Strange Weekend

So this has been a bit of a strange long weekend for me. It’s the first long weekend in several years for which I’ve had absolutely nothing to do. Normally I’m away or (sadly) working for long weekends, but this one just snuck up on me, and I had nothing planned. (That might be why I posted such whiny drivel on Friday night, who knows?)

Eventually I decided to tackle a problem that had been dogging me for a few years. Back in 2001 or so, my friend Ray got paid for some work he’d done with some old Macs. He didn’t really want them so he sold me an old Bondi Blue G3 for a hundred bucks. As soon as I got it home I formatted the thing with Gentoo Linux and voilà, super cheap, super efficient file server.

It’s now 2008. That install of Gentoo was long in the tooth and entirely impossible to upgrade and, to be honest, I really didn’t want to deal with Gentoo’s maintenance crap ever again, so I went on the hunt for a new, easy to maintain PPC Linux distribution.

My first thought was Ubuntu, because I’ve been so happy with their x86 distribution, but I remembered that they’d dropped PPC support so I decided to look at OpenSUSE, because they still offer a supported version of PPC Linux. They don’t have a live cd, though, and my G3 only has a cd drive, so that was a bust.

Next I tried Fedora 9. Since I have a really fast net conection I tried the net install. Fedora 9 didn’t like something in the video setup if my Mac – it refused to fire up X11 – but I figured I’d do a text mode install and configure X myself afterwards. Something like 14 hours later, I had an install of Fedora 9 that wouldn’t boot. It just cycled between stage 1 bootstrap and stage 2 bootstrap. Here’s where I reveal to the world that I’m capable of shocking stupidity: I downloaded all 7 cd images for a full install of Fedora 9 and tried again. Same result. More shocking stupidity: I tried the Fedora 8 live cd. That was actually worse than Fedora 9! The live cd successfully brought up X11, but the machine ran slower than I’d have ever imagined possible – we’re talking minutes between mouse clicks and reaction. If the mouse cursor didn’t respond to mouse motion I’d have thought the machine had locked. Worse, the install program locked hard halfway through the install – right at the drive partition stage.

In desperation, I hit up Google for PPC Linux recommendations and found a community port of Ubuntu 8.04.1 [face palm]. Why the Hell didn’t I just look for that in the first place? Less than two hours after burning the live cd I had, once again, a fully functional G3 running Linux.

The second stage of the weekend quest was to get a UPNP server running so I could stream music to my PS3. (My receiver has an all channel stereo mode that makes listening to music a totally club-like experience – much better than listening from the computer.) I started off with MediaTomb, which seemed to be utterly perfect. It worked exactly the way it claimed to … with a small subset of my music collection. Attempting to import the whole collection resulted in MediaTomb segfaulting. Every subsequent attempt to restart yielded a segfault within 10s. Also, importing into the DB took *ages*. So, back to the drawing board. Next candidate: GMediaServer. This started off well – simple install, rapid startup, and every file showed up on the PS3 in the media browser. Of course, it couldn’t be that easy. Every file came up as unsupported media. They’d all played when served by MediaTomb, so I decided to blame GMediaServer.

Next up: uShare. Just as easy to set up as GMediaServer, and it worked perfectly on a small subset of my library. Importing the whole library, though, caused uShare to crash. At this point I’m figuring I have some data that neither uShare nor MediaTomb cares for – if I’d realized this earlier I probably would have stick with MediaTomb, but now I’m going to stay with uShare for its simplicity. I need to figure out where the broken data is, but that shouldn’t be too hard, but it will be tedious; I’ve got a couple of hundred gigs of music that I’ve bought or ripped over the years. Yay, something to occupy my evenings for the next week. :/