EXCLUSIVE: Terra Soft Presents Full YDL & Hardware Solution for PPC

Terra Soft Solutions, Inc. will announce tomorrow world’s first consumer priced ATX form-factor PowerPC motherboard with full Linux support. Terra Soft, also creators of Yellow Dog Linux, will be selling both the PPC motherboard and a fully equipped computer that will be capable of running YDL 2.3. This will give a new face to the consumer Linux landscape, as Linux effectivelly gets its own platform rather than getting installed side by side with other OSes. Check inside for two pages with pictures of the hardware, information and an interview with TerraSoft’s co-founder, Kai Staats.

The solution will enable individuals to build custom systems with components readily available through retail and online outlets. Resellers too may purchase the Teron motherboard from Terra Soft and build custom PowerPC Linux solutions for their unique, local customers.

Terra Soft has partnered with Mai Logic, Inc., an advanced integrated circuits and systems design company, developer of the Articia series chipsets and Teron series development reference platforms, to deliver both stand-alone motherboards and fully integrated, assembled systems.

Dan Burcaw, co-founder and CTO, Terra Soft states, “Mai has developed a straight-forward, open-source friendly design with support for inexpensive x86 video, audio, and PCI cards; PPCBoot firmware, and extensive, ongoing in-house Linux bring-up and testing. We are proud
to stand behind this solution.

In the mid-to-late ’90s, Apple, IBM, and Motorola worked toward a PowerPC Common Hardware Reference Platform (CHRP). In 2000 IBM released complete board specs and a generic design for this platform, known as ‘POP’ (PowerPC Open Platform). Mai Logic’s Teron series boards are designed from the IBM specifications. (editor’s note: Running MacOS9/X via Mac-On-Linux is technically possible).

It has been a pleasure to work with the Mai team. They are knowledgeable, enthusiastic, and dedicated to supporting their
products. We are confident our two companies will provide a thoroughly documented, well supported, evolving series of ATX PowerPC
motherboards for many years to come,
” offers Kai Staats, co-founder and CEO of Terra Soft Solutions.

In this relationship, Terra Soft is distributor of the Teron series motherboards for both end-user and retail sales. Terra Soft offers
both stand-alone motherboard-CPU sets and complete systems. Qualified Value Added Resellers may purchase motherboards with intent to build
complete systems, custom designed and supported for their local customers.

We are excited with the opportunity to introduce the Teron systems with tremendous flexibility and low cost to many who have been
waiting for a long time now,
” says Jason Hou, CEO of Mai Logic, “By leveraging Terra Soft’s outstanding relationships within the Linux
community, we hope to offer Mai Logic’s innovative solutions to customers worldwide.

Mai Logic’s Teron CX PowerPC motherboard is a fully ATX compliant form-factor with serial, parallel, PS/2, USB, ATA 100, and PCI on-board:

– IBM PowerPC (TM) 750 CXe CPU
– Mai Logic Articia S chipset w/133 MHz bus
– Three 32-bit 33MHz PCI slots
– One AGP/PCI (66 MHz AGP 2X or 33/66 MHz PCI) slot
– Two 168-pin DIMM slots on board
– Supports up to 2GB, 72-bit (ECC) SDRAM
– Dual ATA 100 drive ports
– Dual USB, PS/2, and com/serial (RS232) ports
– Single parallel port
– Support by Yellow Dog Linux

Boards and complete systems are expected to ship in January 2003.

We talked to Mr Kai Staats about the product, and here is a mini-interview about the product:

1. Which market is Terrasoft after? Individuals, small companies, something else?

Kai Staats: With the stand-alone Mai Teron motherboards: primarily individuals who are accustomed to and prefer to build their own systems.

With complete TSS Boxer systems, desktop for: home/office, K-12 schools, small/large companies, universities; our existing DOE/DOE
user base.

2. Does the new mobo support all Linux-supported x86 AGP and PCI cards?

Kai Staats: A great deal of video and audio support has to do with the firmware (bios) and kernel mods, both of which are revised almost daily by the Mai development team. At this point, it is our goal to offer strong support for one or two mid-line, readily available video and audio cards and then work to support higher-end cards.

As both our companies (TSS + Mai) are strong proponents of the Linux community, we are eager to provide specs and support in order to gain reciprocal support of the Linux community and quickly advance support for as many cards as is possible.

3. What CPU MHz range are you offering with your prebuild computers?

Kai Staats: 600 is the speed currently offered. IBM has G3 CPUs that do run faster and offer an path of increased performance for later revs. It is important to note the 600 is fully functional as a desktop system. We recognize that it appears to be slow in comparison to today’s advanced x86 and Moto (Apple) products, however, we desire to provide a relatively inexpensive product that does its job.

Server apps and client-side email, web apps, word processors, MP3 players, even DVD simply does not require a gigahertz of processing power to be snappy, efficient, and enjoyable. This mindset is a bit against the grain and will require some reverse education … but even now, I am working on the same 350MHz Blue-n-White Apple G3 I have had for two years as my desktop and am completely satisfied.

Linux is that efficient and PowerPC is that good.

4. How much the entry level prebuilt PC will cost? how much the mobo costs?

Kai Staats:Mobo + CPU: $495.00
Tower, generic case: $799.00
Tower, Antec case: $889.00
1U rackmount: $869.00

5. Do you have plans on moving to the G4 architecture?

Kai Staats: Yes. And when we do, we will continue to provide the G3 for the reasons given above.

6. Does your motherboard or your default prebuilt computer runs MorphOS?

Kai Staats: The motherboard has not been tested with MorphOS.

7. What is the support you are offering for the machines/mobos?

Kai Staats: We have a multiple-tier support plan based upon our previous four years of experience in supporting our YDL user base on Apple computers. While paid, hourly support will be available, most support will be in the form of thorough, easily accessed, free online user documentation: owner manuals, FAQ, HOWTOs, a searchable knowledge base, and mailing lists. We will work during the month of December and early January to prepare the vast majority of this documentation for online presentation while some of it will grow over time with user feedback and our own, internal experience.

We will encourage the Linux do-it-yourself tradition by empowering individuals to seek and discover solutions to the best of their ability before we assist them directly.

As is the case with our pre-installed Apple computers, it is important to emphasize we are not the authors of nor do we support the 1000+ applications that ship with YDL, just as Apple does not support Word or Photoshop. Apache, Open Office, and XMMS (to name just a few) are well documented and supported by the individual authors or communities who maintain these open-source projects.

We offer the expected warranties and subsequent replacement policies for both motherboards and complete systems.

8. How about support for ATA-133 and SCSI? Is there a possibility for these to run in the future?

Kai Staats: The PCI slots provide for SCSI and ATA 133 cards, if required.

Check out MacRadio for an interview with kai Staats tonight at 8 PM PST.


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