Linux for Die-hard Mac Users - Mac Distributions Compared
Below is a brief comparison between 4 major Mac Linux distributions. I did not made comprehensive tests of all of them, so please use it with caution. If you already chosen your own, you can skip this section and go next, Linux GUI.
Linux is possibly the most powerful, it has feature rich and advanced
installer, capable package management system and enormous number of
software packages. The huge advantage of Debian is that it covers
most computer platforms available today - Mac PowerPC, Mac 68k, IBM
PowerPC workstations, x86 PCs, Alpha and SPARC. Support through mailing
lists is completely free and excellent, most questions answered the
same day. However, Debian is pretty hard to install, especially on
some Macs, it requires manual editing of Open Firmware variables.
Debian 2.2 Potato was the first PowerPC version, so I hope in the
future installation procedure will become somewhat easier. All Debian
CD ISO images are download-able from Debian WEB site.
is probably the most well known and popular Linux distributions on
Mac. Actually, it was the first Red Had based distribution appeared
on the Mac and the first which included graphical partitioning utility,
Perldisk. However, LinuxPPC looks like a product made by a hobbyists,
it lacks good printed manual, it suffers from not so up to date or
optimized components. Possibly 4 or 5 person company just could not
handle so high-load work. Some time ago LinuxPPC Inc. went nonprofit
organization, and currently is welcome for volunteers' help.
SuSE Linux comes from the experienced commercial Linux distribution company called SuSE GmbH which is based in Germany. SuSE Linux is the second biggest distribution after Debian with over 1500 software packages, which occupies 5 CDs. It is no questions the most professional and up-to-date RPM-based Linux on the Mac (to be exact, SuSE appeared before Red Hat and shares many components with Red Hat and Slackware, with a lot of own SuSE work). SuSE is the only company which provides everything in the single package - good software, good and comprehensive printed documentation, pre-sales support, 60 - 90 days of installation support, international commercial support, and counterpart version for x86 PCs (what is very important for cross-platform networks). It features excellent installation and configuration utility called YaST and powerful installation management tool ALICE. The only complain is complete lack of any visible Mac-related marketing. SuSE refused to reveal exact number of Mac copies sold, but insisted that it is well above expectations.
SuSE Linux is not available for download as CD ISO images, only as huge ftp directory. Please do not complain about this, 600-person company have to make some money for survival and further development of its products. Additionally, SuSE currently sponsoring (or directly involved to) development of Linux kernel, gcc, glibc, KDE, ReiserFS and XFree 86 projects, so $30 - $70 you pay for SuSE will certainly benefit entire Linux community. If you does not like SuSE commercial attitude and want something completely free, take Debian.
PowerPC only Yellow Dog Linux (or YDL) being assembled and distributed by the company called Terra Soft Solutions. The first YDL version I have tried have been Champion Server 1.2.1 and it was not impressive. It consisted of outdated components and had too complicated installation procedure. YDL 2.0 promised to be much better but it was not available by the time I am wrote this.
The Last Word
I do not want to say anything bad about LinuxPPC and Yellow Dog Linux, but the crown goes to Debian and SuSE. The choice between them is really hard, if not hearth wrecking. I finally have chosen SuSE, despite the fact that I liked Debian package management system much more than RPM. SuSE appeared just easier to use, and I had no so much time to explore Debian.