Debian 6 on a G4 powermac

I bought a dual processor G4 powermac recently, with the intention of using it to  backup, scan and clean Windows/Intel  machines, as the powerpc architecture would be immune to infection.

Unfortunately, the hard disk failed almost as soon as I started using it, and it did not come with recovery disks.

Replacing the drive was straightforward, as it uses standard IDE drives and connectors.

Debian came to the rescue with it’s powerpc port. Apparently, Debian for powerpc comes on 8 DVD’s , but fortunately you can ‘get away’ with just the first one.

It took an hour to install, but when it was finished, there was no GUI. I thought I must have missed something, so I set the install off again, and this time I noticed that at the package installation stage it said something like, “although you are using a DVD, if you are installing a GUI, there may be files missing, so we suggest you enable online repositories” , so I enabled them, because I hadn’t done this the first time, but this caused it to take 4 hours to install, presumably because it was downloading everything instead of taking it  off the disk.

Still no GUI!

So…. apt-get install lxde from the command line and the GUI appeared.

I couldn’t believe how few applications were available after such a long install, but not to worry, it is fast, works well, and the required applications are easy to install.

The first problem I noticed was that the mac shortcut keys no longer work, so no way to open the CD drive for example.
I know the keys can be remapped, but as a temporary fix, I replaced the CD drive with a standard drive which had a button to open the tray.

The next thing I noticed was that only one processor shows up when I do … cat /proc/cpuinfo
perhaps I need a different kernel.

I downloaded and installed clamav, along with it’s plugin for nautilus. Just right click on a file or folder to scan.
My normal working procedure is to backup the infected windows machine to a portable usb drive, then scan and clean the drive. Reinstall windows then copy everything back from the clean drive.

As I continue to use the mac, I will post updates on any other issues that crop up.

One Reply to “Debian 6 on a G4 powermac”

  1. 1. If you want Tiger for PPC let me know – Colin.
    2. Sorry I couldn't make it on Sat – boss found shedloads of jobs despite saying on Thursday & Friday I could go.
    3. Sorry I missed the fanless wonder – will it be there next week?


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