Think Linux will run ok on a Bondi blue iMac 333mhz, 288MB ram, 6GB HD, OSX 10.3.9, CD-Rom tray drive?
Most recent Linux versions will run on any PPC, from the 7100 on up. Getting it on there may be the trick.
I think with your machine the link to the debian installer above will install straight from the CD. Yours is considered a New World PPC. Burn the ISO with Disk Utility, but don't open the ISO and mount it, it may corrupt it. Just drag the ISO to DU on the left, highlight it and burn. You'll need to use the CD installer since the iMac won't do DVD.
There is the small CD I linked to above, you download only one 200M file. It boots from the one small CD and then downloads the rest of the parts over the internet. I think I'm going to download the whole DVD installer though as there are different kinds of installs, web server, print server, etc. I'd like to try different ones to see what the difference is and having it local on disc would be a much faster install than over the internet probably. It takes close to 3 hours on the G4.
In your case, those tray loading drives can be flaky so doing the web install may make it easier on the drive though as it is an 8 CD install.
The G4 that I installed it on above is picky as to the video card. The stock card only does 800x600 from a stock install, the driver has to be modified to go higher. I saw some stuff on the debian forums but haven't tried it yet.
I tried a couple of newer video cards to see if it was the older card but then it just booted to console saying "debian couldn't start xserver." That too can be fixed with a driver mod. I tried but it is pretty involved. When I have the time maybe, I'll probably stick with the stock card, it's a 16M ATI so it should be fine, I just want to get the resolution higher.
That will work fine. You'll have a much better OS X experience.
Might want to scrape up a little more RAM but that's a decent start. One thing you definitely want to do first before you start installing stuff on it is to install an extra internal drive and clone the system to it using SuperDuper or something in case something breaks, since you don't have any install discs for it. SD does a 1:1 bootable copy of the HD to another HD.
I know I'm pushing it now, but, down the road, the processor can upgraded for around $100 to a faster processor and run Leopard, 10.5.8.
I use my old Beige G3 in my garage as an internet radio server. The iTunes radio tuner sill streams fine. Running OS 9.2.2. I also installed Classilla in case I need to browse the web for something. It all works great. Tried to install Linux back in the day and yeah...way too much trouble. OS 9 runs like lightning on it.
I have an old 400 MHz G4 Digital Audio tower in my computer room that I upgraded the processor on years ago to 1.2 GHz. It is running Leopard and is an excellent file server. Heck the kids still use it to surf the web too. You might want to check out G4 processor upgrades. They are relitavley cheap these days. I think you can even get dual 2 GHz processor upgrades for most of the old G4 towers. Between that and 1.5 GB RAM and a couple of 120 GB HDs in it...not a bad little machine for almost nothing.
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