Linux MintPPC Supports Older Mac Hardware that Apple Has Thrown Under The Bus

MintPPC is a Linux distribution for 32 and 64 bit PowerPC computers based on Linux Mint LXDE, ported to Debian/PPC. The idea behind MintPPC is to provide a fast, good looking, lightweight desktop manager that runs well on older G3 and G4 machines, and also supports 64-bit G5 powered Macs.

I have a report from a reader who’s running MintPPC on two PowerMac G4s — a Digital Audio and a 2001 Quicksilver, and who says verything works “out of the box” on the Quicksilver, although the Digital Audio was more problematical, especially with regard to getting sound working. He rates MintPPC the best open-source alternative that he’s seen to Apple’s now unsupported OS X Tiger.

MintPPC is also directed to desktop users who want a very fast system without the need to install software themselves, and designed to be both an easy to use and complete solution.

The developers say that one advantage of this distribution for PowerPC users is that a few bugs, which are always present in Debian/Ubuntu, have been overcome. For example, after installing MintPPC things like battery status meter, laptop sleep mode and sound will work out of the box.

MintPPC is not affiliated with Linux Mint but it uses the same underlying source code. MintPPC was first released as Linux Mint LXDE Debian Lenny in May 2010. In October 2010 MintPPC 9 was released which was based on Linux Mint LXDE 9 (Isadora) and Debian Squeeze. Because of a conflict with the Linux Mint team, the name of the distribution was changed into MintPPC. MintPPC is developed by Jeroen Diederen (Linuxopjemac), a Dutch Linux enthusiast who also owns a general website about running Linux on Macs and by Tony Cygne (Ant2ne), an American Linux enthusiast.

Demonstrating how compatible MintPPC is, check out this list of Macs onto which MintPPC has been succesdsfully installed:

• PowerBook G3 / 400 (Pismo)
• iBook G4 / 1.42 14 inch
• Beige G3 (OldWorld)
• PowerBook G4 / 500 Titanium
• G4 graphite
• iBook G3/900
• iMac G3 / 500 Summer 2001
• iMac G4 iLamp
• PowerBook G4 Aluminium
• iBook G3 with classic airport
• iBook G3 / 300 clamshell
• eMac G4 / 1.25
• PowerBook G4 / 1.5 Aluminium
• eMac G4 / 800
• PowerMac G4 3,5
• PowerMac G5
• eMac G4 / 700
• PowerMac G4 3,4 QuickSilver (Digital Audio)
• G4 Cube
• Dual G4 450

Based on Lubuntu 10.04, Linux 2.6.32, Openbox 3.4.10, LXSession 0.4.3, and Xorg 1.7.5, Linux Mint 9 LXDE features a complete desktop computing experience while being easy on system resource usage thus making it suitable for older hardware and situations where speed is a crucial factor.

Featured improvements in this release:
• LXDM, improved PCManFM2 file manager, VLC installed by default, 30,000 applications catalogued and reviewable both online and in the new software manager, brand new incremental backup tool for both data and software selection, 3 years support.
• Linux Mint 9 LXDE is the first Mint release to use LXDM as a display manager. It’s smaller and faster than many comparable display managers and offers excellent localization support. It can also be themed and is easily configured for automatic login.

• The LXDE file manager has been completely rewritten to offer better support for mounting and unmounting filesystems, native Trash support, and autorun when certain types of media are inserted.

• The Software Manager was rewritten from scratch. It features the best ideas from the original Software Manager, Gnome App-Install and the new Ubuntu Software Center. It’s also much more efficient than the previous version, handling 30,000+ packages and asynchronous installation/removal of applications in less than 1,000 lines of code.

• Number of packages: The Software Manager now features all the packages available on your system. That’s about 30,000 packages to choose from, compared to around 300 in the previous version.

• Apt daemon: When you install software, you don’t have to wait for the installation to finish. You can browse through the Software Manager for other applications, or you can simply close the manager. The installation continues in the background. If you decide to open the Software Manager again, it will track any ongoing installation happening in the background and inform you about its progress. At any time you can cancel an installation and monitor the progress of ongoing operations.

• Visual improvements: The new graphical interface is inspired from the Ubuntu Software Center and it uses the Webkit engine to render some of the screens in HTML/CSS. It uses a single-click navigation system and lets you browse categories, applications, screenshots and even websites from the comfort of a single window.

• New Backup Tool – The Backup Tool was also rewritten from scratch. Linux Mint needed a solid backup tool that would allow you to easily perform fresh installations without losing what’s important to you: Not only your data, but the selection of software you installed. With this new tool you can upgrade to new versions of Linux Mint by performing fresh installations from the CD, you end up with a clean system containing your data, your preferences and even the software you previously installed.

• Software selection: The Backup Tool can identify the software you installed in Linux Mint and save this selection as a list. It can also restore that selection of software on a different computer or after the installation of a new version of Linux Mint.

• The Backup Tool identifies the software you added to Linux Mint

• Incremental backups and compression: The new Backup Tool can check differences between files in a variety of ways and perform incremental backups and restorations. It can also archive and compress on the fly.

• Integrity check: Thanks to an integrity check, the Backup Tool verifies each file after it’s been backed up (this check can be disabled to make the backup faster).
Documentation: A full tutorial on how to use this Backup Tool guides you through the process of upgrading Linux Mint to a newer release.

Better look and feel
• Backgrounds: The production of artwork for Linux Mint 9 was outsourced to provide this release with a choice of quality backgrounds. The default background is unbranded to give the desktop a more elegant look and you’ll find quality alternative backgrounds installed by default. Additional backgrounds made especially for Linux Mint 9 were packaged in “mint-wallpapers-extra” and previous backgrounds were packaged in “mint-wallpapers-previous-releases”. These packages are available in the repositories.

• Welcome screen: The welcome screen is now rendered in HTML. It links to the same important resources as before (how to know more about Linux Mint, where to get help and how to contribute) and it adds links to the most important parts of the new Linux Mint Community Website, its collection of tutorials, its idea pool, its software portal and its hardware database. The new welcome screen is rendered in HTML to give the desktop a more welcoming look.

• Update Manager: The Update Manager uses a new icon set that integrates better with the desktop. It also distinguishes between more error scenarios than before and doesn’t consider it an error when it cannot assess the state of available updates anymore. In previous versions of Linux Mint, users would see a broken lock when Synaptic was open, or when the connection to the Internet was down. In Linux Mint 9 the Update Manager only show errors when something is actually wrong and requires action.

System improvements

• Default software selection: VLC is now installed by default for media and DVD playback.

• Local repository and Gnome-ppp: Linux Mint now includes a local repository activated by default. This repository is located in /usr/share/local-repository and it contains firmware for Broadcom wireless adapters and Gnome-PPP. You can also add packages to it and update the repository by running the ./update-repository script in /usr/share/local-repository.

• Apt hold/held/unhold commands: New functions were added to the Linux Mint “apt” command. “apt hold”, “apt unhold” and “apt held” are shortcuts to “dpkg –get-selection” and “dpkg –set-selections” which let you easily hold updates for selected packages.

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