Ruminations on the Digital Realm

Jan Stedehouder

MacLinux… at last

Linux on the iMac at last! Finally, because I was about to give it up. Both Ubuitu and Xubuntu did install, but booted up extremely slow and when I clicked on a menu item the system froze. Yellowdog Linux would be my last attempt in these series.
The install wouldn’t use the graphical mode, so that was not promising. I don’t mind the text-based mode, so on I went. The process went smoothly, though a few options did raise my eyebrows a few years ago. I realized again how much Linux made me learn about computing. If only for that reason it is a bit of a shame that most distro’s have simple install nowadays.
The really big glitch came after the reboot: no screen, no X. What followed were two hours of digging into the X configuration file, the error logs and checking the internet. I had to dig into Vi again in order to edit XF86config and yaboot.conf. That was fun. Time consuming, but fun. As the install procedure had shown, the system did not recognize the graphics card properly. It had to be added manually to XF86config and the Yellowdog forums showed the exact information for the iMac Indigo. After that a reboot ended up in the default KDE desktop.
It worked but not thanks to Yellowdog. The iMac is listed as a supported system, with only the infrared option mentioned as a problem. It is a prebuild system with well described components, so all drivers should have been there with all hardware recognized. Still the Yellowdog forum was filled with people having similar problems. I cannot understand why it has not been fixed yet. This way, only a geek can make it work. But then again. only a geek would want to install Linux on a Mac. 😉
Anyway, the experiment succeeded. I wanted to have Linux on the iMac, because I like to write on that box. It’s an inspiring piece of hardware and now I have all the programs on hand I am writing about. Only ten days to go. But first I have to fix the fact that it won’t mount cd’s automatically, nor configure the single button mouse properly, things that would run fine with Ubuntu.


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