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Debian for PowerPC

PPC-750 picture The PowerPC is a RISC microprocessor architecture developed by IBM, Motorola (now Freescale) and Apple. The PowerPC architecture allows both 64-bit and 32-bit implementations (the 64-bit implementation includes the 32-bit implementation). The first PowerPC microprocessor was the 601, a 32-bit implementation released in 1992. Several other 32-bit implementations have since been released, including the 603, 604, 750 (G3), 7400 (G4) and the PowerQUICC embedded communications processors. 64-bit implementations include the 620, POWER4, POWER5 and the 970 (G5).

Linux for the PowerPC was first released at the 2.2.x version of the kernel. A key resource for PowerPC Linux development is penguinppc, which also includes a hardware compatibility list. PowerPC support in the Linux kernel is now developed as part of the `main' Linux kernel at kernel.org.

The Debian PowerPC port began in 1997 at the German Linux Congress in Würzburg. A PowerPC machine (Motorola StarMax 4000, 200 MHz 604e) was donated to the Debian project. Additional information about this computer is available from the history page.

It first became an official release architecture with Debian GNU/Linux 2.2 (potato) and has retained that status ever since. See the release note and installation manual for further information.


There are a variety of systems using the PowerPC microprocessor. Check our Installation pages for specific information about installing Debian/PowerPC on your system.

There are some quirks you need to know about when installing on an iBook, TiBook, or iBook2, especially when dual booting with Mac OS X. Some iBook2 hardware, especially on recently introduced models, is not well supported as yet. For specific information on potential problems and solutions, study these web pages:

Debian GNU/Linux does not officially support NuBus PowerPC machines, such as the 6100, 7100, 8100 and most of the Performa series. However, an MkLinux-based kernel is available, which can be launched from a Mac OS boot loader. A Debian system can be installed using this kernel, which is available at http://nubus-pmac.sourceforge.net/.

When upgrading from Potato to Woody or upgrading really old kernels, there is some important information you should be aware of regarding a change in keyboard coding. This could save you some time and headaches!

Links - Documentation

Up-to-date information on Linux for PowerPC is at PenguinPPC. We have an older collection of PowerPC links and a couple of pointers for Debian PowerPC developers.

Hardware specifications for Apple computers are available at AppleSpec.

Contact information

If you need help, try asking for help in the following places:

Mailing Lists

The Debian PowerPC mailing list is the proper place for questions, suggestions for improvements, or just for chat concerning PowerPC systems running Debian. The debian-user list is also available for general Debian questions which are not specific to PowerPC.

To join the list, send e-mail to <debian-powerpc-request@lists.debian.org> with the word "subscribe" in the Subject line. List archives are available.

Usenet Newsgroups

Linux for PowerPC Systems

Linux in general


The #debian channel on irc.debian.org is for general topics relating to Debian, and there is the #debianppc channel for topics specific to Debian on PowerPC processors. You will almost always find someone on-line who is happy to share information and help you with your problem.

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