Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Et Tu, LowEndMac? Et Tu?

I'm a bit late on this because I spend the bulk of my time proving my horrible time-management skills instead of checking my email, but I just saw the minor brouhaha that started when Zen at PowerPC Liberation put up an excellent post about Linux keeping PowerPC relevant. Well, LowEndMac responded with the following:
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¢.
And LowEndMac's Daniel Jansen added in Zen's comment section:
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.
Ouch. I have to say, I'm vaguely insulted by all this talk about Linux not being user-friendly given my widely disseminated and universally acclaimed install guide that if followed faithfully and with a true heart will lead to the user-friendliness that Mac users crave.

If you saw my install guide posts earlier but not lately, I've spent the last several weeks revising and adding to them. I've added several sections to Part IV, including Gamma Settings, Trackpad, CPU Frequency Scaling, Fonts, Search, and GTK Themes. Also, I turned the Graphics Acceleration section into a short novel. If you're like me you can spend way too much time googling information for your own personal install guide, but feel free to crib off mine and hopefully it'll save you some time. ;)

In the meantime I, and I expect others, will keep writing about Linux because with OS X dead on PowerPC and increasingly restrictive toward developers on Intel, it's becoming less interesting these days.

And to prove me right, Zen is promising more posts about Lubuntu including an install guide.


  1. Forget about LEM.Guess they only posted something about powerpc when users in macrumors begin to ditch them.
    It is a very good base to start, but it won't get you any further in "new use" of old macs.Just plain old and normal stuff.
    Who cares if linux is small, if it wasn't this "oh so lovelly it has an apple on it" of the new macs guess the MacOS share would be as small as the linux one.
    Linux this days is as much as easy to run as macOS, in fact in my pc experience I even find it more complete out of the box.
    Of course for a powerpc you have to get your hands dirty to make it work 100% but it isn't the end of the world.
    I'm am happy to see that there are people like me, who like macs (the old ones even more) but aren't blind!

  2. Good post Dan and thanks for responding to their ignorance. LEM should really consider a new more fitting name. I think "Fanboys in Denial" would be fitting for them.

    The most ignorant part of that comment is when he writes that we are making an even smaller platform. As opposed to staying stunted on Mac OS that will never be updated or supported again? There is literally zero logic in their thinking.

    If this shit happens once more then I am going to boycott them completely by removing their link from my site and telling them to stop linking to my blog. I appreciate the few extra hits they bring me but not if they are going to feed their readers with shovelfuls of ignorance right before they click the links to my blog.

    From what Tom at iFix Old Macs tells me Daniel Jansen = Dan Knight and he has been writing at LEM since at least 2001. So in 11 years of tech writing all he has learned to be is an ignorant fanboy in denial about the future of PowerPC hardware. Sad but true.

  3. Lowendmac's new idea of a low end mac is a early intel macbook, imac or core duo mini running Snow Leopard. I guess their argument is that the lowend constantly moves, and I see the logic, but only up to a point. They have always been remarkably Linux hostile, obsessed with things like "market share" and "support". You don't need support if you can do it yourself, and market share is largely irrelevant when it comes to open source.

    I never visit lowendmac.com anymore, it's just wasteland of links to last weeks news, or utterly pointless "roundtable" discussions. It's a real shame, cause it was and could be so much more...we PPC users aren't their target audience anymore I guess.

  4. Don't be too harsh on LEM. They were there fighting for the PPC platform when blogspot wasn't even imagined yet. They have less PowerPC stuff now because there is no one interested to submit articles. I did submit a few articles in the past but I lack the time for LEM (and even my blog)

    As for Linux on PPC, I can somewhat relate to what was posted on LEM - whenever installing a distribution I ran into problems that gave me a headache. Whether the sluggishness on my PowerBook G4 or the constantly "full throttle fans" on my PowerMac G5 with Ubuntu. (still deaf on my right ear ;-) )

    However, I would never (!) go as far and tell someone else to not use PPC Linux (this is where I'm 100% with you) but I understand what is meant about the Mac experience - pop in that DVD, install the OS and start playing around. No install guides necessary.

    But really, don't we have bigger challenges as PPC users in 2012? C'mon, this is really not worth any hard feelings :-)

  5. We are not obsessed with market share are Low End Mac. We are concerned with getting the most out of the hardware you have, and while most of our writers now use Intel Macs, most of them also continue to run PowerPC hardware, especially PowerBooks and Power Macs. The big issue is remaining useful, whether a user chooses to run the Classic Mac OS, OS X on PPC, or OS X on Intel.

    Over 15+ years online, we have published many articles on Linux. Some of our staff have been quite smitten by Linux, but more often than not on ThinkBooks and other x86 hardware. We have consistently tried to support the Linux-on-Macs community, whether 680x0, PowerPC, or Intel. That said, in the end most of them end up leaving Linux behind and coming back to OS X exclusively or primarily.

    One thing you need to realize is that 7-8% of our readers visit Low End Mac on PowerPC Macs, about 45% on Intel Macs, one-third on Windows, a bit under 10% with iOS, and just 2.4% on Linux. Just 2% of those Linux users are running PPC Linux when the view the site.

    Macs are a small target compared with Windows. Linux is a small target compared with OS X. Linux on Mac hardware is a very small target, and PPC Linux far smaller yet. Not that there's anything wrong with being small - despite the confusion created by so many competing distros, Linux has carved out a solid place for itself, and PPC OS X, while slowly shrinking, remains a viable computing platform.

    We wish you the best in your endeavors, and I'm glad someone is finally producing very user friendly install guides for PPC Linux. The platform has a future, but don't expect even 10% of PPC users to ever give it a try.

    Now if we could somehow do virtualization on PPC and allow OS X and Linux to run alongside each other, as x86 Macs can do, we could have the best of both worlds.

  6. http://www.kju-app.org/

    On the clown front, I suspect zen/jbarley/hikerxbiker are the same person and his amateur diatribes and equally amateur code are no longer appreciated.

  7. Wow.

    " At Lowendmac we aren't obsessed with market share but here are some crap market share statistics for you to chew on"

    Benjamin Disreali, British Prime Minister in the 19th century said it best: There are two types of lies, damn lies, and statistics. When I visited lowendmac, I sometimes visited lowendmac on a PC at work. Sometimes I was on a Linux machine at home (PPC or intel), sometimes the ibook G4 I am on now. Believe it or not, I AM THE SAME PERSON, no matter what OS I happen to be on. That's the problem with trying to serve a statistic instead of a reader. You end up losing the very reader you are trying to attract.

    Which is, in short, why I don't visit lowendmac anymore. I also wish y'all the best, truly do, but zen at PowerPC liberaton and the luddite write more interesting articles than I've read on lowendmac in years. And, even if only 10% of us crazy PPC users dual boot into MintPPC, or Lubuntu or....gasp....MorphOS, we'll be the crazy ones, the rebels, the misfits, the ones who.....wait for it...think differently.

  8. why so hostile? It's not worth it. Instead, focus the energy on getting more PPC users to make the jump! Like me, for instance :-)

    Which PPC distribution would you recommend for use on:

    - A PowerPC G5 (2 Ghz, 4 GB RAM, GeForce 7800GT)
    - A TiBook G4 (800 Mhz, 1 GB RAM)

    Any recommendations?

    1. I agree. We don't need acrimony among the dwindling number of PowerPC users. Whatever works to keep the platform viable, whether it's older versions of OS X or one of the PPC linux distros... everyone makes a choice that suites their needs.

      A recommendation? I'm writing this on Ubuntu 2D 12.04. Until they fix all the bugs in the Debian Wheezy installer, which MintPPC 11 relies on, I'm sticking with one of the Ubuntu varients. Lubuntu is nice, So is Edubuntu (I'm a teacher). But, I'm liking the Unity desktop more and more on my Power Mac G4 with a 1.6 MHz processor and 1.5 Gigs of RAM.

    2. Which bugs in the installer? I didn't notice any the last time I installed (a couple of months ago).

      As far as recommendations, whichever distro has documentation you're comfortable with. MintPPC has a good forums section. Ubuntu has an excellent PowerPC FAQ and a friendly Apple forums section. Debian forums can be a bit snobby, but there's my install guide for doing Debian my preferred way, which is to install Openbox and build on top of that. And Zen at PowerPC Liberation has promised a Lubuntu guide soon:)

    3. The major bug in the Wheezy installer, from the point of view of those of us who want a dual-boot machine, is that it doesn't recognize the OS X partition. Yaboot has to be manually configured. This explains it:


    4. I would install Lubuntu or MintPPC on the TiBook and full-fledged Ubuntu on the G5. Good luck!

  9. I'm also a PPC Luddite, and while I enjoy OSX, I own several XServe machines. I enjoy the hardware using OSX or Linux, and have over the years flip-flopped between the two platforms. I do regard OSX Leopard (or Tiger) as a somewhat-relevant platform to this day (MacPorts makes bringing up-to-date software on older platforms a real-life actuality) however I use Linux daily and sometimes OSX gets in the way of what I need to do. Linux on PPC isnt as polished as OSX, but thats just it -- there isnt enough users running PPC Linux to *make* it relevant. BTW if anybody has any fan control issues, there's a module that can be loaded to enable actual fan control -- and there's even more fixes in later versions of the Linux kernel to enable more and more control over various parameters of PPC systems.

  10. I'm a bit late to this party too, but I'll add that I don't think there will be a point where Linux on Mac (or any platform) will surpass OS X Leopard. For every step Linux seems to take forward, it often takes multiple steps back. Ubuntu is the best attempt to build a cohesive, beautiful, useful, open source OS, and they get hammered for every little change they make. (Plus, Ubuntu is still not very good.)

    I keep trying to use Linux on a variety of platforms, and it's always just pointless for anything other than a server. There is nothing that Linux offers that I can't already do in Leopard or in Windows.

    The real path is looking to some open source projects to keep our machines fresh. TenFourFox is the best example of this - absolutely amazing work! The problem is that there are only so many projects worth porting. The last version of Pages that works on PowerPC still easily trounces any similar open source package. Heck, Bean trounces any Linux word processing app that I've seen.

    Linux long ago missed the boat on being a useful or relevant platform desktop computing, sadly.

    1. Can pages open a Microsoft Works format file? LibreOffice can...

    2. Sorry, but Pages is VASTLY inferior to LibreOffice. And I mean VASTLY.

      And that last bit about Linux having missed some boat is news to the mammoth, and constantly growing, community of Linux users.

  11. I have replaced an automatic transmission (in two different cars) with a manual one, because I don't do automatics. I think it's rather ironic that the Linux share is where Apple was *one decade ago* and given the rate to which things Evolve it will replace Apple in the coming decade. I feel the transmission quote is going to be akin to Gate's infamous "640k" quote.

  12. Agreed. The day-to-day utility of Leopard/Tiger is zilch to the casual user who wants to surf the web, etc. Unless you have a particular productivity application that you don't care is dated, Linux is far better for the casual user than a dated OSX installation in any number of ways.