Linux on Power Mac G5

On Intel white boxes, the structure of the chipset is well understood and documented, however on the Apple Power Mac G5, Linux cannot be fully implemented and has many gaps in service. As of today, neither audio nor Mac-on-Linux work. I do not believe the latest crop of dual 2.3 GHz is supported at all through the GNU GPL, and only through Terra Soft Solutions paid subscriptions to Linux, currently priced at $30 with no manual, or $60 with a manual but without support, and finally $90 with 60 days support, can it install at all.

This makes Linux very price prohibitive to even attempt to run on my test bench. Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger costs at retail around $115 on an individual license, and just $180 for a five seat license (just $36 a seat) for a family. If compared to a full blown Mac OS X Server 10.4 Tiger model, then Linux would make a financial difference ($430 each license for 10 client Mac OS X Server). In my analysis, even though the operating system originates as open source, your ability to install and support that OS may make the initial “free” license very expensive. This does not include the niceties of having a multi-billion dollar company further developing the OS and bundling excellent applications for free like iTunes, iDVD, iCal, and GarageBand.

I will stay with Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger and Mac OS X Server 10.4 Tiger until Linux is fully support on my test bench platform. It was a very short test, that ultimately ended without any experience in the Linux operating system.

apple dual power mac G5
apple dual power mac G5

Linux on PowerPC

It may seem odd, but in a high performance computing environments, it sometimes makes sense to run another UNIX variant on your stock PowerPC based Apple Mac. Over the course of several iterations, I will try to install Linux kernel 2.6.10 on a Power Mac G5, along with ancillary tools. I will report back on the results and performance testing as compared to the tried and true Mac OS X Tiger 10.4.2 release.