Apple PowerBook G3 Firewire (Pismo)


This page is a reference to guide you in using Linux on a PowerBook G3 Firewire (aka Pismo). While there may be some manual steps required to get things set up, the Pismo has fairly good support for Linux when all is said and done.

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NamePowerBook G3 Firewire (Pismo)
Processor400 mhz PowerPC (PPC)
Screen14“ 1024×768
RAM512 MB (64 MB in stock form)
HDD10 gig
Optical DriveDVD-ROM
GraphicsATI Rage Mobility 128 graphics with 8 MB of SDRAM
Network10/100 Ethernet, dual Firewire, optional AirPort wireless

Linux Compatibility

Optical DriveYes
GraphicsYesWith some help, see details below.
WirelessYesThird-party Broadcom card tested, not genuine AirPort.
56K ModemNot TestedPeople still use those?
USBNot Tested
FirewireNot Tested
Card ReaderN/A
ExpressCard SlotN/A


This information is based on a Debian 5.0 (Lenny) install.

Initially, Xorg.conf is not configured correctly, and when X starts, the screen is a mess of colors and lines. Editing this file manually will give you a functional desktop.

DVD playback is very poor under Linux. I suspect that this is either an issue with the video drivers or configuration. Perhaps it can be cured with further tweaking. For reference, playback was fine under OS X.

While sound works out of the box, the main volume control does not. It must be changed to be acting upon the “PC Speaker”, rather than “Master”.

Suspend and Hibernate did not initially work. Installing the “pmud” package got Suspend working - most of the time, anyway.


The Linux experience on the Pismo is good. Setup issues aside, Linux is a reasonably functional OS on this classic Powerbook.


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Jon, 2009/03/23 08:59

For reference, this is a functional xorg.conf file:

Section "Files"
	FontPath	"unix/:7100"			# local font server
	# if the local font server has problems, we can fall back on these
	FontPath	"/usr/lib/X11/fonts/misc"
	FontPath	"/usr/lib/X11/fonts/cyrillic"
	FontPath	"/usr/lib/X11/fonts/100dpi/:unscaled"
	FontPath	"/usr/lib/X11/fonts/75dpi/:unscaled"
	FontPath	"/usr/lib/X11/fonts/Type1"
	FontPath	"/usr/lib/X11/fonts/CID"
	FontPath	"/usr/lib/X11/fonts/100dpi"
	FontPath	"/usr/lib/X11/fonts/75dpi"
        # paths to defoma fonts
	FontPath	"/var/lib/defoma/x-ttcidfont-conf.d/dirs/TrueType"
	FontPath	"/var/lib/defoma/x-ttcidfont-conf.d/dirs/CID"

Section "Module"
	Load	"bitmap"
	Load	"dbe"
	Load	"ddc"
	Load	"dri"
	Load	"extmod"
	Load	"freetype"
	Load	"glx"
	Load	"int10"
	Load	"record"
	Load	"type1"
	Load	"vbe"

Section "InputDevice"
	Identifier	"Generic Keyboard"
	Driver		"keyboard"
	Option		"CoreKeyboard"
	Option		"XkbRules"	"xorg"
	Option		"XkbModel"	"pc104"
	Option		"XkbLayout"	"us"

Section "InputDevice"
	Identifier	"Configured Mouse"
	Driver		"mouse"
	Option		"CorePointer"
	Option		"Device"		"/dev/input/mice"
	Option		"Protocol"		"ImPS/2"
	Option		"Emulate3Buttons"	"true"
	Option		"ZAxisMapping"		"4 5"
Section "InputDevice"
        Identifier      "Synaptics Touchpad"
        Driver          "synaptics"
        Option          "SendCoreEvents"        "true"
        Option          "Device"                "/dev/psaux"
        Option          "Protocol"              "auto-dev"
        Option		"HorizScrollDelta"	"0"

Section "Device"
	Identifier	"ATI Technologies, Inc. Rage Mobility M3 (AGP)"
	Driver		"ati"
	BusID		"PCI:0:16:0"
	Option		"UseFBDev"		"true"

Section "Monitor"
	Identifier	"Generic Monitor"
	Option		"DPMS"
	HorizSync	28-49
	VertRefresh	43-72

Section "Screen"
	Identifier	"Default Screen"
	Device		"ATI Technologies, Inc. Rage Mobility M3 (AGP)"
	Monitor		"Generic Monitor"
	DefaultDepth	24
	SubSection "Display"
		Depth		24
		Modes		"1024x768"

Section "ServerLayout"
	Identifier	"Default Layout"
	Screen		"Default Screen"
	InputDevice	"Generic Keyboard"
	InputDevice	"Configured Mouse"
	InputDevice	"Synaptics Touchpad"

Section "DRI"
	Mode	0666
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apple_powerbook_g3_firewire_pismo.txt · Last modified: 2009/03/23 08:51 by
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