I decided to try Ubuntu Linux 5.10 (Breezy) on my iBook G3 laptop after becoming a very satisfied user of the x86 version that runs on my other laptop and my computer at work. In the past, I installed Yellow Dog Linux and a previous version of Ubuntu Linux on the same iBook, but quickly became frustrated by the many tweaks required to make it run all the programs that I needed.
The installation was very easy, but as before I ran into some problems getting the laptop set up with my desired software.
First, Flash is not well supported. There are free open-source alternatives out there, but those are still very unstable and will not play well with all web sites.
Second, Java. Only IBM’s implementation of Java is available for the PPC and it is not even Tiger. I’m a developer, I’m supposed to be able to run the latest Java SDK.
Third, the iBook keyboard does not work as it should. Why should I press F12 to emulate a right-click when Apple said I should be Ctrl-clicking?
Which brings me to the realisation after I was afflicted with this terrible headache that I still have at the time of this writing. If Apple spent so much money on designing proprietary hardware and software that complement each other, it is because they meant those to remain inter-dependent. Never will there be an operating system that will run as flawlessly on an Apple product as Mac OS X. In fact, that is why I bought a Mac in the first place!
I then realised that my frustration was not about not being able to run Linux on this iBook, but rather about having to manage three different operating systems: Mac OS X on the iBook, Linux on the other laptop and Windows XP on the desktop. So now I’m taking another approach and planning on partitioning my computer usage so that each of these systems delivers in the area(s) it is most suited for. My initial plan is to keep the Windows XP machine for my gaming sessions, the Linux laptop as a server (for backup and other things) and the iBook as my main machine.
I will write later to report on my progress in attempting this objective.