Using a Mac mini G4 in 2013 FAQ
Actually not a FAQ, just an nerdy writeup I did after doing some research and fixing and hot rodding a G4 I acquired.
This is intended as an overview and a starter from a 2013 perspective. If you want more detailed information: it's available all over the net, alas in tiny pieces - I included some pointers. I assume you know how to google...
I actually tried most of the things mentioned. Note that my experience is based
on a fast upgraded machine (1.5GHz, 1GB RAM, 320GB disk).
Hope it helps, have fun.
Herbert Janssen, version: 1.1 (2013-04-30 to 2013-05-23)
- What kind of machine is a Mac mini G4?
- Can it run modern Mac OS/iTunes/Photoshop/... ?
- How can a Mac mini G4 be useful in 2013?
- What hardware variants do exist, what are current replacements?
- What external devices/peripherals will work?
- What is target disk mode and why is FireWire so important?
- What can I expect if I run Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard?
- What can I expect if I run Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger?
- What can I expect if I run the Classic Environment on Tiger?
- Which non-Apple OSes does it run?
- What can I expect if I run a current version of Linux?
- Any tips for installing Ubuntu?
- What can I expect if I run a current version of a BSD Unix?
- How does dual or multi-booting work?
- Which startup keys can you use at boot time?
- What exactly is this Open Firmware/New World ROM?
- What are my options to install Mac OS X?
- How do I install Mac OS X if my optical drive does not work?
- Does an external CD or DVD drive work?
- I found a link to an Apple support document, but I get redirected.
- What are some good sources for information about the G4?
- I have a correction or addition to the FAQ, what can I do?
- Anything else?
1. What kind of machine is a Mac mini G4?
The Mac mini G4 uses a so-called PowerPC (PPC) processor, not an Intel CPU like
all Macs since 2006. The Mac mini G4 was introduced January 2005 and superseded
by the first Intel Mac mini in January 2006. Its computing power is roughly
equivalent to an iPhone 5. It can use modern USB devices via its two USB 2.0
ports and can drive a full HD monitor - but cannot play full HD video.
There were 2 generations of the PPC mini, internally called "PowerMac 10,1" and "PowerMac 10,2" by Apple. The latter models have slightly higher specs. More details in Wikipedia or in the Mactracker app. Since the Mac mini was very low cost for a Mac and it was the time of the "switcher" campaign, it is a very popular machine and easy to get. Prices are between 50 and 200€ on ebay.
2. Can it run modern Mac OS/iTunes/Photoshop/... ?
All PPC Macs are no longer supported by Apple with new updates. However Apple keeps all the support documents still in their archive section and has all downloads still available. Almost all 3rd party software is unsupported as well, only a few notable exceptions like e.g. VLC player are still maintained. Current versions of OS X and almost all current OS X software do not run on it. What the G4 does run are old versions of OS X (10.4 Tiger and 10.5 Leopard) and older versions of applications. Under Leopard it can run some relatively recent apps like iTunes 10. Under Tiger it can also run older "Classic" apps, i.e. pre-OS X software. It cannot directly run Mac OS 9 or earlier.
3. How can a Mac mini G4 be useful in 2013?
Honestly, it's very limited.
It can be used as a general purpose desktop computer if you can stomach the low speed and limited abilities. You can run Safari 5 and iTunes 10, but they will be slow. If you just want a cheap Mac I'd suggest at least a Core2Duo Mac mini.
Browsing is usable, but only a really old Flash plugin and old Java versions will work. Together with the older browser versions this means that your data can be easily compromised, so take care. Probably nobody will bother to write specific PPC malware, but I would not use my credit card or other sensitive data on this machine.
As for watching video it can only play back SD and lower bit rate 720p. Full HD aka 1080p video is out. Luckily the latest version of VLC player runs - on Leopard.
A small NAS/file server using USB connected disks is certainly possible, but keep in mind that modern NAS boxes are cheap and feature-rich.
It can be used to run old Mac OS 9 and Mac OS X software that might still be useful: a variety of old games (there are many), special purpose software (some of the synthesizer stuff is excellent) and curiosities like those funny screen savers. Actually the mini is probably the best option for those, as it is small, low power, can use modern peripherals like a HD monitor and USB keyboards and mice. It also has no unusual components that break easily.
Instead of Mac OS X you can run other OSes. As an alternative desktop OS the most usable will be a Linux. Full featured Linux desktops like Unity/Gnome3 are unusably slow on a G4. "Light" desktops like Xfce or LXDE are slower than Mac OS X but usable. The advantage of Linux or BSD is that you can run a fully upgraded and patched OS and applications.
It might work as a firewall if you connect a USB 2.0-to-Ethernet adapter. This will essentially give you two 100MBit/s Ethernet ports. I did not try this.
Of course you can also just tinker with it or dwell in nostalgia.
4. What hardware variants do exist, what are current replacements?
Most important for performance is the RAM. The G4 can come with 256MB, 512MB or 1GB of RAM. For desktop use I would strongly recommend to install the maximum of 1GB which costs about 10€ today.
CPU clock speed can be 1.25GHz, 1.33 GHz, 1.42GHz or 1.5GHz. A bit of over clocking is also possible but requires electronics skills and serious risk tolerance (cutting SMT resistors).
The graphics "card" is an ATI Radeon 9200 with 32MB or 64MB RAM. There is a single-link DVI-I (analog & digital) video out and the max display resolution is 1920x1200 for digital and 1920x1080 for the analog signal. It cannot output different content on the two ports, so there is really just one logical output.
The original hard disk is a 40GB or 80GB 2.5" IDE (not SATA!) and is very slow. The biggest and fastest replacement drive is the 320GB WD3200BEVE Scorpio Blue at about 120€ new. Smaller drives cost almost the same new. Some IDE SSDs are also available, but keep in mind that the old Mac OS versions don't support them fully (no TRIM) and their speed will be limited by the old IDE bus anyway.
The optical drive can either be a ComboDrive (reads DVDs and CDs, writes CDRs) or a SuperDrive (reads/writes both CDs and DVDs). The optical drive seems to be the least reliable component of the mini and also sounds like it chews on the disks. It is possible to replace it for about 25€ with a 12,5 mm or thinner IDE/ATAPI drive, but not every drive works (see below). Although it can be very useful for OS installs, consider whether you really need an internal optical disk at all.
Replacing the hard disk or optical drive is fairly easy, much easier than on a modern Mac mini. Have a look at OWCs (Other World Computing) tutorials. Note that if you replace the optical drive with a modern component you may run into problems - I did. My guess are IDE master/slave conflicts that prevent both HD and CD from working correctly. The G4 uses cable select on a small riser board. I you know more, please contact me.
Both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi b/g are optional small clip-in boards inside the case. Also there is an optional modem port.
One 100Mbit Ethernet port, two USB 2.0 ports and a Firewire400 port come on all models.
The audio port is output only, but can be modified to provide audio-in as well.
5. What external devices/peripherals will work?
The FireWire400 port can be used with some older devices like disks or digital video recorders. There are also adapters/cables to connect it to FireWire800 devices as well. The FireWire port is very useful since it can be utilized to boot from an external disk or boot the Mac into target disk mode (see below).
There are two USB 2.0 ports, thus USB devices that do not need special drivers (almost all keyboards, mice, disks and sticks) just work. Note that the Mac mini can by default not boot from a USB device. If you feel comfortable entering cryptic Open Firmware commands, there is the possibility to boot from an USB disk by setting the boot drive to an USB device with Open Firmware (see below). It doesn't seem to work with all disks though.
6. What is target disk mode and why is FireWire so important?
First, the FireWire400 port can be used to boot from an external disk. Disks with FireWire 400 or 800 interface are less common than USB but they exist ;-) Conveniently, if you install Mac OS on an external FireWire disk with the internal disks not partitioned/working, the G4 will automatically boot from the external drive.
Second, any Mac with FireWire can be booted into target disk mode by holding down the T key at boot time. Target disk mode transforms the Mac into an external hard disk, i.e. you can connect it to a second Mac and from that machine can partition, format, read from and write to the first Mac's disk as you like. This is handy if you want to install a new OS in case your optical drive is gone and a number of other trouble shooting scenarios.
7. What can I expect if I run Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard?
Leopard is the latest version of Mac OS supported on PPC machines. Apple and almost all 3rd parties do not release new updates anymore, but you can still download the latest versions from Apple. It is also significantly better supported by 3rd parties than Tiger. It has TimeMachine, a better Finder and Dock and better network integration. I would recommend Leopard if you want the most usable Mac OS X desktop.
Leopard requires 1GB RAM. Base install is about 14GB fully updated and takes about one hour, updating another one. Often it may appear as if the machine is hung. Keep in mind you are running at minimum system requirements and be patient. Here are the latest versions available:
- Mac OS X 10.5.8 (2009)
- QuickTime 7.7: you have to download this manually, iTunes will not start without it
- iTunes 10.6.3 (2012): quite recent, music Store still works!
- Safari 5.0.6 (2011): quite recent, runs current extensions like AdBlock, my preferred browser
- Opera 10.63 (2010): quite recent, works well
- iCab 5.0.1 (2012): quite recent, works well, UI a little weird
- OmniWeb 5.11.2: works well, a little weird: tabs in sidebar
- Firefox 3.6.28 (2012): slow and memory hogging
- Namoroka - a PPC optimized Firefox (3.6.17pre): only a tiny bit faster
- TenFourFox - a modern Firefox port (17.0.5): quite recent, but even slower
- Webkit 536.28.8: essentially the Webkit build of Safari 5.0.6
- Flash plugin 9.0.246: old, slow and dangerous: don't use!
- Java plugin 10.0.2: do not use Java on the web unless you know what you are doing
- VLC player 2.0.6 (2013): the latest stuff and works well, yay!
- Xcode 3.1.4
- TextWrangler 3.5.3
8. What can I expect if I run Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger?
Tiger was considered by many to be the first really good OS X release. It was also the longest serving at 2 1/2 years. Apple does not provide new updates any more, but you can still update everything to the latest available. It looks and feels dated with brushed metal windows and bluish Aqua looks, but is quite usable. Some people claim that it runs faster than Leopard, but I cannot confirm that.
Tiger is also the last version of OS X that runs the "Classic Environment", i.e. it runs OS 9 (and older) apps via an abstraction layer. Since the mini cannot run OS 9, Tiger is your only option to run those.
Base install is about 5.5GB fully updated. Here are the latest versions you can get:
- Mac OS X 10.4.11 (2007)
- QuickTime 7.6.4: a little uglier than modern QuickTime but works well, can play back some old QT format files the current QT can not handle
- iTunes 6.0.4: the Store does not work, so just a nice basic music player ;-) ???
- Safari 4.1.3 (2010): runs nicely, a little Spartan, limited HTML5, not very safe
- Opera 10.63 (2010): relatively recent, works well
- iCab 4.0.9 (2012): relatively recent, works well, UI a little weird
- OmniWeb 5.11.2: works well, Mac-like UI, a little weird: tabs in sidebar
- Camino 2.1.2: Gecko/Firefox based, slow but usable
- Firefox/Namoroka/TenFourFox: outdated and slow, just as on Leopard
- VLC player 0.9.10: old, but usable
- Xcode 2.5
- TextWrangler 3.1
9. What can I expect if I run the Classic Environment on Tiger?
You are running a software museum, enjoy the 90s. That said, "Classic" Mac OS has a lot of nice apps and especially relatively many games. The Classic Environment does not support direct access to the hardware, so software that plays it dirty like a few games and utilities may not work - I did not encounter any.
To install it you need either a copy of the OS 9 retail CD or a copy of the System folder of an installed OS 9, e.g. from a Mac running OS 9. Here are the latest software versions you can run:
- Mac OS 9.2.2 (2001)
- Quicktime 6.0.3: you need to manually install
- iTunes 2.0.4 (2002): can play mp3s, that's it
- Netscape Communicator 4.77: unusable in todays web (with a few exceptions)
- Internet Explorer 5.2: maybe a little better than Netscape, but still unusable today
- Mosaic???: the Macintosh port of the historic original web browser
- Doom I & II, Duke Nukem, Lemmings, Halo, ...
10. Which non-Apple OSes does it run?
A Mac mini G4 can run some variants of Linux, FreeBSD, OpenBSD and NetBSD and runs light-weight X11 desktop environments like LXDE and Xfce acceptably. There are also some "experimental" OS options like MorphOS (Amiga-like) and Darwin (Apple's open source version of OS X without the Mac GUI). It can not run any variant of Windows because it does not use an Intel CPU.
11. What can I expect if I run a current version of Linux?
If you value a modern fully updated OS and applications over the highly polished UI of Mac OS X, a Linux install may be the right option for your G4. Note however that even a light modern X11 desktop will run slower than Mac OS X. Installing multiple OSes, e.g. both Linux and Mac OS X is also possible.
Linux support for PPC Macs is limited: some Linux distributions like Redhat's Fedora, SuSe, Arch and even Yellow Dog Linux (once a pioneer) do not support the G4 with current versions at all. Gentoo, Debian and Debian derived distributions such as Ubuntu and Mint seem to have the best support. Note that installing Linux on a PPC Mac will probably not "just work". I tried several Ubuntu variants but did not get a single install to work right the first time. This is a bit more involved than installing Linux on a modern PC and not at all like installing Mac OS X.
Somewhat independent of you choice of Linux distribution is which desktop to run. The more heavy weight Gnome3, Ubuntu's Unity/Gnome and KDE will be really slow. Mouse clicks may take a second or two to register, moving or resizing windows takes time, launching apps more so. I'd say forget about it.
A more light weight choice is Xfce/Xubuntu: it is relatively pretty with a Mac-like top menu bar and a simplistic dock. This one is a bit faster, but still sluggish compared to Mac OS X. Big apps may take a minute to load. It is usable as long as no background tasks are running, so wait for any updates to finish before you judge and refrain from opening many apps in parallel.
An even more light weight choice is LXDE/Lubuntu, which is like Xubuntu hitten with an ugly stick - hard, but approaches Mac OS X in responsiveness.
Tough choice, you say? It is possible to install any desktop from any initial install at least if you start with an Ubuntu variant. The only disadvantage is that you may clutter the menus with all the apps.
Running e.g. the latest Firefox with reasonable performance (but without Flash) is what you finally get for all that work. Chrome/Chromium, Skype and Wine are not available on PPC. Flagship Linux apps like Gimp, Inkscape, Libre Office or Thunderbird are. VLC and Dropbox run.
A Linux-equipped G4 may also work as a low-cost computer to pick up programming.
My recommendation would be to check Xubuntu or Lubuntu if you want a Linux desktop environment. The Lubuntu ISO or the Ubuntu 12.04 Alternate/mini ISO is probably the best starting point for installation. I did not test Gentoo, Mint or Linux for server use.
12. Any tips for installing Ubuntu?
There is a lot of information on the Ubuntu site and there are many options how to do it. I will just share some observations that worked for me and may be useful. I did all Linux tests on a triple-boot system with Tiger, Leopard and Linux on the internal hard disk.
Installation from CD is similar for the standard Ubuntu and Lubuntu. I found the Lubuntu 12.04 installer less buggy and significantly faster. A direct install of Xubuntu (via the mini ISO) required me to manually change the repository to succeed. Installing xubuntu-desktop on top of Lubuntu also worked. A Lubuntu with Xfce "do-release-upgrade" from 12.04 to 12.10 destroyed the install.
For an installation that keeps Mac OS X you need to decide on partitioning. Before installing, make sure that the hard disk you want to use has 2 or 3 partitions reserved for Linux. Number one is for the "yaboot" boot loader and can be very small (I used 200MB) although the Ubuntu installer wanted 2.3GB min for some reason. Number two is for swap and should be 1-2GB (but is optional) and number three is for the OS itself (4GB min). If you do the partitioning beforehand from OS X you will not mess up the partition numbering in OS X, since the Linux partitioning tool (parted) uses a different numbering scheme: Apple reserves the even partition numbers for the free space between partitions and numbers sequentially, while parted does not care about free space and numbers non-sequentially. A disk with mixed numbering still works in both OSes, but I could not change or delete partitions from the Mac Disk Utility after Linux was installed.
When booting a Linux kernel you may encounter a problem if you have a Wi-Fi card in your Mac and Linux wants the driver and Wi-Fi firmware. In this case you can try to temporarily disable the Wi-Fi driver by booting with a command like "live b43.wireless=blacklist" or "Linux b43.wireless=blacklist" from the boot loader prompt. You can later install the driver and firmware.
An install and update takes from 1.5 to several hours. Installing the mini ISO via cli is slowest but offers the most control if you know what you are doing.
13. What can I expect if I run a current version of a BSD Unix?
First, while the BSDs also offer an X11 desktop, their focus is more on servers, firewalls and the like. While the FreeBSD installation for me was easy and without any issues, I'd recommend BSD on the G4 only if you really want to learn about the underlying technologies - or if you already know, but then why are you reading this?
FreeBSD (9.1), OpenBSD (5.3) and NetBSD (6.1.0) currently support PowerPC Macs as a "tier 2" platform, i.e. no full support. As is typical for the BSDs, documentation is in-depth, of excellent quality and includes exotic and completely obsolete options. This is true for the PPC Mac partitioning and Open Firmware in particular. Please note that I did not spend as much time with BSD installations as it had a lower priority for me. I did only succeed with FreeBSD - which I actually found easier to install than Ubuntu.
FreeBSD The FreeBSD 9.1-RC2 CD booted and worked immediately, both as Live CD and after install. The guided install wants enough free space on the drive to create a boot loader, swap and FreeBSD root partition, so just leave some empty space on the drive and everything will work automatically. I did not really use FreeBSD much on the G4 yet. Note that unfortunately, because of RAM, FreeBSD on the Mac mini G4 does not support ZFS. Enabling power management seems to crash the G4. X11 is not included on the PPC install disk, so you have to install it via the ports system (I did not try). I did not succeed to make a multi-boot disk with Mac OS X, Linux and FreeBSD yet. Re-formatting partitions from FreeBSD did not affect Mac OS X, but made the partition table completely unreadable for Linux (Gparted), i.e. after the FreeBSD install neither booting nor re-installing Linux without wiping the disk was possible. The FreeBSD partitioner gpart does not mess up the partition numbering under Mac OS X like Linux does.
NetBSD NetBSD 6.1.0 is on a multi-partition installation CD the G4 can not directly boot, but that can be booted from the Open Firmware shell. The partition setup was difficult to understand for me. After booting, the installed system appeared incomplete and was unusable. I did not investigate further.
OpenBSD The OpenBSD 5.3 install ISO installed quickly. Automatic partitioning sets up no less than 10 partitions (WTF?). To be able to boot OpenBSD from the hard disk you have to manually copy a file to a HFS partition - e.g by using Mac OS X - and you have to enter a command into Open Firmware shell. The installed OpenBSD did not finish to boot, seemingly because some devices were read-only. I did not investigate further.
14. How does dual or multi-booting work?
Under Mac OS you can use the "Startup Disk" setting in System Preferences to easily switch between Tiger and Leopard. In this case, behind the scenes Open Firmware is handling the switching between the OSes.
If you install other OSes like Linux or BSD an additional boot stage is needed: Open Firmware will boot into a tiny boot loader partition (formatted with HFS+ but invisible in the Mac OS X finder) where the additional boot loader "yaboot" (for Linux) or owfboot (for BSD) is installed. yaboot can hand over booting to Mac OS X, Linux, BSD (I did not try) and other OSes.
Unfortunately yaboot can only boot from one Mac OS X partition. What is more, trying to switch between multiple Mac OS X partitions by selecting a different Startup Disk in System Preferences will disable yaboot in Open Firmware. Thus the only way to switch Mac OS X boot partitions non-destructively is to hold down the option key at boot time.
15. Which startup keys can you use at boot time?
You can look for the startup options for "New World ROM" PPC Macs for a complete list. I listed the important ones below with some remarks. Usually you should hold the keys/mouse button after power on for some time after the Mac chime plays. With some modern keyboards/mice this does not work well and you have to wait until the keyboard gets power (LED lights up) then quickly push and hold the relevant keys/buttons. It works with a modern Apple keyboard though. If you use USB devices via a hub, e.g. a mouse plugged into your keyboard, the mouse sometimes is not detected at startup. In this case unplugging and replugging the mouse always worked for me.
List of PPC Mac/Open Firmware startup options ('cmd' is the apple or windows key, 'option' is the alt key):
hold power button this will cause a long loud beep during startup, then boot into Open Firmware option shows screen with boot drive options: a special screen that displays all detected bootable drives plus a refresh button and an enter button that will boot from the selected drive shift safe boot: boots Mac OS X in safe mode, i.e. without optional drivers C boot from optical disk D boot from first hard disk (the default anyway, unless changed in Open Firmware) N boot from network (BOOTP or TFTP) T boot into FireWire target disk mode (see above) cmd-option-o-f boot into the Open Firmware shell left mouse button eject optical disk (this may not work if the mouse button is pressed before the mouse gets USB power, see above) cmd-s boot into Mac OS X single user mode (UNIX shell, useful only for fsck or similar) cmd-v boot in verbose mode, showing boot messages cmd-option-p-r reset PRAM (persistent configuration), hold down for 3 chimes for full effect cmd-option-n-v reset NVRAM (non-volatile)
16. What exactly is this Open Firmware/New World ROM?
Open Firmware is the firmware used on Macs from about 1997 (iMac) until the end of the PowerPC era in 2006. The firmware is the software that initializes the hardware components and acts as a (first stage of the) boot loader. Before Open Firmware, Macs used a custom ToolBox ROM (the "old world"), while the later Intel Macs use EFI. (PCs use BIOS or UEFI - a revised EFI.) Open Firmware is based on Forth and includes a shell that can be used for some fancy manipulation of the booting process and for hardware investigation. Of course all this is intended for trouble-shooting rather than the end-user. All Mac mini G4s use Open Firmware 3.0.
17. What are my options to install Mac OS X?
In the simplest case your optical drive still works and you either have the original gray install disk for this machine or a black retail disk of Tiger or Leopard. However, you can not buy it new, it is abandon ware. If you don't have the disks you can try to buy one 2nd hand, however keep in mind that the grey install disks are model-specific and cannot be used on a different Mac model, so better get a black retail disk. Downloading a copy off the net is against Apple's Terms of Service and considered ethically wrong by some.
The retail version of Tiger is available as either Intel or PPC DVD version and there is also a version on 4 CDs. The Leopard retail disk is a fat binary DVD for both PPC and Intel.
18. How do I install Mac OS X if my optical drive does not work?
A defunct optical drive is unfortunately a common case in an old G4. The easiest way requires that you have a 2nd Mac that can be connected with the G4's FireWire400 port. This can be accomplished with any Mac that has a FireWire or Thunderbolt port via appropriate cables or adapters. You boot the G4 in target disk mode, copy or install the OS from the 2nd Mac, reboot and you're done.
Another easy way is to simply use an external boot disk that connects to the FireWire 400 port. Again, set the disk up on a different machine (many FireWire disks have USB connectors), connect it to the G4 and boot. The G4 should automatically boot from the external disk.
A more involved way is to take out the internal hard disk, somehow mount it on a different Mac (you will need some kind of enclosure or disk dock), copy or install the OS and put the hard drive back in.
A somewhat tedious and error-prone way is to try to boot from an external USB drive - be it optical or a memory stick or a disk. You have to boot into Open Firmware and enter some commands to find the correct USB device and boot into it from the Open Firmware shell. Not all USB devices seem to work. I had mixed results. For details on how to do this google around. Careful however, some descriptions are erroneous.
If you copy the contents of an Apple install or retail CD image (ISO) to a hard disk and try to boot and install from it, you may see a message that this is not possible. Look on the net for a work around. I did not try this.
Finally there is the possibility to boot via the network from a BOOTP/TFTP server. If you feel comfortable setting up a 2nd machine as a boot server with the required files this may be a good option for you, otherwise don't bother. I did not try this.
19. Does an external CD or DVD drive work?
I tried 2 different modern USB3 optical drives. The Apple drive was not detected, while an LG CD/DVD/Blu-ray drive with external power supply worked fine. No automatic booting though and no burning unless you have access to the right drivers.
20. I found a link to an Apple support document, but I get redirected.
Apple moved older support articles to the archive section of their support site. Try googling the title or go the Apple support site and enter a search term, then go to advanced search and select "Include Archive" in one of the menus.
21. What are some good sources for information about the G4?
Macrumors has a nice, fairly non-technical G4 FAQ. It is also probably the best place to ask hardware or Mac OS questions. The Apple support archive has a lot of excellent documents and Q&As. Very detailed information about the boot process, Open Firmware and partitioning can be found at the NetBSD and FreeBSD sites, look for the mac PPC section. OWC has very good info on hardware replacements. For his epic reviews of Tiger and Leopard I recommend to read John Siracusa at ArsTechnica. Macorchard.com has an excellent selection of freeware and abandon ware software for older Macs. For understanding Mac OS X and Open Firmware in depth consider to buy Amit Singh's excellent "Mac OS X Internals", IMHO one of the best OS books available.
22. I have a correction or addition to the FAQ, what can I do?
Any additional information or reasonable comment is welcome. Please contact me via email. My address is heja2009 at gmx dot de. Of course I will give credit to any additions or corrections.
23. Anything else?
Glad you asked ;-) My own G4 is a 1.5GHz model with all options except the modem. I got it for free because the hard disk was broken and the optical drive did not work either. Thus I built in a 320GB hard disk but had to keep the internal optical drive despite spending 25€ on a modern replacement. It seems the broken hard disk had prevented the optical drive from working properly. I call it "zombie". I use an old Buffalo 2x500GB RAID via FireWire400 as external drive. Zombie triple-boots Leopard, Tiger with Classic and Xubuntu 12.04. I still want to try to install E17 under Linux and boot FreeBSD from the external disk. I do it because I never used a PPC era Mac before and just for the lulz.
Copyright (c) 2013 by Herbert Janssen. This work is made available under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License