If you are looking to extend the life of your G4 or G5 PowerPC machine, open source software is a valuable tool for interesting software packages that can provide better security and breath some life into our aging computers.

One of the Linux variants that is available for PowerPC Macs is Lubuntu-Remix.

You won’t find this one on the official Lubuntu pages, because it is maintained by “wicknix” over on the MacRumors forum. He provides a few different versions, including one that is based off of Ubuntu 16 and works better on G5s. The one I have been utilizing to test some things out is MacBuntu, based off of Ubuntu 12 but with some newer software packages and more modern web browser options. Oh, and a shiny little bit of Mac friendliness like a faux Dock.

As you can see from the screenshot, MacBuntu is functional and provides some nice software options right out of the box (including ArcticFox pictured above). You will need to pay attention to your boot options, as Linux on PowerPC machines often requires making some adjustments to the boot string to make the GPUs function correctly. Without doing so, the system will likely lock up. There are helpful guides in the thread, and wicknix does a great job answering questions from newbies.

In the screenshot above, I am running MacBuntu on an old Mac mini G4. It doesn’t take too long to boot into the desktop, and it is decently responsive. You can browse the web, although webpages are fairly slow to load. Using terminal is of course nice. I also enable a vnc server, so I can remotely log in and tinker with it a bit. Ultimately, it works, and it’s something nice to mess with on a machine that is old and is limited to 1GB of RAM. Keep all that in mind as you tinker with it.

The other challenge is figuring out ways to load the OS in the first place since using a CD/DVD is likely the friendliest solution, but in my case and many others, the old slot loading CD/DVD drives in these PowerPC machines have reached the end of their life. I ended up just pulling mine out, so I was able to get the G4 to boot off a flash drive. It took some trial and error though.

I won’t say that it is as pleasant to use or speedy as a Leopard or Tiger install. It certainly isn’t as fast as OS 9 (which you can install on these old G4s). But since some of the software is newer, it is a nice alternative to throw in the mix and tinker with.

6 thoughts on “Lubuntu-Remix”

  1. Thanks for the review! I know you didn’t use a dvd to install, so if you can, mount that iso/usb again as there is an included readme.txt with tips on how to enable the included hosts file to block ads which speeds up browsing, how to set up the dock to keep your most used programs in it like on OS X and theme it. How to set up the browsers to play youtube, and some other stuff. Here is the revised youtube instructions: and a video of how well it works:

    • Yes. Great stuff that I should have mentioned. I wanted to do a real deep dive with like a video showcase of MacBuntu, and maybe I will still do it at some point. Time has not been on my side.

      I do some network level blocking of ads, so I’m not sure if I noticed a major change with the hosts file. It is a nice tip though to make browsing more bearable.

      And I tend to watch Youtube on other devices, so I haven’t messed with the Youtube stuff either. I did try to capture a screen recording, and it was pretty slow. Maybe I need to tinker with my video settings some more, as I am only using radeon.agpmode=-1 right now. Should do the offset piece as well?

  2. Not for free but for little money you can also get MorphOS from you can download and install the full version for free. It only slows down after 30min of use if you did not register for a keyfile. After your next reboot you will have the full speed again. And of course if you registered and payed for your keyfile then it will not slowdown any more.

    MorphOS is different from Linux, it is in the tradition of AmigaOS. You can run most of the software written for AmigaOS that follows the system standards and does not address hardware registers directly. Compared to Linux, MorphOS is very efficient with the hardware ressources and much more speedy than Linux. You can copy the ISO and the boot.img file to the root directory of a thumb drive and boot from that. No need to write a DVD or CD. Here is how you can do that:

    A lot of free software can be found on and A good forum for questions is Not everyone will like it but you can take a look, try things out for free. It costs you no money because you can reboot and enjoy full speed until you decide to register or not use it any longer.

    • Sorry about the missing comment – I actually have my Spam Filter on the site catch the comments for now, so I have to approve them and that can take a few minutes if I am in the middle of something else.

      Yes, I really like MorphOS, and I ran the demo CD on the Mac Mini. It was zippy. I haven’t purchased a copy yet, but I remain intrigued.

  3. You can play around with the boot parameters if you want. If you include video=offb:off and radeon.modeset=0 along with radeon.agpmode=-1 it should enable full 3D acceleration. While that helps in web page scrolling and other things it has adverse effects on playing videos. They still play, but for some reason at much higher cpu use. I myself just use the radeonfb driver, which gives you 2d/3d software emulated acceleration which is the default when you only use radeon.agpmode=-1.

    As for MorphOS, yes it’s fast, but… most people use their computers to access the web, and it’s biggest sore thumb are the majorly outdated web browsers. They render horribly on most the sites i frequent, or just don’t load the pages at all due to lack of current javascripting support. So for me, it’s just a tinker around with OS. I wouldn’t pay for it until they fix this glaring issue.



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