Ubuntu Linux, Yellowdog Linux and Mac OS X, all on one PowerBook?

In a bit of a break from business analysis, I thought it would be fun to post one of my more technical articles to re-establish my “geek cred”, if you will. This article details the trials and tribulations of turning a perfectly good Apple PowerBook into a tri-boot system with Mac OS X, Yellow Dog Linux and Ubuntu Linux.
Mac OS X is built of two components, Darwin, the BSD-based Unix underpinnings, and Aqua, the beautiful graphical user interface we Mac heads have all grown to love. However, there are other operating systems and other work environments that can be installed on an Apple system, based on popular open source Linux applications. If you�re looking for Intel-based versions of Linux, there are dozens and dozens, but the PowerPC chip cuts those options down quite a bit. I decided it�d be interesting to install the most popular Linux for PowerPC – Yellow Dog 4.0 – and an up and coming Debian-based Linux distro that�s getting quite a bit of buzz in the community: Ubuntu Linux.

Unlike Microsoft�s VirtualPC application, these operating systems can�t be installed within Mac OS X, but rather have to be installed adjacent to, or instead of Mac OS X. I decided to install all three on my new 1Ghz Aluminum PowerBook G4 system. With 1GB of RAM and a 60GB drive, I figure there was plenty of space to steal 8GB for the two Linux installations and still have plenty to continue running Mac OS X with all my favorite applications.
This meant that to get started I needed to partition the drive, to take the 58GB partition (the maximum available space on a 60GB drive: don�t ask where the other 2GB go, they�re just eaten by the same gremlins that cause your 17� monitor to actually only measure 15.5� diagonally) and shrink it down to make space for two more operating systems and all of their additional files.
The traditional way of shrinking a disk partition is to simply reformat the drive, which has the unfortunate and tedious side-effect of completely removing everything on the disk. All apps, all data files, all photos, iTunes libraries, everything.
Rather than go through that pain, I instead decided to try working with a program called VolumeWorks, from SubRosaSoft. VolumeWorks is a disk repartitioning tool that can dynamically resize partitions without destroying all the data within. Though it can only resize HFS+ volumes, not UFS, that was fine, because the existing Mac OS X partition was already in HFS+ format.
As with most disk utilities, you can�t work on the boot partition, so I opted to use Firewire target mode to mount the laptop hard disk onto my G5 system before I tried to resize the disk partition. Before I could begin partition resizing, however, I had to defragment the disk first – no surprise – and before I could do that, I had to verify the disk.
With a 60GB disk, there are exactly 57.8 GB of disk space available, so I resized that partition down to 50GB, then allocate 3GB for Ubuntu and 4GB for Yellow Dog, based on the Ubuntu and Yellow Dog recommended install sizes: 1.8GB for Ubuntu and 2.2GB for the workstation installation of Yellow Dog.

What does “Ubuntu” mean?

Ubuntu (ooh-BOON-too) is an African word that has been described as “too beautiful to translate into English”. The essence of ubuntu is that “a person is a person through other people”. It describes humanity as “being-with-others” and prescribes what “being-with-others” should be all about. Ubuntu emphasizes sharing, consensus, and togetherness.

One thing I would have appreciated in VolumeWorks was some estimate of how long it would take to defragment my system. Without a clue, I had no idea whether it would take five minutes or 17 hours, so I asked Mark Hurlow of SubRosaSoft, who told me �it should take 6-8 hours to defragment a severely fragmented disk�.
As a result, while I was waiting I switched to the Mac application Toast Titanium 6 and burned the single Ubuntu install CDROM, freely downloaded from the ubuntulinux.com Web site. Gaining some coolness points, Ubuntu is also available as a torrent file, and the 592MB file downloaded speedily through the BitTorrent network. As the Ubuntu team warns on their site, it�s always important to burn the ISO data directly, not open it, mount it, or otherwise do any manipulation. Fortunately Toast can open a .iso file and immediately know how to handle the data.
I was also going to download Yellow Dog Linux�s new 4.0 release, but managed to time things when they�d just that day announced the availability of YDL4 for purchase only. A colleague who was also busy installing a Linux on his Mac unsurprisingly told me �I�m not about to pay $60 for a Linux distro, so YDL�s clearly not for me.� What he didn�t realize was that after a few weeks of selling the new distro, the four install ISO images were made available on the Yellow Dog site as free downloads. Nonetheless, it suggests that the Yellow Dog folk, TerraSoft, would do well to have a countdown timer to the free downloads being available or something that would let new customers know that it was a �when� not an �if� regarding getting a free copy of YDL4.
Meanwhile, back to VolumeWorks. The night had passed and to my surprise the disk fragmentation status window hadn�t changed a bit, so with great trepidation I did a force quit and killed the program. To my surprise, my laptop still booted into Mac OS X, so I started up VolumeWorks again. This time it showed the same fragmentation picture, but decided within a few seconds that it wasn�t sufficiently fragmented to be a problem. Five minutes later I had three partitions, 3GB, 4GB and 50GB. Then I rebooted the laptop and waited� and waited� and gave up after about twenty minutes. Instead, I remounted the drive via Firewire target mode and ran Apple�s Disk Utility to verify each partition.
The two new partitions verified without a problem, but the older partition had an unsurprising error: Invalid number of allocation blocks. The volume needed to be repaired, but� it couldn�t be repaired using Disk Utility. I tried the �reset� feature of VolumeWorks to see if that�d make the changes necessary (since it�s supposed to recalibrate the basic size parameters of the partition to match the size of the drive space) but to no avail. When queried, Mark Hurlow of SubRosaSoft answered �I suspect we may have problems with FireWire Target mode� and I was stuck having to reformat the partition and do a clean install (read �waste lots of hours�) of Mac OS X Panther. Blech!
Having rebuilt Mac OS X, I proceeded to install Ubuntu Linux on the smaller of the two new partitions. Having burned an install CDROM, I simply rebooted and promptly got a typical quasi-graphical Linux installer interface.
The installer went through many cycles of detecting hardware, and finally asked for a hostname (I choose �sawubona� which means �hello� in Zulu). Confusingly, though the documentation indicated that I only needed one partition, you in fact need to have two partitions to proceed with Ubuntu installation, a standard Linux partition (I used ext3 as my partition format) and a �NewWorld boot� partition for booting purposes. The first phase of the installation completed and I was presented with something I hadn�t seen on a Mac since working with A/UX oh so long ago: an option to boot into different operating systems at startup!
Ubuntu then prompted me to create a user account, set the password and time zone, then went through uncompressing and unpacking the hundreds of packages that comprise the distro without giving me any option to choose which I preferred. That phase took about ten minutes, and when it was done I had a lovely login screen with GNOME ready to go.
The only hiccup encountered was that Ubuntu didn�t automatically see the wireless Airport card built-in to my PowerBook. To solve this problem, I posted a message to the Ubuntu user forums (www.ubuntuforums.com) and within about 12 hours had a response: the Airport and Airport Extreme wireless cards aren�t supported by Linux because Broadcom hasn�t released those specs to the open source community. What a drag! Instead, it was time to plug in an Ethernet cord, under great duress, so I could be online.
The boot control application that lets you pick which operating system you want to have run when you start up the computer is called yaboot and by default it gives you about 15 seconds to pick between Linux and Mac OS X then defaults to launching Ubuntu. The first thing I wanted to do was change the default operating system to Mac OS X, not Linux. Fortunately, there�s a great yaboot reference document online at the yaboot site. It turns out that the change is trivially simple: in the file /etc/yaboot.conf I simply needed to add defaultos=macosx.

Ubuntu Linux running on a Mac PowerBook

Figure 1: Ubuntu desktop, The GIMP graphics editor, Firefox Web browser and a terminal session are all running on Mac hardware. Note the Mac OS X partition is mounted too.

The second – and critical – step is to actually install the updated bootstrap loader configuration file, and that�s done with /sbin/ybin -v which figures out where the new configuration file should be moved and does it. Perhaps the most amusing line in the entire process is the output statement �Blessing /dev/hda6 with Holy Penguin Pee�. Only in the world of Linux!
Conveniently living less than an hour�s drive from Terra Soft, I was one of the first people to receive a copy of their 4.0 boxed release. Impressively well-packaged it reminded me of nothing so much as early Red Hat Linux. Deliberately, I�m sure. Included in their $60 retail box are eight CDROMs: four install disks and four source disks. Imagine, the entire source code for your operating system and all major applications!
To get started with the installation I first made sure that I wrote down all the boot parameters from the existing yaboot configuration file to ensure that I would be able to again find the Ubuntu Linux boot area if it wasn�t automatically found by the Yellow Dog boot controller. Remember, I�d previously split up the Mac hard disk into quite a few different partitions�
Yellow Dog shares quite a bit of lineage with Red Hat: it�s the Fedora core and even the installer is the Red Hat program Anaconda, which is quite a bit more attractive and easier to use than Ubuntu Linux. Disk Druid is the utility that helps work with partitions, and it was quite confusing to have it show the NewWorld boot partition, the Mac OS X partition and the Ubuntu partition. Nothing else, just those three. Where was the 4GB partition I had saved?
A bit of exploration revealed that Disk Druid actually showed a small unallocated portion of the physical drive too, so clicking on �new� allowed me to create a new ext3 partition within which I would be able to install Yellow Dog after all. And yet, that wasn�t sufficient because YDL also needed a swap partition, so I ended up splitting that partition into two: 3.5GB and 500MB, the former for Yellow Dog and the latter for swap.
Then it was the fun of digging through the hundreds of possible packages to install (an option that was completely lacking with Ubuntu), allowing me to skip installing Emacs and instead add the X11 version of vim, a much more useful editor, in my opinion. I also added lynx and ncftp for command-line Internet capabilities.
Once everything was installed – which took surprisingly little time – the system rebooted into the familiar yaboot window and showed one Linux option: Yellow Dog. I expected Ubuntu to vanish, so I didn�t panic. The boot into Yellow Dog proceeded and, as much as I like the informal and slim Ubuntu, Yellow Dog�s Fedora on Mac installation process blows it away. It is as if I had watched a generation or two of Linux evolution happen before my very eyes. Better graphics, better use of screen real estate, clearer configuration and setup, and many more improvements.
But things weren�t quite right. During the installation, I was able to test the audio driver and it worked fine, but when starting up YDL, I hit �SNDCTL_DSP_SETFMT failed� and found that the audio device was disabled. I asked Kai Staats, CEO of Terra Soft, about this problem and he responded: �This usually has to do with the order in which the drivers are loaded. Try logging out of the GUI and back in again.�. I did that, but nothing changed.
Yellowdog Linux running on a Mac PowerBook

Figure 2: Yellow Dog Linux runs KDE, Open Office (showing a photograph), Mozilla�s Web browser and has the Mac OS X disk partition mounted and showing on the desktop.

Everything looked fine until I launched Mozilla, at which point all the colors on the display weirded out. That�s the technical term! Mozilla modified the system color map on launch and suddenly the crisp text was barely readable and all the nice colors were considerably more psychedelic. With a wee bit of guessing, I managed to launch the Display configuration tool and modified the screen resolution. But there was still a bit of confusion with the display configuration: KDE had the monitor set to �generic lcd� even though the Apple display had been correctly identified during one of the earlier stages of the installation process. It was easy to open up System Settings -> Display and choose Hardware -> Monitor Type and select �Apple Aluminum PowerBook G4� and restart X11. Much better!
There are also some oddities in the default YDL configuration of the Desktop, not the least of which is a Floppy device being shown when — psst! — there hasn�t been a floppy included with Apple hardware for years and years. Unsurprisingly, YDL couldn�t see or configure the Airport Extreme card to allow access to the Internet via wireless, so I had to dig out an Ethernet cable to get online, as I had also done so with Ubuntu.
Having installed Yellow Dog, I suddenly couldn�t see Ubuntu any more. If I hadn�t previously written down the partition number, I would have suspected that it had just vanished. A quick query to Ethan Benson, developer of yaboot, and I had my answer: I needed to move the individual Linux partition specifier (it says partition=2) into the YDL section and add another section for Ubuntu that specified the partition of the Ubuntu installation (partition=9). I ended up with two image blocks:

append=�rhgb quiet�

When the Mac boots, I still see the standard yaboot options of linux, macosx or cdrom, but selecting linux now gives me the option of typing in either �yellowdog� or �ubuntu� to specify which I wanted to actually start. Works like a charm!
To be truly useful as alternative operating systems, both Ubuntu and Yellow Dog needed to let me mount the Mac OS X disk so that I could access all my files and data. Fortunately Terra Soft, makers of Yellow Dog Linux, have excellent online documentation and it didn�t take me long at all to find out that if I know what partition holds Mac OS X – mine is /dev/hda8 – then it�s two quick shell commands:
mkdir /mnt/macosx
mount /dev/hda8 /mnt/macosx -t hfsplus
Even better, I just added an entry for macosx in the /etc/fstab file so that the Mac OS X partition is automatically mounted and appears on the desktop each time I started up either Linux.
To mount in the other direction, that is, to mount the Linux partitions within Mac OS X, I found an external product that offers support for the Linux ext2/ext3 file system; ext2fsx, a free implementation of the ext2 file system (ext3 is backwards compatible with ext2) for Mac OS X. This utility made it a breeze to mount both the Yellow Dog Linux and Ubuntu Linux partition. Frankly, I�m baffled why Mac OS X doesn�t include native support for ext2 and ext3 file systems.
Given the choice between Mac OS X and Linux, I have to say that I prefer Mac OS X at the end of the day. All of my familiar applications are available and it�s an interface I�ve used on a daily basis for years, so there�s a significant comfort level. Further, because of its Darwin/BSD base, Mac OS X also includes X11 and a full Unix underpinning, offering many of the same benefits as running Linux directly.
But it�s Linux that lives at the center of most of the open source community, and it�s Linux that includes a complete office suite, top-notch Web browser, powerful image and graphics editor, dozens of professional applications, and a solid and time-tested development environment for free, easily downloaded or purchased for just a few dollars. With the Ubuntu Linux installation, the entire OS fits on a single CDROM for installation. Yellow Dog requires four, which of course means that it offers considerably more applications and options. One reason I like Ubuntu over Yellow Dog, though, is that Ubuntu defaults to the slick GNOME graphical environment, while Yellow Dog uses KDE, an alternative that�s attractive, but less compelling. Ubuntu also worked just fine with my laptop, never glitched on the graphics, and the audio worked every time.
If you want to learn more about the world of Linux you can�t go wrong with either of these two Linux operating systems for Macintosh. Even better: if you�ve an older Mac that doesn�t have the oomph to run Panther and, soon, Tiger, then turning it into a Linux-based server could be a terrific alternative.

This article was commissioned by and originally appeared in LinuxWorld Magazine and is © 2005 by Dave Taylor. I’d be happy to grant reprint rights if you or your organization is interested: just ask first, please!

54 comments on “Ubuntu Linux, Yellowdog Linux and Mac OS X, all on one PowerBook?

  1. Major article typo: (losing geek cred 🙂
    the Airport wireless cards aren�t supported by Linux because Qualcomm hasn�t released those specs to the open source community.
    I suspect you mean Airport Extreme and Broadcom.

  2. Hi –
    You could have saved yourself all that trouble reinstalling OS X if you had backed it up to another drive first. SOP, if you’re going to geek around with your system. In addition, this strategy would have eliminated the necessity of using VolumeWorks to defragment your drive or adjust your partitions. Having a viable backup, you could have gone ahead and used Disk Utility to repartition your PowerBook hard drive (while the PowerBook was in Target Disk Mode or by booting from an OS X install CD); you would then have been able to boot from the backup partition and mirror it back to a spanking clean 50 GB partition on the PowerBook. This would have saved you risk, time and aggravation.

  3. Yeah, well. 🙂
    Your comment assumes that I had a spare many-gig hard disk available, which wasn’t the case. I’ve tried this in the past, and I can’t just copy a few directories, I really have to copy across the entire disk, which on my system is over 30GB, which is a lot of spare disk space!

  4. Nice blog and nice article. I discovered you through Amy Gahran’s newsletter. Although the article is a bit mute right now, I bookmarked for when I make the “switch”.
    I am not a mac user… yet. I am switching most my PC’s over to linux. I am sick of being a “security expert” with Windows. I am looking forward to eventually becoming an Apple user. I am hearing too many good things about the Macs and Powerbooks.

  5. Nice article. I recently got to compare YDL4.01 and Ubuntu on my older G3 600 Blue Dalmation iMacs. YDL was weird to even boot the CD as it didn’t understand the iMac’s graphics chip, and I never did get sound working. Ubuntu just has the pseudo graphical installer, but it was dead simple to use and everything (inlcuding sound) just worked. It was even easy to add mp3 support in the “iTunes-like” Music player thanks to a great how-to of basic tasks on the Ubuntu website. It even understood my iPod when I plugged it in! While Ubuntu isn’t as extensive in it’s setup as YDL, it sure is a LOT easier for a Linux newbie to get started with!

  6. Enjoyed your article. I recently put YDL 4.01 on my new 12″ Powerbook G4 (1.5 GHz, 1.25 GB DRAM) as a dual boot with Tiger. I’ve run into a few installation issues and I’m curious to know if you solved them. First, my touchpad was not recognized during installation. I had to attach a USB mouse to get through the GUI install. Second, I had trouble with my Airport Extreme. I’m connected to my network by Ethernet only. Third, my sound system was not recognized during install. Otherwise, my install went very well and seems to run nicely, I have to say that I’m a tiny bit dissapointed to run into these install problems given that YDL is targeted to a very narrow range of hardware platforms. I don’t understand why Terrasoft had not shaken out these problems in what should be a mature software release.

  7. Thanks for your posting, Scott. Airport Extreme isn’t supported in Linux, unfortunately (Broadcom won’t release the spec to the open source community) and I never got the sound system to work with Yellow Dog (though Ubuntu worked fine, as far as I could tell). Never had a problem with the trackpad.
    I would imagine that Terrasoft is constrained by resources and by what driver specs are released into the open source community too, but my trackpad on my 15″ PowerBook should be the same as on your 12″ PowerBook. Weird.
    Anyway, is your final install usable, then?

  8. An important point re Ubuntu you missed.
    Enable Universe, and you have another 12000 (but who’s counting?) packages. The CD is basically the installer:-)

  9. You, uh, installed an operating system without checking a hardware compatibility list or the basic installation instructions?
    I believe Geek Cred requires a bit of prior research as well as installation of a more esoteric brand of Linux, like Gentoo.

  10. I tried a similar thing using only YDL 4.0 and an iBook G4 1.2 Ghz.
    The Windows server crashed every time. I traced it back to the fact that it didn’t recognize my Graphics Card or monitor at all.

  11. Great response, Dave! That’s exactly what I do – force the darn thing to work. But, yeah. Found this article looking for a way to do ext2 in tiger, (the ext2fsx thing at sourceforge is broken in 10.4, much to my post-upgrade, temporarily confused/angry surprise) and have been thinking about switching my iMac G3 DVSE (400 MHz) to a linux box for a while. A couple things, though:
    1) I won’t touch on the missing gigs, as I’m sure even you know where they went. (Hint: It wasn’t gremlins.)
    2) WHY did you resize your working partition? That just seems like you’re asking for trouble. And AFAIK, you shouldn’t defrag an HFS+ disk. It’ll automatically handle it pretty well. Last I checked (before the tiger release) doing so manually doesn’t jive with the fs.
    3) You force-quit an application that was writing to your disk? AND failed to fsck and/or verify it? AND decided “it wasn�t sufficiently fragmented to be a problem”? AND failed to realize that Disk Utility needs to be run multiple times to work its magic (as does every fsck’er <–that looks dirty, but isn’t).
    4) I haven’t used it, but YDL = the PPC Fedora right? Do you really want to deal with rpm’s? Fedora was my first linux, and tracking down the dependencies drove me insane in about two months. I think it was trying to install VLC with a 30-item list of rpms I had to find and about half of them were incompatable with the other half. It drove me straight into Gentoo (Gentoo’s still my favorite, by the way).
    5)UBUNTU? From what I’ve seen, its pretty wussy. But I havn’t used it yet so I can’t really comment, can I?
    6) I don’t use Gnome or KDE anymore (I’m liking fluxbox, thank you), but I do know its much easier to just edit the /etc/X11/xorg.conf file (or where ever you keep yours) than to try and wade through the lousy prefrence managers that even the new Gnome and KDE use. Well, not lousy, but some things need redone.
    7) The assertion that Linux is the only one with a “top-notch Web browser” is baloney/balogna (tomato/toma … to … that didn’t work). Any way, I’ll just assume you’re thinking of the Oh-so-popular Firefox. The Nightly Build of Camino (OS X Native) is better far better than any build of Firefox, which is available to any of the mainstream OS’s. I’m using Version 2005060308 (0.9a1) now and the just released banner blocker kicks serious rear end. I would refute the other lack-of-good-software-claims, but my mac has two puposes – web surfing and… uh… data… collection. *cough*
    Second to Last) If you really want to learn about linux, don’t waste your time with YDL or Ubuntu. You’ll learn only slightly more about linux as you learn about Unix from playing with Aqua — that is, none. If you really want to learn anything, set aside an entire weekend and install gentoo from the minimal CD. Then set aside a month’s worth of nights and weekends to do a “linux from scratch” installation. You might also want to plan a few hours of angry, confused and frustrated screaming. I did that a lot.
    Last) Anyways, all I wanted to say before I ranted (really bad habit — especially when I’m not really an expert) was “good response to kalisphoenix”.
    Real Last) Maybe next time you could make a disk image of your fs after moving the docs and stuff to cdr’s and then restore the new main osx partion from the disk image? I don’t know. Just be sure to do md5sums on everthing after each transfer from one media to the next.

  12. My Yellow Dog Install is definitely usable, I was running debian in a Virtual PC Window and that was painfully slow. I’ll look into my trackpad problem when i get some time. Meanwhile, my USB mouse works just fine and has two more buttons than my trackpad.

  13. Not bashing or anything…just sharing some general opinions from peers.
    safari + pithelment = match made in heaven
    OS X and Windows XP are just fine
    Linux is just not ready for the “ease of use” users and doesn’t have “enough” to do and “is ugly” compared to os x and xp..especially if you’re used to Apple products and use (ipod, isight, miniDVs, etc).
    Linux beats the hell out of os x in server performance, specially for the g5s….and is FREE!!!!!!!!!!…price wise anyway.

  14. Gentoo Linux is a wretched way to learn Linux. First off, it defeats one of the major reasons for running Linux (a reason which is a main concern for me and many others): bringing life to old hardware. I have an Apple PowerBook G3 500 ‘Pismo’. It’s 500 MHz. I tried to install Gentoo, and when it came to compiling the base system, I left my computer on for eight hours while it did its magic. Eight hours. And it wasn’t finished. It kept going, and I simply restarted it. I don’t have eight hours of inactivity on my computer to spare so I can get the self-assurance that I can follow an online guidebook in copying and compiling a base Linux system onto a blank partition from a LiveCD environment. That becomes highly unpractical on a 500 MHz laptop, and it taught me next to nothing. I learned more from having to work for a week in nothing but a terminal when I installed Debian Sarge, whose XF86 refused to work with my ATI Rage Mobility 128 card until after a week of relentless work (accessing the internet through an Ubuntu LiveCD) I finally got it configured sufficiently. Gentoo is a nice distro in theory, and probably in practice — if you have a fast enough computer. I can also conceivably see making a distro from LFS as being very educational, as you can see how a distro is ASSEMBLED from nothing, and not just COPIED from a downloaded ‘snapshot.’ But Gentoo Linux is impractical for the overwhelming amount of Linux users, and it isn’t as educational as its adherents espouse.

  15. When I installed Ubuntu on my old iMac, I first used Carbon Copy Cloner to copy my OS X system to an external firewire drive, and then copy it back after I repartioned it. Worked great. I chose to install only Ubuntu, since Yellowdog is for mac only, and Ubuntu on a PC works just like on the mac. Even after Apple switches to X86, I will still be able to have my Ubuntu if I get a new mac.

  16. Nathan, Gentoo is all about choice.
    You can start with a stage 1 installation, which requires compiling the base system, or you can decide to start with a stage 3 a get all the precompiled packages installed.
    In the same way, you could easily tell portage to sue only binary packages if you want to save the compile time for big packages like OpenOffice.
    An alternative would be to use DistCC and cross compile on an x86 system or compile on your newer Mac if you’re the lucky owner of mor ethan one mac :).

  17. I am in “Gentoo Land” with my (well.. my daughter’s) Mac Powerbook G3 (lombard). Her uncle gave her his old laptop for school. Unfortunately, while he seems to know about computers, he wasn’t much help in getting it usable for her. So… enter dad. My background is in Unix and Linux, so naturally I lean in that direction. My daughter already uses Linux here and so using it at her Mom’s house too seemed just fine with her.
    I am loading Gentoo on her system and it does indeed take a long time. I installed it from “scratch” using the mimimal CD and downloaded everything and compiled it on her G3. The compile time for Gnome, Firefox, Thunderbird, and a few other programs for video and sound in Xwindows took about 36 hours. Yes folks, 36 hours straight of just crunching away compiling programs. This was after leaning about the open boot the yaboot program, holding down the “c” key to get the thing to boot from the cd etc.etc. (Mac learning curve).
    I am still troubleshooting the X windows video (ATI motherboard chip), but anticipate getting it to work. I do know when I get done, I will be able to support it and it will act much like Gentoo on the other systems I have (PC hardware, Sun hardware). I love open source !
    It has come a long way since my first experience with Red Hat 4.2. 🙂

  18. I came across your articule whiles trying to find an answer to a problem am having. This is what it is: Maybe you can advice me …
    I have been trying to install SuSe Linux version 10 on my powermac 2.5 G5. I get to the point where it ask me to install the boot loader and gives me this default setting:
    Image/boot/vmlinux (/dev/sda2)
    For some odd reason it does not like this setting and ask that I create a new one. I have basically tried all the settings listed below and none will work. I need help. I have been trying for 2 days to get this linux OS installed and to dual boot with my present operating system. My first drive is partitioned in two, with Mac OS X Tiger Server 10.4.2 on the 1st partition and SuSe Linux 10 on the 2nd partition. On my second hard drive, I also have two partitions, with OS X 10.4.2 on the 1st and a 2nd partition with NO OS installed.
    Can any give me a help with this. I just need for a boot loader (yaboot) to give me the option to choose either of the operating systems to boot to.
    This is my present system configuration:
    /dev/sda 69.2GB
    /dev/sda1 0.0MB unknown
    /dev/sda2 30.6GB linux native
    /dev/sda3 34.6GB Apple_HFS (OS X Server)
    /dev/sda5 38.8MB linux native (SuSe Linux)
    /dev/sda6 1.0MB unknown
    /dev/sda7 3.4GB linux native
    /dev/sda8 512MB linux swap
    /dev/sdb 152.6GB (my second hard drive)
    /dev/sdb1 0.0MB unknown
    /dev/sdb3 120.2GB Apple_HFS (OS X 10.4.2)
    /dev/sdb5 32.1GB Apple_HFS

  19. Good work, great article.. Is it possible someway to hack that airport problem? How possible is it? I read about the making of Samba and I think it was kind of guess how the whole thing got started. It was like the inventor of samba tried to transfer some files from his *nix system to some microsoft������ system which his girlfriend was using.. (same thing which it does today..) =) So if the same guessing stuff could work on airport.. or whatever broadcom devices.. can anyone post a link about writing device drivers?

  20. Enjoyed the article and all the comments.
    I have another question.
    Do you know how to run OS X in parallel with Linux?
    I would like to have the merits of both.

  21. Just to tell you that open source drivers Airport Extreme drivers (Broadcom 43xx) are now available and pretty much stable.

  22. I found your article about YDL, Ubuntu, & OSX on your PBG4, one day after reading about Ubuntu for a PPC Linux. I love Mac OSX but I have a lot of respect for the OpenSource world and Linux. I’ve always wanted to use Linux & Unix, beyond what my OSX can do. Your article about your Tri-Boot PBG4 was a great tool to help me understand. Thanks a bunch. i am downloading Ubuntu Linux 5.10 now and going to see how it works on my older BWG3 and my MDD Dual G4.

  23. how’s this for weird:
    In reference to your block allocation problem, I had a similar issue awhile ago with my iLamp that was driving me bonkers – disk utility recognized that there was a bad…something…somewhere, but adamantly refused to be more specific than that. Nothing else helped either.
    In a moment of frustration, I attempted to boot into os9. That didn’t work either. So I booted from an os9 system restore disk and, on a whim, ran Disk First Aid (remember that?)
    Not only did DFA tell me what the problem was but it told me what two files were allocating the same block and what the block id was. It even placed aliases in a folder on the root level of the disk so I could fix or delete them at my leisure. It’s the ONE time OS9 has told me what I needed to know while OSX relied on utterly useless user-friendliness.

  24. The new 4.1 version of YDL says it has support for audio problems that many people (like myself) seem to have AND it has a program for resizing your internal hard drive’s partition. That solves two big problems stated in this article and comments. Which begs the question: how come it took a distro that strongly recommends you to purchase a box set and only begrudgingly allows you to download the ISO’s much longer than a distro that is not only free but will ship actual CD’s for free to fix the sound problem?
    Anyway, I’m downloading 4.1 right now from their mirrors, and will try it out after a ver disappointing experience with 3.0.
    Ubuntu and Kubuntu are very nice for new Linux users too.

  25. why do i need ubuntu when i have tiger? on a windows pc sure… but on a mac i already dont have to use windows, which was the probelm in the first plcae.

  26. Hi,
    I have installed yellowdog linux in my apple,and the Airport is not working.Is there any solution, so that Airport works in Yellowdog linux.Iam new user of both linux as well as Mac.Please help me out.
    Thank you

  27. hi,
    i am just an 18 year old kid who is very curious about software, so i allready switched from XP to OSX, and i recently bought my second mac (MacBook 2.0Ghz), but now i want to use my old(?) Mac Mini (PowerPC) as a server and i ordered Ubuntu.
    And there is one thing i don’t understand; sometimes it looks really easy to use, and sometimes i come across artikels with pages and pages of pure coding i don’t understand.
    can somebody tell me, is it OSXlike? or is it more a semi-DOS environment ?

  28. Very interesting article.
    I recently installed Fedora Core 6 on my G4 Mac. I had added a second HDD to make sure I don’t erase the MAC OS. But now, when I boot all I see is one option to boot Linux. I don’t know how I can boot the MAC OS anymore.
    Maybe I need to add defaultos=macosx to the /etc/yaboot.conf configuration file. But how will yaboot know where my MacOS resides?
    Is there a good place to read about Yaboot?

  29. Good article. I came across it while looking form info on Linux for Intel Macs. It reminded me of the hours I’ve spent installing YellowDog and Ubuntu on various Mac platforms. I’ve only been using Macs for about seven years but have had the opportunity to work with everything from mid-90s PPCs to some rather powerful Intel Core Duo machines.
    Regarding some of the posters who asked why use Linux on a Mac, one answer is that it lets you squeeze more speed from your hardware. Traditionally (not always but traditionally) Linux has lower overhead than respective flavors of OSX. That translates into faster performance. Additionally, it provides OSX-like functionality on older Mac hardware. Is Linux better than OSX? Well, that depends on your needs. With Linux I can add any hardware that will attach to my computer and which Linux can recognize. That gives me options. And isn’t computing supposed to be about options?

  30. Great article,
    Came across it trying to find a way to get my PB 1.5 ghz to run ubuntu with a successful Airport Extreme connection. So far I’m stuck on this one. Which really sucks since I had no trouble at all getting the old airport cards in imac dvse’s working with ubuntu. Hoping for a solution soon! I tried the broadcom driver thing but my card is a newer model than the bcm4306 that many of the fixit posts refer to. I really wish could mount my linux volume on osx too- but as noted, 10.4.x has broken this!
    Problems 3 Solutions 0

  31. I was just to read your interesting article and wanted to share my experiences on this.
    I’ve three operating running in a single computer.
    They are
    1. Windows Xp Home
    2. Fedora core 6
    3. Ubuntu 6.1 version
    .. all running smoothly in separate partitions
    Another computer has
    Ubuntu Fiesta (7.04)
    Windows Xp Pro
    Fedora Core 6
    .. in this Fedora was running fine but does not boot now. I am yet to figure out why.
    All partition’s were done by resizing HD with Windows existing in one. The partition program was gparted from Ubuntu 6.06 (Daper Drake). The “gparted” prpgram in Ubuntu 6.1 (Edgy Eft) does not work.
    In the second installation I found out that it is better if installed Windows first in order to get triple boot. Then Fedora and lastly Ubuntu.
    I found that Ubuntu picks up all three OS s from the partition easily and puts them into UBUNTU’s GRUB. If you installed Fedora last, it does not pick up Ubuntu, the GRUB.conf file has to be manually edited to boot all three.
    You can also edit menu.lst(LST not the number one) file of Ubuntu to alter default boot timeing and the program to boot by default if no choic is made.
    Ubuntu also detected the wireless USB easily and worked with it even though both Windows and Fedora failed to work with this

  32. what exactly do i have to put in /etc/fstab to keep mac os mounted every time in boot up in linux?
    thanks a lot, james

  33. Hi,
    I’ve been using a double boot Ubuntu/Mac OS X for almost one year. However, a few days ago, I realized something wrong was going on with my computer. I ran the “repair permission” and I found out there were permissions changed on /var/log/system.log, which I guess – from my little knowledge about Mac OS X security uderhood – might be a serious security vulnerability or could indicate an attack. Sadly, after I had the permnissions repaired, the computer started to boot up directly into OS X without asking me to choose between the two systems and it seems my Ubuntu partition is lost. I haven’t had any sensitive data there, but I would like to know what happened, since this is quite scary.
    Regards, Radek

  34. Mostly i spent my time in XP, but few days back i tried fedora 5 & 6 both but the same problem was found after installation. The problem was not to detect audio device, what may be the reason? I tried the SUSE 8 also but in this version keyboard & mouse are hanged after 5-10 mins of logging inside. So what should i do not to face same problems again after installation.
    Is that the problem of the Source i’m trying to istall from?

  35. Nayan, http://www.ubuntu.com, all the info you need..
    guys i have a PPC Quicksilver G4 2002, i have a beta Leopoard installed in one disc, and i used another disk to install YellowDog, when i finished installing, reboot, pressing Option key, i have only MacOsX, no YDL, if i put my Linux DVD then i see that besides the Leopard installation, but how do i modify the Yaboot and whats the exact command line, or what am i missing?
    thanks in advance!

  36. I am looking to set YellowDog in my old IBOOK I am not sure if yellowdos4 or 5,version.
    your blog was too long and I could not comprehend which Linux version worked better for you ,too much of pointless explanatios!!!!please make it short and get to the point to me it was long and (no offense) Boring.
    Good luck

  37. I disagree with the last post. I don’t even know all about what you are talking about and it was still interesting. If I am going to install Ubuntu, on a 2nd hard drive, do I need to partition? Will I also need to get the yahboot?

  38. Good article, even for one a few years old. Maybe update it, it is very helpful.
    I’m using Debian (Ubuntu’s parent linux) for my iMac because it works better on my model. Also because now Ubuntu is community supported not officially supported.
    Debian has versions for computers that Ubuntu doesn’t support. But I do like what Ubuntu has done to make Linux friendlier for non geek computer users.
    I tried YDL, since it was always the ” Mac Linux “, but found it too confusing & slow/bad forum help. Ubuntu has probably the best & friendliest forums for help. That is why I chose Debian, since I could still get help from my Ubuntu cousins : )

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *