MorphOS: A Modern Operating System For PowerPC

When it comes to modern operating systems for PowerPC-based systems like pre-Intel Macs, or other PowerPC-based systems like older or newer AmigaOS-compatible systems, there is an increasing lack of options. For 32-bit PPC, official Linux support has been dropped already, leaving only unofficial builds and of course AmigaOS as well as AmigaOS-like operating systems. So what do you do if you have a PPC-based Mac system lying around which you do not simply want to run the same old, unsupported copy of MacOS on? In a recent video, [Michael MJD] decided to give MorphOS 3.17 a shot on a Mac G4 Cube.

Originally created for the now-defunct Pegasos PPC-based series of computers and PPC accelerator cards for Amiga systems, MorphOS is based on the proprietary Quark microkernel, In its current release, it supports a range of G4 and G5-based Apple systems, as well as the AmigaOne 500 and X5000, with some asterisks. In addition to its own applications it supports AmigaOS applications, including those targeting the m68k architecture, via its JIT emulator.

A cursory look at the community shows that MorphOS finds use for being a fast and relatively up to date alternative OS for especially PPC-based Macs. The price tag of €79 per system (transferable to a new system) should offer some guarantee of continued development, which includes e.g. the Wayfarer browser for MorphOS, which is based on Webkit, but optimized for e.g. Altivec.

Although installing MorphOS went relatively smoothly for [Michael] (with just a monitor-related glitch), he did not try too much beyond an initial impression of the GUI and preinstalled applications. There is also a 30-minute timer on the trial version (resettable via reboot) that ended [Michael]’s look at this OS.

What do you run on your PPC-based machines, and have you used MorphOS? What are your thoughts on this OS?

28 thoughts on “MorphOS: A Modern Operating System For PowerPC

  1. “What do you run on your PPC-based machines?”
    I run RHEL, AIX, SLES, UBUNTU and OCP (OpenShift) on my PPC-based machines (and IBM-i).

    I don’t think MorphOS runs on modern hardware but it does look good for vintage machines.

  2. That’s nice and all, but not for me.
    There’s not much, if any, ham software available.
    Except the AARUG archive, maybe, but that software is from the 1980s/90s. The digital modes they support are out of fashion by now, sadly.
    BeOS/Haiku has a similar problem. It doesn’t contain scientific or any other sophisticated software. Just the lame old nerd and OSF stuff you find on Linux all the time. No thanks.

  3. 32-bit PPC has been dropped from Linux? All I can see is that some distros stopped supporting the architecture and the kernel dropped 64 bit support for POWER4. So it should still be possible to build a current kernel for 32-bit PPCs.

    1. RAM is probably the issue, because there is 512 MiB total RAM in a PS3, 256 MiB of which is reserved for the exclusive use of the GPU.
      Since it is not listed on their hardware compatibility list, “NO” would be the answer.

        1. 256 MiB is a limiting factor for a desktop OS today (forget a browser, for example), and support for other components like GPU wouldn’t be the easiest to do either. Amiga PPC accelerators took 256 MiB at max, but the latest MorphOS versions haven’t supported them anymore. I’ve ran MorphOS with 1GiB Mac mini just fine, and I guess 512MiB would be just doable if you have to, but less would be compromising a bit too much.

          1. ‘Back in the day’ Firefox ran quite fine on (less than) 256MiB on Windows 98(SE). Don’t open too many tabs, ofcourse. Or do and watch everything crawl to a halt swapping to a slow IDE HDD.

    1. As JellyPowered said:
      “They still transfer it if you give them proof that your previous machine died, then you can get a new license for a new hardware for free.” They did it for several people and it worked flawlessly.

  4. I just bough the key for my Mac G4 and I’m very happy with MorphOS, it’s great for old Mac PPCs. If the the machine is broken the MorphOS team give the key to install on other machine since we proof that original machine died.
    And they give lifetime support for MorphOS.

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