Monday, September 6, 2010

Debian on a G3 iBook

To make my mom's old G3 700MHz iBook usable again, and to satisfy my masochistic predilections, I went ahead and installed Debian Lenny on it. OS X on 256 MB of RAM was just too slow, and I thought, hey, I'll put a lightweight Linux desktop on there and squeeze a few more years out of it yet. So how did it go? Was it everything I ever dreamed of?

Sort of. A lot of things worked out of the box, but fortunately my previously mentioned masochistic predilections will get a proper workout trying to solve right click issues, sound problems and WPA access. Also, suspend works perfectly until it's time to wake up. Then, death. I don't think it's supposed to work that way, although maybe the Debian PPC maintainers have more of a sense of humor than their documentation would indicate.

The install off the network install CD went well, oh, except for one thing I forgot to mention. Something in the install rendered my Mac OS partition with 9.2.2 unbootable, so I don't know what that's about. The partition won't even mount anymore when I start up with a Mac OS install CD, so I know I'll have fun figuring that out.

After the installer automatically detected my ethernet connection to the internet and finished downloading all the packages, it took me straight to the Gnome desktop. From this point I installed xfce and LXDE, and LXDE is quite a bit lighter. Performance was good, snappier than Tiger, and I can open a browser and go through a few web pages without the swap file churning and crunching the hard drive. I've had partial success dealing with the right click issue, though I only know how to map it to one key (F11). I need to look deeper into keymaps.

Some useful links for my fellow masochists are here: right click, suspend and WPA issues solved here, more information on WPA, sound issues discussed here, and here for Linux on Laptops.

I'll try to get these issues solved and report back to you my stunning success. Hopefully before my hair falls out in clumps.


  1. Thanks. I might try this one of these days.

  2. Debian's new "Squeeze" release is due out any day now, so hopefully I can review that soon, too.

  3. Have you tried MintPPC yet? Getting fab reviews. I tried to install it on my ibook G4 but it was a no go without reformatting the whole damn drive, which I wasn't willing to do. Gotta keep that Tiger with classic partition up.

    By the way your blog is funny as hell, its too bad PPC luddites like us are such a small audience.

  4. I'm really happy with Debian, only sleep won't work. So I'll probably erase the partition and install MintPPC just to find out sleep still won't work:)