In this article I'll tell you about my experience installing Linux on
an Apple iBook.
First of all you might ask "why Apple?". Well, there's a lot: my 800MHz
iBook goes just as fast as an x86 laptop running at more than twice the
clock, weighs much less and wastes so little of electricity. Now that
the battery is new it lasts about 5 hours of normal use (such as what
I'm doing now, sitting on the train, writing on Mozilla and listening
to some mp3's). Just find me an x86 that can do this, given this weight
And don't forget, Apple are cool! I've seen quite a lot of people
hypnotized by the lit apple i have at the back of the screen!
I have decided to install Linux either because OSX doesn't really catch
me up, either because of the "ethic" cause of Free Software.
Ok I know you're here just for one thing. Here are the screenshots.
It's now about 8 months I have dumped YDL to switch to Debian, and in
the last few months a lot of distributions put out some new releases.
iBook now ships with a 1.2GHz CPU and at a lower price, and all
hardware (apart from internal modem and Airport Extreme) is fully
supported by linux. Starting from kernel 2.6.11 even sleep is working.
I'd like to suggest to take a good look at Ubuntu (as for the x86
version it is a solid distribution and very easy to setup and use), not
forgetting the new 4.0.1 YDL release, Mandrake 10.1 and the continuous
This page hasn't much more to say, but some good things remain, as does
my email address for any info you might need.
My iBook has:
In the base configuration HD is 30GB, there's no BT and you get 256MB
of RAM. I also bought a 3 button mouse, since the one button trackpad
didnt' satisfy me at all.
- CPU G4 @ 800MHz (here
the output of /proc/cpuinfo)
- 640MB RAM DDR
- Screen LCD 12"
- Video Card ATi Radeon Mobility 9200
- HD 40GB
- Combo DVD/CDRW
- 2 USB 2.0
- 1 Firewire
- Modem (soft-) 56k
- 1 ethernet 10/100
- Bluetooth builtin
There are quite a few PPC distros out there:
I chose Yellow Dog because I'm a long time Red Hat user, so it's been
the "natural" choice.
So I downloaded the 3 isos, checked the MD5SUMs and I was ready to go.
First of all I had to partition the HD.
To do this, just insert the "OSX Install 1" CD that comes with the
iBook and reboot the machine keeping the "c" key pressed.
When the Apple Installer is up, choose the "Disk Manager" and create 2
partitions, one for Linux and one for OSX. Resize them as you wish,
just remember to leave the space for Linux as "free space".
On the YDL website there was
written nice and clear that my video chipset wasn't supported. Anyway I
decided to try to install: as expected the OS was installed in a
breeze, but without X.
Partitioning WILL DESTROY ALL DATA ON
DISK. If you have any data backup them!
After partitioning I reinstalled Panther and rebooted with the first
YDL cd inserted, holding down "c".
So I wrote to YDL support, and in less than 2 hours I got an answer
from Troy Vitullo (thanks again pal!) that pointed me in the right
So I downloaded 3 new isos:
been brought to my attention that those isos are not online anymore,
and the official isos haven't been replaced by those that worked for
me. So try these eDonkey links:
Else, the kind people of linuxcd.org
added the three isos to their offer: you will get them for just $5.97. Here is
Robin Ganter has a SMALL ftp where I have uploaded the isos. Please contact him if you really
cannot get the files anywhere else.
For other info contact
and I started again installation.
For those of you that already installed a Red Hat there will be no
problems using Anaconda, the YDL installer.
After preparing the partitions as desired (I made two, a / and a /home)
I chose which packages to install. Keep in mind that YDL 3 is based on
RH9, so many packages are quite outdated (Gnome 2.2, for example).
PPC bootlader is called Yaboot and works like lilo: after any change in
/etc/yaboot.conf you should run
The first time it didn't add OSX among the boot options. It was enough
to add the line:
changing X with the correct partition number (should be 4 or 5, more or
Installation went in about 20 minutes (on my PIII 550MHz it took almost
an hour to install RH9!), then I rebooted.
On reboot X wasn't loaded. So I contacted again big Troy that gave me
the good hint. As root I gave
and I restarted X: IT WORKED!
you find my XF86Config.
Once X was up and running I could configure the system to my wishes.
First of all I added on the panel the Battery status icon: the only APM
function not supported is sleep mode.
Then I tried DVD and CDRW, and worked 100%.
Sound is active and obviosly there is no 3D acceleration. There is an
ongoing petition asking ATi to support ppc, sign it.
Keys F1 to F5 and F12 have special functions on OSX: F1 and F2 change
the brightness of the screen, while F3 F4 and F5 are the volume
control. Thanks to the pbbuttons daemon they work out-of-the-box.
Even F12 works as eject, while you change console with fn+ctrl+alt+Fx.
I have no firewire things so I cannot test it (but the kernel seems get
it) and USB 2.0 works good.
Since I didn't have an internet connection available I downloaded in
advance some packages I knew I would have needed, such as Gnome 2.4 and
the freshrpms repository.
Gnome 2.4 rpms come from Fedora's FTP: there you'll find most of the
packages compiled for ppc arch (and even ppc64 if you're so lucky to
have a G5). Here
you'll find a list of packages to download to have Gnome 2.4 working:
most of them comes from Fedora, I found the missing using rpmseek.com.
After Updating Gnome I fell into a problem: gdm was looking for the
theme from Fedora, that obviously YDL doesn't have. So I did this:
login as root
# startx -- :1
and I set the Wonderland theme. Going back on the F7 console gdm was up
Yellowdog comes with apt installed: updating is as easy as:
|# apt-get update
If you add freshrpms to your sources.list (that I attach here)
Then I added some more rpm compiled from src.rpm: I put them here for
you if you don't want to recompile it or if you don't know how to do it
(read further). You'll find them here,
useless to say that they are distributed *without any warranty*.
I have not installed Openoffice (it's 1.02), but I have downloaded 1.1
Let me say something about adding software to this distro.
Obviously starting from source code the procedure is as usual
or what's indicated in README.
If you want to keep the system a bit cleaner you should use RPM.
First of all check out checkinstall,
a great software that is meant to be run instead of make install: it
will install the binaries and add the new program to the rpm database,
so that it can be uninstalled with a simple
You'll find a rpm in my rpm directory.
If you want to enter the astonishing world of rpmbuild you have two
ways: src.rpm and specfiles.
To rebuild a src.rpm you should use:
and if everything goes right you'll find your rpm ready to be installed
in the /usr/src/redhat/RPMS/ppc directory. To install them:
|# rpm -ivh
If you want to do it the hard way you should either get a lot of luck
Writing a specfile isn't so easy: Matthias Saou wrote a nice article about
If you're lucky you'll find a specfile right in the source package: to
build an rpm just give:
|# rpmbuild -tb
and if everything goes, you'll find your rpms as above,
There are a couple more things to do to make the iBook fully functional
First of all the keyboard is meant to be used with OSX, as well as the
I remapped the "apple" key to be the "altgr". Here
I'll tell you how.
F10 is used as the middle mouse button, and F11 is the right button.
Then there are 2 things distro-specific: enabling
the Gnome menu editing and adding
Ok, here's the big deal. MOL is a virtual PC that lets you run OSX
right inside Linux. It is installed by default, but for me it didn't
work, so I went to the website
and downloaded the src.rpm to rebuild.
They are built against the default 2.4.24-1.ydl.1.1016 kernel, and will
work ONLY with that kernel: if you want to get them they're always
After installing MOL you should configure the video:
and then create a /etc/molrc file in which you'll write:
blkdev: /dev/hda -rw
Now start MacOnLinux (first time as root):
and you're done!
YDL says BT isn't supported. I have installed these
rpms, and when I find a BT device to test I'll update the page.
news: the bluetooth module does not work. Stay tuned.
Ok, this is what I did to make YDL on my iBook work the way I want.
For any issues contact
All that's written up here WORKED FOR ME, but I don't give ANY
guarantee it will do for you. Your mileage may vary. So please don't
consider me liable for any complaint about it.