Tuesday, November 18th, 2014
Fighting Linux kernel
Even though my PowerMac G5 is only about a decade old, I have to face
the inevitable - one day something may break beyond repair and I will
have to move on. There are still few possibilities to buy used or
even new Power-based hardware, but it probably will not run Mac OS X,
at least not natively. But it will run Linux.
Linux is great operating system. It's a bit messy compared to most
open source BSD systems, but it is more supported by hardware vendors
and computer enthusiasts, so you can do things, you can't do anywhere
else. One of these things is KVM virtualization of PowerPC hardware.
Long time ago, there was Mac-on-Linux, software to run virtualized
OS X under Linux with almost no performance loss. As there was no
emulation involved, guest system ran on full speed of host CPU,
but AFAIK without access to AltiVec, making it equivalent to fast
PowerPC G3. Many owners of next-generation Amiga machines
(i.e. Genesi Pegasos I/II) and even some PowerMac users, who switched
for some reason to Linux used M-o-L to run OS X software.
As time (and kernel versions) went by, M-o-L wasn't maintained and
even couldn't be compiled with newer kernels. Then new hardware
came to market (Amiga X1000) and M-o-L was resurrected with KVM
support. This new version of M-o-L has the same limitations as the
old one, but at least it should compile with recent Linux distros,
so I decided to try it...
...and discovered, that nothing is as easy as it appears at first
sight. After two days of downloading and compiling different kernel
versions, I can build either older kernel version, which doesn't have
kvm-pr module (required by M-o-L) or newer version, which has kvm-pr,
but power management does not work and after five minutes my G5 has
all its fans on maximum. Each build takes about three hours, so at
the moment my frustration is on maximum. But I have to find out,
there are lots of 970FX, 970MP, POWER4 or POWER5 based servers and
workstations out there and I want them to run OS X, when I buy them.