I'm trying to get some flavour of Linux going on an old iMac G4/800 with NV11 video hardware. So far I've tried Ubuntu 14.04, Ubuntu 12.04 and Debian 7.7. All face the following common issues:
I cannot get nouveau to work - at all. The console gets rendered OK, but once nouveau is initialized, the screen 'fades to white' and I get a hard lockup - no Ctrl-Alt switches, no blind command-line stuff, nothing. This applies to both the 'current' nouveau included with the above distributions and the latest-released nouveau 1.0.11 (which I installed manually.)
I can boot to command line if I don't load nouveau (i.e. use nomodeset or nouveau.modeset = 0 as yaboot parameters).
fbdev and vesafb give a low-colour utterly unusable desktop.
The old Mac OS X 10.2 that was on the machine worked flawlessly so I don't think there's a hardware problem.
Focusing on Debian 7.7:
- There is a package for 'xserver-xorg-video-nv' in the /oldstable archives.
EDIT: I can't install the xserver-xorg-video-nv package from oldstable without a lot of risk, as it seems that there are conflicts with the newer xserver-xorg-core / xserver-video-abi-6.0 which is installed. So - is there a way to get nouveau working with NV11, or is there a known-good way to get vesafb going on this card to present a useable desktop?
EDIT #2: vesafb doesn't seem to work, as fbdev seems to be misidentifying the hardware. I try passing 'video=vesafb:1024x768-16@60' and end up with a psychedelic low-color mouse pointer and this in the Xorg.0.log:
(==) FBDEV(0): Creating default Display subsection in Screen section "Default Screen Section" section for depth/fbbpp 8 (==) FBDEV(0): Depth = 8, (==) framebuffer bpp 8 (==) FBDEV(0): Default visual is PseudoColor (==) FBDEV(0): Using gamma correction (1.0, 1.0, 1.0) (==) FBDEV(0): hardware: 0Ffb NVDA,NVMAC (video memory: 768kb)