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Alternate Title: Desktop Linux

Sub-title: You’ve got to be kidding me.

I’ve been playing around with Linux on my old G3 iBook and thought I’d write a bit about the experience. So I fired up the machine and tried launching jedit, but a bunch of java errors spewed out instead.

I fiddled a bit and couldn’t get anything working, and on a whim I think maybe jedit wants to run with super user privileges, so I try good old sudo. Expect my non-root default user wasn’t in the sudoers file. So I su over to root in the terminal and add myself, and while I’m there I try launching jedit. Still no luck.

So I hop online and enter a few of the java errors into google to see what turns up, and then start getting all kinds of warnings about out of date security certificates. Some, in fact, that don’t go into effect until 2006.

Hmmmmm, it’s 2007.

I take a gander at the system time of the iBook, and good old 1904 is staring me in the face. So I open the KDE Control Center, find the time settings and try to change them. Except everything is greyed out. There’s an administrator mode button so I click on that. I’m prompted for the root password, I enter it, and then the default Control Center window is shown. When I click on Date & Time everything is still greyed out.

More grumbling. I log out and log back in as root, go to the Control Center, and Click on Date & Time. I can change things….YAY. I fix the time but notice that the time zone is UTC, not PST. I click on the area drop-down and suddenly the entire screen is filled with a multiple column drop-down menu, much of which goes off screen. Fortunately there’s a PST city showing, and I’m able to to select the correct time zone.

Before I leave root behind, I try launching jedit. It works!

I log out and log back into my main account. For some reason it’s now eight hours later. I go back to Date & Time in the Control Center, and see that I’m still listed as UTC. I log back into root and see I’m listed here as PST. I log back into my main account and try administrator mode a few more times. Same result as before, but I notice the window that’s prompting me for my password has the command that’s going to be run.

I go to the terminal and type the command in (I can’t copy it to the clip board), preceded by “sudo”.

sudo kcmshell kde-clock.desktop 
-embed 29361424 -lang en_US

Bingo! I have a non-greyed out Date & Date panel. I switch the timezone to a PST city and click apply. The timezone changes! I close the panel. The change doesn’t stick. At this point I say fuck it and just change the time, deciding to pretend I’m an embittered englishman who refuses to refer to GMT as UTC. Bloody colonies, getting us bogged down in a war to boot.

So, after a few hours of mucking about I can start writing. I fire up jedit and write a few paragraphs. My “born before protected memory” instincts kick in and I do a quick save. The Save Dialog won’t let me type in a new files name.

And then everyone was run over by a truck.

Tomorrow I’m digging under the bed and finding my old OS 9 disks.

It’s Yellow Dog Linux, if you’re curious. I tried Ubuntu, but after spending a day trying to find a PPC install for the latest version of java I switched over to yellow dog. Not that they had one by default, but I was able to go to the IBM site and download a rpm (P Series) that would install on Yellow Dog.

I found some instructions online that would have let me turn the RPM into a debian package which would have let me install it on Ubuntu, but I need some tools that weren’t in the default source lists and then people starting talking about well dressed ducks and yellow dog seemed the better direction at that point.

Originally published January 4, 2007