August 17, 2008

Ubuntu on an iBook G4

Filed under: linux laptops — stucco @ 11:29 pm

This describes an installation of Hardy Heron. The page is still under construction …

Hardware/feature Status Notes
wifi Works Code needs to be compiled but there are good instructions. May look daunting at first but is actually straightforward.
UK keyboard layout Works One key needs to be corrected.
Touchpad Works Two function keys are used as middle and right mouse buttons.
Sleep/Hibernate/empty battery Don’t know. This doesn’t work out of the box and if the battery runs out the machine switches off. I haven’t even tried to set this up yet. It may be very easy. If you happen to encounter some good notes please drop me a line :-)
Movies! Working - at least for one film! Easy. Sound needs tuning though.


  • black screen issue

Booting off early power-pc Ubuntu CD’s has been no problem.  A line pops up that says “boot:”, I hit enter and Ubuntu boots.  With the more recent Hardy Heron, if I hit enter the screen goes black and the machine does nothing.  The solution for me was to type “live-nosplash-powerpc” at the boot prompt.  Here is the forum discussion that provided the answer. There are three variants so you might have to try a couple to find one that works for you.

Keyboard & Mouse

  • Right click menu and middle click pasting
  • No ~ or backtick
  • Volume keys etc

Mouse: Middle click and right click can be done by pressing F11 and F12 respectively. I’d like to reclaim F12 as the CD eject button though so I’ll remap that sometime.

No ~ or backtick: My ~ and ` produced < and > respectively. This was in addition to the usual <> keys that worked as expected. Brief intro to keycodes: Keycodes are numbers that represent the buttons on the keyboard - not the pretty pictures on the button but the button itself - and we want to map them to the right characters. Twiddle ~ is just shift backtick, so they use the same button and we need to find only the keycode of that one button. I did this by running “sudo xev” and typing `, then control-C to quit. You may want to type some more and also run “sudo dumpkeys” to get a feel for keycodes. I then ran “man ascii” to find out the hex values of ` and ~ (0×60 and 0×7e) - yeah yeah I don’t know them off the top of my head, what a disgrace, I should feel thoroughly ashamed of myself (!) - or perhaps not. I then added this line to my ~/.xmodmap:

keycode 94 = 0x60 0x7E

To apply the modification instantly run:
xmodmap $HOME/.xmodmap


The right way:

  • b43, fwcutter and the nm-applet

The wrong way:

  • ndiswrapper (definitely not applicable)
  • wifi-radar (once the driver is working this shows networks but isn’t as good as nm-applet at getting connected)

First of all, find out what kind of wifi hardware you have by running

In my case I got:

0001:10:12.0 Network controller: Broadcom Corporation BCM4306 802.11b/g Wireless LAN Controller (rev 03)

It seems that the right kernel module for this card on Hardy Heron is b43. There is a rub that these wireless cards have non-free firmware so one has to get the driver from Broadcom, cut out the relevant bit and use it. Thankfully someone clever has done the hard work for us and it’s all automated. All we need to do is to run the commands on this page:

When that was done I prodded the internet connection icon on the Ubuntu taskbar, selected my local network, entered a password and all was fine and dandy.


A lot of movie codecs are non-free so they are stored in an unclean multimedia repository called Medibuntu. To add it to your list of software repositories follow the instructions on the medibuntu website. Then run this in a terminal window:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install medibuntu-keyring
sudo apt-get install ppc-codecs libdvdcss2
# This next one is probably unnecessary but I ran it as well:
sudo apt-get install non-free-codecs
# Finally install a video player of your choice .. I like VLC:
sudo apt-get install vlc

I watched a Dutch film (Svartboek = Black Book) immediately after installing, but that’s all so I can’t claim this is well tested yet. The only part that didn’t run smoothly was the sound playback: I had to turn it down to almost zero in the player or else the volume was so high that the tiny ibook speakers couldn’t cope and made vicious hissing sounds at me. One can probably play with the gain control within VLC to fix this.

Still unresolved

  • When I close the lid the screen doesn’t darken
  • Hibernate untested


Ubuntu’s PowerPC page is very good! No surprise there…

July 6, 2008

Filed under: programming — stucco @ 2:08 am

A collage of programming language comments. Content will change over time!

Scripting APIs:

One of the things I miss in Linux from my Amigas (I still have four) is the ability to control programs from ARexx. On the Amiga it is so easy to write an ARexx script to control applications including the ability to control multiple applications and combine their abilities. ARexx has nearly universal support throughout the Amiga software development community.

ARexx was great because everthing exposed itself to ARexx, the same way they (kinda) do for VBA or AppleScript.

Now that we have D-Bus we can interface applications written in any number of languages and we can use a wide variety of languages (including python) to do the gluing.

Don’t you have to be running Gnome or KDE to have D-BUS?

From: []


I love it when people fight over syntactic sugar.  What a complete waste of time.  I have a teency script that allows me to write Ruby using python indentation and another that lets me write python using “end” to delimit blocks, as in ruby.  Big deal.

Syntax is good, but a language shouldn’t be defined by it.

From: Haar


June 29, 2008


Filed under: Uncategorized — stucco @ 5:53 pm

I signed the pledge on not to watch the olympics. The reasons are many but the recent big one was the Chinese ship carrying arms to Zimbabwe. Feel strongly about that one too? Then please sign.

If China wants to stand proud it needs to clean up its act.

June 22, 2008

Linux laptop by distro/language/manufacturer

Filed under: linux laptops — stucco @ 4:47 pm has a long list of reports from people who have installed linux on various laptops. The list isn’t very searchable so I’ve written a small script that selects all the reposrts regarding any manufacturer, distribution or language you choose. I’ve put it here:

I hope it’s of use to you.

Regards, Max

May 8, 2008

Schach Matt

Filed under: programming — Tags: , — stucco @ 12:46 am

Hilsker, denne er erste posten min.

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