Today, the true cheerleader OS for the platform is Debian, even if it is not advertised as much as MorphOS is. It is a fully functional OS; it just works, and it works well. While the version of Debian used won’t make everyone happy (e.g. KDE 2.2.2, Gnome 1.4), it works as expected. It is kind of hard to use Debian without previous experience with it (setting up its networking, etc) but after you do all that, Debian won’t let you down in any way.
And there is one other great thing that might drive a number of people on adopting the platform: You can run MacOS or MacOSX via Mac-On-Linux without needing to buy Apple hardware or acquire a BIOS. Yes, MacOSX runs, but don’t expect great performance. On this G3 600 Mhz, it would take 1-2 seconds for a MacOSX button to respond after pressing it. Genesi is also preparing their G4-based line of products, so you might want to get one of these if you truly want to run OSX on your Pegasos (and make sure you have >= 384 MB RAM installed to be happy with MacOSX+Debian running at the same time). MacOS 9 is considerably faster via Mac-On-Linux than OSX is, thankfully.
The other thing I like about Pegasos, is that Genesi is working on making sure that Mandrake, SuSE, Gentoo and Yellow Dog Linux work in this platform. While this product is marketed as “MorphOS-based, plus some other OSes”, I see more life in it when also putting extra marketing weight in the Linux strength. Genesi has here an opportunity to market this platform as “the” Linux platform (while Linux is used and will continue to be mainly used on x86, the platform ‘belongs’ to Microsoft, like it or not). Linux works everywhere of course, but it doesn’t have a “platform of its own”. Genesi could play it clever in this case, if they can get support from the above vendors, especially from Terra Soft Solutions, which offers the preeminent PPC Linux distro, Yellow Dog Linux. In fact, I could conclude that the two companies need each other.
For the future, Genesi hopes to have ports of AROS, FreeBSD, NewOS, OpenBeOS and OpenBSD. I would like to add here a request for NetBSD, and of course, one OS that I believe can work as an interesting wildcard, is a fully functional port of OpenDarwin. I mean, as far as Darwin is concerned, PPC is its native platform, and it should be “easy” to port. Adding the Fink and OpenDarwin extra packages, Darwin is an excellent alternative to the rest of the BSDs and Linux. In fact, Darwin is today a geek’s OS more than Linux or FreeBSD is. It is like the poor man’s MacOSX-Unix. And Pegasos is the geek’s ultimate platform and geeks like cool stuff. Darwin would be very interesting to be part of the family of supported OSes, if not one of the OSes in the “first row” in the marketing line of Pegasos. It is a capable OS that no one really capitalizes on today, so Genesi might want to take a look in the possibility.
Thoughts and Conclusion
So, what do I think about the platform? It is interesting. It is compelling. It is the geek’s dream: putting the computer together all by yourself, becoming emotionally attached to it, installing all the OSes by yourself, booting them manually via the command line in the OpenFirmware prompt (this is kind of painful after a while to be honest though — a boot manager and a BIOS front-end would also be welcome), loading the OSes you want, OSes you have absolute control over…
However, as much as the platform is interesting, it is still not mature enough. It is a new platform with its flagship OS, MorphOS, not delivering what it should have to keep the platform compelling. In my opinion, what matters from now on is mostly the right strategic decisions to be taken from Genesi regarding the strengths of the platform via the software it runs, instead of over-hyping MorphOS as the main selling point, as MorphOS is not in a shape to be the flagship OS for the platform. Not yet at least, and probably not for quite some time, seeing the work that needs to be done to it. Sure, ex-Amiga people might love it because it reminds them of the glorious days of Amiga, but Genesi also needs new blood, new users, and these new users won’t be romantics of another era and won’t fall for that.
My advice to buyers: Get the current G3-based product if you are interested in MorphOS and Linux. If you are instead after a “cheap way to run MacOSX”, wait for the G4 upgrade Pegasos boards that will come out soon.
Good points: silent and slick hardware, multi-OS support, geek factor, extensible.
Bad points: Overpriced, lead OS MorphOS not ready, OpenFirmware usage a pain.