[OT] Rev on Linux PPC - Would you use it?

Igor Couto igor at pixelmedia.com.au
Fri Oct 31 19:28:05 EST 2003


APOLOGIES FOR THE LONG POST
and also apologies for the inaccuracies in the following story. I'm new 
to the Linux world, and I am totally lost in the PC world. If my 
experience disagrees with yours, please do drop me a line! I'm always 
willing to accept corrections and help!

A while ago, after reading bits on this list about the current rise in 
the number of Linux users around the globe, and the appearance of 
'user-friendly' Linux distributions (ie, 'Lindows'), I decided to put 
my preconceptions aside, and investigate this operating system more 
closely.

Being a long-term Mac user, I have a rather old (and now, basically 
useless) original iMac, that I keep as a spare computer in the guest 
bedroom. It is really just a toy, which allows friends to write the odd 
letter in Word, or (very slowly) browse the 'net when they stay over 
for a few days. However, with a startup time of about 3 minutes, it 
really is of not much use to me for day-to-day work (Revolution is 
painfully slow in it). Also, considering that its market value is less 
than US$200, it is not really worth selling it. So there it sits, a 
nerd's forgotten toy.

After searching around for a PPC version of Linux, I came across 
'YellowDog' (http://yellowdoglinux.com/) - a totally FREE distribution, 
ONLY FOR MACs. 'Hmmm, this sounds interesting', I thought. After 3 days 
of painstakingly downloading the 3 CD images that make up the 
installer, I finally was able to burn the instal CDs, and start my 
little iMac from CD 1. 'Hmmm, so far, so good', I thought.

Well, I expected a graphical installer, as advertised in the YellowDog 
web site, but I really did not expect anything THAT POLISHED! The 
installation was elegant, and... simple - taking about 2 and a half 
hours to complete in my old, slow iMac.

The first startup after the installation was also very surprising: it 
was FAST - taking less than a minute to get to the GUI. And once I 
started using the system, well, what an *incredible* delight! My little 
iMac was once again FAST! And the interface, much to my surprise, was 
very, very elegant, easy to navigate, and full of refinements (and for 
shallow Macophiles like me, looks are very important!).

I had read about all kinds of problems that PC-Linux users have during 
installation and configuration of their systems (problems with video, 
mis-configuration of keyboard keys, inability to see internal drivers, 
difficulty in configuring printers, lack of sound, etc.) that often 
require *scary* trips to the command-line (remember, I'm a Macophile). 
I was psychologically prepared to try to dive right in, however, in my 
little iMac, everything worked absolutely *straight away*.

I started then to investigate the bundled applications (all of them 
freeware), and found a magnitude of incredibly powerful software, some 
of which I had never even heard about: OpenOffice (a MS Office 
look-alike, totally compatible with all 'office' file formats), GIMP (a 
surprisingly powerful image editor), Mozilla (web browser), drawing 
apps, charting apps, networking apps, desktop customisation gadgets, 
several games, etc, etc, etc... WOW! I was impressed!

YellowDog Linux had basically given a new lease of life to my dusty old 
iMac! It was, once again, a *great*, fast, little machine! I 
immediately thought that it would actually make a GREAT second 
development computer for me. I had seen in the Rev website that there 
was a 'Linux' version of Revolution, right?

Hmmmm, no. Wrong. The 'Linux' version of Rev that is available for 
download, is only for PC-based Linux (ie, 'Intel' processor machines), 
not for PPC (Macs). Apparently, there used to be a Linux PPC version of 
Rev (compatible with YellowDog), but it was discontinued a few versions 
back.

LINUX PC vs. LINUX PPC

Now that I understood just how *easy* installation and use of Linux 
was, I understood the reason why Linux is finally taking off, and being 
adopted so widely. This OS is powerfull, easy to use, and, most 
importantly, it is FREE. And all the basic apps that the average user 
will ever need come BUNDLED FOR FREE. Never underestimate the power of 
the FREE tag.

Most of the users I develop for have Windows-based hardware. But I 
believe, with little exception, that most of them *really* struggle 
with Windows - and all of them, without exception, dislike Microsoft. 
The only reason most of them PERSIST with Windows-based systems, is 
because they are small companies who have already invested too much 
money in their PC hardware, and now find themselves 'locked' into the 
Microsoft downward spiral. A *very expensive* spiral, which many resent 
bitterly. I can see now why, for these users, Linux is becoming such an 
*attractive* proposition - and why, we, as developers, should, indeed, 
be paying closer attention to (and supporting) that market.

The main problem with Linux, however, is that because it is made for a 
wide variety of hardware, there are inevitable compatibility and 
configuration problems. That is, in the Linux *PC* world. Because the 
hardware world of the Macs is *much* more limited, there are *FAR* less 
problems with Linux installations on the PPC platform. But don't take 
my word for it - have a quick read of this very interesting article, by 
someone with a LOT of Linux experience, titled "YellowDog Linux Better 
Than RedHad 9": http://www.linuxplanet.com/linuxplanet/reviews/4862/.

Also, in my own (however limited) experience, I have found that trying 
to assemble a reasonably-priced second-hand Linux system is *far easier 
and cheaper* using Macs, than using PC hardware. I mean, you can get an 
old iMac like mine from eBay for less than US$200, and that is a great, 
complete, FULLY-FUNCTIONAL system - with networking, sound, video, usb, 
etc, etc, all in working order, and get YellowDog installed and running 
without you even having to know the full specs of your hardware! That 
is INCREDIBLE!

As a small business person, the prospect of being able to have a 
fully-featured workstation for that price is REALLY EXCITING! With 
$1000, I could setup a room full of decent, developer workstation 
iMacs! I don't think I could do that with PCs (again, my experience 
there is limited), and I *know* I certainly could not do that with Macs 
running OS X! WOW! Having to spend *so much less* money on hardware 
THAT IS SURE TO WORK, means that we could expand sooner, and start 
hiring staff earlier!!! *hehehehehe*

MAIN PROBLEM

The main problem remains, though: our main development application - 
Runtime Revolution - has abandoned the Linux PPC platform. A quick 
message from Heather confirmed this. However, Heather did give me some 
hope: she stated that if there is enough interest from the developer 
community, the RunRev team would be willing to consider bringing back 
the Linux PPC version of Revolution...

So, IF YOU WOULD CONSIDER USING A LINUX PPC VERSION OF REV, please DROP 
ME A LINE. If there is enough show of interest in this topic, then I 
will message the RunRev team, and let them know that we'd suppor their 
efforts in that area!



Once again, apologies for the long post!

Kindest Regards,


--
Igor de Oliveira Couto
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