Ubuntu 6.06 on 1.6 GHz PowerMac G5 (part 2)

Well, I finally got to a point where my OSX installation wasn’t doing a lot of work for me. As I have said in earlier posts, I have an Ubuntu 6.06 disc (see part 1) and a good friend with cable internet downloaded all of the Yellow Dog 4.1 discs for me after my failed attempt over dsl.

I have booted from the Ubuntu cd before, but was disappointed with the screen resolution topping out at 1024 x 840px. That wasn’t acceptable. So I started with Yellow Dog. Yellow Dog specifically makes Linux for PowerPC processors. With that in mind, I figured the video hardware they needed to support would be a fairly short list. They should be able to keep track of the very few video cards that Apple uses right? I guess they support other PowerPC computers, but for the general consumers Apple Computers and Microsoft’s Xbox are pretty much the only available PowerPCs on the market.

For starters I used the OSX install disc to boot and used the Disk Utility from there to erase my current 74GB OSX partition (along with some files I forgot to back up) and set a new OSX partition at 20GB while leaving the rest of the disk empty. I set the OSX partition at the end of the disk since I intended to install Linux on the front. I can’t say if the partition order really matters.

I installed OSX in its new 20GB home. I then booted from the Yellow Dog 4 disk. Anyone familiar with RedHat will find YD’s Anaconda installer pretty much unchanged. It is a great installation experience and definitely gives you confidence that this will work :). I think I did a ‘Workstation’ install, but after I did some manual editing of the application list, that might have all gone to hell. The installation went fine and on rebooting I had a boot option for OSX. Very easy and straight forward.

Problem number 1: Screen Resolution
I don’t understand the difficulty here, since my G5 is already two years old, supporting the hardware shouldn’t be difficult. However, the 1024px cap that I experienced in Ubuntu was there in YD. I attempted to alter the resolution from the ‘Display Resolution’ application as well as altering /etc/X11/xorg.conf but to no avail. I successfully changed the setting at one point only to find myself without a display. So it wasn’t really successful. Fortunately, I remembered the Control-Alt-Backspace feature for restarting X11 and it walked me through correcting the problem. So back to 1024. πŸ™

Problem number 2: Dual Monitor/Head Support
At that point I had also discovered YD’s ‘Display Resolution’ had a tab for dual-head or dual-screen set up. That’s pretty cool and definitely looks as simple to manage as OSX’s. Unfortunately, it didn’t jive well with the fact that my single video card had the ability to output two displays. In the error log I noticed an error stating that it was sending the data to a device already in use. So, it is likely that with two physically separate video cards this would be a snap. Alas, but not for me. πŸ™

Problem Number 3: I Hate RedHat and RPMs
Looking at my brand-spanking-new desktop was not inspiring. I was starting to remember why I had a bland response to my initial Linux install all the way back two years ago: RedHat’s main menues are sloppy and confusing and the RPM system sucks if you don’t know where to get dependencies (this state of mind is called ‘Dependency Hell’ for any of you that are newer to this than me). I realize that I can customize the menu, but I don’t want to do that and there are so many applications that seem to have similar names or would do similar things that it just doesn’t seem worth it. When I first used XFCE I was amazed how the makers took the time to group all of the System Setting applications into one dialog box. What a novel idea! KDE should get some credit for that as well, but KDE just isn’t quite my cup of tea. XFCE, for all of its limitations and faults, is a great desktop environment for people coming over from Windows and OSX. I think XFCE has even out simplified Apple. But anyway, RedHat’s implimentation of Gnome is simply revolting. Ubuntu has them beat with a much more organized menu from the start. I think the way Synaptic makes installing applications easy is the other important feature. Not much learning required. And so, Yellow Dog failed to meet my expectations. πŸ™

My next move was to install Ubuntu instead and see how the dice rolled. I had already screwed my OSX installation, I might as well try everything now. I started from scratch, erasing the whole disk and reinstalling OSX. Why? Because OSX, though it shows you one nice and simple partition, is actually creating two or 3 small partitions additionally that contain boot instructions for OSX (the equivalent of a Master Boot Record, I assume). From what I understand, the linux distros have to write to one of these specific partitions in order to alter the boot options. Actually, I did initially try to install Ubuntu right over the YD 4, but when it came time to reboot I did not see the boot option text. It booted straight into Ubuntu. No OSX. So, I went back and started from the beginning.

This is getting long, so I will finish up in a PART 3 soon.

One thought on “Ubuntu 6.06 on 1.6 GHz PowerMac G5 (part 2)”

  1. Nice website, I was doing a little internet snooping and stumbled onto your blog, I was wondering if you knew your blog is displaying unusually within the K-mellon browser. I can see most of it but the graphics are one way or another out of whack. Probably not a massive deal since basically no one uses it anymore however I am old school and still use it.

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