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Installing Ubuntu on the iMac G3 PowerPC (PPC) 
There is something truly wonderful about keeping those old computers doing useful things. -So as everyone from Apple to Microsoft encourages us to chum our old hardware into the ocean by dropping support, I find more and more reasons to convert them from Windows, OS 9, or OS X, to Linux.





Indeed, as feature-bloat & patches make proprietary operating systems slower and slower each day, many have discovered that even 12-year-old hardware can do some pretty mainframe-worthy operations. All due to the lightweight machine requirement of Linux!

Dusting off a few G3s today, here is the process:

(1) Create a bootable CD from the ISO. Because I prefer the long-time support versions (LTS), we used Lucid Lynx (Version 10.04.) A CD-R worked fine.

(2) Start the computer, then insert the CD into that iMac (or any Apple PowerPC.)

(3) Re-start the computer, afterward holding down the 'c' key until the CD boots.

(4) Use the 'live' video option, as mentioned at the boot prompt. (i.e boot: video=ofonly)

(5) When the install complains, use the default low-res setting for a "this boot only" option.

(6) Once the graphical Ubuntu screen shows, wait a few minutes to cancel the package management prompting. -While this step is optional, it makes things a whole lot easier to understand.

(7) Click on the install icon, and install as prompted / desired.

(*) Note that once Ubuntu is installed, that the disk will automatically eject. If you abort the installation, remember that holding the mouse button down after the "wall-(e) sound" will eject the CD during the early stages of a re-boot. You can also try this.

(*) Once the Ubuntu GUI is running (visible or not), note also that pressing ctrl-option-F1 will give us a command prompt. When the live boot is in pester, starting a terminal session using this combination might take a couple of tries... but it works just fine.

(8) Finally, to disable that incessant request to change your password each and every time you run a command-prompt (is your date / time battery not holding a charge?), then change the '0' to being completely empty in the last-date-change field. -That field will be the 3rd field on the line containing your login name in the /etc/shadow file. More information can be had via the `man shadow` page. If you are new to Linux, then the `man passwd` page is also worth a read.

If and when you get tired of manually asserting the default video mode, rumor has it that the "video-ofonly" is in yaboot.conf. -Someone else mentioned that you could also try adding nomodeset to the kernel command line. (Since I use the G3s as non-gui servers, I have not been too concerned about X11. While you can use apt-get to remove the GUI entirely, you can also edit the /etc/rc.local script to fix-in a shell. We can then use startx whenever we want to GUI.)

If you do not want a GUI, note that there are ever more creative ways to stop the GNOME Display Manager (gdm) from starting. Take a Google to find out how...

Enjoy,

-Rn

(p.s. If you like those magic Apple key-combinations, then here is a nice list of them.)



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