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Announcing the Unofficial PowerPC / PPC64 Debian Bullseye Port

Published on the 8th of February 2022.

For a while now I have been using my Dual Core 2GHz PowerMac G5 as well as my 1.67GHz PowerBook G4 on a semi-daily basis. A big problem I faced was the unavailability of an up-to-date and well-maintained operating system for the architectures that these machines run. I - as I am sure you understand if you've dealt with multiple machines at once - like everything to be uniform across all my different machines. All of the machines I have are running Debian Bullseye (or its Devuan counterpart Chimaera). Debian/Devuan is a stable point release Linux distribution which means that the software is frozen at a certain point in time and only updated for security for about two years before the next release. This makes Debian/Devuan extremely reliable and stable; you know exactly what to expect from your system, and nothing changes where it shouldn't.

Because PowerPC and PPC64 are ageing architectures, there are few people who use them on a daily basis anymore and as such, not enough people to maintain a stable Linux distribution for them. Luckily, the Debian Ports do offer an unstable variant which updates on a rolling-release schedule. This means the software gets updated as soon as the updates are available. I have used Debian Sid (unstable) on both PowerPC and PPC64 for months before taking on this endeavour, it is not for the faint of heart.

In the end I decided to "just do it myself" and went on to build Debian Bullseye for both PowerPC and PPC64, and it is now available in an unofficial fashion.

Some important notes before you use this:

I will post a video and a written guide soon God willing, so stay tuned if you'd like to use this on your machines!