Linux on a G4 Mac Mini – Let’s try Yellow Dog

May 8, 2007

Machine:

1.42 GHz G4 Mac Mini (512MB)

OS X is getting a bit slow at times, that’s why I thought of giving it a try with Linux installing both OS X Tiger and Yellow Dog.

There are several Linux distributions available for those Macs made before Apple transitioned to Intel processors (i.e. PowerPC Macs with G3 G4 and G5 processors). Linux distributions I’ve considered were Ubuntu, Gentoo, Mandriva and openSUSE. I ended up downloading Yellow Dog Linux 5.0.1 code-named Phoenix (from the TerraSoft website). This distro is free and its iso has 3.6 GB, I chose it because it’s the only one that’s made just for the PowerPC architecture and it seems to have a good support today and for the years to come].

Linux Distribution:

Yellow Dog 5

The Yellow Dog 5 is a Fedora Core, RPM-based distribution.
Download the .iso file (from the TerraSoft website) and burn it onto a dvd.

ftp-download-phoenix-copia.jpg

If you are interested in the matter take a look at the TerraSoft site and here or here (in italian ->here).

How to install YDL and OSX (if you want to dual-boot Mac OS and Linux)

Step 1 – Back up your HD

Step 2 – Partition the Mac Mini HD [get out the gray Mac OS X Install Disc 1]

With Mac OS X running, insert the OS X Install Disc 1 that came with the Mac Mini. Run the installer from the disc and, when prompted, hit “restart”. The Mac Mini will reboot and load the OS X installer from the disc.
With the installer running, open on the “Installer” menu in the top left of the screen. Choose “Open Disk Utility”. From here we tell Disk Utility how we want to partition the hard disk. I have divided the 80 Gigs hard drive (real size is 74.5 GB) into 4 partitions:

3 volumes I have marked as “Free Space” (their filesystem – Format – will be specified during the Linux installation)

  • one of 2 GB for Linux-SWAP
  • one of 14 GB for Linux-ROOT [ext3]
  • one of 8.5 GB for shared FAT32 filesystem (for sharing files between OSX and YDL)

1 volume of 50 GB I have marked as “OS X” with the format “Mac OS Extended (Journaled)”, which is the Mac OS X filesystem, HFS+.

Once done setting up the volumes as desired, click Partition on the lower right, and quit Disk Utility.

partition-button.jpg

You’re ready to install OS X onto the partition you just created (the 50 GB one in my case).

Now OS X is installed, you only need to insert the YDL DVD and restart the system and make it so it will boot from the dvd-drive (I think I pressed C, I can’t remember). The Yellow Dog installation menu will appear and you will be guided to choose how to manage the Free Space partitions you have previously created.

Once you have both OSs installed, when turning on the Mac Mini, instead of rebooting directly into Mac OS X as before, it will now load a bootstrap from which you can hit the letter “L” to boot Linux, or “X” to boot Mac OS X. By default (not hitting any key) it will boot the Yellow Dog Linux.

First impressions:

Yellow Dog is cool, but I prefere OSX

After a few hours of Yellow Dog I had not figured out how to fix the sound (I had no sound!!!). There are some tweaks you really need to look after and it can take ages to find out. Things can be slow on OSX but they are hassle-free for the regular user. My suggestion is: Keep OSX as main system, install Yellow Dog if you are curious but don’t expect it to satisfy your regular needs (sound!!!).

[I dropped the YDL partition almost a year later and took its space back for a fresh install of OSX Tiger, feels good!]

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Installing Skype in Ubuntu Edgy Eft

May 2, 2007

When I had Ubuntu up and running I was quite anxious to play with the new OS and customize it with my favorite apps. Some apps I was able to install via Add/Remove Applications (Azureus, Amule, VLC) quite easily, other apps I had to understand how Synaptic worked and read through the Ubuntu wikis.

The first app I wanted to install was Skype and here I describe how I did it hoping it comes handy to other beginners like me.

Installing Skype through Repository:

  1. Go to: System>Administration>Synaptic Package Manager
  2. desktop-to-repository.jpg

    You will be asked for your system password, then a Synaptic Package Manager window will come up.
    This window shows the so called repositories which control the installation process and get the application packets from the Internet into the OS.

  3. From the Synaptic Pagake Manager window click Settings>Repositories.
  4. From the new window Software Sources select the Third Party tab and click Add.
  5. finestra-3rd-party.jpg

  6. Paste the following into the APT Line field:
  7. deb http://download.skype.com/linux/repos/debian/ stable non-free

    then click OK and OK again until you get back to the Synaptic Package Manager.

  8. Click Reload to refresh the repositories
  9. Search and Mark for installation the packet Skype, click on apply and keep going until the application is completely installed
  10. If all went right you will find Skype from the menu Applications>Internet
  11. That’s all!


Ubuntu Linux Novice

April 27, 2007

Over the last year I have been fighting in my lab with Windows XP until I finally installed a copy of Ubuntu Linux release 6.10 code-named Edgy Eft. My experience so far has been quite positive even though getting started with Ubuntu required some efforts. The wikis of the Ubuntu web site have been very helpful.

dsc07052install.jpg

My experience with Ubuntu so far:

  1. Downloading and burning a cd with the OS is easy to do as it is well explained in the Ubuntu web site
  2. Kind of funny having to run the suggested error check prior to intallation
  3. The partition of the hard drive while installing the OS requires some research! number of partitions, size, filesystem …
  4. The installation of the OS is quite fast, it only takes 15-20 minutes
  5. For an OS that’s free, the graphic user interface is quite impressive
  6. A number of useful applications is installed together with the OS
  7. Installing additional applications isn’t as intuitive as it can be with mac or windows can be done in different ways. Some apps can be installed easily through the Add/Remove Applications. Other apps can be installed through the repositories in Synaptic or through command line in Terminal.
  8. The desktop switch feature is pretty cool and saves time
  9. Not surprisingly the machine – 2 GHz Pentium IV w/ 512 MB of RAM – is performing much better than when running win xp