For over a year I’ve had my Mac Mini’s tiny 40 GB drive partitioned to dual-boot Linux one day. Yesterday was that day. While this may be nothing to those Intel Mac Mini users, to get my PowerPC running the latest Ubuntu was a bit of a challenge. There is no official Ubuntu release for the PowerPC: instead its a port. Also, each time I tried installing Ubuntu on this machine using our HDTV as a monitor, the HDTV would refuse to display anything from the Mini. Apparently, the video modes the Mini pushes while in Linux’s framebuffer mode were out of the range of my Toshiba flat-screen. So, a few days ago I tracked down the port of Ubuntu 8.10 for the PowerPC and borrowed my desktop’s monitor to see what was going on.
I also ran into a bug where the Mini’s ATAPI cdrom drive – the most common CDROM drive in the PC world – was not recognized. The solution is to switch to another virtual console (CTRL-F2, for instance) during the install and run
X was not happy, but a few more Google searches provided me an xorg.conf file that seemed to work:
Identifier “Configured Screen Device”
Device “Configured Video Device”
Virtual 0 0
Identifier “Configured Video Device”
Option “MacModel” “mini”
The real reason I want to run Linux on my Apple gear? MythTV. I want a bare-bones Myth frontend with no CPU cycles being used for twirly icons or other wacky OS X stuff. I also don’t want Apple’s Software Updater to download 100MB of iTunes changes every two days when I never use iTunes. The problem with this Myth frontend is that its not producing sound for some reason. I’ll have to dig into that.
Installing Linux on my PowerPC Mac Mini has taken me back to the days of hacking my X server settings, mucking with horizontal and vertical sync settings and the like. Pretty much the antithesis of the Apple experience, but a good walk down memory lane, nonetheless.
I still gots skillz.