Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Debian drops powerpc

This blog isn't generally or at least currently concerned with Linux/ppc happenings, primarily because that isn't my personal area of expertise and I use OS X/MacOS on almost all of my Power Macs, but this is rather major news that needs to be distributed a little more widely: Debian is dropping big-endian ppc and ppc64 in Stretch/Debian 9. The decision seems to be based on insufficient port maintainers. Because Ubuntu is based on Debian, the same should be expected in their next release, as well as any of the other Debian derivatives.

Power Architecture is not going away from Debian; they will still support little-endian 64-bit PowerPC, better known as ppc64el, and coincidentally the same architecture as the Raptor Talos which will run a wide choice of Linux distributions and probably some *BSDs. (It's up to $228K of $3.7M. I'm already in for a board and CPU. Back now!) And do note that Debian has stopped support for current architectures before like SPARC, so such a move is hardly unprecedented. But this is really bad news for our PowerPC friends in Amiga-land, and may seriously disturb the viability of boutique systems such as the AmigaOne X5000 -- AmigaOS is a lovely OS but it lacks the range of Linux on that hardware, and Debian was one of the lowest barriers to entry.

This doesn't mean some insane energetic freak like me couldn't take Debian/ppc and keep it rolling, but they'll have to step up now and a lot of work is in store. If you want a supported Linux on Power, however, you're gonna have to go POWER8. Otherwise, it might be a good time to check out NetBSD.


  1. Sad... =(
    I wish I could code.

    And people will keep buying faster and faster computers that feel same slow because of bloated bloated software and Internet.

  2. There is talk that PowerPC will be moved to ports, where unsupported archs go. There is still Gentoo that supports PowerPC.

  3. Don't worry, PowerPC is still alive and kicking over here in FreeBSD land. Come to the dark side.

  4. Tempted to become a maintainer because i still use my g5 (of which i own 3).

  5. Emm hmm.

    I am still using a PowerMac G5 Quad with NVIDIA graphics - as I still maintain a Linux distribution for multiple architectures (including PPC and PPC64).

    While it is expected that we should switch to POWER8 sometime in the future (if I were going to stick with POWER), is there any affordable (~1500 USD) solution for such machines/boards? Talos simply seemed too high in the price range at the moment - I guess it's down to the amount on the market?

    1. Mingcong,

      Actually, yes, this is, and you can buy one today. The base model is a dual-core, P5020-based e5500 powerpc64 machine, and the step up is quad core. Reach out to me if you'd like more info.

  6. I am thinking of trying gentoo on my g5. Also,
    looking at using a mac pro 5,1. Any thoughts on these two thoughts, gentoo on the power pc and using the intel mac pro?

  7. I have used gentoo on my G5 and it works well.


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