From: broth...@coho.halcyon.com (Joseph L. Brothers)
Subject: Linux/PowerPC FAQ
Date: 22 Jan 1995 18:32:08 GMT
Organization: NW NEXUS, Inc. -- Internet Made Easy (206) 455-3505
Summary: The Linux/PowerPC project has a FAQ now
Keywords: Linux FAQ
This is the Linux/PowerPC FAQ. If you can't find an answer to your
question here, please contact <broth...@halcyon.com>. The current
version of this FAQ is always ftpable from
It is also available as a WWW page:
Inception: 95/01/07 Danke, Andy.
Last update: 95/01/21
Q) What is "Linux/PowerPC" ?
A) Linux/PowerPC is a Linux port for computers equipped with PowerPC
processors capable of executing PowerPC 603 instructions. This
includes the 601 and 604.
At this time it is wholly imaginary.
Q) When will it be ready?
A) We will announce completion of each port phase as it is delivered.
Q) On what hardware will Linux/PowerPC run ?
A) Our first target platform was the Apple 601-based PowerMac series
without PCI bus.
Our second target is Motorola's 603-based PowerStack series with ISA
and PCI busses.
These two ports are separate tasks being handled by separate teams.
There is some crossover of expertise between the teams.
Second generation PowerMacs with PCI and IBM PowerPersonal PC's are
being considered as targets. IBM POWER architecture machines in
earlier series, such as the RS6000 40P, are possible future
targets. Far future targets.
Q) Where is the code?
A) The Linux kernel is being rearranged by Linus Torvalds to accomodate
non-Intel kernel development. Each port is getting its own "arch"
directory in the source tree. When there is some code for
Linux/PowerPC, that is where it will appear. See the Linux FAQ for
kernel source ftp sites.
See also the tools question, below.
Q) Is Linux/PowerPC little or big endian ?
PowerPCs take their instructions big end first, but can be set to
take their data either way. Set for little-endian data, a PowerPC
slows down about 3%. Linux/PowerPC is big-endian for the following
1) The PowerMac operating system is big-endian;
2) The cross-compilers currently available are big-endian;
3) AIX, the IBM POWER/PowerPC operating system, is big-endian;
4) It is a physical fact, like gravity, that big-endian is The
Q) Is Linux/PowerPC a 64 bit OS ?
A) No, Linux/PowerPC is a 32-bit operating system for two reasons:
1) Linux/PowerPC is based on the latest Linux/i386 sources. As
long as Linux/i386 is a 32-bit system Linux/PowerPC will be too.
2) The 603 is a 32-bit implementation of the PowerPC architecture.
Q) What is the state of the project ?
A) The project is "in transition".
The Linux/PowerPC port started in June 1994 with several student
volunteers, an Intel 486 running Linux, and some first-generation
Apple PowerMacs. They were soon joined by a handful of private
individuals with strengths in compiler and kernel building.
Unfortunately, little progress can be reported on the PowerMac port
due in part to difficulty acquiring Apple proprietary internal bus
and firmware specifications.
In November 1994 several people interested in moving Linux to
Motorola PowerStacks joined forces. No progress on the PowerStack
port can be reported, as the hardware is not available yet.
In December 1994, Bowdoin College withdrew its support of the
project. The two remaining student volunteer porters are nearing
graduation and concomitant ejection into the real world.
Regardless, several more people have joined up, bringing additional
hardware and expertise. The general mailing list "linux-ppc" has
come on line (see below). A public ftp site is under construction.
Q) Are any support/development tools available ?
CodeWarrior Gold from MetroWorks is a C/C++ compiler that will run
on 68K and PPC Macs and generate code for either and both. That's
right, both. Note that this is MacOS host and target code. Note
also that this is not free.
the GNU C compiler runs on AIX. The GNU assembler and binary
utilities are almost completely retargeted for AIX/PowerPC. Now
they have to be retargeted for Linux/PowerPC.
A GNU PowerPC cross-assembler hosted on SunOS is in process.
Q) Is there a mailing list ?
To subscribe to the public list, send a message to
with no subject and the following as the only line in the body.
There is a private list for developers, but its very existence is a
secret. Well, actually, there are at least two private lists, and
another on the way, but their existence is a secret too.
Q) Can I help ?
A) Right now we need :
1) Linux kernel expertise;
2) IBM PowerPC hardware;
3) PowerMac PCI hardware;
4) A tech writer who loves the Linux Documentation Project and
the "noweb" literate programming tool;
5) Volunteers to configure and build PPC cross-tools:
gcc/gas/binutils hosted on PowerMac, Sparc, AIX/PPC, and Linux/ix86.
You may apply to join the private developers's list by sending email
to <broth...@halcyon.com>. Please describe your areas of interest
and relevant background. Kernel beta testers and eventually SDK
testers will be needed too.
broth...@halcyon.com Linux/PowerPC Project