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I'm trying to set up my brother–who has a PPC Mac with 1 GHz processor and 256 MB RAM–with a Linux distro that would allow him to surf the web on the device.

If anyone knows of this Mac, they also know that support has faded for the latest browsers, rendering the device essentially useless when it comes to the web.
Ideally I would have installed Jolicloud, but alas, it is only Intel Mac compatible...

Please let me know if you have any suggestions for me!

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migrated from Feb 26 '11 at 5:10

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closed as not constructive by Simon Sheehan, Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007, random Oct 30 '11 at 20:25

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Do you know what site? Because I would move it myself... – rockit Feb 26 '11 at 4:54
probably – jcomeau_ictx Feb 26 '11 at 5:02
Erm, "Jolicloud" doesn't support the Mac platform at all. I find it highly suspicious that you write off the Mac as "useless when it comes to the web". All new browsers that I know of support Mac OS X 10.5, unless they're short-sightedly Windows-only (in which case, I won't use them anyway). – Cody Gray Feb 26 '11 at 5:36
@Cody: He isn't writing of the Mac as "useless when it comes to the web", but merely his brother's old PPC Mac with 1 Ghz processor and 256 MB RAM. I don't think that thing runs OS X 10.5 ;-) – fretje Feb 27 '11 at 15:27
@fretje: I didn't mean "the" Mac as in the platform. I meant "the" Mac as in that particular Mac. There's nothing useless about a 1 GHz Mac (as I mentioned in my answer, that makes it undoubtedly a stock G4, or one upgraded with a G3 card). With a simple RAM upgrade (and the RAM it requires is literally a dime a dozen nowdays), it's a very decent performing Mac that will have no problems at all running OS X 10.5. And I don't say that out of idle speculation; I have more than one such machine myself. Again, my answer has more details. – Cody Gray Feb 28 '11 at 4:20

There's also a large list here.

The usual caution about doing distro recommendations applies here - the most important factor is the user, as hardware can be upgraded.

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A PowerPC Mac with a 1 GHz processor either has a factory-installed G4 processor or has a G3 upgrade card installed. In either case, the machine can quite comfortably run an older version of Mac OS X that supports PPC processors (at the time of this writing, all that leaves out is the latest release, OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard, which drops support for the PPC platform altogether in favor of Intel).

My mother uses a 933 MHz G4 running OS X 10.5 (Leopard) all day long to surf the web and do other basic computing tasks; it's never been slow. My home network server is a 733 MHz G4 running OS X 10.4 (Tiger) Server (and I'm hardly your "average" home network user). If your machine is one with a third-party G3 upgrade card, you may need to hack the newer versions of OS X to run them, but this is a relatively straightforward process, and you won't have any performance problems once you get it installed. Otherwise, you can install a full retail copy on a G4/1GHz without any extra effort.

Remember that RAM (not processor speed) is key to making Mac OS X run at peak performance. Make sure that you have at least 512 MB, preferably 1 GB. Chances are very good that your machine uses the old standard PC100/PC133 168-pin SDRAM, which is available for extremely reasonable prices nowadays. Pick up as much as you can afford, and cram it in. (A good idea even if you run Linux.)

I highly recommend this route if you/your friend is not already an experienced Linux user; one of the major appeals of the Mac platform is the operating system. My not-so-humble opinion is that Mac OS X absolutely blows away any Linux distribution, even for the hardest core UNIX fans, considering it runs on top of a BSD UNIX-based kernel. Running OS X also solves the problem of modern browsers not being available that you would otherwise face by sticking with Mac OS 9. Your machine is not old enough that you're consigned to running a Linux distro on it just to make it barely usable on the Web. Apple's Safari (included with OS X; be sure to download the latest version) is an incredible browser on the Mac (less so on Windows), or you can run Firefox, Opera, OmniWeb, Chrome, etc.

If you're sure that you want to run a Linux distro, you truly have countless options. Again, your hardware isn't old enough to limit your options, and almost all of the mainstream Linux distributions (and some of the not-quite-so-mainstream distributions, as well) have been ported to PowerPC. You might find this site to be interesting. In general, I would probably select from one of the following distros:

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According to this article, Firefox 3.6 may well be the last version available for PPC. Camino continues to be an alternative–for now. – oKtosiTe Feb 27 '11 at 0:46
@oKtosiTe: Yeah, I don't really know. I stopped keeping up with Firefox development when Chrome came out. I honestly don't know why anyone would use anything other than Safari on the Mac, and Chrome blows away Firefox on Windows. I definitely preferred Camino on the Mac before Safari came out. Safari 5 is available for PPC, and though I can't tell from that article, if they're dropping PPC support for Firefox, there seems little reason to assume it will continue working on PPC Linux distros. – Cody Gray Feb 27 '11 at 4:45

I have an old g4 iMac that runs xubuntu beautifully. I have no problems with a multitude of browsers for most of my online needs. The only concern you'll have is getting flash to work due to the fact that it is a ppc, but that is a concern for any distro you go with.

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Please note that Ubuntu is no longer officially supported on PowerPC, but a community build is still available. – oKtosiTe Feb 27 '11 at 0:43
Flash works just fine on PowerPC processors running OS X. Not sure what the Linux folks' problem is. – Cody Gray Feb 27 '11 at 4:46
OS X.4 yes, flash will work on a PPC, but with OS X.3 and under, flash is not supported unless you use open source alternatives such as gnash. – MaQleod Feb 27 '11 at 5:58