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Apple Businesses

Installing Linux On The New Apple iBook 231

Jack Moffitt writes: "I just bought one of the new apple iBooks, which I then proceeded to install debian on. There are some installation problems, but it works well. I wrote up my thoughts and notes here. Sound isn't working, but I've started driver research and work. This is probably the best Linux laptop one can buy right now, so go get one!" He includes an excellent rundown on installing Debian, and talks about what's known (and what's being worked on) to get sound to work. Does this mean that Ogg Vorbis tracks will soon play through the new iBook's speakers?
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Installing Linux On The New Apple iBook

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  • by crazney ( 194622 ) on Monday July 09, 2001 @04:11AM (#98143) Homepage Journal
    why is this one of the best linux laptops one can buy if it doesnt even have everything working? im totaly confused.
  • by Sc00ter ( 99550 ) on Monday July 09, 2001 @04:14AM (#98144) Homepage
    I don't remember the site off and, but it's the same guy that made the kernel I use on my Pismo Powerbook G3 and it works like a champ.. Sound, airport card, and all..


  • IMHO, laptops are too unconfigurable to be of much use other than business trips. Also, not having sound is quite horrible. Why bother with linux on it when you can just use the preinstalled OS and use linux at home?

    Is it really that important to run linux everywhere?
  • by Diomedes01 ( 173241 ) on Monday July 09, 2001 @04:19AM (#98148)
    The good news is a lot of this seems documented. There are pin and bus specs for the Micronas chip, and the i2c and i2s buses are documented as well by Philips.
    In this day and age, this is a miracle! It seems like it's becoming harder and harder to get companies to disclose enough information to actually write proper hardware drivers. For Linux, this is obviously an issue, because hardly any hardware developers supply their own drivers.

    So far, it looks like Apple hasn't been all talk in their support of the community, and this may bode well.

  • by derrickh ( 157646 ) on Monday July 09, 2001 @04:20AM (#98149) Homepage

    ...unless you want sound and other misc. frivolties.

    Who needs sound anyway? Back in my day, we only had sound it put a boombox beside the computer and put in a Wierd Al tape. And we Liked it!
    Back in my day, you were considered a god if you had a newfangled computer with a built in speaker that made beeps and boops. And we LIKED it!
    Back in my day, the SID chip on a C-64 was only for snobs and rich sissy boys who needed fancy stuff like color and sound on a PC. We didn't need it then and we dont need it now and we LIKE it that way!.

    Mad Scientists with too much time on thier hands

  • My work just got a new iBook in doing the dual boot OS 9/OS X thing. It's a fast little laptop. Much faster to configure for our NT network than even the IBM A21 Thinkpads running Win2000 was.

    No, I've not tried Linux on the iBook yet...but OS X was nice on it.

    MP3 players like Panic's Audion can already play Obb Vorbis tracks in OS 9 or OS X.

  • by morn ( 136835 ) on Monday July 09, 2001 @04:25AM (#98151) Homepage
    Installing Linux just to play Vorbis files seems a bit long-winded when you could just install a player capable of playing them [panic.com] on Mac OS.


  • by bconway ( 63464 ) on Monday July 09, 2001 @04:25AM (#98152) Homepage
    Forgive me, but I tend to disagree with this quite heavily. While I wouldn't say it's the best, the Dell Inspiron 8000 [dell.com] blows this out of the water for compatability. I'm partial to Mandrake 8.0, but any distribution is supported on this machine, and the ATI M4 Mobility or nVidia GeForce GO video, ESS Maestro3 sound, and Intel EEPro100 onboard ethernet are all supported out of the box. Hell, even the Lucent Winmodem is one of the supported models on www.linmodems.org [linmodems.org] and works great. Dell's support is great, their options are extremely configurable, and I've been enjoy watching my DVDs with Xine on trips for a while now. I'd recommend this laptop to anyone for Linux use, and would definitely pick it well ahead of an iBook.
  • by SilentChris ( 452960 ) on Monday July 09, 2001 @04:27AM (#98153) Homepage
    "This is probably the best Linux laptop one can buy right now"

    Wow, this guy has taken the "CmdrTaco School of Loaded Statements". :) There's an adage in the computer game reviewing industry that is summed up nicely in a writer's guideline I received recently: "Do not spend two-thirds of an article picking a game apart and then, in the final paragraph, say 'But it's fun. Four stars.'" A majority of his "thoughts on the iBook2 page" revolves around various parts of the laptop not working in Linux, the (trivial) problems of dealing with a 1-button mouse in X, and the benefits of playing DVD's -- in MacOS 9.

    "Even without every piece of hardware being completely functional, this is one of the best laptops for linux use that I have ever seen or used."

    Right. Well, my two cents. I purchased an Inspiron 4000 from Dell, installed RedHat 7.1, and EVERYTHING worked right out of the box. Sound card, networking, everything. Didn't even have to go through the command line setups. And getting DVD playback in Linux was easy after downloading a program to do so. And I've got more than one mouse button. :) That's a great Linux laptop, in my mind.

  • This is probably the best Linux laptop one can buy right now

    Is it just me or there some reason an iBook would make a better linux notebook than a G4 Powerbook? [apple.com]

  • This is probably the best Linux laptop one can buy right now, so go get one!"

    How can this be the best laptop for Linux when it doesn't even have sound? I think the best laptop for Linux will actually support Linux for all of its hardware. :)
  • I'll be the first to give this guy a nod for a cool hack, and the first to recognize that sometimes hacking ain't really about practicality.

    But I'm wondering... of what practical use is this, when OS/X is already pre-installed? If you just want UNIX, it's already there... and if you're a you-better-put-a-capital-F-on-it-mister Free Software advocate, you probably won't buy into Apple's mostly-proprietary hardware anyway.
  • by deusx ( 8442 ) on Monday July 09, 2001 @04:37AM (#98160) Homepage
    To me, running Linux on an iBook seems pretty silly when Mac OS X is available. Yeah, yeah, I know, it's Linux and it's free and it's the Right Thing to Do, because it Can Be Done... but c'mon, you can get pretty much any software you'd expect under Linux via Fink [sourceforge.net] and the Darwin Ports [utopianet.net] collection. Run a nice window manager and rootless X, and you can get pretty much any app you like.

    And then you can start looking at Cocoa and all the nifty things that are going to be coming from the NextStep/OpenStep legacy... IMHO, Apple's gotten the job done in creating a solid, usable UNIX desktop, as well as a mature, unified app framework.

    Blah. Anyway, if you want Linux, don't waste your money on Apple hardware. Just stick with some cheap ol' Intel stuff. Go buy a used Sony Vaio, like my old one I'll be eBay'ing soon. :)

    As for Ogg Vorbis, it's coming out of my iBook speakers right now. I use
    Unsanity Echo [unsanity.com], and sometimes Audion [panic.com].

  • Many people already jumping all over Taco's ass that there are other laptops better than the iBook, but look at the price! For the cost of some of those "better" laptops, you could buy 2 or 3 iBooks!
  • Try a Dell Inspiron 8000.

    1600x1200 screen, 1GHz Intel, 512Mb SDRAM, option for 2 32Gb UDMA drives (RAID-0, urgh urgh urgh) and a combo DVD/CDRW drive, USB, Firewire, touchpad and mousestick, internal 10/100 NIC and (Win)MODEM, Maestro 3 sound (in the latest Linux kernel) and GeForce2GO video, all whilst two batteries are installed and leaving the PCMCIA slots free for even more goodies.

    Then tell me the iBook is "the best Linux laptop".

    You really wanna use a single button mouse in the X Window environment?

    I love the look of the ti Book, but compared with the i8000 and the single mouse button of the ti, I just cannot come at the price of it, the Dell on the other hand, can you put a price on a mobile system of this incredible spec!?

  • by balls001 ( 191004 ) on Monday July 09, 2001 @04:47AM (#98166)
    Now I can replace my refined desktop interface, hardware support and native applications with LinuxPPC! I've been trying to cripple my iBook unsuccessfully for the past couple months.

    Thank you /.!
  • Thinkpads have geat linux support, and most if not all of the new ones have three-button mice, err pointing devices.

    And sound works.

    My $0.02.

  • Personally, I'm partial to the IBM Thinkpad a20p [datapower.com]. Sound and DVD works, X at 1400x1050 works, suspend to disk works, etc., under Red Hat 7.1

    Why not check laptop ratings at the Linux Hardware Database [datapower.com]? For the most comprehensive resource I've found, visit Linux on Laptops [linux-laptop.net]. Individual laptops aren't rated, but you'll learn if anyone's had success with the hardware you hope to use.


  • I use both Linux and OS X, so I feel that I am in fair position to comment. OS X is a great way to have the power of Unix, while not necessarily having the experience of Unix. Linux on the other hand requires a bit more experience, but at this moment in time benefits from a mauch larger user base and availability of support.
  • by nuxx ( 10153 ) on Monday July 09, 2001 @04:59AM (#98178) Homepage
    I agree. I've got both a Compaq Armada M700 and Armada 7800 (Pentium III 700 and Pentium II 300, respectively) and thus far I haven't had a problem getting anything linux-related to work perfectly on them. How can this not-completely-functional Apple be considered the perfect Linux laptop when there are plenty of completely-supported x86 notebooks / laptops out there? I don't understand...

  • "blows out of the water for compatibility". There I disagree. He got everything working except sound, and that will work soon. I might wait on buying an ibook until sound does work, but to say that's the major difference is really exagerattion.

    And they are two different beasts. Yours has that gorgeous 15" screen and better 3D graphics. His is a lot smaller, a lot quieter, has a built in Firewire port, built in wireless ethernet antenna, bigger RAM capacity, longer battery life, built in TV out.

    Yours is a desktop replacement.

    I'm tempted by the iBook as well. Because it's quiet, it's got TV out and a 1394 port it would actually work well hooked up to the entertainment centre.

    But I don't want to spend that cash right now. I'll probably build a quiet system around an nForce. Dolby digital out moves that D->A stage outside of the very electrically noisy computer. Hopefully I can turn off compression for 2 channel sound and I can get it to work in Linux.

  • by hysterion ( 231229 ) on Monday July 09, 2001 @05:06AM (#98182) Homepage

    Blah. Anyway, if you want Linux, don't waste your money on Apple hardware. Just stick with some cheap ol' Intel stuff. Go buy a used Sony Vaio, like my old one I'll be eBay'ing soon. :)

    The point is, if you do get an iceBook (say, because the hardware or OS X appeal to you), then why not run Linux on it also? Why do those holy wars always have to involve exclusion?

  • Who needs sound anyway?

    And who needs to burn CDs? Certainly not all those Apple customers who bought OSX! How about the Open Source camp beating Apple to it?

  • Does Linux support Firewire on those things? Last time I checked the FW in the kernel was still fairly beta - has this changed?
  • by Ethan ( 9204 ) on Monday July 09, 2001 @05:08AM (#98186) Homepage
    I just bought a new iBook as well, for the same reasons on the referenced page. I couldn't find a comparable x86 laptop in the same price range, and being a poor college student price was critical.

    Since this is my first PPC machine, I chose to take the easy path and install a PPC-only distribution... I chose Yellow Dog 2.0, and I had an easier time installing than Mr. Moffitt indicates. Everything worked "out of the box" for me (pardoning sound, which as he mentions is still forthcoming) except for suspend, which locked up the laptop on resume. A little bit of web research revealed that resuming the new ATI Mobility chipsets was more difficult than some other chipsets, but the problem had been solved in 2.4.x; I snarfed one of BenH's [penguinppc.org] fabulous kernel trees and built 2.4.6. Suspend was fixed, just like that.

    Yellow Dog isn't as up-to-date as the distros I'm used to using on x86, but with a little legwork I'm getting it pulled into mid-2001. ;-) The Ximian LinuxPPC 2000 RPMs work fine (although the installer and Red Carpet do not), and a quick rebuild of the jed RPMs [ohio-state.edu] got me up and running with a good editor.

    I haven't found any documentation on how to turn off the AirPort card when it is not in use (I'm not sure about these 802.11 cards, but I know that regular 802.11 cards suck battery power like its their job; turning the slot off when they're not in use is a big bonus), but the battery life still seems to be 4 hours or so of light usage, less under heavy load.

    I don't have the latch problems Mr. Moffitt mentions, either... The magnetic latch thing is SUPER cool in my opinion. It's cool just to mostly close the lid and watch the hook jump out. ;-)

    All in all I'm very pleased. Time will tell if my pleasure is well-placed, I guess.


  • by grub ( 11606 ) <slashdot@grub.net> on Monday July 09, 2001 @05:12AM (#98188) Homepage Journal

    While LinuxPPC is a decent OS (I prefer OpenBSD) my LinuxPPC discs went to the back of my closet once OSX came out. Certainly it's a nice hack, but will Adobe make Photoshop for it? (no, Gimp is *not* quite Photoshop, despite what the zealots say)

    Apps are what the machines need, once the companies start releasing their flagship[0] Mac products for OSX I think this will be relegated to the "cool hack" pile


    [0]- IE is not what I'd call 'flagship' :)

  • It seems like it's becoming harder and harder to get companies to disclose enough information to actually write proper hardware drivers

    Well since Apple actually runs an open source kernel (and command line stuff) on these machines it does help them a lot to publish the specs for their hardware. Plus even if they don't, you could at least look at the source for the darwin drivers...

    So far, it looks like Apple hasn't been all talk in their support of the community, and this may bode well.

    So far they have been doing quite well at publishing up to date versions of source of what they said they would. I'm happy. Oddly they have been doing worse at getting the DVD video playback working then I expected.

    I'm not sure how well they are doing on incorporating 3rd party changes to their OS though. For example I know people have darwin booting on very old macs, but I don't know if the release version will.

  • The iBook uses a g3 by IBM, not a g4.

  • Are you kidding?

    You have to jump through install hoops, the sound doesn't work, and it's only got one mouse button.

    If that's the best, then all the rest must suck pretty bad.

    Sorry, my Thinkpad 760EL works a lot better than that.

    I don't doubt that it's flaming fast for a laptop with that processor, and I'll even give you "the prettiest", although a lot of people find the iBooks to be butt-ugly (I'm not among them), but "the best"? Cut back on the crack, yer startin' to hallucinate.

  • iTunes has been able to burn audio CDs since OS X 10.0.2 IIRC, but it still can't do data discs.

  • by stripes ( 3681 ) on Monday July 09, 2001 @05:20AM (#98195) Homepage Journal
    And who needs to burn CDs? Certainly not all those Apple customers who bought OSX!

    Unless they are running 10.0.2 or newer...

    How about the Open Source camp beating Apple to it?

    You will need to invent time travel to do it. They got it out within two or 3 weeks of the release.

    To be fair while they support a lot of CD-RW drives they don't have all of them. You could beat them to supporting some of the less common ones... they also still don't support DVD video (you can read DVD file systems though), so you can try to beat them to that also.

  • by iso ( 87585 ) <slash@@@warpzero...info> on Monday July 09, 2001 @05:23AM (#98196) Homepage

    Oddly they have been doing worse at getting the DVD video playback working then I expected.

    Rumour has it that most of the problems Apple is having with DVD support in OS X is related to the fact that the MPAA is very concerned about the possibility of intercepting the decoded data stream through their player (since OS X is considerably more "open" for tricks like this with the UNIX layer). I don't know if there's any truth in this rumour but it does explain the serious lag time for DVD support. Playing DVDs isn't that difficult (especially when they already have a DVD player for OS 9) so perhaps this really is the reason why it's taking so long.

    Another thing to note is that if you take a screenshot in OS 9 while playing a DVD you get a big magenta rectangle where the DVD screenshot is supposed to be. Is there a technical reason for this or are the MPAA really that paranoid?

    - j

  • My soundcard works fine on the Thinkpad 600e (Linux Mandrake 8.0). Just configure it manually with sndconfig. The autodetect comes up with this Crystal 4280, but choose instead the cs4232 soundcard. Just get all the IRQ, DMA and io settings from ps2.exe before you start.

    I used this site as a guide: http://www.pc.ibm.com/qtechinfo/MIGR-4BP6Q6.html?s electarea=SUPPORTbrand=root

  • by SilentChris ( 452960 ) on Monday July 09, 2001 @05:25AM (#98200) Homepage
    "Apple's gotten the job done in creating a solid, usable UNIX desktop, as well as a mature, unified app framework."

    One could argue that Microsoft has pulled that off with NT/2000/XP, considering how much stuff they've stolen ... I mean, "borrowed" from Unix. Nah, I really shouldn't say that. I actually sorta like XP.

    I think my main complaint with OS X is that the minimum hardware requirements were way too low. I purchased it for my original iMac (upped to 128 MB RAM) and it still runs excrutiatingly slow. It's all the window manager. Of course, the funniest thing I've seen is killing the window manager in a terminal window and not being able to get it back in OS X (in that OS, the window manager is everything). :)

  • The ibook is $1300 ($1800 including CDRW/DVD drive). An Inspiron I tried configuring to your specs was $2200.

  • I hope they improved the TV out on the iBooks.. I have a Pismo Powerbook G3, it also has TV out, but even on my 27" Sony Wega TV with S-Video you can't see text at all above 800x600.


  • I think it does support your point. I agree- a huge majority of those x86 Linux people out there have some flavor of Windows on another partition, but they seem to be in denial of it. On my G4 (selling it soon to buy an iBook), I have Mac OS X, Mac OS 9.1 and Linux installed. They can co-exist, and there's no reason for them not to!
  • neither can you buy an iBook without MacOS, can you ?
  • Is it just me or there some reason an iBook would make a better linux notebook than a G4 Powerbook?

    The iBook is lighter, I think (I have held both, but not at the same time). The iBook is definitely less wide, so it would be more convent on an airplane, and will fit into backpacks and bags the PowerBook may not.

    Plus the iBook is way way cheaper.

    Of corse if cost is no issue, the size may not be a big deal. Except maybe not being able to fit on tray tables in coach. Of corse if cost was no issue, being "forced" to fly first class may not be so bad :-)

  • And that's one of the biggest reason's I'm buying one! While I prefer Macs, when it comes to a portable computer, I want something that can get good battery life. The iBook has a great battery life (I wish it was more!), but if I could get a StrongARM machine running reasonably fast, with an even better battery life, harddrive and all at a decent price, I most likely would reconsider.
  • by stripes ( 3681 ) on Monday July 09, 2001 @05:34AM (#98213) Homepage Journal
    As far as I can tell, the only proprietary ports on the iBook are [...] the airport card slot, and the power adapter port..

    The airport slot is a standard PCMCIA slot *inside* the machine (I tested it, it recognized my flash card adaptor when I put it in there), and an antenna connector that fits the Lucent 802.11 cards.

    As far as power connectors go they aren't exactly standard on PC laptops either, but this one is a little more bizarre then just a randomly sized normal DC power connector. They use what looks like an audio phono plug. I'm not sure why. It is a little easier to plug in in the dark then the connector on the Sony, but it isn't a big deal.

  • This is the kind of moronic drivel I hear all the time from Mac weenies.

    WHO CARES who makes the processor.

    Can it run the apps that you need? Does it run them fast enough for you? If so, congratulations! The computer is right for you. Whether it runs Intel, Motorola, or Bumblefuck-Chip.

    If you write assembly language or machine code for a living, OK.. you might have some reason to care. If you are any one of the other ~4 billion people on this earth, you just sound like an idiot.
  • rootless X

    Is there a free rootless X server? I've been using VNC, but a rootless X would be nice...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 09, 2001 @05:41AM (#98216)
    iBooks come with a proper unix already installed. What would be the point of running linux on it?

    That's like buying a BMW and replacing the interior with that of a twelve-year old nissan bluebird with minor fire damage.

    "Look! It looks like a Nissan!"
    "You are a dumbass. Please drive through."
  • Well, with most PC laptops things can change, and they do change, constantly.. But with macs things stay the same for the most part. Usually the only difference from one Powerbook to another is memory and hard drive space, but all the hardware is the same.. But with say Dells.. the screen can change, it could have an internal modem or network card, but it may not.


  • You can get instructions for putting Linux on that here [zaius.org]. It works great for me.
  • by flimflam ( 21332 ) on Monday July 09, 2001 @05:46AM (#98222) Homepage
    I hope they improved the TV out on the iBooks.. I have a Pismo Powerbook G3, it also has TV out, but even on my 27" Sony Wega TV with S-Video you can't see text at all above 800x600.

    Of course not. It has nothing to do with the quality of your powerbook or the size of your screen, and everything to do with the inherant limitations of NTSC video, which quite frankly, sucks. The video out of any computer is going to be either 640x480 (with square pixels) or 720x486 (with rectangular pixels). There's nothing you can do to improve on that.

    If you have the resolution set higher on your machine, pixels are being blended before they go out to NTSC.

  • The real problem with Linux is, due to the hardware manufacturers miscommunication of their specs, it is quite hard to have up-to-date stable drivers as soon as some new product is available.
    Hence the lack of sound on this iBook.
    I just checked its price on http://www.apple.ch and it is comparable to 14 or even 15" TFT screen-PC laptops.
    So, how much do we pay for its design too (and maybe for the *bundled* OS and apps which you won't necessarily want to keep) ?
    OK, we've got the battery life and... well, it seems it is all.
    I personnally went for an "old" (one year old) PC Laptop with a P3, 3-hour battery life and DVD (dezonable) laptop.
    Debian Linux installs itself automatically and anything I have tried worked immediately.
    So, my advice on choosing a good laptop for Linux would be that if this is your first Linux laptop, just take a not-so-old second-hand one that might be very cheap and have fun.
    Now, if you feel like experimenting and kernel hacking, well, OK, this is the best machine you may find.
    I'd have really appreciated to read a proper description of what this guy does with his laptop : coding, surfing, whatever else ?
    Maybe this'd have helped a lot relativizing his superlative point of view.
  • as I understand it, this is pretty common. the dvd software is using an "overlay" function of the graphics card to stick the moving image there, kinda like a chromakey. it does this for efficiency and speed but normal screen capture program's only capture the normal screen and not the poverlay unless they specifically know about it.

    this is kinda how I understand it, any more expeienced ppl please chime in.

  • by NetCurl ( 54699 ) on Monday July 09, 2001 @05:58AM (#98234)
    How can this not-completely-functional Apple be considered the perfect Linux laptop when there are plenty of completely-supported x86 notebooks / laptops out there? I don't understand...

    I think he may be refering to a couple things:

    1) The iBooks are pretty cheap and offer great hardware for the price: $1299, for the cheapest model, but $1499 for

    128MB SDRAM memory
    10GB Ultra ATA drive
    DVD-ROM drive w/DVD-Video
    8MB video memory
    10/100BASE-T Ethernet
    56K internal modem
    RGB video output
    Two USB ports
    FireWire port

    2) The battery life is around 5 hours, and the thing weighs under 5 pounds.

    3) It can run OS X as well. W/ Linux and OS X on a laptop, you have a lot of productivity tools. I think you can even dual boot with the iBooks but I'm not positive.

    It's a nice machine for under $1500

  • I have a dell inspiron 8000, and doing normal stuff (browsing, email, ssh, the odd game) I get about 3 hours per battery. With the second battery fitted I get about 6 hours, which is more than enough for most uses.

    And that with that lovely 15.1" 1600x1200 display running. yum.
  • You are forgetting other OSes. Believe me, there is such thing as not-Windows employed user. If you cannot imagine it you may need a better job.

    And, by the way, why should I be using Windows on that particular notebook? My company could give me a separate desktop machine for breeding Outlook virii and playing Solitair.

  • "(no, Gimp is *not* quite Photoshop, despite what the zealots say)"

    • Almost all the same features
    • Less memory
    • Doesn't crash
    You're right, Gimp isn't Photoshop . . . its better

    "One World, one Web, one Program" - Microsoft promotional ad

  • by hatless ( 8275 ) on Monday July 09, 2001 @06:05AM (#98240)
    Nothing wrong with tinkering and getting more hardware supported, but is it a good idea to recommend that anyone choose a new iBook as a machine to run Linux on?

    Let's see. Out of the box you get a pretty laptop that comes preloaded with OS X, which is an open source BSD variant down low, with a lot of polished sophisticated commercial goodies up top like display PDF, the most seamless GUI/command-line config synchronization ever done on a Unix, and, well, the elegance that is the Mac UI. And you can run any legacy Mac software at near full-speed simultaneously.

    And if ease of use and closed-source software give you hives regardless of how good they are, you can load up XFree86 and a swiftly growing number of your favorite "Linux" apps while you're at it. You've already got Perl, gcc, Emacs, vi and their friends ready to run. Don't like tcsh? Load up bash. Don't like their terminal-window app? Load up another. Want to recompile their (well-configured) Apache? Go ahead. And you have solid Firewire support and the most hassle-free USB plug-and-play support around, bar none.

    But then you load up Linux and drop the sound support, the decent video playback, the easy CD burning and video editing, the display PDF, the Mac application support, the polished configuration tools, the decent web browsers, any hope of running a usable office suite any time this year or next (since you're not on an x86).. and the only UI that works well with the one-button trackpad you've got. There are dozens--maybe hundreds--of x86-based laptops out there in all shapes and sizes that are better-suited for running Linux than an iBook.

    This is a nice hobbyist project, and certainly getting the new hardware supported by Linux is a good thing. But it's a lousy use for a new iBook.
  • "Another thing to note is that if you take a screenshot in OS 9 while playing a DVD you get a big magenta rectangle where the DVD screenshot is supposed to be. Is there a technical reason for this or are the MPAA really that paranoid? "
    br.I have an older mac, from 96, with a tv tuner card. It does the same kind of thing when you try to take a screenshot. You end up with a black square basically I think. From what I understand tho, this has more to do with the way the card bypasses the normal system routines of drawing than any kind of copyright concerns. Of course this was 96, before dvds were real big and the mpaa was some kind of unstoppable force, so the reasons you cant take a screenshot may have nothing to do with the technical aspects anymore.
  • > Another thing to note is that if you take a screenshot in OS 9 while playing a DVD you get a big magenta rectangle where the DVD screenshot is supposed to be. Is there a technical reason for this or are the MPAA really that paranoid?

    It has less to do with MPAA paranoia than the bandwidth of video being sent down the bus.
    From the rec.video.dvd FAQ [faqs.org]...

    [4.4] Why can't I take a screenshot of DVD video? Why do I get a pink or
    black square?

    Most DVD PCs, even those with software decoders, use video overlay hardware
    to insert the video directly into the VGA signal. This an efficient way to
    handle the very high bandwidth of full-motion video. Some decoder cards,
    such as the Creative Labs Encore Dxr series and the Sigma Designs Hollywood
    series, use a pass-through cable that overlays the video into the analog
    VGA signal after it comes out of the video display card. Video overlay uses
    a technique called colorkey to selectively replace a specified pixel color
    (often magenta or near-black) with video content. Anywhere a colorkey pixel
    appears in the computer graphics video, it's replaced by video from the DVD
    decoder. This process occurs "downstream" from the computer's video memory,
    so if you try to take a screenshot (which grabs pixels from video RAM), all
    you get is a solid square of the colorkey color.

    Some decoders write to normal video memory. In this case, utilities such as
    Creative Softworx, HyperSnap, and SD Capture can grab still pictures. Some
    player applications can also take screenshots.

  • Not really. The difference here is that OSX gives you a robust, freebsd userland that's standard enough to build damn near everything you can throw down on the disk, including XFree86.

    Sounds like the best of both worlds, if you ask me. A mature and mainstream GUI with a healthy number of commercial apps on top of that old, familiar Unix we all love.

    Sounds to me like ripping all that out to run LinuxPPC is a downgrade, unless simply having the name "Linux" is the feature you most look for in an OS.

  • Yeah that Dell is great, especially if you love paying 2 to 3 times as much for the laptop and you can't seem to drain batteries fast enough, and you have a weird fetish where you love to burn your legs to crispy little cinders with that 1Ghz processor. Even my 500Mhz Dell Latitude (work machine) gets uncomfortably hot amazingly fast.

    Down that path lies madness. On the other hand, the road to hell is paved with melting snowballs.
  • Questions for you and your BEST laptop from an unbiased source comparing your Dell and that iBook over there:

    1) What is your battery life? If I'm flying from Newark to Seattle and I need about 5 hours of battery life, can I get it from that Dell?

    2) That Dell is pretty big. It's probably heavy. Nice big screen though. I'm going to have to lug an extra battery or two along, so I'm hoping that the Dell isn't too heavy. How heavy is it? (The Dell is over 7 lbs with the 15 inch screen and a CD-ROM might make it 8 lbs)

    3) Do you really expect the sound to not work on that iBook for long? It's not like it's impossible to get sound working. I works in OS X based on a FreeBSD kernel, so it can't be impossible to get it workign with something else.

    4) Why is a network card optional? Why is this thing WAY more expensive with all those frills than the iBook.

    I'm a college student with negative income ($31,000 a year in the red). If I wanted to get a linux laptop, that iBook would be great. I wouldn't mind working on sound drivers in my spare time either...

    I guess it's all about your perspective isn't it?
  • Hmm - you did? When I finally got my ibook triple installed with OS X, OS 9, and LinuxPPC, I tried re-booting into Linux, and it died. Not kernel panic, not crash... just shut off. I couldn't turn it on either. No - the only way to recover was to unplug the power, remove the battery, and try again. Now I have to re-format the linux partition.
  • Why run Linux? Well, because it's tons faster. MacOS X is still a bit pokey, especially the finder. Many of the apps have not been fully converted to use the new APIs as well, which also causes performance to degrade a little.

    As far as wasting money on Apple hardware is concerned, the point is that the iBook is actually cheaper than any comparable Intel based laptop at this point, and is an all around great little box.

  • Not under Linux, or even MacOS X.

    Even MacOS 9.x is surprisingly stable if you know how to configure it properly. Hint: Assign your applications plenty of RAM and they won't crash and burn when they run out. I would count 9 as more stable than Windows 9x/ME when properly configured.

    I'm probably going to get a Titanium PowerBook in the next month or two because I really need the larger screen and faster processor. But the iBook is pretty darn cool at its price point.



  • I have to agree with this; I run MacOS X and love it - it really does combine the power of Unix with the beauty of the Mac and mainstream application support (through Classic, granted, but the apps are coming). I have the usual suspects (mySQL, etc) running quite happily on my machine, so it will work great for most situations where I would use Linux.

    The main difference is that the GUI is so much prettier and more elegant, which has definitely won me over to both the Apple platform as opposed to Linux.


  • > This is a nice hobbyist project, and certainly getting the new hardware supported by Linux is a good thing. But it's a lousy use for a new iBook.

    So I take it you're actively advocating the Open-Source route to your application vendors? Besides, isn't there an Open Office, KOffice, and a shed load of other things, and that's assuming you *want* an office suite in the first place?

    I can, and do, run Debian GNU/Linux/PPC on my old Powerbook (Lombard). I must admit to loving it to bits; the hardware has survived a year of me throwing it around, which beats the ASS off any x86-klone (the last of those I had lasted 3 months before the HD went soft), Debian is my choice of distro, seeing as they actually *bother* supporting non-intel architectures at all unlike most other people, and software wise, I have everything I need (Xemacs being a big component here).

    Office suites are for people who can't spell `.txt', let alone `.sgml'.
    .|` Clouds cross the black moonlight,
  • Runs Linux too

    As of Perfs, It'll leave you blazing horrified in comparison to your G something.

    Of course the price is right too, but then...

    Mess with the Best / use Windows like the Rest .
  • There was a discussion of this on MWJ some time ago, and the editor indicated the reason is MPAA paranoia about DVDs being played on any machine where a debugger (e.g., gdb) can be used to examine the decoding code when it's executing. Hence no DVD playback on UNIX, Linux, or Mac OS X, and MacsBug is disabled when you run the Apple DVD Player under MacOS 9. So it's not a rumor.
  • with the difference in price, he could also buy about 20 3 button mice! Of all the complaints people make about Apple 'I couldnt use a 1 button mouse' is the absolute lamest. Please.. here is my cluebag.. dig in. Now that you have one, walk to ANY computer store... buy a USB mouse, with 3 buttons, and even a scroll wheel if you want! If your running OS9 get usboverdrive. If your using OSX, just plug it in, it will work. A one button mouse is only a handicap if you cant figure out how to purchase a new mouse.

    Im sure I will now be modded down into oblivion, but I still think you guys could find something better to complain about than lack of a 3 button mouse. I like Apple and even I can find better things to complain about as far as they are concerned.
  • you're wrong. they have many more uses than "just for business trips".

    Not having sound? What the hell are you talking about? People play DVD's on Laptops all the time? Oh wait, DVD's are silent movies now!

    No, it isn't important to run Linux everywhere, it is a choice. I personally do not like to have my machine crash 2 or 3x while doing anything. I can put Linux on my laptop (I had a laptop from 96-99) and run it all day w/o a problem.

  • The power management problems appear to have been fixed with Os X 10.0.4. (BTW is version X 10.0.4 a bit redundant?)
  • Okay, one reason: iMovie. iMovie and Firewire was one of the major selling points of the iBook, for me, and digital video takes up a lot of disk. I'll put Linux on a cheaper machine where disk space isn't at a premium. (And I have already cleaned out a lot of the cruft that Apple put on the disk for me. Like Outlook Express.)
  • by Anonymous Coward
    You can dual boot. You can even triple boot, as I did with OS X, OS 9, and Linux.

    Although I am now single booting in to OS X because OS X gives me all that linux did, and more.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Its good that a few people are realizing that Mac are not always an expensive solution. People tend to think Macs are the most expensive computer solution. This is not always the case. As for the one button mouse issue you can easily go out and buy a three button mouse for any mac.
  • The Dell you quote is the same price as the iBook, has an 800x600 screen instead of 1024x768 (big difference), Dell's lower-capacity battery (probably won't last three hours, let alone five), no Firewire, less video RAM, and is bulkier and heavier. I think you made the original poster's point for him. :-) The iBook really is an exceptional value.

    The Gateway you quote has the same issues, and is almost a full inch thicker than the iBook.

  • I have both, use both regularly...

    Laptops make crappy game machines. There is no nice way to say it; especially on an old laptop like mine (PowerBook 5300) you're subject to a keyboard layout that just isn't all that conducive to keyboard control of a game, but the ability to take my Inform programming with me to have an iced tea and a cookie while hacking is indispensable.

    On the other hand, desktop machines usually have the speed, and make great jukeboxes, but forget LAN parties unless you've got a big trunk and a lot of spare cables.

  • iTunes (on 9.1, not X) doesn't seem to see my Yamaha SCSI burner, which is fine with me because the way my system is configured I can't seem to do MP3->Audio CD burns anyway (not enough memory). So I stick with Toast -- takes longer, but it does the job.

  • Build XFree86 from CVS. It's not in the release but if you pull from cvs and make World && make install, then
    startx -- -rootless
    it works for the most part. I have had some problems with the cursor disappearing, but no worse than with Classic.
  • Because it crashes all the time and I won't be able to get anything to work on it... need more? :)
    Then you should stick to simpler technologies such as picture books and Lincoln Logs.


  • by whjwhj ( 243426 ) on Monday July 09, 2001 @08:48AM (#98292)
    In past discussions on Slashdot, I have had the opportunity to quietly raise my finger from the corner of the room and whisper "Why not run Mac/OS X?" only to get completely bombarded by Linux zealots who tell me that, in addition to OS X being a terrible operating system (which it isn't, of course) they say "Hey I've already got a K6 box that I built myself for $23.48. Why go out and buy a Mac for a grand or more?"

    Well that argument doesn't seem to hold any water when somebody goes out and buys a brand new iBook and installs Linux on it, and then everybody TAKES HIM SERIOUSLY!? Come on, folks! OS X shipped with the machine he bought! And it is so clearly superior to Linux (in addition to being much easier to install) that installing Linux instead is just plain ridiculous.

    So it boils down to one of two modivations: Doing it because it's possible, or doing it because it's Linux. Doing anything simply because it's possible is not only foolish but can be downright irresponsible. Doing it because it's Linux reveals that the decision to use Linux is not based on feature/function or any other sound, objective rationale but rather on some other unquantifiable, subjective notion like "Linix is COOL man!" or some such nonsense.

    Which is fine in it's own right. Linux as hobby. I once saw a Ford Pinto mounted on top of four enormous tractor tires. Logical? No. Practical? No. Waste of time? Most definetely. But it entertained the builder and even entertains passerbys. A freak show, if you will.

    But the owner of that Ford Pinto made no attempt at convincing passerbys that his vehicle was the BEST vehicle ever and anybody who doesn't have a Ford Pinto mounted on four enormous tractor tires is JUST PLAIN IGNORANT. Similarily, I just wish you Linux zealots wouldn't take yourselves so seriously. It's a hobby and you enjoy it: Fine. But keep in mind that there are frequently more practical and useful computing solutions out there than just Linux. And that there are people who use computers to get work done. Please quit trying to pass of Linux as the best solution for EVERYTHING. It's not.
  • Well when the MPAA has this much say on what happens on our machines this begs the question: Whose computer is this, anyway?

    Never has there been more reason for GNU.
  • I searched Dell.com for Linux (nothing), and also browsed about a dozen laptop configurations in the small business section (not an option).

    Got any links? Dell isn't making it any easier, and I _DO_ want to buy one.

  • People tend to think Macs are the most expensive computer solution.
    I wonder where they get that idea?

    Oh yeah....after looking at the Apple Store.....Nearly $2000 bucks for a computer and they still want to charge you another $100 for a video card that came out after 1999? Please.

    If you spend $1300 on a new iBook it doesn't even come with enough RAM to run the OS installed on the hard drive. Apple has a nifty little icon / badge for OS X on their site. It reminds you 128MB of RAM is required.

    The new iBooks came out in May, OS X came out in March and the iBook has only 50% of the RAM Apple demands for their new OS. So much for the beneifts of "making the whole widget".
  • I don't know where you got that price, maxed out like that it's pretty expensive.

    Although, you can save a lot by getting the 512MB ram from www.crucial.com rather than from dell.

    In the UK, crucial will sell 512MB of compatable ram for £150, while dell charges £600 !

    I'm expecting mine on Friday :)
  • This really shows how having an open source OS truely rocks. You are not tied down by only one type of CPU - no, open source gives you choice.

    The PowerPC chips are vastly supperior to Intel when it comes to portable applications. They give lots of power while consuming under 5watts. There are also lots of other really cool chips out there (like ARM) that just don't make it into laptops because Windows only runs on Intel.

    Now if you look at the iBook and you see that Apple made a pretty damn good laptop. They could do this because they don't have to worry as much about cooling or battery drain. Intel notebooks - dispite being well designed - have that CPU handicap which results in larger, heavier notebooks that don't last as long on a charge. Crusoe chips sound promising but they're still a hack and you'll get more performance/power-drain from a smarter design - like ARM. But this requires that your software be re-compiled for the new CPU architecture. Linux allows this... Linux rocks!!!!


  • Yeah, "This is probably the best Linux laptop one can buy right now" is quite a loaded statement. In fact there probably isn't one single best Linux laptop: just like everything else, it depends on what you're going to use it for.

    The iBook does have a number of advantages:

    • A sleek enclosure (if you like it)
    • Low price
    • It's a Mac. That's an advantage for me and a lot of other people, because I have Mac OS programs that I need to use. I can use them in Mac-on-Linux [ibrium.se] or I can boot into Mac OS or (when I get it) Mac OS X.
    • It probably runs cooler than most Intel laptops
    Also, several of the potential disadvantages that were mentioned might not be relevant:
    • It's a new machine. Give it some time, and the sound drivers will be written.
    • No one said DVD didn't work: he just didn't try it yet. I've gotten DVD working on my AGP G4 running LinuxPPC without problems. (It's a bit slow for me, but my box is only 350 MHz.)
  • Anyone have any good links on where to get an iBook? I went on pricewatch.com and all I found were iBook's that only come with macOS9. After reading everyone's opinions.. I'd like to take a closer look and put better consideration into turning to the mac side....
  • Well, you can either build the latest bleeding-edge CVS checkouts, as petard suggests, or you can look here:

    http://www.macgimp.org/sections.php?op=listartic le s&secid=1

    They point you to XDarwin as based on the latest release, and then to some binaries compiled with rootless X to replace a few binaries from your X install. I've yet to really have it crash hard or anything. Only major drawback I've had so far, other than a few little wonky things, is that you need to start it from a shell rather than from an icon on the desktop.

    Oh yeah, and you *will* need a window manager, and a panel of some sort would be nice so that you don't lose those minimized windows (since there's no root window to throw them on).

    For something quick, I've been using this panel:


    And trying to decide between the PWM and Sawfish as window managers.
  • this is because the decoder is hardware-based, and it writes directly to the video card's buffer, bypassing quickdraw altogether. when you take a screen shot on a mac (presumably with command-shift-3) it copies the contents of the quickdraw graphics ports, which do not reflect what's actually in the video card's memory

    Yeah this is exactly what I figured but I wasn't 100% sure. of course now I'm sorry I mentioned it as it has turned into a bit of a troll. What i really wanted to know is if anybody had heard anything more concrete about Apple being delayed in releasin the OS X DVD player because of copyright concerns.

    And it is WAY to easy to get karma around by simply implying that the MPAA is evil.

    - j

  • has been coming out of iBook speakers for a long time. N2MP3 Pro makes Ogg Vorbis tracks, and Audion plays them. Others too.

    It's cool to hear about people using the graphical loader in Open Firmware to dual and triple boot Linux, and/or BSD with a Mac. The first time I used that graphical loader to dual boot OS 9 and a developer release of OS X, I immediately thought of how Linux-friendly Macs have become. Apple's disk utilities also have a long list of partition schemes and formats for Linux. Unless your Mac is very new and drivers aren't prepared yet, it's so easy to work with Linux on a Mac. You can boot from a CD or boot from a FireWire drive.

    Apple's current products are a whole level above anything that the PC cartel is making these days. It is hard to find a flaw in them except for the fact that Mac OS is in a transition right now, with Mac OS 9 being better than X for about half the things people are doing, and vice versa. In six months or so, any off the shelf Mac will be a tremendous system with a huge library of software, and easy to dual-boot Linux, too.
  • With MOSX, you can boot back and forth between 9.1 and X cleanly and easily- with the added advantage of both systems existing on one hard drive partition. With older version of MacOS, you can run as many versions of MOS as you have hard drive partitions- you can throw on linux if you'd like, and older versions of MOS, MOS X server, etceteras.

    For example, it is entirely possible to run OS 9.1, MOSX, MOS X server (AKA Rhapsody), MOS 8.5 and, say, MKLinux on one machine.

    From personal experience, you'd probably want at least three hard drives for this, though- Server gets moody without a drive to itself, and MKLinux requires a pre-existing MOS to boot-strap itself from.

    In any case, it's an Apple computer- as a graphics nerd, Mac OS X lets me run Dreamweaver, Fireworks, Photoshop, Perl, and Apache on the same system without dual booting. I dig that. (and sorry, Gimp doesn't cut it. You're deluding yourself.)
  • But anyone with half a brain (I assume that includes the "early adopters" who want to run OS X) will buy the base machine (all others come with 128 MB on the motherboard) from a dealer that throws in a free 128 MB upgrade. Almost all of them do.

    Apple's online store is a gip, look at the upgrade prices. And they charge sales tax in every state. You've have to be crazy to buy directly from Apple.

  • Certainly it's a nice hack, but will Adobe make Photoshop for it?

    Heh. Will Adobe make Photoshop for OS X?

    once the companies start releasing their flagship[0] Mac products for OSX I think this will be relegated to the "cool hack" pile

    I would say s/once/if ever/

    And what's wrong with a cool hack? Of course OS X is really damn nice, but does that somehow mean Linux on PPC is useless? I don't.
  • I find it funny your handle is "nofud" (which I presume to mean "No FUD") while you spread blatant lies about the MPAA. As you can read elsewhere in this thread, hardware overlay is a speed feature, not a copyright-protection feature. My WinTV card does similar things. Pretty much anything that has to draw to the screen very quickly will take similar measures - to INCREASE PERFORMANCE.
  • battery life. an ibook gets about 5 hours per charge. my friggin' toshiba satellite 4200 lasts, oh, 2 hours... maybe.

    price. it's snappy, it's got features and it's very cheap. disregard the "macs are expensive" dogma and do some comparison shopping.

    size. damn they're small. if size counts (ahem) for you that is.

    dual boot option: when everyone says "dual boot" they mean "windows plus something else". but you may want to have mac os as your second boot instead (for instance, if you are sick of the broken implementation of colour correction in photoshop under windows. ugh).

    os x option: similar to dual boot. you can keep osx if you wish and have access to all the goodies there. (project builder/interface builder for instance)

    coolness. don't totally discount esthetics. if you hang posters on your wall, like certain styles of music over others or have a favourite colour then you do put some priority on esthetics.

  • True, all true... but who's got room for a USB Thrustmaster in their laptop bag?

  • If you want more utility: MAKE IT!!!! Isn't that what your oh so precious Linux-hacker mindset is all about? Or does you psuedo ideology get in the way of any cleverness?

    WTF are you talking about? Linux has utility coming out the wazoo. And it was all made by the users. We didn't wait for Steve Jobs to shit his vision down into our machines, as mac lusers do, we went out and MADE it. No apologies here. That's what the linux-hacker mindset is about.

    So you can sit back and try to defend Apple for not getting the job done, or you can fire up Linux and do it yourself, you mewling, whining sap.
  • Almost. It also has to be accessable to me in the US (the Psion Series 7, according to their site), I'd like a little more memory (16M?). The Series 7 only gets, according to Psion's site, 8.5 hours of battery life. That's pretty nice, but when you're sacrificing *that* much compared to a desktop, it doesn't seem like that much of a gain. My Newton 2000 gets a lot more battery time than that, and excluding the built-in keyboard, doesn't seem to do much more. Not to mention the Series 7 is slower than my Newt. :) As for the netBook, it just doesn't seem accessable to me. Not only do they not sell them to individuals (as far as I can tell), Also, it costs almost much as an iBook, and probably as much as an iBook with a HD. The HD would be limited by the fact it'd have to be an IBM MicroDrive. I'd also need to such a computer run an OS that ran the apps I do- I've not been able to find any indication that a mature version of Linux or any other non-EPOC OS runs on it. Cool, but not mature enough, I suppose.

  • >Back in my day, the SID chip on a C-64 was only for snobs and rich sissy boys who needed fancy stuff like color and sound on a PC. We didn't need it then and we dont need it now and we LIKE it that way!.

    have you seen the SIDstation [sidstation.com] (www.sidstation for the goatse.cx weary)? the SID chip is still fot rich people ($580 US for a 15+ year old chip), but the sounds on this synth are pretty sweet......

  • It's not like Dells started blazing in people's laps, the batteries, which come from ANOTHER company, caught fire, as I recall, once or twice, total. Not Dell's fault.


  • More to the point, why would anyone want to use Linux over Mac OS X on Apple hardware?
  • >Yeah, except you can ONLY burn audio tracks - and ONLY from iTunes.
    > What if that's not the only thing I want to burn? What then?

    You reboot into the (included) Mac OS 9.1, and use the (included) Disc Burner software that is integrated with the Mac OS 9 Finder. Burning a CD is as easy as copying files to a floppy disk. This feature is supposed to show up soon in Mac OS X, probably in 10.1, sometime this summer.

I judge a religion as being good or bad based on whether its adherents become better people as a result of practicing it. - Joe Mullally, computer salesman