I'm running a powermac g4 quicksilver 2002 800MHz under ubuntu 9.10, and I desperately need to expand my storage capacity as it is to be used as a server. When shopping for a compatible PCI SATAII controller card, what should it be compatible with? do I need to stay mac compatible (something like the Sonnet cards), or can I freely use any linux compatible controller?
The non-intel macs are strange beasts indeed, you'll likely have trouble using standard parts in them.
Some versions of the PowerMac G4 appear to have 64bit PCI slots however it's tough to tell if those will really take standard cards, they probably won't. But even if they did it might be a challenge to get the BIOS to play along.
I'm not a mac expert and would welcome input from anyone who knows for sure.
If your G4 has firewire-400 that's probably your best bet.
firewire-400 enclosures are not that expensive and you can install standard SATA drives in 'em.
Most also have standard USB 2.0 and some of the nicer models offer e-SATA as well. USB, firewire and e-SATA will also work on standard PCs so you'll be able to use the enclosure on other systems too.
Unfortunately I never bothered getting a SCSI card when I bought the machine, had I done that I would have already gotten this SCSI to SATA adapter that I've heard works from Acard.
On the note of 64bit PCI slots, all of the slots in my machine are 64bit ones, but they are completely backwards compatible with all of the other versions of PCI, and I haven't run into any problems with that. If a card is 32bit, it just runs like it's a 32bit slot.
I have plenty of firewire enclosures, but the point of this is to avoid using firewire or usb 2.0 even. I also have eSATA drives, but point being, if I have to spend the money on an external drive in the first place, I'll just purchase a NAS and forget having this server with the capabilities I wanted to have.
I am contemplating doing the same with a quicksilver G4. I reckon the slots are 32bit. Should be compatible with PCI-X. I am not very up on bios issues but if linux is booting should it not just recognise the sata card on start up. 3ware seem to be the most compatible with linux from what I have read.
You can tell the bit width and voltage of a PCI or PCI-X slot or card by looking at it:
Basically, the keying prevents a card that won't work from fitting into the slot. So if it fits, it most likely works. Also, realize that PCI-X is simply 3.3 V-only 64-bit PCI running at more than 66 MHz- there are no 5 V PCI-X slots. Those are 5-volt 64-bit PCI slots if they're long slots with 5 V keying such as the ones shown in the Wikipedia picture.
Both 64-bit PCI and PCI-X negotiate down to 32-bit 33 MHz if needed and I've run 32-bit 33 MHz cards in PCI-X slots and it's worked fine except for one odd card I have.
Also realize that Macintosh storage devices have to have a special boot ROM in them to be able to be booted by the OS. Such cards are sold at a premium as "Macintosh-compatible" cards. If you run Linux on a PPC Macintosh, you should be able to run any SATA card you want, as long as the computer boots from a drive attached to a motherboard IDE or SCSI connectors.