home   |   submit: news, guide, question   |   volunteer   |   Blog   |   TuxPPC

Sponsored by
Sponsored by PowerMax.com

Buy iMac
PowerMax: From $488
Apple Store: From $799

Trade-In your Mac...

News Editions
RS6k Linux
LinuxPPC 64

About TuxPPC

About iMac

About Linux

Getting Started

Getting Help
TuxPPC Forums
Mailing Lists
IRC - Chat
Linux Documentation
Archived Q&A

User Resources


Debian Debian
Linux Mandrake Mandrake
Yellow Dog Yellow Dog
details ...

Software Picks
1. Apache
2. Demarc
3. Snort
4. Mozilla
5. Yaboot/Ybin




more ..

  iMacLinux Edition Wednesday, 04 June 2003  

Software for PowerPC Linux
This page discusses what software is compatible with PowerPC Linux. Software titles known to work (or not work) can be found here. Send suggestions, additions, corrections to [email protected].

Finding Software for PowerPC Linux
There are many places on the internet to find open source software for Linux. The majority of Linux applications will compile under Linux for the PowerPC, ones that don't usually require only minimal changes depeneding on the application. Obviously, applications that are architecture specific, such as SVGA utils for the x86 platform, will NOT work on the PowerPC. We recommend using Freshmeat or SourceForge as a means to location applications for Linux.

Open Source Software Compatible with PowerPC Linux

Most software that you can obtain the source code for will compile and work on the PowerPC. Several Open Source Linux programs known to work with PowerPC Linux are mentioned below.


  • BOCHS - x86 Emulator, Similar to VirtualPC. Allows you to run many PC OS's including Microsoft Windows.
  • Mac-on-Linux - Runtime Environment, similar to Classic, that allows you to run another PowerPC OS full screen or in an X Window. It is known to boot Mac OS 9.04, additional Linux installations, and BeOS. Mac OS X compatibility is being worked on.

Desktop / User Interface

  • K Desktop Environment 2.0 - An complete Desktop Environment (Interface) for Linux
  • Helix GNOME 1.2 - Another Popular Desktop Environment (Interface) for Linux
  • Blackbox - Lightweight, Nice Looking Window Manager
  • Enlightenment - Nice Looking, Extremely Flexible "Desktop Shell"
  • Oroborus - Oroborus is a really small, well configurable and themeable windowmanager


  • gcc compiler suite - Popular Developer Tools
  • KDevelop - KDE Integrated Development Environment
  • gIDE - GNOME Integrated Development Environment
  • QtInterface Builder - KDE Interface Building Software
  • Glade - GNOME Interface Building Software
  • OpenMotif - Motif 2.1 (compatible with 1.4) for PowerPC Linux.


  • Abiword - Cross Platform GTK+ Word Processor, Similar (But Less Complete) to MS Word
  • KOffice - KDE Office Suite, to be released with KDE 2.0
  • Gnumeric - Popular GNOME Spreadsheet that supports 95% of all Excel commands


  • Apache - World's Most Used Web Server
  • Bind - DNS Server
  • Galeon - GNOME Mozilla Front-end
  • Konqueror Web Browser - Built in KDE 2 Web Browser
  • Mozilla - Open-Source Web Browser, Bases for Netscape 6
  • NcFTP - Command-line FTP Client
  • SendMail - Popular Mailserver
  • Skipstone - GTK+ Mozilla Front-end


  • xamin - Xamin can play Quicktime flattened 2.5 or earlier movies, along with many .AVI movies. Easy to use front-ends like Aktion! are avalible.
  • XMMS - A Multimedia Player for playing Mp3s and other media. Similar to MacAMP.

Binary-Only Software for PowerPC Linux


  • Absoft Pro Fortran - Professional Fortran-95 compiler.
  • Communigate Pro - Professional, High-end Mail Server Software
  • Metrowerks IDE - Metrowerks has released a port of their excellent IDE to PowerPC Linux.


  • Civilization: Call to Power - Build your empire for the ages, using PowerPC Linux.
  • Myth II - "Bungie's fantasy adventure is now available for Linux! Only you can save the free peoples of the West from Soulblighter's enthrallment."
  • Railroad Tycoon II - "Can you outdo Vanderbilt and build a railroad colossus to last through the decades? Or will you be stuck with the commuter line to Poughkeepsie?"
  • Eric's Ultimate Solitaire - A Mac OS Classic -- "..23 challenging card games for anyone, from the novice to the expert. Delta Tao's classic is now available for Linux PowerPC and x86.


  • Applixware - Applix has brought it's popular office suite to the PowerPC. It has word processing, spreadsheet, presentations and more.
  • Blender 1.8 and 2.0 - NaN has ported it's Blender package to to the PowerPC. It is a full featured 3D modeling program.
  • OpenOffice - The "open" version of the StarOffice suite.


  • Opera Web Browser - A lightweight, commercial, web-browser that is an popular alternative to Netscape Communicator and Microsoft Internet Explorer on Microsoft Windows.
  • Netscape Communicator 4.7.3 - Many people consider this to be one of the most useful and most important PowerPC Linux apps out there. It is a full featured web browser, mail client, news client, HTML editor and more. Plug-in support doesn't work yet.


  • RealPlayer 7 - Watch Internet Video on PowerPC Linux. It's a bit unstable, but works quite well. It's much faster and simpler then the Mac OS version. When downloading, make sure to get the Community Supported PowerPC Linux version.

Software Incompatible with PowerPC Linux


  • VMWare - Re-maps x86 instructions to allow a second OS to run on an x86 Machine. As it doesn't do any x86 emulation, it's incompatible with PowerPC.
  • Plex86 - Remaps x86 instructions to allow a second OS to run on an x86 Machine. As it doesn't do any x86 emulation, it's incompatible with PowerPC. Try using BOCHS, which emulates an complete x86 completely in software.
  • Wine - Currently relies on an x86 processor, to re-map x86 calls. With a little bit of work, winelib could possibly run PowerPC binaries linked to it.


  • IBM DB/2 - It currently does not have PowerPC Linux binaries, even though it does for x86.

Desktop/User Interface

  • CDE - CDE is not currently avalible for the PowerPC.
  • GNUstep - Currently has problems that prevent compilation on the PowerPC.


  • Corel WordPerfect - x86 Only Binary. Also, WordPerfect 9 relies on Wine emulation, which is unavailable on the PowerPC.
  • StarOffice - x86 Only Binary. OpenOffice, the open source successor to StarOffice is available for the PowerPC.


  • Flash Plug-in - No Plug-in Support In Netscape, Also a x86 Binary Only
  • Netscape Plug-ins - Netscape Communicator 4.73 for PowerPC Linux can not use plug-ins. Try using another browser that can load Netscape plug-ins like Konqueror, or Mozilla.

Why Won't A Program Work with PowerPC Linux?

No PowerPC Specific Binaries

If the source code is not avalible, and there is no pre-compiled PowerPC Linux binary it won't work on PowerPC Linux. PowerPC Linux is NOT binary compatible with x86/Intel Linux or other Linuxes. It is however compatible with MkLinux binaries, and all PowerPC Linux binaries support all platforms that support PowerPC Linux. Mac OS and Mac OS X binaries will NOT work on PowerPC Linux, nor will they work on Mac OS or Mac OS X. However, you can run these programs on-top of the free Virtual Machine Mac-on-Linux, assuming you also have the required OS booted and running.

Endianess Issues

iMacs, iBooks and PowerMacs (which use the PowerPC CPU) are big endian, while x86 machines are little endian. Endianess is the way the CPU reads binary numbers, if a program assumes it's running on a little endian machine and a not big endian machine it will be seriously broken on the PowerPC. An example of this is many of the Napster-clones are broken on the PowerPC. Thankfully, many of them (including gnapster and knapster) have been patched, so they work correctly on the PowerPC.

i386 (Or Other Platform) Assembly

Assembly Code is low level processor instructions. This makes it dependent on a certain CPU. This means things like x86 binutils (really fast common utilities written in assembly) won't work the PowerPC. The only way to make such code work on the PowerPC is re-write it in a higher level language (C, C++, Perl, etc.) or re-write it in PowerPC assembly.

PowerPC Little Endian Sound

For compatibility reasons PowerPC Linux has little endian sound drivers. Some programs (like EsounD) expect big endian sound on big endian systems. MkLinux and old versions of PowerPC Linux (pre-2.1.24) use big endian sound.

Accessing Special x86 Features

Some apps like those that measure CPU temp. won't work do to PowerPC processors work different then there x86 equivalents (note this example does not apply to G4 processors running Linux 2.4 with Tempeture in /proc.)

PowerPC Linux's File-system is Little Endian ext2fs

Old versions of MkLinux and LinuxPPC used to use a big endian version ext2fs, however all modern versions are little endian (like the x86). This could possibly break some tools that directly access the filesytem, and assume that on a big endian system the filesytem is big endian.

GCC 2.95 is Very Strict

gcc is very strict about the C++ standard, it will stop compiling certain programs due to certain errors. Try opening the Makefile in the directory where it fails, and add to the CXXFLAGS= and CPPFLAGS= lines the flag -fpermissive.

v_align Works Different on The PowerPC

This function works quite differently on the PowerPC then on i386 machines. This can cause all kinds of problems compiling on the PowerPC, it's best to ask about this kind of question on linuxppc-dev mailing list.

Relies on Libraries or Software non-Existent on the PowerPC

Most of the libraries that are avalible on the i386 are also avalible on the PowerPC. There are a few exceptions however -- such as binary only ones (such as the Mp3.com secure software), GNUstep (currently broken on the PowerPC because of other problems), WINE (a port is happening, with an x86 emulator, but it's far from usable), etc.

Author:   Andrew B. Arthur
Version:   2.0
Last Update:   2002-05-30 13:54:00
  Legal and Privacy Notices Copyright © 2001 OpaqueNetworks.com