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IBM

IBM opens PowerPC design to LinuxPPC 233

David Snow writes "IBM is opening the door for Linux distributors to use computers with the PowerPC chip. This means Linux-branded G3 and G4 boxes. " Another in a long series of pretty good Linux related moves on Big Blues part.
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IBM opens PowerPC design to LinuxPPC

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Basically, IBM is acting like SGI, and no one was shocked by that, so why should they be shocked by this?

    IBM has a wider range of products (storage devices, servers, workstations, PC's, etc). If they were able to offer the same OS on all of them, wouldn't it make things better for thier customers, and easier for IBM?

    IBM get's CPU's from Motorola, Intel, they use to use a Cyrix 6x86 variant, Linux runs on all of them, and on thier hardware back to thier early 386's (even back to the 8086 if you count ELKS as Linux). By doing this, IBM stands to be "Master of Scaliablity." If, sometime in the near future they funnel some money into porting Linux up to their bigger systems that run AIX now, they would REALLY "have it all." Of course, that would require IBM to put some development resources into Linux, because they would need to bring Linux up to speed on systems with >4 CPU's and gobs of RAM and storage. But, IBM's JFS is better than SGI's XFS, so, they could help out there...

    Heck, if SGI and IBM both open up thier file systems, we could eventually merge JFS and XFS to replace EXT2. Add to that the great graphics abilities that SGI is giving Linux, and Linux is the big winner. SGI and IBM are HELPING Linux, not exploiting it. Just because they stand to make a lot of money doesn't mean Linux is going to be damamged.

    So, what's the problem here? Of course they have motivation to do this, a new Linux box sold by IBM would be another product in thier bin, and gain them soom good PR with the GNU community.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    CHRP just won't die will it? I wonder what happened to those rumoured warehouses of big blue PowerPC boxes that were all ready to run NT 4.0 when it came out? They sure didn't land on any desks i've ever seen.

    Of course, last time IBM released specs on a motherboard... Everyone sitting at a machine with an ISA slot in it please raise your hand.

    PowerPC's are nice chips compared to intel's stuff. Of course the PowerPC architechture doesn't have quite as much legacy baggage :)

    I have to agree with Linus though... I like the alpha.

    Apple is unaffected; they never claimed the MacOs would run on CHRP boxes did they?
  • Also, I recently bought Civ:CTP, and there's a patch on Loki's web site that includes a PPC binary.

    --
    Interested in XFMail? New XFMail home page [slappy.org]
  • Linux on any platform is chock-full of memory leaks. You tend not to get that on OSes and software developed by professional programmers

    Like Netscape? (possibly the biggest memory-sieve I've ever experienced)

    Get lost, troll.

    --
    Interested in XFMail? New XFMail home page [slappy.org]

  • IBM: We took the intel out of Wintel
    Linux: We took the Win out of Wintel
    IMB Lawyers: Hang on -- who owns the in in Wintel??


    John
  • If you dont't like the stories posted here, you can either:

    A. Take your toys and go home crying because we won't play the way you like.

    B. Submit an article or two about a news story on _your_ favorite operating operating system. This _is_ primarily a user-driven site, you know.
  • It seems to me that it was about three years ago that IBM first announced this, though there was no linux angle at the time.

    Assuming that these are the same boards, or descendants of them, there is a *very* simple explanation as to why IBM is doing this. It's *not* the system's division that produced and demonstrated the original boards, but the CPU folks. It was nothing more (or less) than a way to sell CPU's. Fortuneately, I didn't hold out for one, as I needed the new machine for my (now complete) dissertation . . .
  • Yes, Apple is much better about this than they once were. However, the "Who cares?" attitude is perhaps the reason *why* more OSes don't run on it. And last I checked, there are other operating systems that run on Macs. OpenBSD? NetBSD? BeOS? Ever heard of them? If Apple hadn't been as open as they've been lately, you wouldn't see any of them, including Linux, running on the Mac.

    Actually, they have been less than forthcoming to Be with the information necessary to port BeOS to their latest machines. Which is why it doesn't run on the Blue and Whites or the Imac; not to mention, it has never run on the powerbooks.

    They practice benign neglect towards Linux because they don't feel threatened by it. I think in the future they're going to find out this is a mistake :-)


    Phil Fraering "Humans. Go Fig." - Rita
  • The problem is that Linux desktop is much more sluggish then the Mac one ( assuming the same hardware ) It might look cooler but is simply slower.

    I have a 233 Mhz mac clone that runs netscape (in MacOS) a lot slower than my linux machine does. Granted, the modem's slower, but it still persists if I switch modems. Part of the reason is that netscape *freezes* for long periods of time. Subjectively, Linux is faster, on a much slower piece of hardware.
    Phil Fraering "Humans. Go Fig." - Rita

  • To the poster asking about the "more expensive" PPC chips, I think they're pretty much in the same range, or cheaper, than X86 chips. The CPU probably costs a small fraction of the cost of the computer, especially on the Apple high-end Blue-and-whites. The Apple Tax is probably larger.
    Phil Fraering "Humans. Go Fig." - Rita
  • He also mentioned that there were licensing issues with Apple over the G4 so there were focusing on the G3.

    IBM has just as much rights to Altivec as Motorola does, and AFAIK doesn't have to ask permission from anyone to use it...



    Phil Fraering "Humans. Go Fig." - Rita
  • Probably not terribly relevant, but MythII was already available on Macs, which may have sped the porting process (couldn't hurt, anyway).

    Actually, I think it would be a lot easier to port something from Linux x86 to Linux PPC than it would be to port from MacOS PPC to Linux PPC. The former would be a recompile, while the latter would require a rewrite. These guys do have the source code to work with!



    Phil Fraering "Humans. Go Fig." - Rita
  • If Apple goes down, we'll be forever doomed to beige boxes and the current UI's we see on all platforms.

    Umm... that does not follow. What is stopping people from designing new UIs or case designs for non-apple platforms? There's more out there besides Apple and Wintel, you know.

    Apple doesn't abide by standards? They're incorporating more and more standard hardware into their models with each release. And since the only OS you can run on a Mac is the MacOS (and Linux) who cares?

    Yes, Apple is much better about this than they once were. However, the "Who cares?" attitude is perhaps the reason *why* more OSes don't run on it. And last I checked, there are other operating systems that run on Macs. OpenBSD? NetBSD? BeOS? Ever heard of them? If Apple hadn't been as open as they've been lately, you wouldn't see any of them, including Linux, running on the Mac.

    AGP? AGP's useless on PeeCee's ... all it did was take the graphics off the main PCI bus...

    Useless? I think not. Yes, it took the graphics off the PCI bus. That in itself is useful, as it frees up bandwidth for other cards. It also provides a significantly faster bus than PCI, which is important when you're trying to feed lots and lots of triangles to your video card so you can play the latest excessively detailed FPS.

  • Aside from X, which I'm really fond of for it's ability to display across a network, the only real GUI innovation that the world has seen since the Mac popularized the concept of it has been the, ahem, integration of IE in Windows...

    But it is entirely possible to innovate. The mere fact that it hasn't been done all that much lately doesn't mean that, should Apple die, it would never happen again, as the original poster implied.

    And who but Apple had the guts to color their boxes? No one.

    Ever seen an SGI? Or are purple, green, and brown not colors? :-) Besides, the appearance of a case is hardly significant compared to the contents. It's a nice touch, but little more than that.

    Next: Why in the world should apple care if another OS runs on their hardware. People who buy Mac's get Mac's. If you don't want a mac, don't buy one.

    Because they might sell more hardware to people with no interest in MacOS, but a good bit of interest in the fact that, as of late, the hardware on some of the Macs has been pretty nice. I would never buy a Mac if I could only run MacOS. OTOH, I might consider one if Linux also runs (and I had extra cash burning a hole in my pocket).

    I've heard that shortly you'll be able to buy a brand new Alpha System for less than $2000... that's money much better spent!

    That's been true for quite a while now... I bought a 164SX mobo+533 MHz 21164PC for $250 on eBay a few months ago. But while the hardware might not be used, you're not going to be able to get a top-of-the-line machine for $2000... on *any* architecture still in production. Besides, why not an alpha *and* a PPC? Diversity is good! :-) Besides, I can't yet run Civ:CTP on my alpha. I could on a PPC. I wish i could find a motherboard with 7 PCI slots, 2 CPU slots, keyboard and mouse controller, and no other integrated peripherals

    I'd rather switch two of those PCI slots to ISA (old, cheap ethernet and sound), and I'd gladly take onboard SCSI, floppy controller, serial ports, etc. No need to waste PCI slots for those functions. (Besides, does a PCI floppy controller or serial port (excluding relatively expensive multiport boards) even exist?)

  • Does this mean that the PPC specs are also going to be open to Be Inc.? Does this mean that Be can stop whining about Apple not giving them the specs? Or does it simply expose Be as just another Intel suck-up?

    This could be the smartest business decision ever made in the history of IBM.

    "The number of suckers born each minute doubles every 18 months."
    -jafac's law
  • I don't understand: some of the comparably equipped Power Computing clones were more than a few tens of dollars cheaper than the equivalent Apple counterparts (in some cases, hundreds of dollars cheaper). I don't understand why they couldn't have just bought a shrinkwrapped MacOS and tossed it in the box - unless there were some ROM licensing issues that went along with it.

    "The number of suckers born each minute doubles every 18 months."
    -jafac's law
  • Oh yeah?
    And what's the fastest Pentium III laptop you can buy right now?

    Powerbooks kick ass on any x86 portable.

    "The number of suckers born each minute doubles every 18 months."
    -jafac's law
  • This is what I've always said about AGP, a worthless useless waste of time.

    Now that Win98 FINALLY caught up with the Mac world, and offers dual monitor support, now the new boxes coming out are blocking this, because now you have an AGP slot, instead of all PCI slots, and being able to install two PCI video cards.
    Face it, AGP was just another attempt by Intel to try to corner a market (just like Slot1 - now they're back to sockets again: socket370). It did nothing to advance the state of technology or to make computers more affordable.

    "The number of suckers born each minute doubles every 18 months."
    -jafac's law
  • Does this almost make up for IBM not finishing OS/2 for PPC?

    (Dual PPC? www.daystar.com - also look for upcoming G4 machines, with dual core CPUs)

    "The number of suckers born each minute doubles every 18 months."
    -jafac's law
  • this was FUD.
    Intel paid them.

    "The number of suckers born each minute doubles every 18 months."
    -jafac's law
  • um - vapor NetWare PPC was NOT vapor. I was onsite at Novell (um, what was that, 1996?) and NetWare PPC was demonstrated to me, running on a Power Mac. Of course, at the time, they told me that the project was officially dead, but a couple of people were still "messing around" with it.

    However, I don't refute your statement about "demand". Microsoft had a great role in this, by semi-supporting NT PPC, then cutting it off. Mega FUD builder. SOMEONE owes Bill Gates a favor for that one. (and no, it wasn't Motorola's fault, Microsoft dicated the terms of that contract, and simply elevated their development fee to a level they knew would be unacceptable).

    On the other hand, Motorola does need a severe kick in the butt (for lack of enthusiasm for their own damn product), and IBM is just the cowboy to do it.

    "The number of suckers born each minute doubles every 18 months."
    -jafac's law
  • WOuldn't a Motorola PPC work on it?

    I wonder if AltiVec could be shoehorned in. . .


    "The number of suckers born each minute doubles every 18 months."
    -jafac's law
  • Unfortunately, even though SGI is ditching NT, they're still going to be an Intel suck-up. PPC-based Linux-running SGI boxen WOULD be kinda cool.

    "The number of suckers born each minute doubles every 18 months."
    -jafac's law
  • Intel is already attempting to play catch-up. What do you think Merced is?
    (a day late and a dollar short)

    "The number of suckers born each minute doubles every 18 months."
    -jafac's law
  • Judging by the prices the cloners were charging, I would say that Apple has a HUGE markup - and also, based on some of the early literature I read about PPC back in 93-94-ish, PPC was supposed to be half the production cost of x86 chips - because of the smaller die size, and less need to keep MHz parity. (which was really a false assumption - if you wanted to gain marketshare, MHz is all most people understand, and if you wanted to win over the techies, BYTEMark was not the way to do it. Spec should have been used instead).

    As it stands now, the only REAL advantage PPC has (after the bastardized job they did on the G3, by basing it on the FP-weak 603), is in it's power consumption and heat dissipation: it way, way, way outshines x86 in this area - portables.

    "The number of suckers born each minute doubles every 18 months."
    -jafac's law
  • Didn't Intel also send a chunk of investment cash Be's way?

    "The number of suckers born each minute doubles every 18 months."
    -jafac's law
  • by jafac ( 1449 )
    "Yes, perhaps even a re-vitalized NT port?"

    No, Motorola's head is way too far up it's ass for that.

    "The number of suckers born each minute doubles every 18 months."
    -jafac's law
  • PReP and CHRP are different names for the same thing.
  • It was my impression that a G3 at the same clock speed beat a Pentium III, so that could be the point to have a PPC. Plus Linux commercial games are also ported to PPC (for Loki titles).
  • Porting games to Linux by commercial companies is focused on x86 systems. They would not be open source, and the binaries wouldn't run on a G3.

    It might be easy for the company to recompile on diffrent hardware after they already ported to Linux, but just because it's Linux doesn't mean it's compatiable.

  • Back the truck up a second.... Are you saying that x86-Linux-binaries will run on a Linux-PPC system? Or are you saying that some of the gameing companies have ported thier game to Linux-PPC native? BIG differance.

    I can believe that some companies have ported to Linux-PPC... But, AFA x86 binary compatability, you comment is somewhat misleading... (or is there something about PPC-Linux that I wasn't aware of).

  • We took the Wintel out of Wintel!

    I love the PowerPC chips. (probably because the use so little, power.) Now all I need is a dual PPC and I'm set!
  • Not that you'd want it, it sucked so bad that IBM went out of its way to bury it. AFAIK from my stint at IBM, if a customer wanted OS/2 for PPC, they had to order it specially, it was not a regular GA'd product.
  • I wonder if there will ever be the option for the average person to go out and build their own custom PowerPC box. I've never used a power mac, but I'm intrigued by the hardware and would like to test debian ppc out, but I prefer to build my own systems.

    Mike
  • IBM had a CHRP reference design since a long time, which was supposed to be manufactured and marketed by UMAX and Tatung. But thanks to Apple killing the MacOS clones, UMAX and Tatung cancelled the project: they just couldn't believe CHRP boxes with Linux could be sold. Remember, it was 1997, and Linux was not that well-known in Taiwan then. Of course Linux already ran on the board (link [kuleuven.ac.be]).

    Now things are different, and it looks like IBM has updated the design.

    FYI, the original LongTrail specs are at IBM's FTP site [ibm.com]. I paid 800 USD for my board (incl. 200 MHz 604e) in May 1997. Although this was an (expensive) prototype board, it was much cheaper than a comparable Pentium II board. Production boards including a 225 MHz 604e would have costed only _450_ USD in quantities of 1000, in September 1997.

  • they wont.
    If they *really* wanted they could have supported the newer macs (this is not new to all those of you who have followed be's history ..)
    Only thing now is they won't be able to say " we don't have the specs"
    they'll have to clearly say : We are not interested in the PPC Anymore .
    But none off these boards are out yet.
  • It just refers to "Apple competitors" and to the "Linux OS". I guess LinuxPPC is implied, tho.

    J.
  • If I recall, Be left the PowerPC platform citing problems getting access to specs for the G3 processor itself. Apple wasn't being friendly with them, it seems. This information that IBM is releasing is a motherboard design. It shows how to physically and electrically make a board for the PowerPC. Being a software company, Be certainly doesn't care about this. They just want to know how to program for the proc and chipset.

    However, most people I have spoken with who follow Be have told me that this was just an excuse. Infact, Be wanted to switch to x86 anyway, and they just sort of smeared Apple on their way out. Be could have gotten the info they needed, from someone else if not from Apple. If nothing else, they could have approached the LinuxPPC people, who have done just fine working with the G3.

    In summary: this doesn't help Be, but I don't think that Be really wanted to be helped. If anyone out there follows this stuff more closely, please add to/correct my statement.

    --Lenny, who dreams of an inexpensive PPC clone.
  • Actually, the specs for the G3 processor are not the problem. BeOS will run on Macintoshes with G3s in them--the compatibility problems lie in the surrounding hardware.

    To make an operating system run on Mac hardware, you need specific design documents from Apple. (There is a name for them, but I don't remember it right now.) These documents are not publicly available, and concern the deisgn of the logic board, custom logic chips, address spaces, and so on.

    In the pre-Jobs days of clones, these reference documents were available to a lot of Apple partners. After Jobs' return, it was decided these documents should only be made available to MacOS licensees, so that they can build MacOS-compatible hardware. This cut Be off from the information (and, indeed, there are no more MacOS licensees anyway).

    Be has requested this information repeatedly, going up through various levels up until Gassee emailed Jobs personally and got no answer. This was around the middle of 1998, as I recall, and they haven't made any effort since then.

    So does Be really want to be helped in this? I don't know. There's no love lost between Gassee and Jobs. Be has stated publicly that they could make BeOS work on Apple's G3 hardware without these documents--but they're not going to, unless Apple is willing to support them directly.

  • $500? The regular OS retails for about $100. Consumer OS X will pretty certainly be the same. The cloners were licensing the OS for less than $100/copy. If it had gone too high, they could have switched to buying it retail and reselling it, but their margins were too tight to make it effective for them.

    More likely you'll see clones with just LinuxPPC but that may (a PPC mb != Mac mb) also support various MacOSes.
  • At that time, yes there were ROM issues. The current ROM is mostly implimented in software now. There's a small ROM left, and I'm pretty sure that it is mostly just open firmware.

    However, the OS is pretty closely tied to the hardware in a lot of other respects, so I still would like to see a legal, working clone (with MacOS on it - any modern version) before I buy it. A PPC running Linux is not special though; there are PPCs running AIX, BeOS and some even had NT and OS/2.
  • Makes you wonder what a G4 vs Athlon would result in. ;`)
  • This might happensooner than you think.

    "However, Terra Soft's core focus continues to be the G3, Staats said, and its primary goal is working with Apple. Mac users will be able to buy the company's Yellow Dog Linux package pre-installed on G3 hardware from Apple-authorized VARs by early October, Staats said."

    Quote from an article on MacWEEK.

    http://macweek.zdnet.com/1999/08/08/linuxsw.html
  • Simple--they'll sell more PPC chips.
  • I noticed a quite a few people just fired off closedminded anti-Apple comments and don't quite understand the significance of this. Yes, I'm an "Apple guy" but I'm also a "Linux guy"; please bear with me through a few points:

    1) There is competition on the x86 architecture (with AMD recently beating the PANTS off Intel :), but that doesn't mean the platform is open. AMD and Cyrix probably spends as great a percentage of their income reverse-engineering Intel, and defending themselves from lawsuits, as Intel spends on actual R&D. I'm guessing numbers here - who cares - but my point is *AMD wastes money playing catch up games with Intel* and trying to innovate while not diverging of the ancient x86 architecture. I'm glad AMD pulled ahead... hopefully they won't stay chained to Intel's designs forever, unless they want to spend a fourtune reverse-engineering Merced.

    2) Costs - largely a factor of manufacturing scale, aside, the PowerPC is an AWESOME chip family that is in every other respect superior to x86. Don't believe me - lookup Spec scores, MMX vs. Altivec (what do you mean Intel can't multitask MMX and floating point data at the same time?? :), scalability (Intel has the higher MHz for now... but word is on Tom's Intel's new CPU's were released early and may suffer from heat failure), optimization advantages and so on. Oh, did I mention new G3's ship with only a small heat sink and NO CPU FAN? Since Linux is capable of running just as well on PPC -- or better, if you believe the above -- wouldn't you want to run Linux on one? (I run Linux on my G3 now... ).

    3) Good, honest competition between different architectures means great things for all of us. I always wished Apple would open up and distrubute $700 computers with Linux, but their business model doesn't support it right now. Lighten up and accept it. PowerPC is not Apple. Think PPC is only good for embedded applications? Think "MP3 Linux Player" for your home stereo -- *without* noisy fans and overheat issues.


    4) What's with the fudders here saying there'll never be games for Linux PowerPC?? LOKISOFT? "Hello..??" Didn't people say the same about Linux? That arguement is as dumb as the one where people said 'iMac will fail without a floppy drive'. If the libraries are there, it's trivial to port from one Linux to another. Even if a PowerPC isn't in your plans for your next system, you'll still benefit from it competing with Merced.

    5) The fact that Linux IS truly portable to competing CPU's is exactly why I distrust Intel's "Linux initiatives"... why would Intel push an OS that is portable over an OS that is TIED to Intel? My answer is they don't know what to do for now so they're just playing along.

    6) BeOS =does= run on PowerPC G3's. It just doesn't run on Apple motherboards. There's he-said/she-said between Be and Apple, and I don't entirely blame Apple. Want to see if Be's decision to ditch PowerPC support was because of Apple or because of Intel's investment? Ask them to announce support for this design when it becomes available. Surely Intel would not mind seeing their children play with PowerPC's... >:-D

  • >If I recall, Be left the PowerPC platform citing problems getting access to specs for the G3 processor itself.

    That's incorrect - BeOS ability to run is tied to the chipset - not the CPU. A Mac 9600 upgraded with a G3 processor will continue to run BeOS - although Be will not provide support for systems upgraded in this manner (strange, they support Intel systems upgraded this way... ;)
  • It's a challenge to intel.

    It's only a challenge to Apple indirectly in that they're taking a market Apple *could* take if they'd produce cheap enough boxes.

    Cheap, volume produced PPC boxes, using off the shelf parts... and people see that as challenging *Apple*?! Am I watching the same market as everyone else, or have I accidentally slipped into a world where Mac users actually consider using something other then MacOS?
  • Apple has always maintained its usability edge by controlling both the OS and the hardware. This is what helped them keep their superior user experience back when PC cloners were still tearing their hair out with jumper switches and IRQs.

    Apple probably isn't concerned about this move opening the door to clones: their custom ASICs and of course the ROM chips are still firmly under their copyright. Cobbling [ardi.com] up something to run the MacOS without those chips will always be flaky at best.

    But Apple has invested a great deal of money and image in promoting "their CPU" as superior to Intel. When a salesdroid shows PowerPCs side-by-side, one running MacOS and one Linux (especially with a cool Enlightenment theme), and says "these run the same CPU but the one on the right costs $x less," that's got to make Apple's marketing department groan.

    Jamie McCarthy

  • In theory, the 450Mhz MoBo/cpu combo will run about the price of a PII-500 cpu/Mobo combo. PPCs cost about the same as high end PII's at retail.

    My story on this, with comment from Jason Haas (I learned about this during MacWorld Expo but was sworn to secrecy) should be running sometime today, but this thing has been in the works for quite awhile.

    The funny thing is, anyone could have really done this because the specs have been sitting on IBM's public ftp site for years. After Apple killed clone licensing, nobody saw any reason to make the things.

    Thank God for Linux.

  • Apple would not license MacOS to them.
  • If nothing else, they could have approached the LinuxPPC people, who have done just fine working with the G3.

    Except for that the Linux fanatics would probably scream and moan about the work not being GPLed.

  • From AMD's website

    Athlon/
    K7 -- SPECfp95 - SPECint95
    650 - 22.4 -------- 29.4
    600 - 21.6 -------- 27.2
    550 - 20.6 -------- 25.1

    Very nice numbers. Sorry for the formatting, no tables.
  • Yep, they do both stand for the same thing -- an totally open PowerPC platform, that is flexable enought to run a verity of OS's including:

    - Mac OS 8.0/8.1 with an enabler on early CHRP/PreP. Mac OS 8.5 doesn't work or has several issues depending on your motherboard.
    - Windows NT 4.0 or was it 3.5.1?/PowerPC, also on the orginal PreP/CHRP boxes.
    - Workstation OS/PowerPC aka PowerPC OS/2, ran on the orginal PreP/CHRP.

    Most of those OS's won't or will have issues with these more modern PreP/CHRP boxes, since things have changed a bit.

    Apple pretty much dumped CHRP/PreP with dumping cloning, although you can tell that the iBook, Blue G3 and the iMac are distant CHRP/PreP relatives. As are several of IBM/Motorla's workstations like the newish PowerPC RS/6000.

    CHRP - Common Hardware Reference Platform
    PreP - PowerPC Reference Platform

    They are basically the same thing, the name CHRP was introduced after the PreP, since CHRP was believed to be the most advanced hardware platform out there -- and it was flexable as heck, it ran NT, OS/2, AIX and MacOS -- not bad at all -- except for the fact you can buy a CHRP machine currently for slightly more then a real nice used car. (I'm talking $6000+).

    The hope is that these CHRP/PreP based machines, finally allow for cheap PowerPC machines -- Apple's machines are way to expensive and limited -- and if you don't have the budget the size of a rich CEO, you can forget buying another CHRP/PReP machine.
  • Yes, with the help of some of the Linux/PPC (eg; Terrasoft and LinuxPPC, Inc.) companies, we have been able to get some decent software ported to the PowerPC, including several games.

    It's not that hard for companies to port to the PowerPC, especially if the PowerPC Linux companies help supply them with PowerPC boxes.

    That's how we have CTP: Civilization, Myst2 and AppplixWare, Netscape Communicator, and soon (hopefully) Acrobat Reader on the PowerPC.
  • Yes, that would be a great thing... Hopefully this deal with lead to nice cheap Powerful PowerPC boxes, for running LinuxPPC or Yellow Dog Linx on, for example.

    I would really love to have a 6-slot PCI, G3 machine built on CHRP/PreP design, that I can actually afford in my life time.

    The PowerPC is a well designed general processor--it's not the best at all areas, but in general it scores pretty good compared to Alphas or PIII or K7, and runs a hell of alot cooler.
  • Back to that good old argument that X is dog slow..

    And that typical response, X's speed depends on the Speed of the graphic drivers for your patriculuar machine -- right now ATI Mach 64 card and the IIS Twin Turbo are the best supported in PowerPC -- meaning if you run them with No Video Driver UNchecked, and with a relatively decent X Server, you get preformance similar or better to what you get in the Mac OS (on my machine MesaGL displays 3D much faster on my X Server then in OpenGL in the Mac OS).

    Depending on your video ram configuration, video card, the amount of ram you have, will depend on the speed you get with Linux/PPC.
  • Well... Apple did some werid stuff with the first generation G3's, we will never no if they were just really buggy, or Apple was trying to savatage anything not Apple or Apple just rushed the product out the door / was smoking something illegal.

    Well, here is a few things they broke in the first generation G3's (it was fixed in the Colorful Genration II G3's), broken OF, broken OF IDE support, beside half a dozen of other things that were messed up. Forently, Apple manged to patch the major issues with those machines (like the Open Firmware patches), although they never fixed the problems with booting kernels off the hard drive or the other issues.

    Forently Apple has gone pretty standard with the second generation machines -- and the irony of it all is the PowerPC Linux developers haven't kept up with the 'fixed' Apple OpenFirmware, which is more standard based -- the Linux/PPC kernel ix broken so it won't boot on iMacs or Blue G3's normally (obviously excluding cheesy Mac OS booters like BootX) -- and they don't seem to be to excited to fix this right away.

    And yes, NetBSD boots on these machines without a problem -- NetBSD doesn't have the broken OF header's problem.
  • If you have the cash, IBM or Motorla (and some of the RS/6000 clone companies), will be happy to sell you a PowerPC based computer -- such as a screamer 604e running at 350 mhz (which in some benchmarks literally makes Apple's 450mhz G3 machines look like toys).

    You got the bucks, you can certainly get a PowerPC computer not from Apple -- but you will pay for it, more then $2000 bucks more then an Apple Machine in many cases.

    But these machines, are much faster then Apple's machines, and can run either AIX or NT or Linux. Nice machines, I must say.
  • I guess you guys have never used Internet Exploiter for Macintosh -- leave that baby open for a couple of hours and view half a dozen complex web sites, and look, it uses much more memory (like 70 megs of RAM when it's set to only 7 meg max) then it was suppost to have in the Finder setting, and it doesn't give the memory back to the Mac OS when it's needed.

    That's a bad memory leak. Netscape in my experience also leaks memory, but it seems to at least give it back to the system on the Mac OS when really needed badily. The Linux/PPC version of Netscape works without many problems with me -- it uses more memory when you load a complex site, and gives back the memory when it's done with it.
  • And, lets not forget the bussiness minded and semi-commerical Yellow Dog Linux distro. It's a pretty robust, RedHat-based distro, and it seems to work better then the real RedHat x86 thing in some cases.
  • Apple has never made a direct profit on the Mac OS, but then again Microsoft has never made a direct profit on Windows. Development costs for OS's are humogous -- they are large masses of code, and people expect so much out of them.

    So how do they make there money?

    - Microsoft relies on it's properity Windows add-ons like NT Server, Microsoft Office (aka Cash Cow), and other things.

    - Apple has always been a hardware company and that's not changing. Until recently 1% of Apple's profits were made by selling the Mac OS, now it's like 4.5% of there profits, but still that's not enough to support OS development. The idea, is that the money you spend on the hardware will justify the expense of developing the Mac OS and related projects. Until, 1995, Apple gave the Mac OS away for free -- as long as you used Apple hardware -- or for like $30 bucks for the disk -- and you were free to copy it from Mac to Mac (this excludes 7.1 Pro -- that was something different).

    Apple would have to pull a 'sgi' to make it as a software company -- and if they did that, it would be by the skin of their teath. Not something that keeps those ever so important investors happy. They might be able to pull it off (just like SGI might become a ever so sucessful Linux company), it's just too much of a risk.

    What happens if Mac OS X Server is a flop? Then they are left with nothing at all. If it flops, and they continue to be a dominent hardware company -- they have alot to fall back on to -- like Linux or Mac OS Classic (which is really not that bad, unlike what people call it lately).

    It's too bad most people associate Mac OS Classic with accient crap code, it's certianly more then that. Major parts have been re-written, it has little m68k assembly left in it, and has many populuar programs ported to it. Apple could continue improving Mac OS Classic, without a problem, as does Microsoft Improves Windows 3.1 .... err 9x, with every release of the 9x series.

    This is the main reason why Mac OS cloning would not work decently -- unless clone companies payed Apple big bucks for essentaily life time ROM and system software licenses.

    Hardware is a proven hit for Apple--software is just an incentive to buy Apple hardware and not some other platform.
  • Yes, when Mac-On-Linux or SheepShaver gets ported to these new CHRP boxes, you could run the Mac OS on top of Linux without problems -- just use a ROM image from a reguluar Mac.

    Of course, this isn't a perfect solution -- there will be a need for new drivers, and not everything will not perectly work, but it should be do-able.
  • PowerPC processors (well at least the 604ev vs. the PII) are cheaper megahertz to megahertz.

    Unforently, when you try to build a PowerPC box, it's the add on's that drive the price up -- things like fast SCSI and RAM and other things aren't cheap.

    In lots of 1000, the PowerPC 604e/225 in 1997 costed like 225 bucks, while the 233 PII cost like 600 dollars (well at that time).

    PC hardware, is more populuar and is cheaper then PowerPC hardware, that's were the price difference comes in mainly -- the PowerPC chip in general is pretty cheap compared to the Pentium III / K6 or K7. The celrons are cheaper in some cases, but there preformance is slower then the PowerPC in most cases.

    Unforently, most of the CHRP/PreP boxes in the past have been very expensive (think like $6000), but if a cheap no name company becomes involed (and they choose standard like cheap ATAPI drives, etc), this will change greatly.

    And lets not forget, sound hooked directly to the processor is a feature that isn't found on any x86 box, yet it is found on most PowerPCs (saving the PCI bus from wasting bandwith on sound data [producing smoother better sounding sound]--although it currently still wastes it on video data).
  • That's the main reason why all of IBM's low end RS/6000's ship with 604ev's and not G3 processors.
  • Right now there are 3 companies (at least) producing PowerPC motherboards for all kinds of different uses -- consumer, embeded and server.

    For Example:

    IBM and Motorala - Low End RS/6000 Servers/Workstations Motherboards
    IBM and Motorala - Lots of werid Motherboards for embeded systems.
    Apple - Consumer level systems.

    So there is a least 3 companies producing motherboards -- a while back there was a third that made RS/6000 clones (MicroVax or something?), but I don't know what happend to the company.
  • The G3 processor is pretty well documented -- Motorala wrote several books on it -- which you can buy for like $100 or download for free from www.mot.com.

    Plus, there is copious PowerPC documentation avalible for free on the 'net.

    It's more of a Apple motherboard / really sucky Apple open firmware problem then anything.
  • Yes, that always explains Be's desire to go x86 -- Intel is read to invest in alternative x86 OS's.
  • Does this spec include portables? The lower power requirements of the PPC make this chip the best choice for these machines. I would love to have a portable running linux on a 466 G3.

    Also what about Altivec, it would be nice to take advantage of this in Linux. Ohh the possibilities!

    -B
  • Or Debian, BeOS, and OpenBSD. Even (god forbid) MkLinux...which begs the question - can MkLinux be considered competition to Apple?

    hmmmm.....

    Anyways, the PPC is a great platform (even considering its flaws) for a lot of OSs other than the MacOS.

    And LinuxPPC rocks (heck, it's Linux, and that' enough)

  • I remember hearing something like that, too. Buy cheaper to manufacture and cheaper to buy are two different things.
  • So why, exactly, have you read this far down into the thread?

    Go away, troll.
    Ethan
  • wrong!

    450 mHz... 500 within a month or so...

    yeah, it's good to know what you're talking about...

  • Right now, x86 is the cheap platform. Hell, that's what I bought myself, even though I've used Macs since 1985. But lowering the price of PPC boxes will -- I hope -- become the whole point of this exercise.

    I've made a few calls to price this all out. If it looks possible, you'll be hearing from me. :) But to tell the truth, I'm not too optimistic about being able to match x86's price/performance ratio. (I'm especially interested in entry-level boxen.) And if you can't do that, why bother?

    If any businesspeople are interested in helping out with getting cheap PPC boxen together, send me a note. The e-mail address is on my site [tgeller.com].

    --Tom

  • Interestingly enough, MacOS X might run on these machines, depending on how far off the hardware is... OS X DOES NOT require a boot ROM from Apple (uses a totally different design). While MacOS 9 doesn't require a boot ROM either, it's got specific system enablers for certain motherboards...
  • Also, does anyone have any info on actually processor performance comparisons between a PPC and a Pentium/K7^H^HAthlon? I know there won't be Athlon data yet, but I figure the more exposure they get the better.


    Check www.spec.org [spec.org]. It provides standard benchmarking code, and collects benchmarks for everything from PCs up to Big Iron. It will certainly have comparisons between PIIIs and the PPC-750, and should have Athlon data as soon as AMD gets around to compiling the benchmark software.

  • I wonder... there was a version of OS/2 Warp for the Power PC that barely came out (it shipped after IBM had given up on desktop Powerstations); will that run on a machine with one of these boards?

  • My understanding is that newer MacOS versions don't need the Apple ROM to boot, so IBM PPC board + MacOS = Macintosh for less scratch.
    --

  • Well, I don't think that Linux is any competition to Apple's "Power User" market, simply because the Mac power applications aren't running on LInux.

    A white box PPC could really sell to the Mac Power User market. I know a few folks that would love a 6 slot G3 box with a fast integrated RAID system. Right now they have to piece together a 9600, an upgrade board, and a bunch of other parts.
    --

  • As someone else mentioned, an open PPC design is really nothing new - IBM's had one available for years. Think of this move as a little marketing to sell it to the Linux community.

    The original intention of CHRP was to provide a mass market computing platform to compete with Intel. IBM would have made their money off the PPC and the chipsets, not the board design. Unfortunately, there's been very little demand for NT, AIX, vapor OS/2, vapor Solaris, and vapor NetWare running on commodity PPC systems. The Linux 'hobbyist' market could revive this. (Anyone have an estimate on Linux on Alpha system sales?)

    --

  • I don't know about your setup, but NS 4.61/WinNT leaks memory like a sieve on my box.

    --

  • While I'm sure Apple policy and Jobs-Gasse personality issues have something to do with it, in this case it probably makes more sense to follow the money (flowing from Intel to Be).

    My suggestion for those who want to see BeOS/PPC live on is to call IBM and suggest that they make a nice fat investment in Be, Inc. They've got the money and it prevents a further weaking of the PowerPC platform.
    --
  • I've been looking for this "free motherboard design" and don't see any mention of it on ibm's website. Has anyone else had any luck finding it?

    Already sent a note to the author of the MacWeek article, so no need to mail bomb them. Can't seem to find an address for Steve Faure, and there's only a link to the story on linuxppc.com. I'll post more info if I hear anything back.

    As for one-offs, I think that's a great idea! I suspect you want to run at least a thousand, though--that way they'll only be fantastically expensive. /. brand motherboards, indeed!
  • >Besides piraters, Apple just won't give those OEMs a license to MacOS.

    All you have to do it buy a commercially wrapped version of Mac OS and bingo you have a license.

    The Mac ROMs are the difficult part to get. But if these boards are CHRP compliant, then there is a good chance that you can run Mac OS 8.0 on them.

    >You can't just go to CompUSA and buy MacOS and install it on your cool new PPC workstation.

    Incorrect, if the machine is CHRP based, then you can run 8.0 on it.

    LK
  • >It may be CHRP based but I highly doubt it will have an Apple ROM on board. No ROM, no Mac OS.

    I'm sorry, but you are incorrect. MacOS 8.0 has been loaded onto IBM PowerPC machines with no MacOS ROM. From what I understand it's a real bitch to tinker with the open firmware to make it work, but it IS possible.

    These may or may not be able to run it, but the MacOS ROM is not necessarily needed. After all the iMac and Blue & White G3 have a Mac OS ROM file on the Hard drive in addition to the physical chips.


    LK
  • You have a license for *one* machine... Just as you're not supposed to take one copy of MS office and install it across your organization. So the theory would be that you'd have to decomission the old mac, yet hold on to it as your "proof of purchase."... I some how doubt apple would mind if the only way you could legally run MacOS on 3rd party PPC hardware was to first purchase an iMac with which you could transfer the license from.
  • If Apple goes down, we'll be forever doomed to beige boxes and the current UI's we see on all platforms. Apple doesn't abide by standards? They're incorporating more and more standard hardware into their models with each release. And since the only OS you can run on a Mac is the MacOS (and Linux) who cares? Everything works (PCI, PnP, USB)...

    AGP? AGP's useless on PeeCee's ... all it did was take the graphics off the main PCI bus... Why isn't AGP using system memory, instead you now buy AGP boards with 32 Megs of RAM on them...

    Top Speed 333 MHz... don't bash ANYTHING unless you know enough about it that it's justified. For instance, Apple ships Mac's with 450 MHz processors on 100 MHz system busses... with 3 64-bit PCI slots, and 1 32-bit 66 MHz PCI slot.
  • Linux is in no way shape or form a source of competition for apple. Linux may run on Macs, but 99.9% of the people who buy Macs are not even remotely interested in Linux. Or maybe they are, til they see a command line, or a foreign GUI, and then they go, oh, that's what all the fuss is about, and switch back to MacOs and go about their way.

    When Linux starts displacing Win 9x on the desktop, that'll be time that Apple says to themselves, hmmm... should we start to worry now? Until then...
  • PowerPC's are much much cheaper than x86 chips... they're so much smaller that more fit on the wafer and therefore you get more chips per run...

    Apple pads their prices a bit, because if they only sold hardware at cost +15% that'd kill off all future development in terms of the OS or anything else... QuickTime, FireWire, etc etc etc...

    So, I'd expect that if volume gets pushed up, you'll eventually be able to find these boards, with CPU at equal or lower prices than the Intel equivilants... Or maybe that's just wishful thinking?
  • Linux really needs to sit still on a couple platforms, lest it become another Java: "Write once, debug everywhere"... Dare I say, maybe even pair down a little?

    If PPC can better the performance of Alpha (NOT likely), then it could take the place at the high end... but you need x86, because that's the cheap, commodity hardware, and that's also where most people start trying out Linux...
  • Aside from X, which I'm really fond of for it's ability to display across a network, the only real GUI innovation that the world has seen since the Mac popularized the concept of it has been the, ahem, integration of IE in Windows... Past that, everyone basically uses the "Folder" metaphor... Or, at least everyone with a somewhat mainstream UI... I haven't ever used Gnome, but KDE seems to be a much better implentation of what Microsoft was trying to do.

    And who but Apple had the guts to color their boxes? No one. Every trade magazine ragged on Apple to end when the iMac first appeared... now you have Future Power and eMachines knocking of the basic idea of the iMac saying it was an evolutionary step... too bad they can't even think of original colors!

    Next: Why in the world should apple care if another OS runs on their hardware. People who buy Mac's get Mac's. If you don't want a mac, don't buy one. Yes, other people have ported OS's to the Mac platform, but aside from Be, they've been second tier products. Show me an Oracle binary i can download that runs on LinuxPPC, and i'll change my tune... If you want to run a Unix (aside from Mac OS X), you really don't want to buy a Mac... I've heard that shortly you'll be able to buy a brand new Alpha System for less than $2000... that's money much better spent!

    And Lastly: AGP... With all it was hyped up to be, I'm quite disappointed to see AGP being used as a replacement PCI slot. Intel could have just pushed 64 bit PCI and then we'd all have interchangable slots... Now, you've got 5 PCI slots, if you're lucky, 2 ISA slots, plus an AGP...

    I wish i could find a motherboard with 7 PCI slots, 2 CPU slots, keyboard and mouse controller, and no other integrated peripherals
  • I'm too lazy to check, but i think i was the original poster of this thread...

    But it is entirely possible to innovate. The mere fact that it hasn't been done all that much lately doesn't mean that, should Apple die, it would never happen again, as the original poster implied.

    True, SGI has had colored boxes for quite some time... But i wouldn't necesarily call them "Mainstream"... Let's face it, aside from Apple, no ones really differentiated their machines with any success... They only differntiat based on price. And given the iMac's popularity, I'd have to say that apparently some people do care for how their computers look. If you just care about what's inside the box, an iMac is quite a rip-off... There's more to it though.

    And just because it's possible to innovate, I'd really like to see some real innovation prior to Apple going under (which I don't at all think will happen! but some people seem to instist that they will...)

    Because they might sell more hardware to people with no interest in MacOS, but a good bit of interest in the fact that, as of late, the hardware on some of the Macs has been pretty nice. I would never buy a Mac if I could only run MacOS. OTOH, I might consider one if Linux also runs (and I had extra cash burning a hole in my pocket).

    Apple isn't a hardware vendor. They're not saying here's the hardware, go do whatever you want with it. They're a systems vendor. Their systems are Mac OS systems. That's what they sell.

    I don't think that they would add barely any sales by opening their platforms for others to use because of peoples pre-concieved notion of Apple. Using the iMac as a base unit, and figuring that they make a 10% profit on each machine sold, that's about $120 dollars per machine. If people had the option of buying one without an OS, they'ed probably expect a discout. Figuring a $60 dollar discount, that's now $60 per machine that they're earning. If 10,000 Linux or Be people buy these machines, that's an extra $600,000 in sales. That's a drop in the bucket, for them, for anyone (besides me, of course! What could I do with $600,000, i wonder? :)

    You can still get much more of a machine buy buying Wintel. Or you can get a much more powerful machine by buying Alpha or Sparc. PowerPC doesn't fill in any real demand. Therefore, I don't really see what IBM hopes to accomplish by doing this. It is pretty nice of them, and all... But I can't see what the end result will be.
  • Yes, I have heard of them all. I was quite a fan of the BeOS, as a matter of fact. I do think that the wisest move they made was moving to Intel, even if their hand was forced. Since they sell an OS and not a system, Intel is the place for them, simply due to the economies of scale.

    FreeBSD, OpenBSD, and NetBSD (and anyother's i'm forgetting, BSD or otherwise) exist for the Mac, but that's not where they flourish (I know, Apple is using NetBSD as part of the basis of OS-X). They don't have the developer mindshare needed to support any other OS's.

    How would you react, if Apple said, we're completely opening the Mac platform? Cool right? How about all the times they've recanted their plans and promises? That doesn't inspire my confidence to develop on a platform which may be pulled out from under me, or simply abandoned on their part.

    As for Linux ever competing with the Mac? We're so far away from that happening. Linux is (in my eyes) geared for developers and variety of different servers. The extreme power user can switch to it right now as well, but the mainstream "windows" audience will be completely lost on it. Mac people don't care about the innards of their computer or the factors at play in how things operate. They simply want a machine to do what they want it to do. Linux is currently light years from this goal. Okay, not light years, but at LEAST 5 years, in my eyes. It's not even a Linux issue so much as a KDE, Gnome, or whatever other GUI becomes popular...
  • Sorry, no I haven't ever programmed for AGP. If it eases and speeds the programming, that's great!

    My comment was based on the idea that (I think I've heard a while back) that Intel was originally saying that AGP would become a sort of shared memory architecture (ala UMA) where there would be no need for memory on the video controller - the controller would just dip into system RAM when needed.
  • CHRP or no CHRP, these systems will still be as or more expensive than x86 systems. PPC is not pin or binary compatible with wintel. You can't plug a PPC 750 chip in a 440BX mother board (never mind the different pin configurations) and expect it to work. That'll require new parts, core logic chips, et al... Therefore, the economies of scale will lower the price of a PPC system if they catch on, but they won't catch up to the x86 crowd... 100 million units vs. 10 million units - it's jsut not happening!
  • I know that Be was forced to pretty much abandon the PowerPC platform as a result of Apple's pigheaded decision not to share the technical details of their G3 motherboards with Be. Hopefully this means Be can once again begin releasing PowerPC versions of their OS...
  • A G3 is faster in integer calculations than a PII running at comparable clock speeds. It is not faster in floating point when compared to the PII.
  • this is Slashdot, formerly "News for Nerds. Stuff that Matters" soon to be renamed "If its not Linux its CRAP!" A good source for BeOS related stuff is BeNews [benews.com]
    Im a big fan of BeOS, but /. is now mostly a circle-jerk site for Linux fans. I like linux too so thats why I read /. but its isn't really a general nerd-news site anymore.
  • IBM get's CPU's from Motorola, Intel, they use to use a Cyrix 6x86 variant, Linux runs on all of them, and on thier hardware back to thier early 386's

    IBM also co-designs and builds CPUs for a number of companies...some included above. The new copper technology for the PowerPC 4 is especially interesting. One day Intel will have to play catch-up.

  • Repeatedly, they have released new technologies (quicktime, qtvr, OpenDoc) only to see them fail because of lack of choice regarding hardware/platform and their marketing focus on their hardware.
    -------
    Just a sec, quicktime? FAIL? It's the most widespread video software around, when did it fail?

    Anothing thing to keep in mind is that the reason Mac OS works (for the most part) so painlessly is that Apple controls the hardware. They don't have to support the wide range of hardware that other OS do. I think it's great that IBM is releasing the specs for these mobos (I don't think they will be making any themselves.) They'll make some nice servers. I really doubt that even Mac OS X will run on them. Apple has pared their new motherboards down to a much simpler boot rom so I guess it would be physically possible but I really can't see them cutting their own throats by letting people get the Mac experience and not buy their hardware from Apple. Gee, we could sell a $90.00 OS CD-ROM or $1,500-$4,000 worth of hardware. And before everyone starts screaming about how proprietary Apple is let's just remember that if you don't want to run Mac OS, don't. Linux is just as good a desktop system, right?

    cheers,

    Matthew Reilly
  • Why do you care? I'm serious, not trying to flame here. Explain to me why you care that Apple is so "proprietary." Do you use their software or hardware? Or is it just a sense of moral outrage?

    I use their hardware and software on a daily basis, I'm a a graphic designer, and I have to say it does what it is supposed to do. I think the concept of open source software is great but I don't see any open source tools that I could do my job with so I use the proprietary ones. Apple has spent a great deal of money developing the tools I use, shouldn't they expect to get a return on them? They get their return selling their hardware for a premium. If this doesn't agree with you don't buy their stuff but you'll have a hard time doing print design without them. Now web design/production, that's another story.

    cheers,

    Matthew Reilly

Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd. - Voltaire

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