Installing (x)ubuntu onto G3 clamshell?
March 27, 2010 11:59 PM   Subscribe

I want to install ubuntu/xubuntu onto my iBook G3 clamshell. How?

Couldn't tell you the RAM, think its 32MB. I've got a spare wifi dongle and all i want to do is use it to cloud compute (twitter, FB, tumblr, google apps, etc...).

Any good resources / advice for this? Basically, if somebody has already done this, can you give me advice so I don't have to trawl through through shed-loads of jargon filled forum pages.

Many thanks.
posted by gonzo_ID to Computers & Internet (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Grab an ISO, burn it to disc, boot from disc to install.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:41 AM on March 28, 2010

This seems to have the downloads specifically for PowerPC.

Are you familiar with Ubuntu at all? I'd go with 9.04 Jaunty Jackalope since it seems to have the Live CD option. You have to download, burn the cd, check the iso image (there are instructions for this in the download package, maybe, or at least somewhere in the Ubuntu site). Then you put the cd in the iBook and boot from disc. You can select the option to try out Ubuntu without changing your computer--it'll basically run the OS from the cd without doing anything to the computer, but it'll give you a chance to see if Ubuntu is going to work with your computer.

The site says you need 256MB of RAM to install from the CD, so I don't know what sort of advice to offer you there.

I looked around for this sort of thing a year and a bit ago and couldn't find anything useful, but apparently I didn't look hard enough since I didn't find this wiki...go me. I've got an iBook G3 as well, not the clamshell, but right after it. I should try this out, OSX grates on my nerves.

I'm sure someone more computery will chime in here shortly, but I hope the link helps.
posted by LokiBear at 12:52 AM on March 28, 2010

If your CD drive still works, then download a liveCD and try it out before installing. Particularly: ensure the sound works. Ensure it's not as slow as molasses.

I have a G3 clamshell running debian which was a PITA to install due to a broken CD drive. I still don't have audio working. Also, this machine has 192Mb of RAM, and isn't exactly sprightly. I'd be pretty concerned that a machine with 32Mb would be unusably slow. Of course, that means you must have a spare RAM slot which you'd do well to populate.
posted by pompomtom at 1:04 AM on March 28, 2010

Best answer: I've given it an hour of my time and Finnix or an older release of openSUSE or Gentoo seem like the best bet. The list of PPC distros isn't large, and all of the others seem to start off with the G4 chip/128 MB requirement. You can always install ubuntu via the ncurses alternate install cd if you want to give that a try, but booting after that just might not happen.

This looks like a beast of a project if you run into trouble with the wifi dongle, though.
posted by cowbellemoo at 1:17 AM on March 28, 2010

I installed Ubuntu on my old G3 iBook - the wifi never worked because alternative drivers couldn't be found (original Airport). Absolutely go the live CD option first. Other than that, it worked fine, but wasn't actually much faster than a clean install of OSX 10.3 (or 9). Is that an option for you?
posted by wingless_angel at 1:26 AM on March 28, 2010

32MB RAM seems really really low, especially in a time where machines routinely run up to 2GB. Are you sure? You need at least 192MB to install Xubuntu.
posted by Xany at 1:39 AM on March 28, 2010

Response by poster: am not really sure, i'll check.

32MB built in memory
64MB virtual memory

it runs os 9.0.4 w/ photoshop 4 and clarisworks @ the moment.

is there any linux distro i can use on it that gives me wifi cloud computing? i just want it in my workshop for research.
posted by gonzo_ID at 1:55 AM on March 28, 2010

32MB isn't enough for any even slightly modern Linux distribution.

Xubuntu can theoretically run with as little as 128MB, but they "strongly recommend" a minimum of 256MB.

You will need more RAM.
posted by Mwongozi at 8:06 AM on March 28, 2010

Damn Small Linux, which does not have a PPC port, advertises a minimum RAM requirement of 24M so it should be possible to build your own system from scratch. With that little RAM you are going to have to go with an extremely light weight web browser, one that probably won't support all the Javascript magic that make cloud computing work in the way you are accustomed.

If you can upgrade the RAM above 256MB (about $40) you should be able to get Ubuntu working, that is probably the easiest route.
posted by ChrisHartley at 8:19 AM on March 28, 2010

Here's a 256 MB SO-DIMM for $46. Crucial sells one for $38.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:45 AM on March 28, 2010

I just installed Xubuntu on an IBM laptop with only 128 MB of RAM today, and it's only usable if I'm very careful about what is running (e.g. fluxbox instead of XFCE, don't run Firefox, etc). It doubt it could even start up with only 32 MB. Although I remember running Linux on a 486 with 16 megs back in the day, but that was with just FVWM for a window manager, a couple of xterms, and NCSA Mosaic as my web browser... a lot has changed since then!
posted by Emanuel at 11:24 PM on March 28, 2010

This looks like a beast of a project if you run into trouble with the wifi dongle, though.

Just thought to add: under Debian, the airport card Just Worked.
posted by pompomtom at 2:26 PM on March 30, 2010

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