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Installing SUSE Linux 10.1 on a PowerPC Mac

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Since version 7, PowerPC versions of SUSE Linux have been conspicuously absent from the SUSE desktop lineup. Instead, SUSE and Novell have focused on x86 (and x86_64) versions of their desktop Linux distribution. With version 10.0, PowerPC support returned to SUSE, but Novell has quite a few kinks that need to be worked out before this distro hums like its x86 counterpart, starting with some killer problems with installation.

Before diving in and installing SUSE 10.1 on my PowerBook, I wanted to take it for a test drive, particularly because SUSE's installer cannot shrink existing Mac HFS+ partitions on the fly. A full installation of SUSE on a PowerPC Mac requires a fresh installation of Mac OS X, followed by the restoration of all applications, preferences, and data. That's a big commitment! Given the hesitancy with which one may approach a new distribution, one might expect that a PowerPC live CD would be a priority for the openSUSE project, but there is none for version 10.0 or 10.1 for the PowerPC.

Since my PowerBook doubles as a portable recording studio, I did not want to mess with my OS X installation. There was one other testing option before me, however: installation on an external drive. Having seen a tutorial for partitioning an iPod for -- amongst other things -- Linux installation, I decided to try installing SUSE 10.1 using my iPod as an external hard disk.

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