Fedora Core 5 was released today. I started downloading it this morning, and it should be done this afternoon. I’ll probably start updating the Fedora boxes at work later this week, though for my home system I may wait until RPMForge catches up.

Meanwhile, I’m reading the release notes, and found one item particularly interesting:

There are new experimental drivers that provide support for the widely-used Broadcom 43xx wireless chipsets (http://bcm43xx.berlios.de/).

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The eternal Mac OS on Intel rumor resurfaced last week, and as always, my reaction was “I’ll believe it when I see it.” Well, I’ve seen it.

After five years of rumors, Apple has not only confirmed Mac OS X can run on Intel processors, but future Macs will run on Intel. No, they won’t be releasing a version of Mac OS that you can install on your PC, they’re “just” replacing the CPUs in future Macs. Apparently Intel has a better road map for future performance. (Hmm, better tell the marketing division, quick. The PowerMac page [archive.org] still touts the PowerPC’s superiority over the Pentium 4.)

It’s a switch on the order of—well, on the order of leaving the Motorola 68K for PowerPC. Back in those days, it was Apple vs. IBM Compatibles, and IBM was a partner in the PowerPC design. These days it’s Apple vs. Wintel, the Windows/Intel combination.

Apple seems to have everything planned out. Secretly running OS X on both PPC and x86 for the past five years, preparing developer tools to produce applications for both architectures, setting up a translation tool to run PPC apps on Intel chips. Microsoft and Adobe are already on board. It’s not a surprise, really—they’ve done it all before. Of course, we all know how well the best laid plans go…

I do have to wonder how this will affect Linux distributions aimed at the PowerPC line. Yellow Dog Linux, for instance, is also advertised as running on IBM’s own PowerPC systems. And depending on the rest of the hardware, standard x86 distros may have to incorporate formerly PPC-only code. Update: It hasn’t shown up on their website yet, but I just got an email from YDL stating that they will remain focused on PowerPC, remain “in good standing with Apple” as a reseller, and “expect [server OS] Y-HPC to gain an even greater userbase with existing Apple Xserve users.”

I also wonder which Intel chip line they plan on using. Everyone seems to be assuming it’s x86-based, and I’d guess it’s 64-bit (why go backwards from the G5?). In theory Apple could go with Itanium, since they don’t need to drag around x86 compatibility, and the extra volume might be enough to bring the price down.

Fedora Core is following the path blazed by the Linux kernel: having started out as primarily an x86-based project (the 32-bit Intel-based processors from the 386 through the Pentium 4 and Athlon), it’s branching out. Versions 2 and 3 added support for the AMD-64 chips (basis of the Opteron and Athlon 64), and now, with the first test release of Fedora Core 4, official support for both 32-bit and 64-bit PowerPC.

There was a side project already, and most of the pieces that go into a Linux distribution have reached the point where they’re (mostly) platform-independent—all you need to do is recompile them. It takes fine-tuning, of course, and the actual hardware support takes effort. Yellow Dog Linux started out porting Red Hat to the PowerPC so it would run on Macs, and now builds a solid distribution off of Fedora Core, including a high-end server OS targeted for IBM’s PowerPC servers.

It’ll be interesting to compare upcoming versions of Yellow Dog and Fedora Core now that the latter is working on an actual PPC release.

One of the reasons our Powerbook stays in Mac OS most of the time (aside from the fact that It Just Works™) is that Yellow Dog Linux 3.0 didn’t have drivers for Airport Extreme, so it can’t connect to the wireless network. I had hoped that YDL 4 (just released) would resolve this — perhaps the driver was only available for the 2.6 kernel, or something.

I finally started looking, and that’s not the case. It seems that the Airport Extreme chipset manufacturer, Broadcom, refuses to release Linux drivers or to release specs to allow anyone else to write Linux drivers.

I don’t expect it to do any good, but I signed my first online petition.

Ah, well, I can do almost everything under Mac OS, and for those occasions that I actually need Linux, I can always go solo or plug in a cable, though it does limit where I can hook it up.

It looks like it wasn’t quite the perfect time I thought to order a PowerBook. I received confirmation today from TerraSoft that the delay is due to the changes in the PowerBook line (which were half the reason I chose now to order it). It seems they’re still waiting for a shipment from Apple!

Presumably they had some in stock when they updated their store, in which case this is probably a good thing: it means not only are the new PowerBooks selling faster than expected, but they’re selling well through a Linux shop!

That said, if I have to wait too long I may just cancel this order and drive down to the Apple store. Of course, then I’d have to deal with repartitioning and trying to set up dual booting myself, and not only is it more complicated than dual-booting a PC*, there’s a lot less information available.

Ah, well.

* In particular, I don’t know of any utilities like Partition Magic or Parted that will allow you to resize an active Mac OS filesystem, so I would have to wipe the disk and reinstall Mac OS along with installing Linux.