I am big on the three "Rs" or Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. In this blog I am going to show you how I met the second "R" by repurposing my old first generation iMac G3 and gave it a new use in my Radio Shack.
Installing a new Operating System
My iMac G3 hardware was in perfect working condition. I just needed a newer OS (Operating System) as not many applications were being written or are supported on Mac OS 8.6. While I could have upgraded to a new Mac OS, as the PowerPC Processor was supported up to Mac OS 10.3.9 "Panther", I chose to install Linux ported for the PowerPC Processor as a lot of the applications I wanted to run were not ported for the Mac OS.
Deciding on a Linux Distro to Install
Distro is short for "Distribution", and refers to the type of Linux OS (Debian, Umbuntu, MintPPC). My first generation iMac G3 uses a "tray loader" style CDROM drive and is very finicky when booting from ISOs, or Linux install images, burned to CD-Rs. Later generations of iMacs use a "slot loading" CDROM drive and will boot from a wide variety of ISO Linux images. As such, the only Distro I was able to get my vintage iMac to boot from was MintPPC so this is the one I decided to install.
What is MintPPC?
Linux MintPPC is a Linux distribution for 32 and 64 bits PowerPC computers which is based on Linux Mint LXDE, ported to Debian/PPC. MintPPC offers a Desktop Manager, which runs fairy quickly and without lag, on older G3, G4, and G5 Mac computers with PowerPC processors.
MintPPC 8 is based on the stable release of the Debian codename "Lenny" Linux OS while MintPPC 9.3 is based on the stable release of Debian "Squeeze" OS. I choose to install MintPPC 11 which is based on the Debian "Wheezy" release.
Due to issues described earlier with first generation "Tray Loader" IMac G3, I booted my iMac from a mini.iso which has just enough intelligence to boot then perform a network install of MintPPC. It is important to have a reliable and fast Internet connection to install MintPPC in this manner.
Instructions I created for installing MintPPC on iMac G3
How to boot to CLI
By default, MintPPC tries to boot to the Linux Mint LXDE Desktop. If there is a problem with the LXDE Desktop you may need to boot to the CLI (Command Line Interface). Below is the step needed to accomplish this action:
Network Access Issue
I was unable to connect to my local network after the install of MintPPC, I had to do the steps below to fix the issue. This procedure assumes you have a router or server on the local network that has the DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol) service running.
iface eth0 inet dhcp
5. Ctrl-X then “Y” to save.
6. Type shutdown -r now
7. Boot to CLI (Covered in the "How to boot to CLI" section of this blog)
8. Type ifconfig you should see eth0 interface with a non-routable IP address.
9. Type ping www.yahoo.com, you should be able to get ping replies.
10. Ctrl+C to stop ping.
Other useful CLI commands:
Getting the Linux Mint LXDE Desktop to work
I got a black screen when booting into the Linux Mint LXDE Desktop until I did the following:
Note: You iMac must be able to access the Internet in order to perform the following steps.
Fixing the Gnome Terminal
By default, I could not see letters or numbers I type into the Gnome Terminal window. Gnome Terminal is an application within the Linux Mint LXDE Desktop.
Setting up iMac to access Internet using ICS from a Windows 10 Laptop (optional)
I do not have any network connections in my Radio Shack and rely on a Laptop with wireless enabled in an other area of my basement to provide Internet access to my iMac using ICS or Internet Connection Sharing.
This steps are optional and would only be used of you don't have an Ethernet connection in close proximity to your iMac.
I currently use the IceWeasel Internet Browser on the LXDE Desktop to access the arrl.org website to use the callsign lookup function. In the future I also plan on using ARRL's "Logbook of The World" to document my contacts as well. Another great application ported to Linux is Xlog which is also used for documenting contacts. Below is a link that will connect you to a Website listing many great Ham Radio applications ported to Linux.
Below is a picture of my iMac running MintPPC in my Radio Shack:
My iMac G3 running MintPPC in Action!
Who Writes This Blog?
John is an IT professional from Cleveland, OH who enjoys amateur radio, ham radio, metal detecting,
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