I am now the proud owner of an Apple iBook with 700 MHz PowerPC processor, 256 MB RAM and Debian GNU/Linux on it. Here are some notes about it.

Installation part 1:
First of all, the OS X installer is buggy. In order to get Debian onto the computer, the hard disk must be repartitioned and OS X must be installed from anew (unless a CD based installation is planned). So, everything went well until I cancelled the installation (I had chosen 'easy install' and didn't know the installer wastes half of the 2 GB for installing all languages and fonts and additional software. Now the problems started. The iBook hung, and I had to google on how to reboot such a machine (hint for x86 people: this is a Mac, it doesn't support 'reset' or 'cold restart'). Pressing Ctrl + Apple key + power switch did it, along with pressing 'c' during the boot :-)

Unfortunately, the installation didn't work the 2nd time. It hung even before the installation screen turned up. So I tried the half-installed system on the hard disk.

But, guess what booted up. I thought that the base system was installed already, but it landed me directly in a console. Yeah, plain shell, just one hour after I got my Mac. For ordinary Mac users this would be something of a culture shock I guess :-) There were some stale files in /.Installation or something, and I removed them. My guess was good, the installation could start after another reboot, but it hung again during configuration of the base system. Bleh. What I did then was restart another time, and wipe the existing partial installation. This time I only installed the necessary components, and 20 minutes later I was in OS X again. Phew :)

Installation part 2:
After downloading the Debian boot floppies (simply dropped them on the Debian drive via drag'n'drop with the browser that shall not be named), another reboot was due, and then the standard woody installation procedure happened. I quickly dist-upgraded to testing, and got a usable console system within minutes. Getting the most recent GGZ Gaming Zone sources from CVS was the next logical step, as I wanted to try our baby on the new hardware.

Never trust hardware which is old, new or otherwise
The stock XFree86 did of course not work :-) After crawling the debian-x mailing list archives, I found out that the latest version from the DRI trunk had to be installed. This is only half the truth since it still didn't work. The other half being that Kernel 2.4.18 is too old, so an update was due. Attention - I replaced my old yaboot.conf entry and rebooted, just to find out that the keycodes were totally scrambled. Appending kernel_sends_linux_keycodes=1 helps, and keeping a 2nd entry for the old kernel, too.

Now, the BenH kernel doesn't support the network somehow, but I can boot the other one if I need it (not too often, because Apple's WLAN stuff is not affordable by students).

One note about OpenOffice: If it crashes with a relocation error, log in as root and use su - username to become the normal user, then start X and launch OOo. It will work.

One note about GGZ: The packaged version (0.0.6) was not released with architectures other than x86 in mind (well, at least not much), so use either current CVS or wait for 0.0.7. It will rock on PPC, promised :-)

Summer 2003 news
I have updated to XFree86 4.3.0ds4 now. Well I had to, anyway, because at exhibitions people want to see the latest KDE from CVS with transparent colourful animated flashy mouse cursors. This forces me to activate VGA at the very beginning, which messes up the display from time to time even though it seems to work again after switching back from X11 to console. Might try Fresco on it one day :) As promised, GGZ runs just fine, there are no more endianess bugs, even though the source itself is not yet cleaned up. Running 2.4.20ben10 is nearly perfect (sleep mode works!), there are only a few annoying messages on stdout when the ethernet cable is not plugged in.

Useful links
Branden's tutorial
Kernel update keyboard information
BenH kernel
Debian packages lines:
to be inserted
XFree86: http://people.debian.org/~daenzer/dri-trunk/
KDE 3: http://www.cupis.co.uk/debian/kde3.html
OpenOffice: http://bourbaki.math.uni-kiel.de/~jpalic/OpenOffice.org/

For getting the external VGA to work, see my posting to debian-powerpc.
XF86Config-4 (without FBDev)
XF86Config-4 (with FBDev)
beamer.sh (run as root)
New (July 2003):
XF86Config- (optimized for those expensive TU Dresden beamers, hehe)

written by Josef Spillner, 08.01.2003
updated 21.01.2003
last update 25.07.2003