Running wview on PowerBook G4

Originally published January 17, 2011.
Information provided in this post may be out of date.

Ever since I set up my Davis Vantage Vue weather station, I’ve used my Dell Inspiron Mini 1012 to get weather data from my console, into the computer, and out to the Internet. This weekend I decided to see if I could dust off my old 12” PowerBook G4 and use it for the same purpose.

To complicate matters, I had recently removed OS X 10.4 and installed Ubuntu 10.10 on the PowerBook in an ill-fated attempt to give it new life. The PowerBook was a great computer in its time but, these days, PowerPC is a dying, if not already dead, architecture. Flash 10? Not on PowerPC. Google Chrome? Nope.

On the Mini, which ran Windows 7 Starter, I used WUHU for data acquisition and upload. That program worked well, but obviously an x86 PC app just would not do the trick on Linux or a PowerPC. Some searching led me to wview which worked on Linux and was capable of running on something like a NSLU2 or plug computer. It would either be perfect or a perfect mirage.

And then there was the issue of my USB-to-Serial adapter, for connecting the computer to the weather station console. Who knew if that would work?

So, there I was with a dead architecture, the wrong OS, a questionable USB adapter and… well, let’s just say I wasn’t very hopeful.

But… it worked! Much to my surprise, I was able to get data from my weather station, using wview, through the USB adapter, into the PowerBook, and out to the world. Here’s how I did it:

  1. Installed Ubuntu 10.10 for PowerPC.
  2. Tested the IOgear GUC232A USB-to-Serial Adapter and it worked right out of the box. USB Serial support registered for pl2303 usb 3-1: pl2303 converter now attached to ttyUSB0 usbcore: registered new interface driver pl2303 pl2303: Prolific PL2303 USB to serial adaptor driver
  3. Followed wview Debian Quick Start Guide. Downloaded and executed wview-install-debian, encountered first problem: In file included from ../htmlgenerator/htmlStates.c:36: ./glchart.h:28: fatal error: gd.h: No such file or directory
  4. Installed libgd2. apt-get install libgd2-noxpm-dev
  5. Executed wview-install-debian again, encountered second problem: http.h: error: curl/curl.h: No such file or directory
  6. Installed libcurl4. apt-get install libcurl4-openssl-dev
  7. Executed wview-install-debian again; encountered problem; re-ran as wview-install-debian -f
  8. From here out, I followed the wview user manual for configuration.

It’s nice to have brought life back to disused computer; it’s nice to have my Mini back!

P.S. Not having tried wview on OS X, I can’t compare the experience or difficulty.