8 Jul 2007 pipeman   » (Journeyer)

Vacation mac-on-mac-on-linux

My vacation has started. Of course, that means sitting up all night getting red-eyed making random hacks. Pretty much the same stuff as usual, that is.

I've found myself booting into Linux on my Mac at home more often nowadays. Ubuntu 7.04 does quite a good job on my PPC Mac Mini. I noticed that IBM has a JDK for PPC - and it was even available in some repository through apt. My two biggest annoyances to date: Flash and no Compiz or Beryl. The open-source Flash implementation that is what you'll have to live with if you're on PPC (Macromedia hasn't released a PPC version of their own player) can't play YouTube videos (which is possibly the most important job for Flash on my computer) and seems to crash the browser occasionally. Also, web sites that tries to figure out whether you have Flash installed or not, tend to think that you don't. As to Compiz/Beryl, I've become so used to having wobbling windows at work, so when I sit at a Linux desktop without any desktop effects, it feels all stiff and, well, boring. It's like rounded corners: it just makes things feel more natural. I did in fact get some wobbliness out of SUSE 10.1 for PPC, however, the graphics drivers were pretty messy and my screen ended up with the colours inverted. I eventually gave up, after many hours of X configuration file editing.

Another annoyance is the lack of write support for journaled HFS+ filesystems, which is what most of my disks are formatted in. I currently haven't yet figured out a good filesystem that works reliably in both Linux and Mac. I have lots of media files that I want to access from both environments, and that doesn't work out too well. Now, I haven't checked up on the ext2/ext3 support in Mac OS for a few months, but last time I checked, there was an ext2 filesystem driver for OS X that worked OK, except that it seemed to often fail to unmount the filesystem cleanly, and then refusing to mount it on subsequent reboots (as it was dirty and there was no fsck). For now, I've been using HFS+ for my big media disk - I can at least safely read from it - we'll see if I totally mess it up if I try writing to it. For my portable hard disk, I've even used NTFS (since I need to mount it in Windows and it needs to store virtual machine images of several gigabytes, so FAT32 is a no-go) and when needed used ntfs-3g to mount it in both Linux and OS X. Very slow, but works for dropping files back and forth.

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