Current state of Linux on PowerPC


I am sure most you have heard that Debian has dropped PowerPC as a release architecture.  If anyone is interested in the reading the meeting notes where it was discussed it can be found here. Basically it came down to lack of support. According to the Debian team there were no porters for PowerPC to maintain it as a release architecture. There is also the issue of outstanding bugs. An example is webkit2 is broken under PowerPC and it does not look like it is going to be fixed. The last version of firefox that works under PowerPC is 47. Yaboot has issues as well. In testing and sid you need to create a separate boot partition with ext2 in order for the kernel to load.

PowerPC will still be available in sid. There are some architectures that were once release that are only available there. However this does make the future of bleak. Already this decision is making an impact. The Ubuntu community is already considering dropping PowerPC for Lubuntu and Ubuntu-MATE. If you want to watch the hangout meeting where this is discussed you can see it here.

So where does that leave us who want to keep our PowerPC machines running a modern secure operating system? For G3, G4, and G5 machines there is the option of Gentoo. The learning curve is steep. However I have not heard discussions of dropping PowerPC. If you have a G5 machine then you also have the options of Fedora, and openSUSE. There is still an attempt to save PowerPC in Debain. The powerpc-notebook project is trying to get people together to help in testing and fixing bugs you can them on this email. You can also get involved in the debain-powerpc mailing list and #debian-ppc IRC channel.

Finally there are the BSDs. I prefer OpenBSD. It is pretty straightforward to get installed and it has the most binary packages for PowerPC. The one biggest drawback I have found is browser support. However sound and video playback work really well.

Please share your thoughts.

3 comments:

  1. Just built Firefox 50.0 on PPC and PPC64 for AOSC OS, on the 32-bit build everything worked beautifully.

    On the 64-bit side however, nothing loaded (not even a crash), the browser shows a blank page with no loading activity. I am currently suspecting it is some AltiVec related issue, building another build without any optimization on now... Hopefully it confirms my suspicion.

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    1. Just built Pale Moon 27.0.0, and guys, get that browser instead! It's so damn stable on my PPC64, finally a usable browser.

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  2. The decision is very disappointing. Even if PPC is the 4th most used architecture, there is nobody to be responsible of the PPC release ("Lack of porters is a blocker").
    It is sad to see that the decision is made considering the situation and not the goals.
    I wonder who uses Debian on MIPS ...

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