The first thing to do with Ubuntu on a G5 is reconfigure the X server. By doing this you will be able to expand your allowed screen resolution from 1024 x 8XX to 12XX x 1024 or possibly 16XX x whatever. This was a big issue for me. 1024 is just not big enough.
When doing this make sure you know your G5’s video card and model (my 1.6 GHz G5 has nVidia GeForce FX5200). There are plenty of questions within the set up process where you will simply give the default answer because you don’t know what the hell they’re talking about. If the question sounds over your head, just relax and most likely there’ll be some helpful notes there for you. Open a terminal and enter the following to begin the set up:
sudo dpkg-reconfigure xserver-xorg
After that’s done it’s pretty much business as usual. There are a few sacrifices. The G5 is fast, but I think the video card isn’t being used to it’s potential by Linux. When the screen saver that looks a lot like the standard OSX colored-flare screen saver comes on, it seems to work the machine pretty hard. In fact, any of those more dynamic screen savers run a bit choppy. The G5 should have no problem with those things, but that’s truly the least of my concern.
The other issue is that of sitting at a Mac with a Mac keyboard but not being able to use the ‘Apple’ key like you used to. There is a lot of room for custom key commands, but Linux looks at the Apple-keys as two separate buttons rather than two buttons with the same function. So, the left key can be set up differently than the right key. It makes one wonder about the use of the control key. Well, the location of the control key anyway. The Apple key location makes so much more sense. It’s definitely more ergonomic.
For the record, I plan on reinstalling OSX and selling my G5. I want a Linux-only system and the G5 (with my limited Linux and programming capabilities) is just not the easiest machine to use. There is also the fact that I want a laptop, so my perspective might be distorted. My assessment is similar to others: If you have a Mac, run OSX. There are some things about OSX that I don’t like and there are some things about Linux that I like, want to learn more about and promote. The day the GIMP supports CMYK will be the nail in the coffin for me, but until then I’m going to try hard to make designing for print and the web in Linux work.