Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Linux MintPPC 11 is Out!

I just installed the new MintPPC 11 and have been playing around with it, so this is more a quick look than a comprehensive review but I like what I see.

First, the authors announce this is based on Debian Wheezy (testing) so there are likely to be some bugs. This is roughly equivalent to what Ubuntu does, basing their releases on the "testing" branch rather than "stable". The advantage is you get newer versions of software like Iceweasel 7.

I can report to you that Iceweasel 7 is fast. Like super-fast. Another very cool piece of software installed by default is Minitube, a youtube viewer for PPC users lacking flash.

The install was hassle free. The only head scratcher was when confronted with a screen asking you to choose which kernel. I chose version 3 since it was highlighted by default. I thought, "Well, I'll probably break sleep with this, but what the hell? Latest and greatest, right?" And predictably, sleep doesn't work. Other users report sleep works fine, so maybe they went with the safer 2.6 kernel.

Setting up wireless was pretty painless. Sound began muted, but I just had to untick the mute box and had sound working. The LXDE desktop was slick and its memory usage was low. Everything runs comfortably in this iBook with 256 MB of RAM. MintPPC installs by default a variety of of useful software, so everything's there pretty much set up for the average user.

One last thing, unlike the stable branch, mplayer from testing now works on G3's. The stable version was compiled it appears for G4's only. However, VLC still breaks when playing video. I got the stable version working by compiling my own, but I haven't gotten to that here yet.

So give MintPPC a shot. If you're new to it, just register for free at their website and you'll find install instructions and a responsive forum area. Good luck.

UPDATE: If you have a dual boot system, beware that the Debian installer MintPPC uses can corrupt your OS 9 drivers making your OS 9 partition unbootable. The solution is to run Drive Setup from a Mac OS 9 install CD and update drivers. I wrote about this earlier here.


  1. So is that a G3 or a G4 ibook you are testing MintPPC on? 256 MB is not alot of RAM, impressive that it is working so well for you.

    I haven't tried 11 yet, I gave up trying to partition my drive and dual boot, and went back to Tiger. My plan is to get a cheap ibook g4 for mintPPC and mintPPC alone.

  2. It's a G3 icebook. A G4 ibook is better, though, because they have Airport Extreme and can connect to WPA2 networks. With the original Airport cards on the G3, you can only connect to WPA1.

  3. Do they have a Live CD? (one that actually works?) I'd like to try it, but don't want to screw up my Mac with GRUB and other such crap.

  4. I don't see a live CD on their website, just an installer.

  5. I don't think I'll risk it then. I've had Linux installs screw up and stupidly fail at least 20 times so far (on PCs, not my Mac thankfully).

    I tried Kubuntu 11.10 Live CD on my G5 PowerMac, but it boots to a blank screen with pointer and goes no further.

  6. Man, what a nightmare... I tried to install it on my iBook G3, and this thing screw up everything. I have three partitions on that Mac: one for Tiger, one for OS 9, and another with just free space to test things. The installation wasn´t too hard to figure out, but it took me almost an entire hour. The problem was that i couldn´t boot from it. OS X didn´t show the partition anymore, and when i restarted my Mac holding option, there was no Mint or Debian disk neither, and my OS 9 partition became useless. Half of my hard drive was completely lost. So, i don´t know. I´m pretty sure i did everything well. My free space partition was placed the first, as recommended with any Linux flavor. I chose the right format for the files system (ext3). I guess Mint doesn´t like to cohabite with other OSes, and the information about this on the site or the forums isn´t very clear at all. So i don´t recommend to try MintPPC unless you´re willing to give your whole computer to it. Otherwise, it can screw up your entire Mac. They definitely should have a live CD...

  7. You can fix the disappearing Mac partitions problem by booting from a Mac install CD and updating disk drivers either with Drive Setup or Disk Utility, depending if your install CD is OS 9 or OS X. There's something about the Debian installer that screws up the Mac driver partitions.

  8. Oops, on second thought I'm not sure you can update the drivers with Disk Utility. I think only Drive Setup in OS 9 has that option.

  9. Yes, according to a couple of tutorials i´ve found, it must be done with Drive Setup. I couldn´t find instructions for triple booting with Mint, but there are a couple for Tiger, 9, and Ubuntu. I´ve found several PPC ports of Ubuntu´s newer versions too. Check this out: http://lowendmac.com/ed/royal/10sr/triple-boot-ppc-mac.html

    I´d really like to have Mint on my iBook, but i think i´ll wait until it has been tested enough. Formatting my hard drive and reinstall everything every time is a pain in the a**.

    By the way, do you know of any MacTubes-like app for G3´s? And which version of Mplayer should i install on the iBook? I´ve been using Mplayer OSX Extended on my G4, but it crashes a lot on the G3.


  10. This version of mplayer has always worked well for me:


    I thought you could use Mactubes on G3's. I know performance would be an issue because of the lack of Altivec. Maybe the best solution is going back to flash and setting each video to 240p.

  11. Or, use downloadhelper and flashvideoreplacer extensions in tenfourfox, and just download what you want, play in VLC, Quicktime etc. 360p should play fine on a decently powered G3. There is also using mplayer from commandline, the developer of mintPPC says that's how plays youtube videos on a 400mhz Pismo.

    You got a nice mention on lowendmac.com today. May it bring you lots of visitors!

  12. Oh, I forgot about the TenFourFox extensions.

    I liked that LowEndMac article. Partly for the link, partly for the information, but mostly for the, and I never thought I'd write these words, hot North Korean chicks.

  13. i still prefer CRUX PPC GNU/Linux for my PowerPC machines.

  14. I installed MintPPC on my Cube 450 and it works great. Of course, there's a little conf voodoo that needs to be done; in my case, I had to configure an xorg.conf file for my Geforce2 ("nv") card. flashvideoreplacer in Iceweasel, playing videos back with VLC works great once the video buffers reasonably. I had audio/video sync problems with Mplayer, unfortunately. I'm installing the distro on my DP500 Mystic right now to play around with the dual processor kernel...

  15. Lol 360p does NOT "play fine" on a g3. Hell, it doesn't even work on a g.4 ounless your processor is around800mhz or faster methinks. even 250p struggles on my Lombard sometimes. I actually recommend mobile format .3gp

  16. I tried installing this on my G4, but I keep getting a black screen after I boot up. I can tell that it *is* booting up, because when I press the volume keys I can hear sporadic popping noises, but I cant see anything.

  17. Can you help me with the wifi? I have a Ibook G4

    1. With the iBook G4 I take it you have an Airport Extreme card? If that's so, you should add "contrib" to your apt repos and then install firmware-b43-installer. Then set up your wireless connection with a simple network client like Wicd.