A bit about the Linux/m68k platforms

Additional information about a number of 680x0-based systems is available at Joaquin Menchaca's hardware pages


The Amiga was the first 680x0-based computer to have Linux ported to it. The first Amiga computer was the Amiga 1000, released in mid-1985. It featured a 68000 processor running at 7.14 MHz, along with 256k of RAM.

The Amiga line has included quite a few models, including the Amiga 500, 600, 1200, 2000 (and its variants, like the 1500 and 2500), 3000 and 4000. The 3000T and 4000T are tower versions of the 3000 and 4000, respectively.

The Amiga line also includes the CDTV and CD-32 platforms, which are CD-ROM-based Amigas. More recently, clones have appeared, like the DraCo and BoXeR motherboard.

Recent Amigas can be upgraded to use PowerPC 603e and 604e processors in addition to a 680x0 processor using third-party CPU boards.


The Atari 32-bit series was the second platform to receive an implementation of Linux/m68k. The Atari machines were launched with the release of the ST520 in mid-1985.

The Atari line includes the ST models, TT and Falcon. There have also been a number of Atari clones, including the Medusa and Hades.


(revised by David Kilzer)

The Macintosh, introduced in 1984, was the first popular 680x0-based computer. There have been dozens of different 680x0-based Macintoshes.

The port of Linux/m68k to the Macintosh platform is still ongoing, though some systems are usable today with functional SCSI, IDE, Ethernet and console support.

Current gaps in support include FPU-less Macs (the FPU emulator is still a work-in-progress) and most Powerbooks (ADB is not supported yet, though code from the Linux/PPC and MkLinux projects will help greatly).

A fairly comprehensive overview may be found at the Linux/m68k on Macintosh site, http://www.mac.linux-m68k.org/.

Motorola VMEbus

(written by Richard Hirst)

Motorola has released a number of single-board systems using the 680x0 processors, based on the VME bus standard. More information on these systems is available at Motorola's web site.

(More information from a later post:)

I have a VME system based on Motorola MVME boards. Follow the links from www.sleepie.demon.co.uk to find out more about the boards. The boards I use are basically single board computers, which can be plugged into a VME card cage. The interface to the VME is via a chip called the VMEchip2 which provides programmable address windows between the VME bus and the on-board bus. As part of programming the VMEchip2, you specify the AM (Address Modifier) code to use in VME bus cycles. The AM code specifies A24, A32, etc.

VME is used a lot in industrial applications, with various interface boards for digital i/o, etc, so people using Linux on these boards often want to read/write to specific addresses in the VME address space.

Before anyone asks, these boards are expensive (relative to a good PC) - I got mine from work so didn't have to pay for them.

NeXT workstations

The NeXT workstations were produced by NeXT Computer, Inc., starting in the late 1980s and ending in 1994. The workstations were made in two configurations: the NeXT Cube and NeXTstation (a.k.a. "the slab").

The NeXT Cube came in 68030 and 68040-based configurations, while the slabs were produced later and came with 68040's only. 68040-based models came in 25MHz and 33MHz (Turbo) editions.

The basic NeXTs came with 4-grayscale video (black, white and two shades of gray). Color NeXTs are capable of 12-bit color, or 4096-color video output (16 levels of red, green and blue). NeXT also produced the NeXT Dimension board for the cubes, which was capable of 24-bit color.

NeXTs ran the NeXTstep operating system; however, current versions of that OS (now called OpenStep) no longer support the original ("black") m68k-based hardware; this has made a Linux port to the NeXT particularly attractive. More information can be found at the Li/NeXT web site, http://www.black.linux-m68k.org/.

Other systems

Any takers?