Debian 9 and PowerPC

As you probably know, the PowerPC Notebook team had already selected Debian 9 (Stretch) OS, as it seemed to offer a lot of advantages (DFSG, Altivec, compatibility etc…). Because of this, the Debian team has recently decided to remove powerpc (Big Endian) from its release architectures for the upcoming Debian 9 (Stretch) and Debian testing (Stretch) powerpc repositories have been removed. Besides that, they will keep ppc64el (Little Endian) as a release architecture (For those of you who don’t know the difference between powerpc, ppc64el (and ppc64) – check the short summary on the end of this message).

Debian

Debian 9 is coming

One of the reasons of this decision was an apparent lack of porters/maintainers/testers – Although the powerpc Debian team includes some very competent, motivated and reactive people.

Some of us are willing to take the Debian powerpc road,  but we need volunteers, people willing to give some of their time to the Debian powerpc community, to learn, test, fix bugs etc…

This does not suggest we don’t keep a “plan B” – by testing another distribution. It is just that Debian powerpc works well on current 32 bits and 64 bits machines, and we can try to keep this situation.

If you have a 32 or 64 bits PowerPC machine, and want to join us in keeping Debian powerpc alive, contact us on team@powerprogress.org.

Short summary about powerpc / ppc64 / ppc64el :

  • powerpc is the historical Debian PowerPC port (1997).   It works on 32 and 64 bits Big Endian PowerPC (G3/G4/G5 and newer freescale/NXP chips).  That’s what you would use on your PowerMac/PowerBook/Genesi/Amiga machines. Note that is supports Altivec, which accelerates greatly some applications (video, graphics, image processing).
  • ppc64 (Big Endian) was supposed to be used on 64 bits Big Endian PowerPC only (G5 and newer freescale/NXP chips). It has some advantages over the first but currently is not so well supported as powerpc.
  • ppc64el (Little Endian) started with Debian 8 Jessie. It works on newer Power chips from IBM (for servers). Despite some newer freescale/NXP chips can also be used in Little Endian mode  (but without Altivec) they can not be used with ppc64el as this version is compiled with VSX  (Vector Scalar eXtension) enabled.

 

The power of a team: the PowerPC team

GNU/Linux PowerPC notebook team

The power of the GNU/Linux PowerPC notebook team

It’s been over a month since our previous post so it’s time to report about our activities. Basically,  we are working on the same issues we discussed in the previous news. Anyway, in this PowerPC Notebook project update, we will try to go over all the areas that we are working on, just because our idea is to be as transparent as possible.

Status of the GNU/Linux PowerPC notebook project

Firstly, regarding the creation of an organization, we have evaluated to establish a foundation but the cost is too expensive for us. We have also tried to get the protection of an existing organization but, sadly, we have not been answered. Finally the most suitable and fast solution for us is to register a non-profit association in Italy. This association will promote the funding campaign for the motherboard design and prototypes.

On the hardware side, we have a first list of components to be used in the notebook. We are evaluating their suitability to our needs and also choosing them according to how much open they are. We still have to keep working on this, discarding some elements and adding new ones. We are doing this in collaboration with the designer of the motherboard.

Our software team remains in contact with the Debian community but again we move slowly and we need more feedback to be able to focus our efforts. The software team is thinking about an alternative approach to streamline this task.

Finally, we have to talk about obtaining a chassis for our laptop. In this case we can say that we are contacting several companies that supply barebone notebooks and some other laptop producers. Here again we must say that we are waiting for responses. Our preferred option would be to obtain the help of Iameco. We love its chassis and case concept for ethical reasons. The Iameco laptop is produced  using recyclable materials and producing a minimal carbon footprint. We would love to design our motherboard to fit one of its chassis.

Our spirit

In short, all the community  groups  are working hard and some progress has been achieved by all of them. In addition, our community continues to grow daily. We have new volunteers for translation, dissemination of our messages and for the computer software. Some of our new members apologize in advance for not having much time, we answer always saying that we are volunteers, we are moved by our principles and we try to  reach our objectives enjoying the project with passion and enthusiasm. If you miss the days when computers had more personality, join us and help us recover the spirit of the pioneers of computing.

GNU/Linux PowerPC Notebook at “Fa’ la cosa giusta!” fair of conscious consumption

This saturday 14th March I will present to everybody our GNU/Linux PowerPC notebook project at “Fa’ la cosa giusta!” – The national fair of conscious consumption and sustainable lifestyles (Italy) 12th edition, Milan, 13-14-15 March 2015 – more info about “Fa’ la cosa giusta!”

Fa La Cosa Giusta - The national fair of conscious consumption and sustainable lifestyles

Fa La Cosa Giusta – The national fair of conscious consumption and sustainable lifestyles

I will be in the “padiglione 4” of Fieramilanocity, Peace and Partecipation, stand PP06 inside the stand of “computer solidarity” (Informatica Solidale) association.

I will be there trying to recruit volunteers for the PowerPC Notebook project; inform the wider Computer and FOSS community about the projects existence, I will provide updated information about how my endeavors go and I hope this time I will take more photos :D

We have opened a new board, Public physical Presentation , on the forum where everyone can share information about events where the GNU/Linux PowerPC Notebook project makes an appearance or is mentioned. Continue reading