PPC relevance in Fedora?

Warning: Something of a rant ahead… I considered not posting it, but am curious as to the responses I’ll get :-)

Okay, I know I’ve said this before, but I’m wondering why we continue with the illusion that PPC is a “primary” arch for Fedora rather than a secondary. At one point, the argument was that we were waiting until there was another viable secondary arch and then ppc would become one as well. The better part of four releases later (as I’m pretty sure I was having this discussion before Fedora 7’s release), we’re still in the same place. Maybe having ppc as a secondary arch would help to make that process smoother as those that care could help to improve the process.

As it stands, we instead say out of one side of our mouth that ppc is a primary arch but we have regularly dropped it from being included in a major development milestone, livecds were broken for 18 months (!), ps3 support is regularly broken in one way or another (and ps3 is one of the touted “most valuable” ppc platforms) and the majority of the bugs against ppc I see filed are either from jlaska or the IBM bugzilla proxy.

In any case, Fedora 11 will see restored the ability to create live images on ppc after someone reported it and Josh Boyer was kind enough to sit down and send me a patch on top of the obvious things based on the original report. Which was the original thing that got me thinking on this topic again.

But to go a step further — are you using Fedora on a ppc? If so, what kind of hardware and in what sort of use case? Inquiring minds, or at least I, want to know. Drop me a line in the comments.

15 thoughts on “PPC relevance in Fedora?”

  1. I use Fedora PPC on two older Mac notebooks, for general use. Their performance is more than adequate when running Fedora. However, once they die, they will obviously not be replaced. If Fedora were to drop support for PPC, I’d just switch them to another distribution, so the impact to me is minimal either way.

  2. Hi there,

    I recently was part of the FLISoL, the Latin American Free Software Festival and gave a speech and stuff.

    After the speech, I had some questions regarding Fedora and PPC, for both Old macs and a PS3. I was asked which Fedora release would be most suitable for PS3 and I didn’t know what to answer.

    There is definitely some interest in PPC, I wouldn’t call it “primary”, though there’s people interested in Linux on a PS3, so I wouldn’t discard that option too easily…

  3. I have an iBook laptop. If you remember, it’s an Mac with PPC processor. Nowadays, you have PPC of primary arch in Debian, Gentoo, OpenSuse and Fedora but I have problem with the last 3 distributions. I always miss some programs or you have a lot of bugs.

    If there isn’t any developer to continue with PPC development in Fedora or that development maybe be the reason for slow of the rest, I prefer to drop this support (I always have Debian). But in my opinion, we have to improve this support and hold PPC as a primary arch.

  4. Yes, I do, on a Powerbook G4 laptop. It’s a dual boot setup with OS X, and Fedora boots from an external firewire harddrive. I spend most time in OS X, but use Fedora to do some development work, and also just to make sure it keeps working on a PPC (there’s always at least one critical PPC problem with each new Alpha/Beta…), because when OS X drops support for PPC architecture, I’ll be ready to move to Fedora fulltime.

  5. We are. It’s embedded hardware, using one variant of ppc or another — cell is among them (which has the amusing side effect of us telling people we’re prototyping on a PS3). Our embedded use case is more of an appliance. I don’t understand the distinction between primary and secondary arch in Fedora, but it seems like good thing to be a primary arch and a bad thing not to be.

  6. For completeness:

    1 ppc64 G5 – Fedora 11
    1 ppc64 powerstation – Fedora 9 (soon to be 10 or 11)
    1 ppc G4 – Soon to be rawhide
    1 supercomputer with a bunch of cell blades – Fedora 8

    ok, that last one isn’t mine. but still true :)

  7. I use and have used PPC on an iBook g3, iBook g4, Powerbook G4 12″ and Powerbook G4 17″. Admittedly, the only one I still own is the latter one (Powerbook g4 17″) but I certainly have always appreciated having Fedora available to me. I do not anticipate acquiring another PPC computer any time soon, and not knowing the effort involved of creating a PPC option, I don’t know if the “cost” justifies the “pay off” but…anyway I like having Fedora PPC out there.

  8. I agree, PPC should really be a secondary arch. I’m fed up of hunting down ppc and ppc64 build failures which are more often than not bugs in the compiler, or in some cases bizarre limitations of the platform ABI (ppc64 chokes on large compilation units such as those generated by a huge SWIG interface, e.g. OpenBabel upstream had to remove some stuff from their bindings to get them to build on ppc64). Those issues shouldn’t hold progress on the real primary architectures of Fedora. (That said, it’s also true that some of the issues are generic bugs in the program, e.g. a CMake crash breaking the kdepimlibs build on ppc64 turned out to be a common string overflow which is now fixed. But hopefully such things would still be caught through the secondary arch build logs. It is not necessary to fail the build of a package which is often not the source of the bug, e.g. kdepimlibs when the bug was in cmake, the kdepimlibs builds from the faulty cmake where just fine except when the crash was triggered; this is a common occurrence with bugs in the build tools.)

  9. ibook g4. Fedora 10 and 9 installs fine in text mode, but on fedora 11 there is an anaconda bug, but in bugzilla someone said to that bug that this is a hardware problem. Ok, I’ve just installed ubuntu 9.04 and it works great. It makes me cry(

  10. For completeness

    1x G4 MacMini (rawhide [and will staty there :)])
    1x ppc64 285 F-11 (preview)
    1x G4 powerbook F-11 (preview)

    Plus a bunch of other power4,5,6 systems in the lab test Fedora “every now and then”

  11. Jeremy, your post comes up quite high for some search along the lines of “Fedora iBook G4″.

    I have Fedora 11 running now on a 6 year old iBook G4. Performance is best described as “slow”, and I’m not even using X because it’s one of those iBooks with the broken display that Apple refused to admit to or fix.

    What am I using it for? Here’s the irony: For fixing all those build problems with Fedora PPC that we hit in Koji. There’s no other practical way to fix them except to have a PPC machine to hand. In the end for me that meant recycling an old laptop.

    PPC as a primary architecture is mainly pain, particularly if you have to handle packages that generate code or are in any way “unusual” (for very small values of the word “unusual”). Welcome to qemu, KVM, ocaml, mingw32. Somehow I doubt that secondary architecture status will make anything better. The secondary architectures I’ve dealt with (Sparc64, S390x) have been plagued with broken builds, maintainers who haven’t enough time to fix the issues, and – again – complete lack of access to hardware. Now I don’t pay much attention to them.

    The only way I can see this changing is to have access to a lab of test machines (with root access) that people can reserve time on to fix their packages on the secondary architectures. That’s going to cost a large amount of money, with, realistically, hardly any return on the investment.

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