Monday, 9 January 2012

Lucid Lynx on an iBook G3

Way back in September '09 I blogged about my xubuntu 9.04 install (twice) and finally, in January 2012 I decided to upgrade to xubuntu.. a whole year later! As usual there were problems with the display, but now it's sorted I have an even better machine than before, so I thought I'd use it to write this blog.

Every new version of xubuntu seems to improve upon the old one, despite the sluggishness of new software the O/S seems somehow to keep up and delivers me a nicer experience as well as a few hurdles to get over.

So how is this one different? My first step this time was to backup all my old home folder to some CDs - because I wanted to triple-boot the iBook into Mac OS X, Mac OS 9 or Linux. I wanted Mac OS 9, because I have an old Dazzle USB composite video grabber which doesn't work with Mac OS X AFAIK, but I wanted to grab better quality videos and images of my FIGnition DIY 8-bit computer in action!

But of course, Linux is essential for running anything new, e.g. this version of Firefox I'm writing the blog on.

The first hurdle was the installation. I found a guide on LowEndMac which recommended running the alternative CD installer. Either way, I found the disk image too big for writing to a CD, even using the command-line hdiutil so in the end I wrote it to DVD using my iMac G5; and then booted it on my combo-drive iBook. It wasn't a problem installing via the text screens, in fact it's better because the response time is so much quicker; I recommend it from here on!

As usual, the second hurdle was the video display mode. For some reason no xubuntu setup I've ever tried has initially worked in the correct video mode and this is no exception. What was worse this time was that after 9.10 ubuntu stopped using the xorg.conf and instead auto-detects the modes, so I couldn't simply edit it. Fortunately, a number of links tell you what to do:

Basically it involved booting into text mode from Yaboot:

Linux init=/usr/bin/bash rw

creating the xorg.conf:

sudo Xorg -configure

and copying to /etc/X11/xorg.conf. I didn't need to add all the special device and monitor sections as before, because the auto-generated one actually had the correct primary setting listed as I wanted (except it's chosen 24-bit colour instead of 16-bit colour).

So now I have a new lease of life for my iBook - Yet AGAIN! FireFox looks modern, I've restored all my data; the eject button works for CDs (in 9.04 I needed a command line utility) and of course it includes lots of the newer features. One of the best things is that the trackpad is no longer over-sensitive, the cursor doesn't skit around the screen and set the typing position to a random location merely because my fingers are close to it! Lovely, lovely, these people are doing a great job!

I'm happy! Hope this is of some help :-)