Let me start off this post with a little bit of a warning: Installing and configuring Ubuntu Linux for a PPC machine is not an easy task. Even if your installation is quick and painless (I’m envious of you if it is) you’re going to be dumped into a world of driver-less hardware and unsupported software. However, if you’re persistent, you can get this whole thing to work. Don’t give up…there’s a way to do everything.
With that said, it’s time to install Ubuntu Linux on the PowerMac G4.
Before we get started, there are a couple of things you should know about your Mac’s hardware:
-You should know how many hard drives you have installed, and what size each hard drive is. You should also know which hard drive hosts your OSX installation if you plan to dual-boot.
-You should also know what kind of graphics card is installed in your computer. You can find this information, and any other hardware related information you need, by clicking the Apple all the way to the left of the top file bar. Now just click ‘About this Mac’ and then ‘More Info’ at the bottom of the dialog box that appears.
The first step in this process is to acquire an Ubuntu Linux image file. These are in .iso form, so they can easily be made bootable on a variety of media. Grab one from here.I suggest you download the 12.04 Precise Pangolin Desktop Live CD. Scroll a little ways down that page and choose the ‘Mac (PowerPC) and IBM-PPC (POWER5) desktop CD.
Initially, I tried to burn the image to a USB flash drive and install it from there. I’m not going to go into the process, but I really suggest you use a CD or DVD to install Ubuntu. If you really have your heart set on using a USB drive to install the OS, you start by checking out the PowerPCFAQ page. You should bookmark this page, as you’ll definitely want to reference it throughout the installation process. There is a lot of good information there, and it contains answers to every question you could possibly have regarding this subject.
Once you’ve downloaded the image, burn it to a CD or DVD. You can use whatever imaging program you’d like to burn the disc, and you can burn it on Windows, Mac or Linux. Make sure you burn it at the slowest speed possible, and choose to verify its contents after it has completed. Trust me, it’s not fun to have an installation fail halfway through because the image didn’t burn to the disc correctly.
Once you have a DVD of Ubuntu, insert it into your PowerMac’s DVD player. Reboot the computer and hold down the ‘C’ key when you hear the computer chime.
Your entire computer screen will probably go white while the CD/DVD is being registered. This is normal. In a minute or two, you should be presented with the following Yaboot prompt:
From here, you have several different options to launch the Linux Live CD. Pressing the ‘Enter’ key or typing ‘Linux’ and pressing the ‘Enter’ key is the default boot option. Try this first, it might work in your situation. If it does work, you should see an Ubuntu logo along with dots below it (Meaning it’s loading). If it doesn’t work, your Mac will probably freeze and do some funky stuff with the screen. At this point, you’ll have to play around a little bit. Keep rebooting and entering different boot parameters at the Yaboot screen. If you’re not sure about what boot parameters you can try, you can always press ‘Tab’ to see a list of available options:
It is also very helpful at this point to know what Graphics Card you have installed. Refer to the PowerPCFAQ site that I mentioned earlier, and check out the section called “What Yaboot Parameters Should I Use For Graphics Problems?” It is very helpful documentation when it comes to booting the Live CD from a PowerMac.
In my case, I have an Nvidia GEForce2 Graphics Card installed in my PowerMac. The PowerPCFAQ taught me that I would need to use some combination of the nouveau parameter for my Live CD to boot.
Here are some of the parameters that I used that were helpful:
I must have experimented with every other parameter possible before I found that these actually booted my Live CD. I hope that your situation is easier, and that you can find a way to boot quicker than I did.
Once I got the Live CD booted…
Uhhh, what’s going on with those colors?
We’ll take a look at that in the next post.