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GNU Linux on the iMac G3 DV SE

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When running GNU Linux on your iMac, you get a system that is responsive enough for many tasks. I am using an iMac G3 as a workstation and have no performance-problems. This is mainly because of the type of useage, I prefer text mode applications. iMac G3 DV SE

The iMac doesn't make a lot of noise, something which I think is an important factor for a workstation. The CRT provides a good image, although it is a bit small. The image it produces is very sharp with good colors.

The Machine

Here is some info copied right from the proc-directory

/proc/cpuinfo

processor       : 0
cpu             : 740/750
temperature     : 43-45 C (uncalibrated)
clock           : 400MHz
revision        : 131.0 (pvr 0008 8300)
bogomips        : 796.67
machine         : PowerMac2,1
motherboard     : PowerMac2,1 MacRISC2 MacRISC Power Macintosh
detected as     : 66 (iMac FireWire)
pmac flags      : 00000005
L2 cache        : 512K unified
memory          : 384MB
pmac-generation : NewWorld

/proc/pci

PCI devices found:
  Bus  0, device  11, function  0:
    Host bridge: Apple Computer Inc. UniNorth AGP (rev 0).
      Master Capable.  Latency=16.  
  Bus  0, device  16, function  0:
    Display controller: ATI Technologies Inc Rage 128 RL/VR AGP (rev 0).
      IRQ 48.
      Master Capable.  Latency=255.  Min Gnt=8.
      Prefetchable 32 bit memory at 0x94000000 [0x97ffffff].
      I/O at 0x802400 [0x8024ff].
      Non-prefetchable 32 bit memory at 0x90000000 [0x90003fff].
  Bus  1, device  11, function  0:
    Host bridge: Apple Computer Inc. UniNorth PCI (rev 0).
      Master Capable.  Latency=16.  
  Bus  1, device  18, function  0:
    FireWire (IEEE 1394): Texas Instruments TSB12LV23 IEEE-1394 Controller (rev 0).
      IRQ 52.
      Master Capable.  Latency=16.  Min Gnt=2.Max Lat=4.
      Non-prefetchable 32 bit memory at 0x80083000 [0x800837ff].
      Non-prefetchable 32 bit memory at 0x80084000 [0x80087fff].
  Bus  1, device  19, function  0:
    Ethernet controller: Digital Equipment Corporation DECchip 21142/43 (rev 65).
      IRQ 53.
      Master Capable.  Latency=96.  Min Gnt=20.Max Lat=40.
      I/O at 0x400 [0x47f].
      Non-prefetchable 32 bit memory at 0x80080000 [0x800803ff].
  Bus  1, device  23, function  0:
    Class ff00: Apple Computer Inc. KeyLargo Mac I/O (rev 2).
      Master Capable.  Latency=16.  
      Non-prefetchable 32 bit memory at 0x80000000 [0x8007ffff].
  Bus  1, device  24, function  0:
    USB Controller: Apple Computer Inc. KeyLargo USB (rev 0).
      IRQ 27.
      Master Capable.  Latency=16.  Min Gnt=3.Max Lat=86.
      Non-prefetchable 32 bit memory at 0x80082000 [0x80082fff].
  Bus  1, device  25, function  0:
    USB Controller: Apple Computer Inc. KeyLargo USB (#2) (rev 0).
      IRQ 28.
      Master Capable.  Latency=16.  Min Gnt=3.Max Lat=86.
      Non-prefetchable 32 bit memory at 0x80081000 [0x80081fff].
  Bus  2, device  11, function  0:
    Host bridge: Apple Computer Inc. UniNorth Internal PCI (rev 0).
      Master Capable.  Latency=16. 

More information

For more information see the Low end Mac webpages. They provide very usefull information.

Installation

For starters I popped a Debian PPC netinstall in the CD-slot. I didn't go for a dual boot installation, only GNU Linux.
The Debian installation is quite straightforward and didn't produce any difficulty. The networkcard is working, sound is working, X is working. For me, that is enough.

When I have a little bit more time, I will try to install Slackware on the iMac. This page will keep you informed.

X configuration

A copy of my XF86Config-4 can be found here

Modules

The Debian installation did al the magic that is needed to get everything working fine :-)

This is what lsmod shows:

Module                  Size  Used by
snd_pcm_oss            68136  0 
snd_mixer_oss          23264  1 snd_pcm_oss
ipv6                  323896  8 
joydev                 12000  0 
usbhid                 53952  0 
ohci_hcd               26212  0 
usbcore               139092  4 usbhid,ohci_hcd
eth1394                25480  0 
tulip                  86912  0 
ohci1394               41924  0 
ieee1394              448200  2 eth1394,ohci1394
uninorth_agp            8544  1 
agpgart                42412  1 uninorth_agp
evdev                  11968  0 
tsdev                   8640  0 
de4x5                  77472  0 
crc32                   4832  2 tulip,de4x5
snd_powermac           44304  0 
snd_pcm               119800  2 snd_pcm_oss,snd_powermac
snd_page_alloc         13480  1 snd_pcm
snd_timer              29348  1 snd_pcm
snd                    67800  5 snd_pcm_oss,snd_mixer_oss,snd_powermac,snd_pcm,snd_timer
soundcore              11812  1 snd
ide_cd                 49764  0 
cdrom                  49660  1 ide_cd
ext3                  130736  1 
jbd                    71576  1 ext3
mbcache                10116  1 ext3
ide_disk               27072  3 
unix                   31992  66
(This is with a 2.6.8 kernel.)

Dayly use

The G3 comes with the Apple USB Keyboard-Graphite (M2452). This is not my favorite keyboard, but it is useable.

At first, I used an Apple mouse with it. This is quite a challenge, because that mouse only has one key (the top part of the mouse constitutes a key on its own).

This is how I did some copy-&-pasting in X:

  • With the mouse-key pressed, mark the region to copy
  • Paste with <Shift-Help>

In OS X, it is possible to emulate right-click with <Ctrl-Click>. This didn't work in X, probably there is some configuration needed. I didn't try very hard and ditched the Mac Mouse and replaced it with a decent one, with three buttons.

Update

Unfortunately, this machine brook down beyond repair and is no longer in use.