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I want to run a Linux server distribution virtually on my PowerMac G5 (PPC) server with running 10.5.8. Is there a product you could recommend to do that? My main reason is that I like Mac OS X for many things but I grow tired of working on compiling new Apache modules and they never work because of Apple's dependencies (not asking for help compiling these. It's a lost cause right now.)

The main thing I want to do is run Apache on the linux machine, hit MySQL or other databases, i.e., for a web server with all the trimmings. I will probably join my Windows domain via samba with the virtual Linux installation. I will let my Mac do other stuff.

Thank you for any help.

EDIT: This virtual server would be a production server, unless that is a bad idea (please tell me if it is.)

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8 Answers 8

Is there a reason you want to run it in a virtual machine and not run it natively? There are still lots of distributions that run natively on PPC, so don't feel like you've GOT to run it in a VM.

If you are tied to the idea of a VM, know that it's probably going to be ugly. Most of the virtualization platforms for PPC Macs aren't virtulization engines so much as emulation engines. Since there's no Intel-compatible hardware layer, they've got to completely pretend, which leads to incredibly slow performance. The only one that MAY offer some performance that I know of may be QEMU. There's a Linux-on-PPC forum

Good luck. If you can't get native virtualization and you don't want to run native linux, then I think having a production server running on an emulated platform would be a bad idea. Since you asked.

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Unless you have some compelling reason to keep OSX I would use YellowDog. As a RedHat shop I can say that RHEL has maintenance issues with Apple PPC, and CentOS hasn't released a PPC version in a long time. I instead used YellowDog and have had good luck with it so far. I can manage it the same as I do other RHEL systems. The only difference I have found is that since the kernel image names are different, any scripts that parse that must be modified.

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VirtualBox won't work as it works on Intel only, it doesn't emulate CPU. There is Microsoft Virtual PC and maybe some other emulator of Intel CPU.

For virtual exercises I'd find an Intel Mac, much easier and vastly more performance as the CPU doesn't need to be emulated.

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This does not answer the surface question, but, for running Apache with MySQL or PostgreSQL, take a look at BitNami Stacks. They have compiled all the standard stuff you would want for a webserver (in a universal binary), and it stands alone without dependancies on your system's libraries.

They have "application stacks", with things like Moodle, Joomla, MediaWiki, Wordpress, ocPortal (which looks awesome!) pre-installed, and "infrastructure stacks" -- a MAMP stack, a MAMP stack, a Django stack and a Ruby stack. There is a lot of great stuff there.

You are right. It is not worth the pain to try to compile these things on OS X. But downloading and installing these stacks are great. [I haven't run any in a production system yet, but, with a pass over the config files, I don't see a reason not to.]

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virtualisation is one possible method of doing what you want but, since the machine you're talking about is a G5 PPC Mac (i.e. quite old and slow by today's standards), AND it sounds like you're using it as your main workstation as well ("do other stuff") AND it's intended to be a production server, IMO a far better option is to pick up a second-hand P4 or better PC and install linux on that.

Getting linux installed and working on a real PC will be a lot less hassle than getting it running in a virtualisation environment on hardware that is both ancient AND a completely different CPU/architecture/platform (virtualisation sw, if you can find any for a PPC Mac will almost certainly emulate an i386 PC rather than run native ppc code)

Given that you can buy brand-new 64-bit AMD or Intel headless whitebox clones with 4GB or 8GB of RAM and 500GB or more of hard disk space (and Gb NIC, IDE, SATA, etc) starting from about $500 AUD (about $400 USD) these days, you can probably get a 2nd-hand P4 with 1GB RAM for $200 or so. or recycle someone's obsolete-but-still-overpowered desktop machine.

depending on how much load your production server is expected to get, you may even get away with an old Pentium-II or something - you can pick them up for free, although they're less likely to have a built-in network card (will cost $20 or so)

Also, AFAIK, Virtual Box only runs on Intel Macs, not PPC. I think Parallels does too. Microsoft's Virtual PC for the Mac ran on PPC. if it's still available to purchase anywhere, it will probably cost a significant percentage of what buying a second-hand or even new whitebox PC clone would cost. It also emultes PC hardware so you'd have to run an i386 linux rather than a native PPC linux.

To summarise:

don't bother. get a cheap pc to run linux on.

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+1 Spend a (fairly) small amount of money and eliminate a lot of headaches and stuffing around. –  John Gardeniers Aug 13 '09 at 1:35

i would NOT run a production server instance on a desktop machine. Too many outside parameters influencing its behaviour.

it makes perfect sense to do so for "helper instances" and I do this on my MacBook. If this is a strong requrement for you, consider migrating to an intel-based Mac.

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Try VirtualBox www.virtualbox.org. It works perfectly on OSX, it's less bloated than its competitors and it's provided by Sun Microsystems.

EDIT: OOPS! Totally missed that part about you using a PPC Mac. Disregard my recommendation as VirtualBox will not work on PPC Architecture.

You may want try and find a copy of Virtual PC 7, that should allow you to install and run Linux within OSX.

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VBox does not run on PPC CPU :( –  slovon Aug 12 '09 at 19:14
    
Another thing, the free, pre-built version of VBox isn't licensed for server use. You either have to buy a license or compile the OSE yourself. Just a little something that not many people seem to be aware of. –  Brian Knoblauch Aug 12 '09 at 19:42
    
To further clarify the VirtualBox license, it is free for personal and/or academic use, or for evaluation. –  Berkus Aurelius Aug 12 '09 at 20:03
    
or you could use the open source edition ("Virtual Box OSE"). it is missing a few (mostly irrelevant) features from the non-OSE version, but doesn't have restrictions on use. VBox OSE is available as source code and as pre-compiled packages for a variety of operating systems. Not on the PPC, of course. –  cas Aug 12 '09 at 23:58

On Mac hardware the virtualization platform you'd probably want to go with is VMware's Fusion. Solid product and can't go wrong with VMware. You can also look at Parallels. Both of these products are aimed at desktop virtualization though (i.e. running vms locally for testing). You looking to run a prod Linux server from this solution?

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yes. a production server. –  johnny Aug 12 '09 at 18:00
    
Those apps run on Intel Macs, not PPC. –  Scott Pack Aug 12 '09 at 18:10
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he's got a G5, both Fusion and Parallels are Intel-only products. He could try to find a copy of Virtual PC for Mac, the PPC version from years ago. That or wipe the thing and run yellow-dog linux on the box natively, of course he'd lose OSX doing that. –  Chopper3 Aug 12 '09 at 18:12
    
so there is no way to do it with the G5? –  johnny Aug 12 '09 at 18:14
    
read my answer ffs –  Chopper3 Aug 12 '09 at 18:20

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