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Apple Businesses Software Linux

Yellow Dog Linux Gets 64-Bit Version For G5 352

An anonymous reader writes "There is an announcement on the page regarding the new release of a 64-bit distribution of Yellow Dog Linux for the Apple G5 and some custom hardware from IBM. The 64-bit release is being dubbed 'Y-HPC' and is scheduled to be released along with the new 32-bit Yellow Dog 4 at the end of May."
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Yellow Dog Linux Gets 64-Bit Version For G5

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  • Re:Just curious (Score:5, Informative)

    by xenotrout ( 680453 ) on Thursday April 08, 2004 @01:48AM (#8800763) Homepage Journal
    I don't know about the G5, but I have an iBook running GNU/Linux (just linux, not dual boot). The iBook is very light weight, slim, and quiet. There are a bunch of other good mechanical/design features as well.
  • Re:why? easy. (Score:2, Informative)

    by rohan_leader ( 731431 ) on Thursday April 08, 2004 @01:55AM (#8800795)
    This is a matter of personal preference really.

    One obvious reason is that Yellow Dog is completely free as in beer and OSX is not. You have to purchase every second update and it is not *completely* open source. Even if it IS apple, the magic words, "open-source" does make people listen up.

    If compatibility with industry standard programs such as Microsoft Office and Photoshop is not needed, and if the UI is unimportant to you, then linux might be an option.

    People use OSX to have the best of both worlds: to have the familiar "hacker" interface, the shell, and also have the convenience of programs. If you're going to run a server, linux will run faster, without Cocoa or X Windows, no question about it. Or, if you're addicted to KDE or fluxbox, why use the Aqua interface then? (yes, there IS an X11 server for apple, but hey, it is an alternative...)

    The most convincing reason, I think, is the rpm format. You can use programs like yum [] although I believe that is for i386, and redhat/fedora, but certainly, it derived from the original yellow dog updater (would anyone care to provide a link?). You can keep your system up to date easily with a known technology, set as a cron job, perhaps.

  • Re:why? (Score:3, Informative)

    by bastard01 ( 532616 ) on Thursday April 08, 2004 @01:59AM (#8800811)
    I would probably think that they want to run the G5 at it's true 64 bit capacity, since OS X doesn't really have native 64 bit support, and probably won't for at least a little while. Although for the older Titanium Powerbooks, YDL worked very well with the hardware in the more recent releases, I was impressed. Although I currently use OS X on my Macs, I am glad that if they are developing linux for Macs because it is nice to have a choice.
  • by jbn-o ( 555068 ) <> on Thursday April 08, 2004 @02:05AM (#8800833) Homepage
    In a nutshell, some people are willing to go the extra mile for software freedom. I'm one of those people. I've paid for free software before and I'll do it again. I dig it, I thoroughly enjoy being a part of the free software community, and I enjoy being able to make copies of free software for my friends and help them get jobs done. All without breaking the law or compromising my values.
  • Re:Just curious (Score:5, Informative)

    by bsartist ( 550317 ) on Thursday April 08, 2004 @02:05AM (#8800835) Homepage
    That's really two questions - why buy a G5, and why put Linux on it.

    For the first, the answer is I/O. For purely CPU bound benchmarks, the G5 compares fairly well with 64-bit x86 chips, but it's nothing to write home about. On the other hand, the I/O subsystem smokes, so unless you're doing almost pure number crunching, that's something you have to take into account as well.

    As for putting Linux on it, it's funny you should ask that in a comment for this particular story - prior to this release I would have asked the same thing. However, YDL appears to now offer something that OS X doesn't - a full 64-bit address space for applications. Mac OS X is not "full" 64-bit; the OS can manage all 8GB of RAM, and apps can use 64-bit ints. But, apps run in a 32-bit address space.
  • Re:Just curious (Score:5, Informative)

    by ( 463190 ) * on Thursday April 08, 2004 @02:08AM (#8800847) Homepage
    This is a really good question, and not a troll at all.

    The answer is "people like me" and the explanation is as follows: roughly once or twice a year, I find that my job requirement shifts a bit, and the platform of choice for said work might change overnight from windows to macos to linux. One of the reasons I used yellowDog for about a year was because I really liked my g4 machine and its cinema display, and didn't want to junk it just so that I could run the OS (linux) which I needed at the time to get my work done.

    These days I usually spend about 1/3 of my time in windows, 1/3 in linux, and 1/3 in MacOS. Certainly I enjoy my life the most while in MacOS, but that's beside the point. The solution for getting my work done has come down to runing Mac at the office, and Linux + vmWare at home. With this setup I have just one machine at each location, and between the two I cover all my needs in a day. The linux machine is the stablest and fastest a=of them all, and I really wish that masos could be one of my vmware sessions... but that's another story.

    Anyway, I agree that YellowDog linux is really a niche product, given that slicker OSes+applications exist for the hardware in question. But sometimes Linux is what you need, and sometimes a Mac is what you want to use, and that's when YellowDog is the answer.
  • Re:Gotta ask... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Durindana ( 442090 ) on Thursday April 08, 2004 @02:09AM (#8800851)
    Yellow Dog's been the premier Linux solution for Macs specifically, and PowerPCs in general, for several years now, since A/UX and MkLinux for the 68k more or less fell into disuse. Mandrake has maintained a PPC distro (skipping some point releases and not supporting as much hardware as on x86) for awhile, but Yellow Dog put out a quality product. And it's the only thing they do, which matters.

    Probably more important is Yellow Dog's long-standing PPC Linux hardware solutions, e.g. the Yellow Briq Node G3/G4 standalone server. Terra Soft does a good bit of HPC consulting and installation (check their web pages for a few site descriptions and PPC Linux "wins").

    In short, Yellow Dog is _the_ Linux distro for Macs, has been since 3.1 or so when it really blew Mandrake 8 away in terms of legacy and peripheral support. People doing real Linux work on PPC, especially if they're serious about PPC but don't care about having OS X, already are familiar with Yellow Dog. With *nix aficionados supposedly moving to the Mac in droves, opinion leaders are going to steer them toward Yellow Dog, rather than Debian or Mandrake/PPC. It's Red Hat for Macs, more or less.
  • by sr180 ( 700526 ) on Thursday April 08, 2004 @02:20AM (#8800896) Journal
    They've already tried that. First they had emulators, then they had PC cards that fitted inside your Mac, then they had emulators again, then they had PowerPC's that did both, then emulators again... I think they have emulators atm..

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 08, 2004 @02:31AM (#8800945)
    Slashdot is being taken over by boring mac astroturfing. We've all heard it before, creeps.
  • Re:why? easy. (Score:3, Informative)

    by citog ( 206365 ) on Thursday April 08, 2004 @02:33AM (#8800954)
    Forgive me if I'm wrong here. Reading [] or the link in the article []:

    'Y-HPC' -- Terra Soft's new 64-bit offering will be available pre-installed on Apple, IBM, and Momentum 970-based hardware, from the Terra Soft Store, and for download from the forthcoming Professional account.


    Built upon Yellow Dog Linux v3.0.1, a beta version of Y-HPC is now available for download via Enhanced accounts, offering double-precision, 8GB memory addressing, 64-bit tool chain, and the 2.6 kernel.

    The key bits being the references to Enhanced & Professional accounts. Enhanced costs $85 which isn't completely free as in beer. Granted, that is cheaper (possibly quite a bit cheaper over time/multiple release??) than OS X. However, I don't think it's the cost factor that will be the major attraction. As you mention, some server apps may be faster on the G5/Linux platform rather than G5/OS X. When choosing between OS X & YDL for the desktop, I personally don't see the advantage for the mainstream user (i.e. the largest group of Mac users).

    All that said, having this choice is a good thing and if I ever get a G5, I'll give it a go :)
  • Aha! (Score:5, Informative)

    by RadRafe ( 632260 ) on Thursday April 08, 2004 @02:37AM (#8800969) Homepage
    There's the long-awaited IBM G5 blade server! I knew it was coming, and now it's here.

    BladeCenter JS20 []

    Specs, as stated on IBM's page:

    Modular blade server optimized for the BladeCenter enclosure

    Two PowerPC® 970 processors at up to 1.6GHz standard

    512MB standard/4GB max PC2700 ECC DDR memory

    Up to two IDE hard disk drives for 80GB maximum internal storage

    Two Gigabit Ethernet controllers standard with load balancing and failover features

    How disappointing. For the sake of perspective, here's the Xserve G5 Cluster Node:

    Dual 2GHz PowerPC G5

    512MB DDR400 ECC SDRAM

    80GB Serial ATA drive

    Mac OS X Server (10 Client)

    Dual Gigabit Ethernet

    OK, so the IBM server is slightly cheaper. But look what you get:

    slower processors: 1.6 GHz vs. 2.0 GHz

    slower memory: 333MHz vs. 400MHz

    slower storage: ATA-100 vs. SATA

    no storage in the standard model: 0 GB vs. 80 GB

    less expandable storage: 80 GB vs. 750 GB

    less expandable memory: 4 GB vs. 8 GB

    That being the case, I'd say this is a disappointing product. Why would anyone choose it over the Xserve?

  • Re:Good to hear it (Score:5, Informative)

    by oscast ( 653817 ) on Thursday April 08, 2004 @02:37AM (#8800970) Homepage
    I don't know why anyone would think that you're locked into OS X if you buy a Mac. There's just as many OSes for PPC as there is X86.
  • Ever Used YDL? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Becho62282 ( 172807 ) on Thursday April 08, 2004 @02:43AM (#8800996)
    Have any of you ever used YDL at all?? I first used YDL in 2000, it was my first time touching Linux on a PPC and I felt it quite robust. Sure people wonder why you would used YDL on a Mac that has OS X on it. For the same reason that some people have Win 98 at the same time as XP.

    Flexibility. Sure you may want to use OS X day to day. But sometimes you just need to be in a true X environment. Yes you could do that otherwise in OS X, but it tends to have a high overhead (2 window managers, one sitting on top of another), and OS X is a bit quirky when it comes to certain NIX things (case sensitivity, others).

    The other issue is that YDL is a GREAT solution when you want to just do number crunching. No need to run the OS X GUI, just a rock solid number crunching OS. If I remember correctly the Navy is using a bunch of XServes (G4 era) with YDL on them for this reason.

    Basically it boils down to whether you want to run the OS X window manager and OS X apps, or you want to run "real" LINUX with it's app suite and it's window manager.

    Besides, if you X86 zealots can have 18 differant distros why can't PPC users have a few too.
  • Re:Aha! (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 08, 2004 @03:12AM (#8801085)
    You comment is offtopic, but the answer is this:
    "Up to 84 2-way blades may be installed in an industry-standard 42U rack."

    That's twice the density of the XServe, which can only fit 42 units in a 42U rack.

    Sure, individual nodes may have less compute power, RAM, etc, but you can have twice as many packed into the same space. If you need processing power over storage, and have limited space, these make sense.
  • Re:Just curious (Score:2, Informative)

    by hak1du ( 761835 ) on Thursday April 08, 2004 @03:15AM (#8801094) Journal
    I can answer that because I did it: a Mac looked nice and fit in well with my furniture. But after trying OSX, I didn't find it to be a good replacement for Linux, so I wiped the disk and replaced it with Linux and have been quite happy with the machine since.
  • Re:Just curious (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 08, 2004 @03:24AM (#8801118)
    The G5s are using a 1Ghz FSB..

    Athlons are up to 800 something Mhz, and Xeons are stuck around 400Mhz, at the top end.

    For moving data around, G5s are pretty damn fast.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 08, 2004 @03:25AM (#8801122)
    I'll give you two reasons:

    - Performances ! Run lmbench or do large HPC and compare. There is a real market for such type of applications, and so far, OS X is still way too far behind (lack of 64 bits address space is one thing, lack of large pages support is another, raw kernel perfs gets in the loop as well). The G5 makes a very good 64 bits machine to run linux on for such applications.

    - Choice. There are other reasons to choose an OS but "it's slick". Some of us (I know some people have difficulties getting this concept) do actually value the concept of Open Source and want to actively participate for personal and/or political reasons. I prefer running Linux even if it isn't as great as OS X for doing "end user" things, but then, I also contribute in making linux better hoping we will reach that level one day. Apple definitely defines a goal to reach when it comes to GUI (though some aspects of the latest OS X versions can be criticized I beleive).

    It's funny, it's always the same question popping up, some of the Apple folks themselves, on mailing lists or conference keep asking that same question, they just can't imagine somebody would want to use something else than their pet OS, but life is about choice & diversity, as much as I like what Apple produces, I'd hate to see it become a monopoly.

    In short, as a linux box, a G5 is great :)

  • Re:Just curious (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 08, 2004 @03:37AM (#8801152)
    So given a 800MHz HT bus and a 1GHz HT bus, do you think that'll make much difference for I/O? Given they are WAY faster than any disk on the market!

    Oh, and newer Athlon64s/Opterons will use a 1GHz HT bus also.
  • Re:Question (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 08, 2004 @03:53AM (#8801219)
    Because there are 8 RAM slots, and no one makes a chip >2 GB . . .
  • Re:Just curious (Score:5, Informative)

    by BasilBrush ( 643681 ) on Thursday April 08, 2004 @04:23AM (#8801309)
    Yet another reason for putting Linux on a Mac G5. It cuts down on software differences so you can get better comparative benchmarks against X86 processors. I think you'll be getting your benchmarks anaginst X86 64 bit processors before long.
  • Re:Just curious (Score:2, Informative)

    by Nutria ( 679911 ) on Thursday April 08, 2004 @05:00AM (#8801422)
    Athlons are up to 800 something Mhz, and Xeons are stuck around 400Mhz, at the top end.

    • Athlon32 - 400MHz (200MHz x 2)
    • P4 - 800MHz (200MHz x 4)
    • Xeon - ???? (Probably 266MHz x 2)
    • AMD64 - no FSB between CPU & RAM
  • Re:Not Offtopic. (Score:2, Informative)

    by RadRafe ( 632260 ) on Thursday April 08, 2004 @08:17AM (#8802117) Homepage
    I don't think you'll have much luck getting linux support from Apple.

    Well, that's what Terra Soft Solutions is there for. They're the one Mac reseller that preloads and supports Linux on the machines they sell. If, like the US Navy, you want Xserves running Linux, you turn to Terra Soft.

    Now for an aside that really is offtopic. If all you want is an Xserve RAID for your storage needs - and you'd want one because the Xserve RAID, I believe, is surprisingly far cheaper than the competition - Apple does support its use [] with servers running Red Hat, Yellow Dog, and Windows 2000 and 2003.

  • Sounds like crap (Score:5, Informative)

    by polyp2000 ( 444682 ) on Thursday April 08, 2004 @09:47AM (#8802745) Homepage Journal
    Respect is due dude, but i think that you are running away with yourself there , probably even trolling.

    The points you make simply dont make true or are irrelevant. I also wonder if you have ever tried Linux on PPC hardware?

    I have , and I can tell you that in my experience yellow dog linux runs a hell of a lot faster than a similarly specced intel box.

    1) You mention that Linux is optimized for Intel, well in case you didnt know Linux is distributed as source code. the majority of the code is going to be similar for all processors. However there are optimisations contrary to your comments for PPC hardware , including stuff like altivec.Its GCC that does the real work!

    Also , one of the really really nice things about Linux on PPC (specifically Yellow Dog) is that Mac hardware is considerably more predictable than x86 hardware. Generally speaking all blue G3's have the same mobo , chipset etc(accounting for minor variations) The upside of this is that a Linux distro such as Yellow dog can be tailored much better to the hardware, and eliminate many driver problems.

    Again contrary to your comments.

    in response to
    2) Im loath to comment on this really but statements like "Linus sorts through gigabyte after gigabyte of amateurish code" and "a bunch of kids playing with source code" Make me realise that you are in fact a troll. But nonetheless I would argue, that since the source code for the Linux kernel is so open as opposed to having closed bits like you refer to in OSX, you have considerably more control over it. In fact you have so much control over it that it can be embedded in all sorts of bizarre devices such as ... ahem .. the iPod. Ask yourself this question, If linux is written by a bunch of amateur kids playing with source code, how come its so versatile and easy to port? I think that is as true a test as any on the quality of the code.

    my response to
    3) You make some valid points about GUI's while I agree that OSX, has a much nicer GUI than KDE or Gnome; The whole linux is not ready for the desktop argument is rapidly becoming a regurgitation from people who havent tried the latest Desktop environments. I'd also like to add that the simpler / less eyecandy / GUI with Linux is precisely the reason many people will want to run it on the box particularly as a server. In addition its a great way to make use of that tired old G3.

    My comment on 4)

    Yes, linux can be a pain to install software, but , and this is somewhat related to my comments on 1) my only experience with Linux on PPC is Yellow dog, and again , due to the predictability of the hardware there is no real need to build from source, you are not really going to do a much better job than Terrasoft at optimising it. Yellow Dog supports both RPM and apt-get. with these tools an update is only a couple of commands away. And they are very good at keeping it updated.

    My Conclusion,

    You are a Zealot and one who's stuck in his ways at that!

    I personally like OSX, and the reason I want a power book , has got nothing to do with any problems I have using my linux desktop. The area which linux falls short is the lack of tools like iMovie and cubase. I also prefer Apple as a company to Microsoft.

  • by AHumbleOpinion ( 546848 ) on Thursday April 08, 2004 @10:48AM (#8803443) Homepage
    ... the U.S. government bought a bunch of apple Xserve's to use interpreting sonar images on submarines. Of coarse they wanted linux for an application like that.

    No, Linux is inherently no better for scientific apps than any other operating system. The Navy were interested in the PowerPC G4's inherent advantages when it comes to scientific applications. Their current software was also already running on a Unix platform. Yellow dog plus XServe was a pretty straight forward cost effective replacement.

    The interesting thing is that they didn't buy the Xserve's directly from apple because if the hire-ups knew that they were buying macs they wouldn't approve it.

    Terra Soft, Yellow Dog Linux's developer, is also in the business of re-selling Macs with Yellow Dog. They have been doing this for years with Apple's full cooperation and blessings. There is nothing back door about this.
  • Re:Just curious (Score:3, Informative)

    by Hoser McMoose ( 202552 ) on Thursday April 08, 2004 @11:28AM (#8803890)
    First point, Apple had exactly ZERO to do with developping Hypertransport. Nothing, nodda, zippo, zilch! Hypertransport is primarily an AMD developped technology with a little bit of help from the now defunct API (Alpha Processor Inc.). Apple may be part of the Hypertransport Consortium, but so are about 90 other companies that had nothing to dow ith the development of Hypertransport.

    Second point, the PowerPC 970 does NOT use Hypertransport as it's bus! Hypertransport in the PowerMac G5 is ONLY used as an interconnect between the memory and processor controller and the other two I/O chips (at least one of which is actually an AMD chip).

    The PPC 970 uses the Elastic I/O bus, designed and developped by none other than IBM. This is a dual 32-bit wide unidirectional point-to-point bus running at up to 1.0GT/s. The bus isn't all that well documented, so I'm not sure if it's a true 1.0GHz bus or a 500MHz DDR bus or a 250MHz QDR bus. I would guess it's 250MHz QDR, though the difference is somewhat accademic. Either way, the bus provides for up to 4.0GB/s of bandwidth in either direction and since it is point-to-point connection, the bus is not shared on dual-processor systems.

    In the end, this bus is actually a lot like what AMD used to use on their AthlonXP and AthlonMP line. The only differences are that the PPC 970 bus runs at a higher effective data rate and it is a pair of 32-bit unidirectional buses rather than the single 64-bit bi-directional bus on the AthlonXP.

    For the Intel side of things you get a 400MT/s (100MHz QDR) to 800MT/s (200MHz QDR) 64-bit wide bi-directional bus. Current Xeons top out at 533MT/s (133MHz QDR). Unlike the AthlonMP and PowerPC 970 bus, Intel uses a shared bus. This is why the Xeon doesn't scale too well going from one to two processors and scales pretty horribly when going from two to four processors (beyond 4 CPUs you need separate buses, crossbars and all sorts of other fancy things beyond the scope of this discussion). The next generation of Xeon, to be released anywhere between 1 and 9 months from now (depending on what source your look at) will go up to the same 800MT/s bus that the desktop P4s use, that should provide a fairly decent boost in performance for multiprocessor Xeon systems. That will give the Xeon up to 6.4GB/s of bandwidth (either upstream or downstream, but not at the same time).

    Of course, when it comes to the absolute beast of moving data around for commodity hardware, you have to look to the Opteron. While the G5 may easily have the Xeon beat in this regard, the Opteron stomps over both of them quite handily.

    First and foremost, the Opteron changes all the rules by moving the memory controller on-die. On the PPC 970 and Intel P4/Xeon the memory controller hangs off the memory and processor controller chip (often called a "Northbridge", a name that dates back to early PCI days). This means that they are sharing one bus for both their memory tranfic and general purpose I/O. On the Opteron the two buses are separate. It has a 128-bit wide, 400MT/s (6.4GB/s) memory bus AND not one but *THREE* 1600MT/s dual 16-bit unidirectional Hypertransport connections for all other I/O. That's 3.2GB/s in either direction for each of the three HT links. Plus, since it's a NUMA architecture, in multiprocessor systems this bandwidth adds together rather than being shared.

    What's perahps even more important than the raw bandwidth advantage the Opteron has over other setups is the latency advantage. Since everything is integrated onto the processor it significantly reduces the latency for I/O. In many applications latency is actually more important than raw bandwidth.

    Long story short, don't look at just the clock speeds (or even the effective clock speeds that the marketing people like to toss around), there's a lot more too it than that. All three of these chips (PowerPC 970, Opteron and Xeon) have various advantages and disadvantages, but when it comes to I/O, the Opteron is far and away the leader of
  • Re:Fan Control? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Beetjebrak ( 545819 ) on Thursday April 08, 2004 @11:38AM (#8804018) Homepage
    Current test builds of YDL have this problem solved. The fans run properly on my dual 2GHz. G5. It may just be me, but YDL seems to run the machine even quieter than OSX. And yes, they do accellerate when the system is under load or room temperature rises significantly.
  • Re:Fan Control? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Wesley Felter ( 138342 ) <> on Thursday April 08, 2004 @11:41AM (#8804072) Homepage
    Yes, there is fan control. You can even read temperature and power data out of /proc.
  • by Wesley Felter ( 138342 ) <> on Thursday April 08, 2004 @11:45AM (#8804109) Homepage
    It's here []: IBM SDK for 64-bit iSeries/pSeries.
  • Re:Just curious (Score:3, Informative)

    by mduell ( 72367 ) on Thursday April 08, 2004 @11:46AM (#8804127)
    Xeon - 533MHz (133Mhz x 4)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 08, 2004 @12:26PM (#8804596)
    gentoo does...i've used it on my ibook with no probs.

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