating and forward thinking options such as Linux. 

The other aspect of this is that many of these sites and blogs only point people to things, and offer little practical knowledge or thinking outside the box in how to get things done, other than limited on their way out for PowerPC technologies.  In 2012 you need to offer people practical know how, and different ways of thinking and using things, because that is what is required these days. 

With rapidly dwindling PowerPC support on OS X, people can no longer just get by playing follow the leader any longer, by using whatever the industry spits out for them.  If you intend on continuing to use your old Macs, you need to think outside the box, and learn how to adapt without giving up capability.    We all need to stop adapting methods to keep being a slave to something no longer supported, and focus that energy on true alternatives which often use different technologies, but produce the same end result. 

I have even seen some of them point people to the modified flash pluggin, which made me cringe.  This is still the very insecure Flash 10, but with a modification to the version it reports so that sites that need 11 or higher will work.  It is still Flash 10 in every way, and to recommend this to people is just ignorant and shameful.  The key is to look for flash alternatives, and if some day there are none, then we should all just stop trying to watch flash online on PowerPC.

Apple started leaving us in the dust in 2005, and these days even an iPod shuffle needs an Intel Mac for goodness sake.  Apple left us for dead, so I really don't get the PowerPC users who are Apple fanboys to this day.  Stop loving your PowerPC because it's made by Apple, and love it instead because it has the best computer architecture ever inside, and Apple had very little to do with its creation compared to the actual hardware manufacturers (Motorola/Freescale and IBM).

Closing thoughts

All of us in the PowerPC community need to focus on what can move our hardware forward, and Open Source OS is the best way to do that while still keeping Mac OS around for other needs where security isn’t a concern.  Linux and BSD are the only OS still developed for our platform, and the more of us that embrace it the more it will grow.  Simple cause and effect. 

There is a learning curve involved, but once you learn Linux or BSD then you have truly empowering computer skills that will give you a clear road directly around any limitations the industry throws at you.  The expression “knowledge is power” is particularly apt for computers.  Gain the knowledge, and you have the power to compute the way you want, rather than how the industry tells you. 

I’ve got a fever and the only cure is Linux growth on PowerPC.  I think Dan at PPC Luddite is going about things perfectly with his Linux content, and we should all look to his amazing example. 

The Linux content here will only grow over time, as I am totally dedicated to getting all I can out of it, and helping others do so. 


  1. Great great post.
    I somehow fell like you do.Last week my late 2009 fully upgraded macbook white died on me.
    Turns on but no image.This laptop was always clean, with good thermal paste,and never had higher temps and it died.For a "lowend" macbook pro I must pay 1200eur,with a 2year warranty, with "ordinary hardware" and the "oh so beautiful" aluminium case that as soon as it hit the floor become a 400eur bill to repair.
    Buying a macbook air is simply stupid from my point of view (no option to upgrade neither ram nor hdd).
    This way I went back to my roots: pc (I will buy a Thinkpad X230 (wich reminds me the of the Pismo + PB g4)and linux.
    Mint linux if that matters.An operative system that is even more complete and easy to install than OSX!After installing your get: video player,office suite,music player,chat service,browser,and even more!Even in osx you don't get that right after install.
    I must agree with you: if we want powerpc to have a new life in 2012 we must think out of box, although I think not everyone needs/wants that.Most people are just fine sticking with old versions of apps, running outdated operative systems and old internet plugins.If it works it is fine for them.
    Guess those are typical mac users.They don't care about new/unstable/untest solutions, they want what is done/tested and fitted with a nice installer.If it doesn't appear ,they buy new stuff even if it 10times more limited than the older hardware.
    For now I am only testing linux distros in pc hardware (my only laptop is now a borrowed Compal HGL30 (Intel T7200,3Gb,my Samsung 830 SSD 256Gb,Nvidia 7600GT,14') but as soon as I have some spare time I'll give a try on my PowerMac G4.
    keep on posting!

    Greetings from Portugal

  2. As always, zen speaks the truth to those that will listen.

    For what its worth, in my experience most mac users, intel or PPC, are not all that technically competent, and are loathe to dive into Linux. They are like: "But....I need to have X app". Show them a terminal window and they twitch, then start to seizure. I've given up trying to turn a diehard mac-head against the nonsense that is coming out of Cupertino these days. The recent maps disaster is only the tip of the shit iceberg that is coming. It's true that the state of PPC linux is somewhat dire compared with the 386 side. Hopefully this will improve with MintPPC, Lubuntu etc. But we really need a Puppy or Bodhi linux on this side of the PPC fence.

    I've moved to a core duo Dell and Mint 13 (Cinnamon) as my main machine. Its a pretty sweet OS, and while Cinnamon is a fairly resource intensive window manager its got some nice things about it too. With Docky and a Mac OS X like theme I occasionally forget I am not on a Macbook pro. Which I admit is fairly stupid, but at least it makes me smile..well, whatever, nevermind.

  3. Thanks for the great comments guys. It's always good to spark attention in people who don't know much about Linux. It's easily the most empowering OS ever because of how it combines limitless possibilities and the most user friendly Unix avenue.

    I have two x86 systems myself. A C2D Mac mini from 2007 I use on my TV and an HP laptop I run OpenBSD on. I plan on getting a used x86 tower also for Suse and Puppy.

  4. I just re-read this great piece and this paragraph really stood out for me, replace the computing specific terms and you have an excellent blueprint for life in general:

    "There is a learning curve involved but once you learn (fill in the blank) then you have truly empowering (fill in the blank) skills that will give you a clear road directly around any limitations the (fill in the blank) throws at you. The expression “knowledge is power” is particularly apt for (fill in the blank). Gain the knowledge and you have the power to (fill in the blank) the way you want rather than how (fill in the blank) tells you."

    If 99% of humanity followed those basic ideas, we'd be set. Instead, 99% of humanity does the complete opposite. Hence the state we find ourselves in.

  5. Very well said , Zen.


  6. We're linking to your article in this week's Vintage Mac News, and while I wish you and other PPC Linux users the best, I think you're only creating an even smaller platform.

    "We love old Macs here at Low End Mac, and we've fiddled with BSD and Linux from time to time, but I take just the opposite perspective here. Windows is huge. Macs are big. Linux is small, maybe 2-3% of the desktop market, and most Linux software is compiled for x86 PCs, not old PowerPC Macs. Further, going from the Classic Mac OS or Mac OS X to Linux is a giant step backward in ease of use. Sure, it may be more secure, but we're Mac users because we love the Mac experience. Ditching the Mac OS for Linux is like taking a luxury car and replacing the automatic transmission because you want more control. I'd rather enjoy the smooth ride and the scenery than think about shifting gears, so even though I do have a Linux box here at Low End Mac headquarters, it's not a bastardized Mac. My 2¢."

    1. Hi Daniel,

      I will admit that you do need a big list of computing skill prerequisites before you can truly tackle open source OS my point is to encourage people to learn these skills. If we all stay slaves to whatever the current mainstream thing the industry spits out for us then our virtually our entire computing life is out of our control.

      I don't think you're really understanding my msg here. It's not just about using Linux but using whatever gives you all the capability you want rather than what you're stuck with.

      I have used several PowerPC Linux distros and I can tell you with 100% certainty that things are a lot better than you think right now in terms of usability and software availability. Lubuntu and Mint are both very user friendly to use and both very capable after you transition.

      Linux is an endless possibility and it has more flexibility than any OS out there. If you have the skills then you can simply imagine it and make it happen.

      For the people that just want to be fed whatever the latest tech trend is this blog isn't going to be much help. We need to all stop being clingy zombies with tech and stop stunting our skill development with all the silly mindless stuff out there today.

      You need to understand that this is a blog dedicated to PowerPC hardware and therefore it is geared to the rare few like myself in the world that actually have hardware preferences that go far beyond speed or computer models.

      I don't want the fastest thing on the shelf. I want hardware I can trust and thats PowerPC Macs. OS X is no longer developed in any manner so the only way people like me and my readers can move the architecture they prefer forward is with software that is actually developed.

      I could afford a new Mac Pro no problem but I have no interest in one. My interest is to get all I can out of PowerPC while still using OS X. I am in no way telling people to abandon Mac OS because I certainly am not.

      I hope that helps clear things up.

      Kind regards and thanks for helping bring traffic here.

    2. Another thing... how can you claim to know anything about the state of PowerPC Linux when you admittedly use x86 Linux?

      I also really don't appreciate you changing the title to PPC Linux: Claim your computing freedom. Thats not the title at all and if you want it worded a certain way then maybe you should write your own content about things you clearly don't properly comprehend. By putting "PPC Linux" at the front you make it seem like thats all I write about in the article. The concept (which you clearly don't get) is to free yourself of all constricting technology and use whatever gives you all the ability you need. People are not going to get any new abilities on PowerPC Mac OS to help take them beyond the preexisting abilities and your concept seems to be to stay stunted in knowledge and capability over learning something that is not a smooth ride like Linux but all empowering once you know it well.

      I don't cater to the blind Apple fanboy types here so anyone that expects that type of writing will always be disappointed here. I say that because after reading your comment again you really seem like the clingy fanboy type.

      There are two basic types of computer users. People who want to put as little thinking as possible into it and just look at pretty GUI's all day like a crow that likes a shinny quarter. The other are people that actually want to put some real thought into their computing and challenge themselves by learning new and empowering abilities. People that want to go beyond being a simple point and click monkey.

      Also, using the market share argument for OS's is just silly. Do you honestly think that just because something is popular that it's fundamentally good? I could make a very long list of all the horrible but popular things that have existed within humanities history. Those OS are only popular because they cater to the lowest common denominator which is what most need because they are unwilling to learn skills that will allow them to leave the shit in the toilet where it belongs.

      If you don't get any of these concepts then you don't get me and what I write about nor the people I write it for.

    3. Yup. I have 8 PPC Macs simply because I responded to the quality of the machines and the great deals you can get as they are "left behind". I am not a tech wizard, but I tried some of the new Linux distros because I found myself shuffling browsers and wasting time doing "work-arounds" on Mac OS's. My favorite machine is a Pismo running Debian "Wheezy". The switch is remarkably easy nowadays although it doesn't hurt to have a little command-line experience. Imagine- a laptop I can easily take apart and repair that runs a completely up-to-date OS and browser. Also if you go into Terminal and run a text-based browser the old G3 is really quick.

  7. I love old Macs and have about a dozen working machines: PowerBooks, Power Macs, and others going back to the early 90s. I've managed to get some form of BSD or Linux working on all of them over the years and take great interest in extending the lives of these computers past the time that Apple has declared them obsolete. I'm a Special Education teacher and have worked in Mac-centric school districts. I have a problem with Apple's lack of support for their older kit, the iBooks and iMacs that many poorer districts still have to use for financial reasons. PPC Linux, in particular, is a great way for them to keep these machines productive. At this point I favor Linux MintPPC, Edubuntu, and Debian's latest test version, Wheezy. Browsers and other software are up-to-date, security is solid, and it has numerous excellent programming environments built to choose from. Yes, there is a rather steep learning curve involved, but learning isn't such a bad thing to have happening in a school, is it?

  8. "Not only is much of the newer Intel hardware lacking in quality but Apple has turned MacBook screens into glossy overdone iPad look-alikes."

    Mirrors are great for what they do. But if I want a computer display, I'll stick with matte. And that comment from Daniel Jansen, "Sure (Linux) may be more secure..."? A lot of PowerPC users are in places other than North America and may have to deal with government firewalls and snooping, so security is kind of a concern.

  9. It is good to see a blog on this subject. I will enjoy visiting here. I have used GNU/Linux on i386 for about 13 years. Even put it on an LCII at one point.

    PPC hardware is good quality equipment. No need to let it die off because the vendor will not support software for the platform any more. I have 3 PPC machines currently and have run Linux on all of them at one point. Already being a Linux user, there was no difficulty for me. I can see the difficulty in changing OSX users over towards Linux. It is the same trying to change Redmond OS users over.

    Linux version 3.2.0-3-powerpc (Debian 3.2.23-1)

  10. David makes a good point in mentioning the fact that people don't want to do it. Mainly because they lack the understanding and they think your gonna bust up their computer with it.

    But its possible if somehow we can make how to's, and guide them through the process while explaining the benefits of how it can improve their security and experience. The main thing missing is how to's for PPC there is little to none, and the ones out there are vague and tend to lead you in circles...

    I run linux on my ibook g4, and its great! Linux might be small but the community support makes it stronger than any other OS...

    Also there are alot of ibooks and mac minis and such still being sold and people buy em. Theres alot that can be done if the community brings it back somehow.....

    if you got ideas Zen let me got my support and im sure there plenty of people that would help!