Old Macs still rock: Putting an iBook G4 back into service

by Milind Alvares

Old Macs still rock: Putting an iBook G4 back into service

by Milind Alvares on December 1, 2010

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I remember when I got my first Mac, the iBook G4 14-inch. Powered by a 1.33Ghz G4 processor, 512MB RAM, 60GB hard drive, and a resolution of 1024×768 (meaning 91 pixels per inch), all of which was absolutely stunning at the time. I used it all the time for Adobe’s CS2 suite, productivity, and the internet. It ran all of this mighty fine, and I never felt it ‘slow’ and unusable. As is the case with any new piece of technology.

Of course, software evolved, Leopard came along, hard drives got full, and relative to the newer machines, the G4 felt slow to a point that it wasn’t usable anymore. Then after 4 years, the battery died, and we didn’t see the value in buying a new battery for a dying machine. It was used tethered to the power socket for a while, and then one day the OS crashed, and ended up being shelved, collecting dust.

The other day I came across Dave Coalo’s article on how he has switched to using his G4 iMac as his primary work machine. The iBook immediately popped to my head, and I was determined to bring it back to life.

Most of the tasks we use the computer for remain the same. You can’t type faster than *any* computer. The iBook ran MS Office just fine, it ran Safari just fine, and email worked perfectly. If it did so much back then, why not make it do all that today?

Newer software is the biggest cause of sluggishness in older hardware. I remember when the iPhone first came out, the first opinions were that it was super fast. Apps loaded instantly, lists scrolled butter smooth. What happened? Software updates happened. Of course in the case of the iPhone it’s near impossible to go back to version 1.0, both technically and in terms of features. But Mac OS X Tiger was a fairly mature platform, with little that it can’t do over Leopard — I’m talking about real world output, and not just the kinds of software features each platform provides.

The first step, was to find out what was wrong with it; it wasn’t progressing beyond the startup chime. Simply resetting the PRAM (holding down Cmd+Opt+P+R during startup) got it back on its feet — when you’re determined enough, no problem is too big, and vice versa. I then installed a fresh copy of Tiger from the install disks, and ran it through all its updates. I installed Office 2004 instead of 2008, and installed the Open XML converter for compatibility with the new document format. These are all fully functional applications, where the newer versions simply add needless features. I did update Safari to version 4 because it includes a newer webkit engine, for better compatibility with the web.

The iBook is surprisingly capable. It starts up in less than 50 seconds. Launches Safari in 8 seconds. MS Word in 18 seconds. iTunes in 6 seconds. But more importantly, it runs all these apps smoothly in the background, effortlessly switching between. iPhoto v5 with a few thousand images thrown in launches faster than iPhoto v9 on my iMac. I’m sure I could install Photoshop CS2 and it too would perform admirably.

Of course, using Tiger means I personally couldn’t use a lot of the apps I require, like Espresso, nor could I manage Photoshop or InDesign with such a small visual canvas. I can’t stand notebooks anyway. But the intended audience wasn’t me. I chose Tiger over Leopard because it was intended on being used by people in an office environment, who needed word processing, internet, and email. And this is what most people use a computer for. They’ve been using the iBook for the past week, day-in day-out, and I’ve received no complaints so far — they have no clue that the brushed metal UI is ugly, even though they also have a Snow Leopard Mac mini running.

Techno-lust can lead to a flawed vision, making it difficult to see the true value in things.

•••

To do great work you need great determination, not tools. You don’t need a high end Mac Pro to develop applications. Take Daniel Jalkut, developer of MarsEdit:

I do everything on a relatively low-powered MacBook. Is this constraining? A little bit. But I think it goes to show that you don’t need the fanciest Mac or the largest screen to get the job done.

Recently, I profiled Samurai on Beautiful Pixels. I was surprised to find out that he created all of his CSS experiments on his 13 inch MacBook. I’ve been using a first-of-the-Intels iMac for the last four years. It runs all the software I need, and runs it well. Aperture and InDesign slow it down a bit, but I’ve learnt to manage memory without thinking about it. While the urge to get a svelte new aluminium iMac is only growing, every time I feel a weak, I look at this article on ewaste.

•••

Macs have been beautiful machines since right from the beginning. The first iMac is still insanely beautiful if you look at it in the right light. You don’t need to upgrade until it begins to hurt. And when you do, remember that there’s always someone else who can make good use of your old hardware.

I wonder, how many of you are actively using older generation Macs?

{ 60 comments… read them below or add one }

thegargoyle

beautiful article! we’re so used to changing electronic gadgets all the time that a perfectly capable machine would just suddenly become not enough.
i admit that i had that 2 year itch to get a new laptop, a habit created by the poor life span of window pc, but it’s just a phrase/temptation i had to get pass.
now i’ve been using my macbook for 3 .5 years and counting, sure we had ups & downs but, it’s still running relatively fast. i don’t see myself getting a new one until it breaks down.

   

paul haine

Still use my 12″ Powerbook G4, still in perfect working order after six years or so.

   

John Espino

I’m still using the first-gen Mac Mini. I see the beachball very often (especially when I post-process photos in iPhoto ’09), it still works well for me.

My biggest gripe about it is its incapability of running Flash properly, especially on YouTube(!). Thank God I could just AirLink any video links to my iPhone.

   

Yash

My macbook pro is nearing 4 years. I feel like I am in the same boat as Dave as the MacBook pro is dying. The random freezes I have been experiencing can only be attributed to hardware. So I think I might finally upgrade when it dies.
I did see some awesome deals for old powerbooks and was debating getting one for my sister.

   

rudolf m

I just used my 7+ years old PowerBook 17″ G4 for a mission critical Keynote-presentation, and it worked like a charm. Wonderful reliable machine.

   

Milind Alvares

Holding out for a PowerBook G5 are we? :D

   

Bikalpa Paudel

I do wonder why you just couldn’t find any use for that iBook. I mean I can use as many computers as I can manage to own. Nice that it’s seeing some use now, though.

I am actually looking for something to lug around and use as a field computer, so to speak. I also wanted something to hook up to that MIDI keyboard I was intent on ordering. A 12″ iBook crossed my mind once, since you can get one of those for about 200$ used/refurbished, with a 1.33 Ghz G4, a gig of RAM and everything — something I’d have preferred over an itsy-bitsy netbook anyday, if it weren’t for the relatively prone-to-failure hardware that Apple had in their iBooks back in those days.

I tend to share the belief that computers don’t become any less capable than what they were the day they were made. They might become redundant compared to other tools you might own, but not any slower. If you can find the right software and do a bit of hardware upgrades, they become much more capable than what they were initially. And going by the nature of the device that a computer is, I bet you can find a role for one, no matter what.

   

Amanda

I went out of my way to acquire an older machine. I use a the second to last version of the 12″ PowerBook G4 as my portable word-processing solution (as opposed to a more recent version of this portable, a netbook, or an iPad). It’s a beautiful, sturdy piece of machinery, and with my limited needs, it’s perfect. 10.5 runs smoothly, web browsing is more than apt in terms of speed, and graphics are bearable at the least (when compared updated, higher-res displays). I love it.

   

James

I have a 733Mhz G4 Graphite PowerMac which my GF was using, and has only recently been replaced by a Mac Mini. Its been super-upgraded with a USB 2.0 card, 1.5Gb mem, Airport Extreme, BlueTooth and SCSI for running an old film scanner. All the parts were lifted out of old PC’s and just worked without any drivers, etc (though I did have to source a specific wifi card with an Airport compatible chipset) I also stuck in an nVidia 5200 which again was a PC model. flashed with a hacked firmware and the AGP x8 track cut on the Edge Connector and it worked first time, again, no drivers!
Im thinking of re-tasking it as a server to replace my current PC one, for various things, one of which is an SSH server so i can tunnel out of the office back home and bypass the ridiculous firewall restrictions.

I also have 3 year old Macbook pro which has just had a new MB because of the nVidia fault. still quick.

   

James

Oh Yeah, the G4 is running Leopard also.

   

James

the GFX card is actually a 6200, sorry. Its Core Animation and Quartz Extreme compatible

   

Peter

Back in 2001 or so, I bought my roomate an iBook G4 for her birthday. Later on, I maxed out the memory for her (640MB out to be enough for anybody). But time passed and, this year, she got a Mac mini and an Apple 24″ display. The iBook was relegated to the closet.

Then she decided to take some of her vacation time and go to Vietnam. So I pulled out the iBook, ran all the software updates, pulled the iSight camera off my PowerMac G5, packed it all up, and stuck it in one of her bags. It worked like a champ via her hotel room’s WiFi and she could look up stuff on the web, send e-mail, and video chat with me back here in The States. If I’d’ve remembered her camera’s USB cable, she would have been able to send photos.

Oh–and everyone over there was very impressed with her “fancy” high-tech computer. She tried to explain that it’s actually an antique in today’s technology world. I was curious what they will think when we both go back next year and I’m trundling my 17″ MacBook Pro and iPhone…

   

Tom

Most used Mac in the house is an 800MHz iMac G4 in the kitchen. OS 10.4.11, email, web (manageable using Click2Flash), Photoshop 7, Office 2004, TurboTax, Google web apps. 1GB RAM and a 320GB 7200RPM HD helps.

Backing that up is a 1.33GHz 12″ PBG4 and a 1.67GHz 15″ PBG4, both with max RAM and a recent HD (always a requirement for older machines). But the ergonomics of the old iMac G4 trumps the more powerful laptops most of the time. The advantages of the laptops is high portability of the 12″ and the high-resolution screen of the last-gen 15″.

Also using an 1.8 SP G5 and 1.25 SP MDD G4 for server and data backup purposes (G5 gets some primary graphics and audio use as well). Rounding out the bunch is a 1.83 C2D Mini for video conversion work and actually playing web video (Netflix, Flash, etc.) smoothly.

Each has it’s uses and all except for the Mini are castoffs from other people who upgraded.

   

Stefano

I’m still using my iBook G4 (bought in 2005). I never had another computer and I don’t need it, because I can do pretty everything with it. Obiouvsly I can’t install newer software that requires at least Leopard, but who cares? I have all the apps everyone would ever REALLY need (Pages, iLife, Firefox, iMovie). Buying another computer just to be able to install some new software would be the dumbest thing I’d do in my life. Hope my iBook will last untile 2015… Cheers.

   

Stuart

I am using a 1GHz PowerBook G4 12″ that I have brought back from the dead maybe 3 times now. It has a new power adapter, and a new battery, and has been around the block a few times, but it still plays back DVDs and AVIs, surfs the web (with ClickToFlash enabled of course) and lets me do my writing in scrivener. A higher res display would be nice, as would a beefier processor, but with exception of HD video, there is nothing it can’t do that a newer one can for me.

All that said, I totally want a new MacBook Air.

   

jim

How can I fix the motherboard on my G3 ibook? I C-clamped it to the desk for about a year and it worked great. but I moved and could never get it to work again. I just want to use it for scanning printing and light photoshop and internet in the garage. Now after reading this I want to try again! My black intel MacBook
seems much more solid then the ibook ever did.

   

Les Reynolds

I’m still using a 1st-gen Intel MacBook for web design/development. I’ve swapped the HD for a (smaller) SSD, maxed out the RAM and I don’t have any complaints.

   

Paul G.

Still use my fairly zippy and beautiful Ai 2004 Powerbook G4 15″ with it’s 1.5Ghz processor & Leopard on board. Cost me $3,000 at the time! I got the best video card/RAM available for it and upgraded it’s 80Gb drive for a 250Gb one in 2008. BUT I would love to buy an SSD drive for it which even in these older PATA machines would probably be a hell of an improvement. Probably is, which one and at what price?

It sits elevated on a nice Griffin metal stand on the kitchen bar counter with Bluetooth keyboard and the whole family uses it when they need a quick Internet fix or to look something up. WiFi printing sends printing jobs upstairs to the HP WiFi printer. Upstairs too there is a 2009 iMac, 2007 8 processor Mac Pro and 2005 dual processor Power PC Mac G5 plus iPad, iPhones, iPods and iPod Touch. Did I mention I love Apple stuff? :)

I am thinking April 2011 for a new Mac Book Pro with SSD drives and Light Peak.

   

jj wayne

I bought my iBook G4 14″ 1.33GHz from my ex-wife after she bought a 13″ Unibody, and it’s been my main machine for a year now. I put in a higher-capacity NuPower battery. The internal modem just died, so I connect via my FlowerPower G3 and an Ethernet cable (no hi-speed). Photoshop CS, Office 2004, even Appleworks 6!! Leopard gives me Time Machine (with SuperDuper for my 2nd backup drive). The original 60MB hard drive still chugs along; it forces me to regularly burn files to disks to maintain a 10% headroom. But I double-safety myself by copying critical files to separate partitions on both of my external drives. Still, I’ll probably put in a much larger 7200-rpm seagate before too much more time passes.
I’d still be using my iMac G3s (I have 2), if viewing online videos weren’t impossible, for much of my mundane stuff. That said, the G4 chip makes a difference, the iBook is still relevant, I’ll use it until it dies, then I’ll search for a 17-inch unibody with a matte screen, and keep it for the next 10+ years.

   

Aleksandar Vacić

I’m using Macbook Pro 2007, 2.2GHz. Upgraded to 4GB RAM just after I bought it, it works great ever since. And just last night I did the ultimate upgrade for it: OWC 128GB SSD + 500 GB WD Green in place of the useless DVD drive.
The machine screams now and ever since Snow Leopard it works better and faster than when it was new. SL really was the best OS upgrade I ever experienced.

   

BassPlaya

I’m actually in this situation where I don’t know what to do. Should I wait for another release of a MacBook Pro or should I still try to use my 7 year old Powerbook G4? Well, I agree that you could do much of it with that machine, even running Leopard very smoothly but I’ve got a screen issue and a battery issue that puts me off a bit. I love to start using it again so to decrease the ewaste in the world AND it saves me money! Hack, you convinced me (again)!

   

topchat

For the last 2 years have been using an iBook G4 as a web server for our church web site. What’s not to like – it’s reliable, doesn’t take up much space, low cost, low maintenance, and has battery backup as standard. If I could get my head around virtual hosting with Apache I’d probably host a couple of extra sites.

   

Grandin Donovan

Still using my iBook G4 as well. It really struggles with webvideo, but it’s capable for well-nigh everything else – browsing, light office work, watching movies in bed. It’s generally my “on the couch” machine (I’ve got a later model MacBook hooked up in the living room more-or-less as a media center), but my main gripe is that, as PowerPC, it can’t run Chrome. It would be tough to use as a primary machine, but for general browsing, running cloud apps, NV, etc., it’s a star. I’m gonna be using it until it is completely dead.

   

Dave

I posted below but feel compelled to tell you about Youview…I have no affiliation and it’s frackin’ awesome. It replaces flash with ffmpeg and plays youtube videos EFFORTLESSLY on my ibook G4, in 480p. 720p is still hopelessly laggy. Try it out and you’ll realize how bad flash really is. For other webvideo sites I download (including dailymotion i have to admit, best english premier league highlights are on dailymotion) and play in VLC, niceplayer and or quicktime whichever works best, which is usually niceplayer. Use Camino for all webrowsing-even flash plays better in Camino for some reason.

   

eldino

My main and only Mac machine is an iBook 12′ 1.33 1.5Gb RAM since 2005… I use it daily for web browsing (Firefox + Flashblock & NoScript plugins), bash scripting, feed reading (via NetNewsWire), flyers creation (with Photoshop CS2), some office works (iWork suite), gaming on the road (Age of Empires II The Conquerors), some wifi sniffing (with Wireshark), and it’s ok, but only because i didn’t save yet enough money for buying a Macbook :)

iBook G4′s a tough machine, it’s small and portable but it’s indeed slow dudes, it’s not more suitable for a confortable web browsing on modern websites or some serious multitasking productivity. Judging by some comments, i think that the love you feel for this old little lappy pushes you to lack objectivity :)

Anyway, im going to buy a Macbook Pro 13′ at the begin of the next year, and I will convert my iBook into a Linux-only lappy, deleting Mac OS for a fresh copy of Ubuntu 10.10, that, according to what some guys write on forums, works out of the box, wifi drivers included.

If Linux works well, I will stick with it because I don’t have yet a Linux-only lappy, and I will think about purchasing a new battery (the one I have works for 1 hour instead of 6 hours) :-)

   

Mike

G4 Cube FTW!
Until recently I’ve been using a modded G4 cube running Leopard as my main desktop. Now the logic board has died and it won’t even attempt to boot.

My kids also used our 14″ iBook G4 for games and surfing, until it would not boot either.

The nice thing about older machines is that parts are somewhat less expensive, and if you like to tinker with them they can be quite fun.

   

Richard

I use a TiBook as my home automation system. Being a laptop means I have a built-in power failover system. If the power goes out, the laptop continues to run, usually long enough for the power to come back on. So, I don’t lose any logs, setup, actions that were in progress, etc.

That same machine is the print server for a HP130 printer. This is a 30″ wide, roll paper printer that is old enough that it doesn’t have ethernet connectivity built in.

   

Daniel

Typing this on a 1.5 GHz PowerBook G4. I’ve been using it more than my 27″ iMac for the last two months since we moved to a new house. iMac is not really usable for sitting in front of a fireplace ;)
The only problem is that the G4 has problems with Flash video. Of course I know it’s because of Flash being a piece of s**t. The raw power of the G4 is perfectly capable of running a 360p video smoothly…. :(

   

Dave

Two words, one app: Youview. You will not be disappointed.

   

Paul G.

On my Powerbook 1.5Ghz G4 I have to shut down most other programs to run Flash – and I use the word facetiously – “efficiently.” I also opted at the time for the highest VRAM video card available so that probably helps too. Flash though is a victim of it’s own hoginess. How long does Adobe think people have the patience for them to fix it?

   

Elie

PowerBook G4 1.25 GHz with 512MB RAM over here. Using as main computer, and if I need to so some heavy editing I can always go use my parents’ iMac :)
But… next update to MacBook Pro (hopefully with standard SSD) will have me buying it. This 7-year-old PowerBook will then be a dedicated music machine (DJ’ing, recording, etc.).

   

AndrewC

I was about to buy a new Mac. Then I saw an article showing how much money you’d have if instead of buying a brand new Mac you’d spent the money on Apple stock. I.e buying Apple stock in 1998 instead of a PowerbookG3.

I decided to upgrade my iBook G4 instead, With the RAM maxed out and a new 80GB HDD it’s living to fight another day and dealing with almost everything I throw at it. Flash being the one thing it sometimes doesn’t like (depending on the version). Photoshop CS2 runs fine for moderate use.

   

tcarlson

I am still using my maxed-out PowerMac G4 (digital audio) that I got on eBay 5 years ago for $50. It’s not my main production machine, but it still works just fine.

Now that Apple and many third-party software makers have abandoned Tiger, the version of OS X that ran best on this old machine (Leopard runs 20% slower according to xBench) I’ve been working with some of the good folks at Debian PPC Linux to try to fix some of its shortcomings (sound on this particular machine, file-sharing with Snow Leopard, etc.) Maybe something will come of it… or not. It would be great if Mac-centric school districts that have a glut of old G3 and G4 kit, and not much money to upgrade to the latest and greatest, had an option to keep them in service.

   

Braceface

This is an awesome article. Sometimes, I still use my first mac too. It’s an iBook G3 and after 7 years, it still works fine. :)

   

Seele

It just goes ot show that Macs are actually astoundingly inexpensive!

For me I actually choose to use pre-Intel Macs; my work requires writing in languages including non-English languages. TextEdit, even the latest version, has big issues when dealing with mixed fonts. In this respect, SimpleText is vastly superior, therefore Classic MacOS is needed.

My main computer is a 2001 Quicksilver 800 single-processor which I have added more hard drives, and an additional PCI Radeon card to run two flat-panel monitors, which is also a prerequisite. And my mobile computer is also a 12″ G4 iBook to which I have only added an extra stick of RAM to max it to 1GB. Both run Tiger with separate MacOS 9.2.2 boot volumes, and are rock-solid, and they keep generating income. I for one cannot see how newer machines can be more effective in doing what I need them to do.

   

Dave

Still using a five year old ibook G4, Ram maxed out, running Tiger. Replaced screen with one I had from a dead ibook G3, dc in board and harddrive by myself (and ifixit) after mac genius said it was a hopeless case. It is a surprisingly capable machine still. Camino is by far the best browser, even better with flash turned off. Youtube and all Flash video struggles of course, though I recently discovered a standalone application called Youview (no affiliation) and am in heaven. Youview now allows my ibook to play 480p from youtube effortlessly, using ffmpeg instead of flash. CPU cycles rarely rise above 50%!!!! Youview’s developer is planning a system wide replacement for flash, if it actually happens I will jump for fracking joy.

   

Daniel

I’m still using a 1GHz 15″ Powerbook G4 as my main machine. Granted I have also upgraded memory to 2gb, the hard disk to 160gb and replaced the dead battery. Other than a few keys that no longer light up with the backlight, its still going strong. I will admit that I have another computer (albeit a desktop) that I use for most of my multimedia work now. The G4 just cannot handle H.264 compression at even 480p. Now a lot of my work is done in H.264, and so is many other playback material found around the web. I will be checking out that Youview app that Dave previously mentioned, it would be nice to be able to play Youtube videos again when I’m on the road on this G4.

   

BDD

Where do I start? Powermac G4 Gigabit Ethernet dual 500 Mhz for my home server, Pismo Powerbook G3 running OS 9.2.2, two batteries, Airport card and Classilla for the web, Performa 6400/200VE running OS 8.6 that I use as my jukebox and classic MAME (arcade machine emulator) machine, and a Wallstreet Powerbook G3/300 Mhz running OS 9.2.2 that I use as my kitchen machine. The Pismo is my secondary walk-around machine that I use when my 2009 MB Pro is busy crunching something at home. The batteries last about three hours between them. The Performa has a built-in subwoofer and Comm II ethernet card and is on my network, streaming tunes from the G4. The Wallstreet also gets on the network occasionally with an Orinoco wireless card, and also has two batteries that last about two hours between them.

I also have an original Bondi Blue iMac G3 Rev A, a B&W Powermac G3 450 Mhz, two Beige Powermac G3s (300 Mhz G3 and 466 Mhz G4 upgrade), a Powermac G4 Digital Audio 450 Mhz, a Powermac G4 Cube 450 Mhz (and a spare for parts), a Macintosh LC, A Mac SE/30 (got that one on the internet; a machine from 1986!), a “Fat Mac” Macintosh 512 KE… Yeah, I’m a collector :)

   

Tim

Still using my clamshell iBook for 99% of my college work. I’m on my way to a second B.S. in Computer Science with it(first B.S was in Seconday Ed.). Its a 366MHz model with firewire, os 10.4.11, 320 mb RAM, 10 GB hard drive, and an original airport card. Only thing I’ve had to replace is the battery.

   

Matt Stevenson

I’m putting my old Macs back to work at the moment, while I write up the framework for a nice new website, mainly my 1.42GHz iBook G4 (10.4.11, 1GB RAM) and my ‘Bluemac’ – G3 Slot-loading iMac (9.2.2/10.1.5/10.3.9, 500MHz, 768MB RAM. At the moment I’m not sure exactly which I’m going to use for the various tasks I require of them. I’m in the process of having my IP address switched to static so that I can host a Gopherspace and web server, and I’ll probably use the Bluemac for that. I find both computers to be acceptable, and once you’ve found software that runs nicely and fulfils your needs, there’s no reason the computers will slow down or such.
Actually, I just made quite a nice upgrade to the Bluemac, by cloning the loud old 20GB IDE HDD over to a 30GB IDE 2.5″ Laptop HDD. The damn thing runs almost silent now, and noticeably faster. I’d recommend it!

   

Noel Bode

I use an old iMac G4 at home every day. Still works better than any of the brand new or custom PCs we have at school.

   

Bjorn

I’m still plugging away with a 12″ G4 Powerbook purchased nearly seven years ago. It’s running Tiger, MS Office 2004, and a host of other apps that chug along just fine, thank you. My only complaints are that the LCD screen is on its deathbed (very dim, occasionally out completely), battery is long-dead, and can’t run many of the cool new apps on 10.4/PPC. Other than that, it works as designed, even after open-disk surgery in 2007: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bjornarneson/2119232238/.

   

Adam

I just got a MacBook Pro 13″ last year December. I switched from a Gateway PC that sucked. But I am really pleased at it and it’s so nice to have around. It was extremely easy to figure out. Of course it has stickers on the top and bottom. But I can still run every thing. I want to see how long it will last until it dies one day. Great Article!

   

Adam

I used to have an iBook G3 with a 20 GB hard drive

   

dk

I’m happily still using my Gigabit Ethernet powermac, and have heavily upgraded it. New 1.2ghz CPU, usb 2 card, upgraded graphics card – and just ordered a copy of leopard on ebay :).
It’s a great mac. I hope to keep it going for the rest of my life :).. hopefully once the capacitors burst I will be able to recap them.

   

Dave McNally

My 5-year-old son uses my iBook for surfing children’s sites and playing games. I set it up with the parental controls and it works like a charm. Better than sitting on a shelf (like my ancient PowerBook 145B)! Nice article.

   

weakish

I’m typing on the last generation of 12 inch iBook G4 which I brought 4.5 years ago. I’ve upgraded its RAM to 1GB about two years ago. Most of the time I’m using Debian which runs smoothly. Occasionally I will go back to Mac OS X 10.4 which runs relatively slowly. As my first and only computer, it serves me well.

“To do great work you need great determination, not tools.” I like this sentence. It is great determination that turns tools to great ones.

   

RRobinson

My main office machine is a PowerMac G5 (dual 2.5 GHz), which must be at least 5 years old. It runs Leopard, and feels pretty fast to me.

I also have a PowerMac G4 that must be about 8-years old. That’ll also run Leopard. I just retired it a few months ago, mostly because it was loud and because I can’t personally multiple-task effectively enough to use two machines at the same time. But after reading this, I think I am going to dust it off again and give it another shot, and put Tiger back on it.

The kids would be happy to use it for their stuff, but there is just no room for it in their rooms. They are, however, quite happy with an original G3 iMac that we use as a DVD player; and they try to take over my wife’s white Intel iMac, or the iPod Touch, for internet and gaming.

Our only concession to shiny new stuff at the moment is an iPad, which I try to hide away.

   

David Emmons

I drag a 667 tiBook DVI running 10.5.8 to work everyday…I bought it for 40 bucks on ebay to replace a 500Mhz tibook I had been running that died. I use it to run Omnifocus but it runs everything else pretty well. And it syncs with my Core 2 Duo iMac (10.6.5)through MobileMe just fine….Can’t beat the price…..

   

Ariel

Great article. I’ve been in need of a new laptop as my rather expensive Dell XPS is slowly dying (I’ve only had it for 2 years). Anyway, I borrowed a friends netbook and those have the teeny tiny screen and can’t do flash or youtube either. So I was out on ebay and bought myself a G4 1.33 ghz ibook to be my new laptop. Sure I’d love a Macbook or Macbook pro…but at $1000 or more there’s just no way.

Anyway, thanks for this article. I’m sure browsing will be peachy on the G4. Youtube and flash not so much. Anyway, for $149 It’s a fabulous alternative to spending hundreds. I was just perusing the big box store ads (specifically the blue and yellow one) and the cheapest laptop they have is $399….cheapest Netbook looked like $279.

Also if you have children and they are in need of a laptop for school, these are awesome little workhorses that run quietly.

   

Autumn

My mother is still using the first iBook I purchased (G4 with a 12″ screen, if I remember right). And now I’m using an early 2008 MacBook, which continues to work like a charm. In fact, it still feels pretty new to me, and I don’t see myself upgrading for at least another three or four years. If and when that happens, the MacBook will probably go to a good home where it will get lots of love.

   

Alex Perez

Im still using an Ibook G4 14 inch, and it works pretty good for most the thasks I perfomr. I can’t run After Effects, Or the newest versions of Adobe CS, but i can do pretty much the same with the CS3 version. The DVD drive is not working anymore, but since USB flashdrives appeared, I don’t burn DVD’s anymore, so it’s fine.

I think You can overcome the emotional need of new gadgets when you realize Apple made work oriented, time lasting machines that can remain usable after 5 years or more.

   

Ariel

I do admit to being a hulu junkie and the G4 1.33 while watchable with hulu isn’t what
I would call great. Youtube I find is a little better. I’m not sure if it’s OSX itself or if flash
is just that sucky. I popped a DVD in and that played just fine. I must say the display on the ibook G4 has a much better viewing angle than the Dell laptop that I paid something like $800.00 for a few years ago. I suppose they don’t really assume you want to set up your laptop and use it like a television, but the viewing angle on the dell is almost ridiculous.

My buddy has one of the first Macbook Pro (intel)…the 1.83 core duo machines and the screen on that thing is absolutely gorgeous. I’d be looking for one of those except that his runs EXTREMELY hot and he’s bought a couple of different brand new batteries and is lucky to get 45 minutes out of a fresh charge.

I’m liking the little G4 LOTS. It’s certainly a “brick” by todays standards. Who would think 5 pounds would seem all that heavy? Hoping to figure out some optimization to make for some Happy HULU time and then I’ll be pretty pleased. :)

   

Paul Tea Tiller

I bought a used powerbook g4 1.25 ghz (75 gb harddrive ) three years ago (2008) for $700 off of a techy guy I did not know, off of craigslist. That was the going rate for them at the time, and the reason I bought it from him was that he had it pre-loaded it with 10.5 and a bunch of programs. After I bought it I maxed out the RAM for (2GB for $100). SO I really spent $800 on a then 4 year old computer. Now it;’s going on 7 years. I must knock on wood though, and I keep time machine updates on it, in case the hard – drive quits on me. I still use it as my main computer.
Last year, I broke down and bought a 10.5 Leopard operating system disk to do a clean install as it was getting glitchy, and I got rid of a bunch of programs I wasn;t using. And I got a new battery from Nu-Tech or OWC, which was sorely needed and improved performance. I’m surprised the darn thing still works. I’d probably run 10.4 on it, but I got so used to 10.5 Leopard and it’;s features, I didn;t want to give them up. It’s a little slow upon start up, but that is probably because I’m using Leopard.
I hope to use this at least another year, or when I can afford a newer Mac. I’m not making much money right now. I’d probably buy a used one again, but maybe from a reseller/refurbisher company and not from an individual, unless they can offer a lower price or extra hardware or something.

   

tcarlson

I am amazed that an article that was posted on December 1 of last year is still getting hits. What are you guys doing to make this happen?

   

James Mar

I share the love that people have for these old machines. I have a 7-year-old Dual USB 933MHz 640MB iBook G4 that’s still going strong running Leopard. I’ve replaced the hard drive twice (I bought two spudgers & some small Torx drivers and followed the great instructions on iFixit) and the second battery is now dying. If you think the batteries are expensive, just look at the cost of replacing Windows laptop batteries. Sadly, it’s a consequence of the cost and chemistry of lithium.

The biggest problem for these old iBooks, however, is the limited availability of PATA drives. When I went looking for one in July 2010, expecting to get myself a lovely fast Seagate 7200rpm, I could only find a Western Digital 160GB 5400rpm model.

So if you have one of these old iBooks or PowerBooks gathering dust, don’t hang around: get a replacement drive now, or else you’ll be forced to tether it to an external firewire drive.

   

Meredith

I’ve been using mine for 5 years, and it just started acting screwy recently. This makes me think I should try tinkering with it some more before running out and buying a new one.

   

dustin

i got a g4 its my first mac i like it got it in 2011

   

joseph

I’ve had my iBook G4, with the PowerPC processor, since 2005. It is my first Mac and it’s still going strong. The battery could be replaced but instead I use it by leaving it plugged into an outlet. Everything works and it’s all original, the Tiger OS is just fine, I saw no need to upgrade anything. As long as I can do what I need to do with a computer, browse the web, check email and word processing, I don’t see where it would make sense to buy a newer model computer.

   

Jose

My 2004 ibook G4 smoothly runs Leopard and I use it regularly for iMovie, iPhoto, Adobe CS3, Internet, Word… everything really. Only had to change the battery once and the power lead, and to be honest I am not careful with it at all, I had dropped it, abused it, kicked it… but the little bast..rd keeps going strong and never dies.
Hard as nails indeed.

   

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