For the past few years The Working Centre’s Computer Recycling Project has primarily worked with x86-compatible hardware. We’ve had several donations of older Apple Macintosh systems, mostly G3 systems, but some G4′s as well. Unfortunately Apple’s license dictates we do not sell machines with Mac OS unless the machines come with the CDs. There’s lots of debate among refurbishers about this but the above info is from an Apple EULA and we adhere to EULAs. Mostly due to time we haven’t made much of an effort to get these systems going.
Over the past few weeks a few of us have been looking at various Linux distributions supporting the PowerPC architecture with the hope we can do a decent job installing something up-to-date yet with reasonable speed. Fedora 12 while attractive and functional was incredibly slow on the 450MHz machine we tried it on (with 1GB RAM). Now these are not target machines and we might recycle anything less than a G4. Alternatively we might just do text/server installs for Kitchener geeks who just want a Mac server.
I also downloaded Debian Squeeze and had one of our volunteers install it on an iBook G4. Squeeze had okay performance considering the machine only had 256MB RAM (but a 1.2GHz CPU). Unfortunately the touchpad didn’t work. We still have Debian at the top of our list, but we also downloaded Ubuntu 10.04 PPC and plan on giving it a shot on a few memory-loaded PowerPC’s.
While it would be nice to rebuild the G3′s I expect our low-target machine for a usable desktop will be these eMac G4 700MHz machines. We probably won’t be hurrying to install Linux on these machines given all the work on our plates, but it’s something that’s been stewing in my mind for awhile.