Long have I been a fan of Slackware. It’s a wonderful distribution, fast, clean and free of much of the bulk and cruft that plagues other Linux distributions. Lately, though, I have not had a Slackware box on which to play, and that has bothered me. My main server currently runs Ubuntu server edition 7.04 (yeah, I know, old), my main laptop runs Ubuntu 8.04, my home workstation runs Ubuntu 7.10, my wife’s laptop runs Ubuntu 8.04, my picture frame runs Ubuntu 7.10, my kids eMac runs MacOS 10.4.something as does my iMac. Notice a pattern here? The only thing I currently had running different was one of my test machines running CentOS 5.2 and another running RHEL 5.1, both leftovers from my semi-recent RHEL exams. Well, that and I keep telling myself I would like to run something similar at home to what I need to support at work in order to help keep my skillset sharp. Speaking of work, other than running all my servers on RHEL, I even run Ubuntu 8.04 there on my workstation. As you can see, I certainly need my Slackware fix!
Enter this weekend when I was staring at my iBook G3 500. I bought this iBook used, broken, and cheap. I fixed it up and use it frequently to mostly check my email and rss feeds from bed. It did the job adequately, however, a little on the slow side with MacOS X. I grabbed up the iBook and surfed over to Slackintosh’s Website. I had run Slackintosh years earlier on an oldworld PPC along with Debian, both with great results. Since Slackware, as a distribution, ranks very high on my list, and I already have my fill of Debian based machines, I decided then and there that Slackintosh was going to be my new OS on my iBook. I also must say that I think the translucent snow iBook is probably one of the best looking laptops that was ever made. That + Slackware, one of the best operating systems ever made, is elegance if I ever heard of it.
Installation, if you have ever done a Slackware install, is the usual business except for the partitioning. To partition a macintosh, you use mac-fdisk (suprise)! There is a decent document about using mac-fdisk at http://penguinppc.org/bootloaders/yaboot/doc/mac-fdisk-basics.shtml which is very well written. The short and quick version is do an “i” for initialize the drive (I am not running OS X, just Linux). Do a “b” to create a mac boot partition. Then, create your linux partitions with “c”. I made a partition named “swap” and a really big one named “root” then saved the whole shebang. When I ran setup afterwards to do the actual OS install, the setup program detected the swap and root partitions correctly and did what it was supposed to with them.
Once that was all taken care of, the install completed normally. I found only 2 small problems post install that I had to correct to get things really moving the way I liked. The first was that X would not start. This had to do with an incorrect config. To fix, I simply needed to add:
to the Section “Monitor” and make sure that the default display depth was 16 and set to 1024×768. After that X started right up into a nice fast KDE session. The last problem was I had no right mouse button. Of course, the iBook has only 1 mouse button, so right-clicking is problematic. I remember long ago there was a function key that served as the right button on a Yellowdog install, so I tried them all to no avail. After a little digging I found that adding this:
dev.mac_hid.mouse_button_emulation = 1
dev.mac_hid.mouse_button2_keycode = 125
dev.mac_hid.mouse_button3_keycode = 96
to your /etc/sysctl.conf file would do the trick. These will map your middle mouse button to the right apple key and the right mouse button to the enter key right next to the right apple key.
Once all that was going I was in great shape with KDE chugging along, sound, networking and all. I am sure I’ll have more to say about this as I go along, but that’s all for now. If you have an old PPC laying around, you sure couldn’t do better than to give Slackintosh a try!