Please create an account to participate in the Slashdot moderation system


Forgot your password?
Apple Businesses Software Linux

Terra Soft Reveals Linux/PPC Hardware Solution 192

Gentu writes "OSNews features an article revealing a new product from Terra Soft, makers of the popular PPC Linux distribution Yellow Dog Linux, which effectively enables YDL to run on its own platform. Terra Soft is offering a motherboard and a complete PC based on the 600MHz G3 (G4 is also planned). This is of course still PPC, but it ain't a Mac. However, the article hints that it might be technically possible to run Mac OS and Mac OS X via Mac-On-Linux." Prices start at about $500, with 1U rackmounts starting at $870.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Terra Soft Reveals Linux/PPC Hardware Solution

Comments Filter:
  • Looks like a nice system. A little slow, but I guess there's more of the slower CPUs available these days, and it does keep the price down.
    • I wonder who the target audience for this is. I mean, if you want a cheap Linux box, you can get a WalMartPC (or other generic brand) for half the price. If you want a Mac, well, it only says that these machine can run MacOS X in theory, and considering how you could get a used PowerMac G3 for about the same price (or an iBook for $200 more), it doesn't seem like it's really worth it.

      I hope they sell some of the machines though. After all, choice is always a good thing.

  • OS X (Score:2, Interesting)

    by mschoolbus ( 627182 )
    I would LOVE to use Mac OSX at home. The only problem is buying that expensive Apple hardware, maybe this would be a good solution...
    • Re:OS X (Score:5, Interesting)

      by anothermortal ( 577394 ) on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @10:05AM (#4800831) Homepage
      Macs are only expensive if you buy the Dual Processor models, or the UberCool G4 Titanium Powerbook (portable space heater). Recall the recent price drop on the iBooks? The low-end model is only $999. Add a bit for some extra RAM, and you have a nice, decent Mac OSX box for home. iBooks are inexpensive, and I believe, a good deal when compared to similar priced PC laptops.
      • Re:OS X (Score:1, Offtopic)

        by rseuhs ( 322520 )
        Well, the problem is that iMacs suck.

        I would take any of those systems (with PCI-slots, with serial ports and most importantly without an attached monitor) over any iMac anytime.

        You can't get a real computer at Apple near 1000$ unfortunately.

        • the 17" widescreen iMac is quite nice... but not for $2000. I wish it was available with a plain DVD-ROM/CD-RW "combo" drive rather than the DVD-RW/CD-RW "superdrive", though. Save a few bucks that way.

          It's a temping little machine, in fact it's almost moreso an executive system than a home/school machine. But right now I can get a refurbished single cpu G4 tower and a 19" samsung DVI monitor for the same price.
        • Re:OS X (Score:5, Informative)

          by Gropo ( 445879 ) <> on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @10:42AM (#4801152) Homepage Journal
          I'm looking at a whole slew of closed PowerMac auctions on ebaY... 800's go for around $1200 on average... You can even buy Apple logic boards for a little over $120 and roll your own:

          $120 Logic Board

          $80 Hard drive

          $499 800 Mhz PowerPC daughtercard (2Mb DDR L3 cache!)

          $130 Power Supply

          $50 SDRAM

          Total: $879

        • Re:OS X (Score:2, Insightful)

          by ( 199423 )
          Gee, he wasn't even talking about an iMac. He was talking about an iBook. See, it's a laptop, and a very usable one at that. Veeeeery different from them CRT based thingies (I hate 'em too). If you need PCI slots and serial ports buy a generic x86 mobo and fight with IRQs. If you want a UNIX system that just works, and has actual desktop usability, drop a grand and buy an iBook.

          • Exactly. iBooks work great. Infact, over Thanksgiving, I did an NFS install of Mandrake on an old NEC Ready120LT laptop, using my iBook as the NFS server. They are lightweight and portable, while still retaining functionality. And thank-you for also noticing I said *iBook*, not *iMac*.
      • Re:OS X (Score:1, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        I can't agree more. We bought an iBook just 3 months ago and have been really really happy with it. The price was higher then, but it was still and excellent return in performance to price. I spend more time actually doing things, instead of trying to figure out why the damn firewire card in the pc doesn't want to talk to the camera. Or even downloading the additional software I have come to believe should be a standard nobrainer (ssh, perl).

        This has been the only time I have spent that much money on a computer and been able to say it was worth it. When I upgraded my older celeron 366 to a 500 for $10 the return was almost not worth it.
      • Macs are only expensive if you buy the Dual Processor models, or the UberCool G4 Titanium Powerbook (portable space heater). Recall the recent price drop on the iBooks? The low-end model is only $999.

        Hmmmm, I think we have different definitions of "inexpensive". My desktop machine cost me £250 as it was an upgraded box I bought dirt cheap, and it's a pretty fast. There's "cheap" and then there's "cheap". You'd be surprised just how cheaply you can get computers if you try a bit and know where to look/who to talk to.

        • I modded the above comment up for the following reasons:

          1. The autopackage link.

          2. Use them or lose them!
      • Only and $999.00 don't go together for me. I just built a computer for my little brother for christmas for $250.00. It's an Athalon XP 1700+ system that is quite fast. So why buy a mac? OSX is really sweet, but it's not $1000+ sweet ya know?
        • Re:OS X (Score:3, Insightful)

          by MoneyT ( 548795 )
          I call bullshit. Show me where and what you got for $250.

          Also note that your athlon system did not come with:

          A) A nice 12 inch LCD display

          B) 4 hours standard batery life

          C) OS X

          D) Firewire

          E) Gigabit ethernet

          F) An easy to carry portable form
          • I was talking about a desktop not a laptop so my bad on that part. But still the point is that to get OSX I have to spend over a thousand dollars. To build a brand new system based on x86 it's only $250. That is a MAJOR price difference. And that is why OSX isn't worth the price. I got a new Athalon XP 1700+ in the case with built in sound, video, ethernet, usb, 56k modem delievered to me for $155 from Then I bought a monitor for $70 at CompUSA. Threw in a keyboard and mouse and a couple other things and bingo bango I had spent a grand total of about $250. A mac system.. hmmm.. HOW MUCH MORE IS IT?? Not worth it!
    • You won't be. The only reason Mac-On-Linux works is because the macs they are being run on actually have the Mac ROM chip that enables 9 and X to work. AFAIK without that ROM neither system will boot.

      So It isn't technically possible to run Mac OS anything on these without having an Apple Mac ROM, and we all know if you have that sans a real Mac, Apple will come to beat you down with thier big legal sticks. So they should be happy they can't run the Mac OS.

      P.S. Even the old style iMacs which you can still purchase, outperform these machines.
      • I was under the assumption that after the Macs went "new world" the rom file was part of the OS. There is a MacOS Rom file in the system folder of classic systems. Sure there is an OpenBoot "ROM" but I don't think it by itself supports classic mac OS without the file.
      • by Bobartig ( 61456 ) on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @11:44AM (#4801689) Homepage
        You DO know that MacOS no longer uses a hardware bootrom, right? And that you CAN copy the bootROM off of any MacOSX install.

        MacOnLinux actually comes with documentation telling you how to do this, since some people can have trouble getting to bootrom to load off the OSX partition, so they copy it to their linux partition, then tell MOL to load it from there.
      • new world macs don't have ROMs. no macintosh model made since the beige G3 has ROMs. But the version of Open Firmware has to be able to enumerate the device tree in a fashion that OS X can understand. I notice that the article didn't seem to mention what sort of firmware (PROM, BIOS, etc) these motherboards use...
        i have a 500MHz G3 iMac, among others, and the worst part about it isn't the processor (which encodes MP3s twice as fast as my 933MHz P3 at work), but the half-assed video chipset that came with it. the fact that these boards have an agp slot keeps the machines from being locked into that sort of problem.
    • Re:OS X (Score:3, Insightful)

      by b1t r0t ( 216468 )
      You do realize this is $500 just for the bare motherboard? And it's a G3 600 at that? You'd be better off getting a G3 off of ebay or a Mac reseller site like MacResQ []. (I gave that as an example it's the one I can remember.) They currently have a G3/400 blue&white with 128 meg RAM, 6G hard disk, and DVD-ROM for $530. Lose a few megahertz, get RAM and a hard drive for $30 more. They also have various G4/450 systems for $900.

      And you don't have to wait until January for them to be released, either.

    • Re:OS X (Score:3, Insightful)

      But this solution is more expensive than the Apple hardware!

      $495 is for MoBo and Processor. Add HD, Optical storage, video board, monitor, RAM, keyboard, and speakers, and you're the $799 iMac territory (which includes 600MHz PowerPC G3, 128MB SDRAM, 40GB Ultra ATA drive, Rage 128 graphics, 15" monitor, CD-ROM Drive, 10/100BASE-T Ethernet, 56K internal modem, optical mouse, quality keyboard, speakers, AppleWorks, iTunes, iMovie, and iPhoto.)
  • I'm not sure it's something I'll rush out to buy, but it does sound interesting, if for no other reason than to add another dev/compile server to the stack we have at work.

    Cobalt RaQ 4, IBM B50, generic 1U PC, Sun Netra X1, Apple Xserve.

    Now if only SGI would make a 2P, 1U server. How thick is SGI's 4P Origin 300? 2U?
  • Perhipials (Score:2, Offtopic)

    by e8johan ( 605347 )
    It is nice to see that the PCI bus is now commonly used in *all* desktop computers (Atari, Amiga, Mac and IBM Compatibles). This makes it so much easier to buy devices and to find/port drivers. I remember Atari's old HDD interface that forced me into buying a really expensive Atari HDD instead of a much cheaper IDE driver...
    • True, at least there was a semblance of competition in the peripheral market for Mac NuBus/PDS cards... Still kinda sucked though... ;) Glad Apple went mixed-endian a few years back.
    • and IBM RS/6000, UltraSparc's, SGI's, DEC^H^H^H Compaq ^H^H^H^H^H^H^ HP Alpha.

      64bit 66MHz variant PCI is quite common on even the highest end Unix servers - even on the big Starcat (F15K) Sun's

      BTW - just how old was this Atari? I had an ST and stuck on a common SCSI hard disk (50Mb, those were the days!).
  • I'm curious if anyone knows if the FULL range of MAC apps run under MAC on linux. It's great if these apps run native or near native speed on this hard/software combo but I think it would be prudent to wait until the G4 version is available just for the power. Also, is this competitive, price wise, with say, buying an old G3?
    • not an acronym (Score:3, Informative)

      by green pizza ( 159161 )
      I hate to nitpick... but it's "Mac", not "MAC".

      Mac is short for Macintosh, a series of computers sold by Apple Computer Inc.
    • I ran OS 9 (Classic) under Mac-on-Linux for some time. Anything that didn't require direct hardware access worked pretty much flawlessly; MOL emulates the essential hardware (video, hard drive, input devices, NIC) pretty well. But you wouldn't be able to for example use OpenGL apps. Photoshop ran great but it would never talk to your USB scanner. In this regard it's just a little bit more limited than Classic mode under OS X, though. I never ran OS X under MOL but I assume the limitations are similar. The vast majority of things that run under OS 9 just worked.
  • What's the point? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by g4dget ( 579145 ) on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @10:04AM (#4800818)
    For the same amount of money, you get PC hardware that is considerably faster. And Linux on x86 runs a lot more software than Linux on PPC.

    In fact, probably even the new EPIA-M [] board is a better deal for many applications; the EPIA-M costs $160 with processor, uses a 933MHz C3 (Pentium compatible), is tiny, and uses comparatively little power. And if you buy one of those, you don't even give money to the other monopoly [].

    • c3 is at the wrong end of the cool'o'scale.

      c3. - other end..
      g3. - somewhere between.
      z3. - at the other end of the scale.

      now, would you rather have a c3-via or z3-bmw?

      the via is nice but it's slooooooooooooooow. you can get a 1300mhz duron+motherboard for the same money(with integ yadda yaddas, only being slightly bigger mATX)!
    • by jmu1 ( 183541 ) <> on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @10:39AM (#4801117) Journal
      One acronym: DRM.

      It's coming, and in hardware form. These companies are small enough to give a rat's ass about what it's customers want. Next time I purchase hardware for myself... it's going to be PPC.

      • by g4dget ( 579145 )
        There is no DRM in Linux running on any existing PC motherboard. When/if hardware enforced DRM comes, we can deal with it then--an old non-DRM PC will be no more or less of an oddity at that point than an old non-DRM PPC.
      • One acronym: DRM. It's coming, and in hardware form.

        I don't worry so much about DRM / TCPA / Palladium as I used to.

        Why? Governments all over the world (outside the US) are jumping on the open source bandwagon. Other countries outside the US will make hardware and have local software development efforts. The only way that hardware DRM can really be truly effective is to get all hardware to use it. Since this appears like it will never happen, then DRM hardware efforts will be defeated or ignored. In either case, you won't have to be tormented with DRM hardware.

        If China / India / Japan, etc. make their own PC's, and support Linux, then there is no way all (any?) of these PC's will have hardware drm. In fact crap like this could perhaps accellerate Microsoft's downfall.
    • For the same amount of money, you get PC hardware that is considerably faster.
      Faster? Perhaps.
      More power efficient? Not a chance.
      Cooler(temp.)? No way.
      More efficient architecture? Good gravy, no!
      Utilizable SIMD core? Oh bugger.

      Why we even need to have "Mhz/cost is far from the bottom line" arguments on /. in late 2002 is completely beyond me...
    • Re:What's the point? (Score:4, Informative)

      by MarcQuadra ( 129430 ) on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @11:54AM (#4801783)
      I've got an EPIA here, running @ 800Mhz, and a G3 at 400, the G3 kicks the bejeezus out of the EPIA hands-down. You can't compare apples and oranges here. Also, GCC isn't NEARLY well suited for obscure chips like the C3 as it is for the mature and very-well documented PPC series (remember, Apple and IBM are both running on breeds of PPC and both have been investing in GCC/Open Source development on the platform). VIA isn't shelling out millions to get GCC to produce highly optimized code on the C3 CPU.
      • not really (Score:3, Interesting)

        by g4dget ( 579145 )
        I didn't say that the EPIA-M was as fast as the G3. It beats the PPC board on other dimensions that you might care about (price, power consumption, size, compatibility, I/O ports). I mention it because, clearly, if you pay $500 for a 400MHz G3, speed can't be your primary criterion anyway. If you are going for speed, get a low-cost P3 or AMD, still for less than the PPC system.

        In any case, I actually doubt that "G3 kicks the bejeezus out of the EPIA". I have both an iMac and an 800MHz EPIA, and I actually run compute-intensive stuff on them.. A 400MHz G3 is probably no faster than a 400MHz P3, and a 933MHz C3 probably is somewhere around a 300MHz P3 since the 800MHz C3 comes in at around the same speed or faster as a 250MHz P3 in the benchmarks I tried.

        As for gcc maturity, the C3 is Pentium compatible. Linux just runs on it. If it's not as well optimized, that only means that there is more room for improvement over the above comparison; PPC optimization for gcc looks like a done deal--it won't get much better. What I do know from personal experience is that "porting" to the EPIA or any desktop PC is much easier than to the iMac/PPC: again, code just runs, while on PPC, you face byte order issues and x86 assembly doesn't work (e.g., for MPEG codecs).

    • by MissMyNewton ( 521420 ) on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @12:02PM (#4801848)

      And Linux on x86 runs a lot more software than Linux on PPC

      And using that logic, why bother with Linux when Windows run LOTS LOTS LOTS LOTS LOTS more software than Linux on X86...

    • Now as I understand the problem with VIA EDEN is that it is single-tasking, not superscalar... Doesn't the C3 have the same problem? If so a 500MHz Pentium II is probably faster for most things than a 933MHz C3...
    • this is an open source board. running open source software. in an alienware caes!? i want green!

      if this architecture allows for the ibm 970, a really nice open platform will be available.
    • If linux x86 runs much more software than PPC Linux than the entire linux/OSS movement has failed. So sad, I thought it had a chance.
  • Anyone else notice how small the CPU heatsink and fan is on that PPC mobo? I guess it is only 600 MHz and it's the newer G3.

    But still... it's smaller than the little heatsink/fan on my PC's motherboard chipset!
    • What I don't get is why they need the fan. Why don't they just slap on a bigger heatsink.
      I don't like fans in my computer, they're noisy. Loss the fan and they got a nice system.

      Btw, my 933MHz C3 doesn't need a fan, just a big fat Zalman heatsink :-)
      • What I don't get is why they need the fan. Why don't they just slap on a bigger heatsink.
        I don't like fans in my computer, they're noisy. Loss the fan and they got a nice system.

        True, that. Would be even cooler if they'd use the PPC 750FX. That would bring the on-die L2 cache up to 512 KB plus would use even less power due to the smaller process, smaller die size.
    • Did you also notice how much 'cleaner' the board looks? Boards get pretty when you don't have to pump 100 watts of juice to the CPU. The beauty of the PPC architecture is in it's SIMPLICITY. I find almost everything is better on the RISC side of the fence.
      • Well, it was originally intended as a developer's evaluation board for Mai Logic's Articia S [] chip set. As a bonus for us users it turned out to be quite a usable end-customer board, although its developer/evaluation roots are still clearly visible in the PCB design, choice of components and specs.

        Look at this photo [] of a "Pegasos" PPC mobo. It's a mobo similar to the Teron CX (it's the same Articia S northbridge for example), but on a much smaller Micro-ATX board, including a slot for CPU modules (including not-yet-available dual G4). Just looking at a thing as the PCB trace routing, or the choice of common components like resistors, caps et c. says this is a more well thought out design, originally aimed at the consumer market. It's cheaper too, and runs Yellow Dog Linux... ;)
      • Except performance! Seriously, though, who gives a flying f* how 'clean' the board is?
    • Apple desktops really do not get hot inside. Maybe some of the really fast ones do now, but the G3 is cooler running than the G4 (hence the G4 TiBooks being hot). Even the new windtunnel G4s are not supposed to be really hot... just some planning for the future (and bad choice of fans according to people who have swapped them out).

      any G4 i have opened and poked or licked (ok, not licked) while running "processor intensive" things (yeah yeah i know.... bad me) has been very cool.... my G4 heatsink is as cool as anything else in the box (1 case fan and 1 fan in powersupply). When people say the PPC chips use less power and generate less heat they are not kidding. My housemate has older Intel boxes (running Linux and BSD, it's ok) and they literally raise the temp of his room.... my G4 blows cold air out the back. go figure.

      offhand i don't think anything from Apple has had a fan on the processor.... even the newest dual 1.25GHz machines have a fan blowing across the heatsink on the processors, but nothing like the standard Intel/AMD thing of the mini fan attached to the chip itself. i guess that is part of the reason Macs are generally quieter (if they have a fan at all)..... those mini fans have a terrible sound. i disabled the one on my Radeon7500 because it sounded like a food processor full of gravel. the case is cool enough that it didn't seem to matter anyway.
  • From the MOL FAQ (Score:5, Interesting)

    by pwagland ( 472537 ) on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @10:07AM (#4800839) Journal
    Q: Does MOL run on non-Apple hardware?

    A: It does. MOL runs for instance on the Pegasos board, the Teron board and on AmigaOne hardware. In short, MOL should run on any PowerPC hardware (with the except of 601-based systems). However, the EULA of MacOS prohibits its usage on non-Apple hardware (it is of course perfectly legal to use MOL to boot a second Linux though).

    This means it might be technically possible to run MACOS on this thing, but it is also technically illegal!
    • so what, it's cool on the slashdot-legality-factor, so it's ok!
    • It shouldn't be tenchinally possible since the Mac OS has always required the Mac ROM to be present in order to run. Unless MOL comes with one it shouldn't be possible. Furthermore if MOL does come with one, Apple would have sued them long ago, so what is the story on how come they can run the Mac OS?
      • Q: What Is Mac On Linux?

        A: Mac-on-Linux lets you run MacOS under Linux/ppc. MOL runs natively on the processor, i.e. it is very fast. Unlike most mac emulators, MOL can run MacOS 8.6 and later WITHOUT A ROM IMAGE.

        I'm guessing that the requirement to have a ROM image available was lifted in MacOS 8.6. What you say used to be true, but I do not think that it is true anymore....
    • but it is also technically illegal!
      ObCorrection: No, not illegal, because MacOS is available in retail stores. You can buy MacOS without agreeing to anything. Thus, there is no EULA.
  • Ok, so what? (Score:1, Flamebait)

    by Kenja ( 541830 )
    So what advantage does this board have over, say, a dual Athlon MB? Why go through the trouble to use an older PPC based system if you're just going to end up running Linux on it? If this could run OS X as well that would be one thing. But everyone knows how strict Apple is when it comes to that.

    So I guess I just dont get it. Why is this worth the effort.

    • You don't ahve to deal with rootkits. Remeber the craking contest done by linuxPPC inc. It took over 3 mlonth to a long time linux dev, to xrite the correct shell code to break in a famous proftpd hole. SO for building a firewall it's worth it .
      see []
      for the initial contest anouncment. can't find the end of it thought, but didn't look very either.
  • I'll consider one if NetBSD runs on it.
  • FreeBSD? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by nsayer ( 86181 ) <nsayer @ k f u . c om> on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @10:10AM (#4800871) Homepage
    FreeBSD 5.0 will have a PPC port. I wonder if it will run on this hardware? I imagine the only requirement is an OpenFirmware BIOS for booting.
    • plus you need dreivers to be rewritten to the kernel API of BSD.

      The goog news about the ppc port of FreeBSD is that it'll be simpler to integrate to darwin and thus os X.
      • Re:FreeBSD? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by nsayer ( 86181 )
        The only drivers that would need work would be for on-board devices. Presumably it has PCI slots, and any PCI devices supported on FreeBSD x86 should work just fine on any other platform (modulo bugs). So what sort of on-board devices do these things have? Anything more exotic than ATA, USB or Firewire controllers (which are likely to be well supported)?
  • Distros and Costs? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Komarosu ( 538875 ) <> on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @10:14AM (#4800916) Homepage

    Interesting here that YDL are trying to "pimp" it as there platform, but with other PPC linux distros making there way along then it does give you a nice choice for a cheap linux desktop solution.

    Yes it might be cheaper to buy x86, but what about these people who want to experiment on new platforms? Also the reason why x86 is cheaper is due to mass demand, i imagin that if they get a lot of sales of these PPC mobos then the prices will drop

    I personally is very interested in getting one of these just to experiance PPC, strange as it may sound but ive never really touched a PPC based platform in my life! (dont ask me how to modify BIOS settings or whatever on a Mac :))

    • (dont ask me how to modify BIOS settings or whatever on a Mac :))

      OpenFirmware, baby! Hope you brushed up on FORTH! :)

      Hit google, lots of stuff on OF out there, it's sort of a standard.
      • by mkldev ( 219128 )
        To be pedantic, most of the options that are interesting can be changed with simple shell-like syntax. You only need to know forth if you want to rewrite parts of the "BIOS", for example if you find a bug in the ATA driver in the firmware and want to change it to "think differently".

        Most of the settings that can be changed in a PC BIOS do not need to be changed on a Mac, due to fundamental differences in the interrupt and memory architectures (e.g. there's no such thing as I/O space, and there are enough interrupt lines that IRQ sharring is a non-issue (as in minimum 64, often more).

        The only thing I'm aware of that you can set in BIOS that you might want to change on OF but can't is the clock. Oh well.
  • The "new Amiga" ;) (Score:5, Informative)

    by Seehund ( 86897 ) on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @10:33AM (#4801070) Homepage Journal
    It's not mentioned in the story, but this board is the Teron CX [], which is also distributed under the licensed trademark "AmigaOne G3-SE" [].

    There's also a model with the CPU on an exchangeable module, called Teron PX [] (or "AmigaOne XE" when it's marketed to AmigaOS users). Hopefully we'll see Terrasoft and others selling Teron PX as well, which offers G4 and 750FX (a newer, faster G3 design) CPUs.

    Due to a seriously fscked up compulsory licensing policy [] for AmigaOS, that OS will however not be sold separate from licensed hardware and be allowed to be installed on Teron boards from vendors who are not licensed by Amiga, Inc., like Terrasoft.

    P.S. Why is this story under "Apple"? MOL runs fine on these, but come on!
    • [AmigaOS] will however not be sold separate from licensed hardware and be allowed to be installed on Teron boards from vendors who are not licensed

      Hm, just to make it clear, that's "and NOT be allowed to be installed on ...".
  • by Mr_Icon ( 124425 ) on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @10:47AM (#4801191) Homepage

    Since it's a PPC, skr1pt k1dd1ez will have a whole lotta trouble trying to crack it with cut-and-paste x86 rootkits. Of course, it will not stop a knowledgeble attacker and is not at all a substitute for applying errata in a timely fashion, but it's still a significant plus in my book. And if you use YDL, it will be nearly identical in every feature to your x86 Red Hat Linux boxen.

    I can totally see it running as a firewall/external webserver/DNS server box. Of course, granted that TerraSoft mobos aren't POS. Only time and wide use will tell.

    • I can totally see it running as a firewall/external webserver/DNS server box.

      Yup. And check out another product based on Mai's Articia northbridge, the "Micro Server-S" []. Almost the same mobo as this Teron, but on a PCI card! I haven't seen any pricing for this, but it's also sold by Inguard [] (who also sell Terons, called Phoenix [] and Dragon [].
    • skr1pt k1dd1ez will have a whole lotta trouble trying to crack it with cut-and-paste x86 rootkits.

      Exactly! That's why I like using "oddball" cpu/OS combos for stuff exposed to the net. (Aside from the geek coolness factor ;-) An old Sun box running SuSE Linux, for example. An old Mac running MkLinux. Still need to get a MIPS machine, but Indigos are pretty cheap on eBay...

      Sure, the truly determined and knowledgeable hacker might find a way through, but it'll stop the script kiddies -- at least until such setups are so widespread that rootkits for them start to show up.
    • Hmm.. so wait, someone on slashdot admits that security through obscurity might have at least some tiny advantage? Yikes.
      • by AJWM ( 19027 )
        Only if by "obscurity" you mean "unusualness". There's nothing obscure ("hidden") about the software running on the boxes or the architecture of the boxes.

        For an analogy, there's nothing obscure about how standard door locks work. A skilled locksmith can pick the lock whether it's a Yale or a Schlage. A "script kiddie" with an automatic pick that only works on Yale locks (unlikely, but give me this for the sake of analogy), however, will be stopped by a Schlage.

        Somebody capable of creating a rootkit for x86 could probably create one for Sparc or PPC or MIPS, although he might first have to study the architecture and acquire the hardware to test with. Given the ubiquity of x86 systems, however, he's more likely to spend that time finding some other x86 exploit.

  • Power consumption. PowerPC's use very little power compared to any x86 processor, and generate very little heat.

    Thinking of building a beowulf cluster in your home?

    Think again. You may need special power wiring and air conditioning to handle a rack with any significant number of CPUs in it.

    But one should be able to build a PowerPC beowulf cluster that is powered by household AC and still get a significant number of CPUs on the rack, and not have to add air conditioning to the room.

    • Very true.

      Terra Soft's BriQ might be a better solution for some people since it is smaller (fits in a 5.25 bay) and available now. I really think they are well suited to lots of different uses. clusters, monitoring, IDS, logging, security devices.

      Of course these new boards will be more expanadable and a little cheaper. Just depends on what you want it for.
  • As both our companies (TSS + Mai) are strong proponents of the Linux community, we are eager to provide specs and support in order to gain reciprocal support of the Linux community and quickly advance support for as many cards as is possible.
    We will encourage the Linux do-it-yourself tradition by empowering individuals to seek and discover solutions to the best of their ability before we assist them directly.

    I like this!
    With the x86 hegemony and the growth of "you-don't-need-to-know-how-this-thing-works" hardware, I find this one refreshing. If someone made something like this using MIPS architeture, I'd buy it for sure.
  • Can anyone explain the fascination with running OS X on non-Apple hardware? the beauty of OS X (imho) is that it finally offers elegantly designed and powerful software for elegantly designed and powerful hardware, why the urge to stick it in some nasty biege box?
    • why the urge to stick it in some nasty beige box?

      Because it would cost less.

      Of course, that presumes your time and hacking effort is free, but for most /.ers, I suspect it is.

      • Except of course for the fact that this solution doesn't cost less. Better equipped Apple-branded G3 systems can be found on ebay for the same price - systems that include case, HD, motherboard, power, etc. Terra's just selling a mobo!
        • Comparing new prices with used is like comparing, well, apples and oranges. Besides, even if those eBay machines were new-old-stock, they'd still probably be short of this device in terms of RAM and disk.

  • Mentor Arc originally developed their power PC board as a reference board for embedded systems dedicated to a particular purpose. You see, most embedded systems don't use general purpose motherboards but build their own custom board around a reference, hence the added value. The Mentor Arc board was so unreliable that it's no surprise that they finally opened up to the idea of general purpose computing in the end. As wonderful as custom boards are, sometimes you need to let the customer figure out what to do with it so you can work out the kinks.

  • The only question is, will it run OpenBSD's PPC port? Now that would be a secure machine!
  • FYI (Score:5, Interesting)

    by wilburdg ( 178573 ) on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @01:55PM (#4802964)
    As an employee of Terra Soft I thought I'd let you know a little tidbit of information. Our server, which is handling the /.ing just fine (and has an uptime of 248 days) is actually running 200MHz slower than these Boxer systems. It is an old Beige G3 tower running at 400MHz with 640megs of ram, of course running Yellow Dog, and it has handled a good deal of /. submissions, without so much as blinking.

    processor : 0
    cpu : 740/750
    temperature : 28-31 C (uncalibrated)
    clock : 400MHz
    revision : 2.2 (pvr 0008 0202)
    bogomips : 801.17

    machine : Power Macintosh
    motherboard : AAPL,PowerMac G3 MacRISC
    L2 cache : 1024K unified pipelined-syncro-burst
    memory : 640MB
    pmac-generation : OldWorld
  • The specs in the article don't make any reference to having on-board Ethernet, but in the pictures it looks like there's an RJ-45 connector on the board. Anyone know for sure? That'd be very useful. I seem to recall the POP spec including Ethernet, so it probably does.
  • Another plus is that Palladium would not available for this platform and MS would have no handle on them either.

"In matrimony, to hesitate is sometimes to be saved." -- Butler