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Debian/PowerPC History

The PowerPC port started in 1997 after the German Linux Kongress in Würzburg where the Debian project was sponsored a PowerPC for development issues.

Fortunately working boot- and rootdisks were found at LinuxPPC and we could try to install something on the machine. Unfortunately this required some programs that only run under Mac OS. The only way to install them was to get another machine running Mac OS who has them already installed. Since data exchange with other non-Mac OS machines were only able through msdos-formatted floppies this was a chicken-and-egg problem.

Somehow we managed to hook another disk to the machine and installed Linux on it. That was Apple's famous DR 1. Suddenly we begun to port dpkg and friends to the new system. Wow, that was possible. It was impressive how the first packages were ported and built. Unfortunately DR one didn't come with a dynamic linker and shared libraries. Another problem was that the libraries and header files seemed to be somewhat outdated and we weren't able to compile a new libc out of the box. However, the biggest and most serious problem were these suspicious crashes that also screwed the file systems entirely. Fixable only by re-installations.

Klee Dienes, another Debian Developer, worked on this problem and suddenly came up with a mklinux tarball of a more recent system - a haxored Debian GNU/Linux. This tarball came with an old 1.99 version of libc. From this time the machine run stable on the network and we could continue our effort. We were compiling a lot of packages and noticed that some header files were not proper and that many programs were not compilable by the regular compiler.

So Joel Klecker, a new Debian Developer at that time, started to work on egcs and it's compilation on the PowerPC machine. After this was done the next step was to work on current libc versions. It turned out that our libc-1.99 version is incompatible to the next pre2.1 version that was needed in order to move the port into a stable state.

At this stage Hartmut Koptein switched over from m68k to the powerpc port and started development for it. Development versions of Debian/PowerPC were available in 1998 and 1999.

The port was officially released for the first time with Debian GNU/Linux 2.2 ("potato"), in August 2000.

The development of the port continues. A build daemon has been set up on voltaire.debian.org, a PowerPC machine donated by Daniel Jacobowitz, also a Debian developer.