Thursday, May 14, 2009

Who ate that byte of apple ? ;-)

Out of enthusiasm and out of sheer curiosity, I wanted to own an Mac. So I got one, not a shiny new one, an old, but an equally shiny white, iBook G4. After about 5 months of continuous usage of the default OS that came with it (OSX 10.3 aka Panther), I bid it a farewell. No regrets, I spent only $260 for it...

Though I found the software (OSX) to be all crap, for a number of reasons listed below, I found the hardware to be actually too good to just dispose of. So things were reborn.

Why I found OS X to be not good for me?

Reason #1:
To get an update to the Java virtual machine, you need to upgrade the whole OS! This is the most sanest thing I have ever experienced.

Reason #2: If you want to use the latest XCode, you will need to ... yes you gessed it, upgrade the OS! As I had got a second hand Mac, I did not get the installation media with it so could not install the gcc suite that came with the OS. But there was now way to get the earlier version of XCode from apple developer connections site that was compatible with Panther either. The same is true with every other piece of development tools I use: Apache server, PHP etc. .. the list is countless. I simply have no money to invest in an OS like this!

Reason #3: In general, the application support is nothing but. Most of the recent versions of the applications (including OpenOffice and FireFox) are not supported, which is nothing but weired.

Reason #4: The same is the case with drivers. My 3 mobile broadband modem is not supported on this version of the OSX .. but is apparently supported on even antique versions of Windows! Same is the case with my webcam. I tried using macam, but the result was nothing but a poor video resolution.

Reason #5: The general window management in OS X is not at all productive. The only feature I liked in the window manager the ability to directly close an application while using Apple+Tab. I had used OS X before, but at those times I simply used to be amazed with all the jazz that comes along, and hardly ever worried about its usability. However, when I was using this on a day to day basis for more than five months now, I found it to be hardly productive. When I compare OSX with GNOME, Standard Windows or even the latest Superbar in Windows 7 or the KDE4 ... all of them turn out to be much more productive when handling multiple windows. The "Expose" functionality, to me is nothing but of not much use at all.

Who ate that byte of apple?

The iBook G4 that I bought, is not that new. But has fair amount of hardware if I compare with my MiLeap. It is an 800 MHz PPC processor with 640MB RAM, 30 GB HDD, WiFi, 2USB ports and 32MB ATI mobility card (more specs here).
:-) Have you seen a penguin eating an apple? It probably never liked it so it ate only a bite ;-)

Switching from OSX (10.3) to Ubuntu 9.04 :)

So, I made up my mind. No OS X, ever. And then decided to try either Kubuntu / Ubuntu or Fedora. Since Fedora 11 was not yet released, and required me to download a whole DVD to test it, I decided to give Kubuntu a first try. I had tried KDE 4 when it was released, and didn't have a pleasant experience. This time it had improved a lot but still was tempted to install plain Ubuntu instead. And so the switch happened.

Installation was easy as is usually with Ubuntu. I did not have to worry about partitioning hard disk as I was doing a full format, in the process completely removing OS X. I had to boot off from the live CD using live-powerpc video=ofonly option though.

After installation, the login screen looks pretty decent and neat (see above, in the backdrop is MiLeap running Vista).

Here goes some of the screen shots:

What worked out of the box?

Every stuff that matters most works: Most hardware is detected (including the WiFi and my 3 wireless broadband modem), there are some problem with AGP acceleration (more on this later). Most of the software that I need just works: Latest Firefox, OpenOffice, Pidgin, GIMP, GCC. What was not already there: Java and codecs were easy to obtain from the Ubuntu repositories. There is no Adobe official support for Linux-PPC so I use the default evince for viewing PDFs and Gnash as Flash plugin. Though evince is fairly good at handling most of my PDFs, Gnash is not that great in handling all the YouTube videos.

Since I could get the latest JVM (1.6) working on PPC without much trouble, MeTA Studio also worked pretty good. The only downside is that the JVM (icetead) does not currently have a HotSpot VM for its PPC version, so Java applications are not as snappy as on x86 box.

What did not work out of box?

3-D acceleration via the ATI card was not working by default on 9.04, but this happened to be a known bug with the current Ubuntu kernel for PPC and has an easy fix (listed here).

What I miss from OS X?

Big nothing. But being heavily depended on Skype makes me miss that, which obviously is not available on Linux PPC. I have been trying to use Ekiga instead, so if I am successful in using it will put it up as a separate post.

And finally, in the spirit of the "I am" advs:

I am PC (on Windows) and I am Linux (on Mac) ;-)

PS (update):

The compiz has some troubles handling windows that are using OpenGL rendering. For instance, the following is a screen shot which incorrectly overlays the glxgears display with desktop composition. I am not sure if this is a general problem, or problem with the PPC port.

Just for the note at the end, this post was entirely written and edited using Ubuntu 9.04 on Mac.

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