Sunday, November 22, 2015

Video Playback on PowerPC Linux

In my testing of Lubuntu and Ubuntu-MATE on my iBook G4 one things that I notice often is that when playing back video using mpv my overall CPU usage spike to the high 90s. The fan on my machine start spinning really loud and fast. I thought I would do a comparison of with Debian to see how they compare. Here are some of my findings.


iBook G4
1.42 GHz CPU
1.5 GB RAM

These findings are based on lxtask

LXDE and Openbox

Overal CPU average 50%-60%
MPV process 30%-40%

The fans not once came one and there only brief spikes to 80%-90% CPU usage.


Overal CPU average 70%-80%
MPV process 30%-40%

Even with the higher numbers due to XFCE being a heavier desktop than LXDE, video playback did not cause my fans to run. As much as I love Ubuntu based distros Debian is by far the better performer. I believe a lot of it is due how I set up Debian. When I installed the system I manually chose what applications and services were installed on my machine. Ubuntu on the other hand chooses for you what comes with the desktop. The advantage to this is you get a compete working system pretty easily. The cost of this is have a performance hit. On newer machines this may not be a big deal but on older G3 and G4 PPC machines it is a great deal. You get no more than 2GB of RAM on some machines, and a single processor for the iBooks and PowerBooks. I would never say stop using Lubuntu or Ubuntu-MATE, however give Debian a try. Yes it will take some more work than Ubuntu, however the benefits of running it are great.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Testing Lubuntu 16.04 Xenial Xerus

Now that Wiley has been released, development for Ubuntu 16.04 (Xenial Xerus) has begun. Daily images have already been posted. Both Lubuntu and Ubuntu-MATE have PowerPC images ready for testing. People over at the UbuntuForums have alreasdy begun testing the new images. Also there was hope that the radeon r300 bug was fixed if you looked at the Mesa 11.0.3 release notes. Xenial as of now comes with the Mesa 11.0.4 package. So here are my initial thoughts.


The install was pretty standard. There was nothing that stood out and to be honest this is a good thing. The installer should ask you the questions the app needs to build the system according to what you have requested. I noticed in Wiley that section the manages setting the timezone was broken and you needed to set the timezone after install. This has now been fixed.


The desktop had a realy nice default look to it. I made the panel dark using the Lubuntu-Dark theme. The panel apps I tried worked as well. I noticed in 14.04 that the weather panel app did not work. Now in 16.04 it is working. The system resource monitor worked as well. I like seeing the CPU and RAM usage plus the app launches lxtask when you click on it. A lot of the default apps that normall come with Lubuntu were not installed but this is something I expected since it is so early in development and there maybe changes as to what ships in the final release.


Sadly eventhough Mesa has stated this bug to resolved it is not the case. You cannot get 3D acceleration with radeon r300 driver with a default depth of 24. Graphics rendering has been an issue for PowerPC since moving to KMS. It is not a show stopper in using Linux on PowerPC, but it is annoying.

Browsing the Web

Firefox worked as expected. I install Midori, Qupzilla, Luakit, and Surf as well. Midori works great! It looks like even downloading files is working better. In the past there were times when that feature would crash. It is really good to see improvement there. Also uploading files is working as well. Luakit has gotten a little buggy. There were times when the browser crashed when I used it. It is something I have seen in 15.10 and I know there is an open bug report on it. Qupzilla has issues when trying to scroll down using the touch pad. Other than that it ran pretty well. Running Surf showed no issues that i could see.

My first impression of Lubuntu 16.04 are pretty optimistic. I will be checking in on it when the Alpha and Beta releases come to see how the distro is doing under PowerPC.