• Hello, Guest! Welcome back, and be sure to check out this post for more info about the recent service interruption and migration.

Possible to replace my G4 and PC with a 68k for a month??


Well-known member
SO I have been thinking lately now that I'm back into the old Macs after so many years, wouldn't it be awsome to have one of my old favourites from the pre-PPC era connected to the present day interwebs. I've had 68k hardware connected over a basic proxy server arrangement via LAN to my PC's dialup and later my parents broadband connection early in the century, however the internet was a vastly different, html-dominated place back then with Flash and Java being fairly basic and limited in their usage as compared to the complex Java- and Flash-heavy landscape of 2013.

ANyway, it was tonight that Retro Challenge crossed my mind and I began to think about taking the concept a bit further... Getting a 68k machine not only connected, but replace my modernish machines entirely with it for an entire month in all their capacities... Email, forums, general web-browsing, music playback, CD burning even if the need arose.

So, having done a bit more thinking, I decided I was going to exclude Facebook and other social networking media from this equation as i have rarely ever used my actual computer for those anyway (mobile version and smartphone apps are far more streamlined when they work properly than the clunky, ad-filled, confusing desktop browser-based version), and they didnt really exist in an era where 68k macs were still revelant. Aside from that tho, everything else would be done using system 7 and 68k hardware. :) That means accessing my ISP email box, viewing 68kmla and other forums, updating my blog (hopefully.. but doubtful), playing back music either via CD or by accessing my mp3 library on the G4 via LAN (assuming that the machine has the power to decode mp3's smoothly and i can find a player and/or codec for system 7 to play them, word processing, browsing, ebay... anything i would normally do on the G4.

Having put some thought into possible machines in my collection to do the challenge with, I have pretty much reached a shortlist of the most suitable candidates comprising the LC575, Performa 580CD, Color Classic, and LCIII, all of which are easily LANable with a PDS ethernet adapter which I have plenty of...

At this stage the LC575 is seeming the most suitable as it has the fastest CPU, a 33mhz '040, decent stereo speakers, is self contained and has a 14" Sony Trinitron display which is far clearer than the Samsung in the mostly identical 580, and much easier on the eyes than the 9 inch on the CC, which is also very much limited in performance without doing a board swap, which is IMO, cheating. As for the LCIII, as well as also being somewhat slower than the LC 575, it also requires a seperate monitor and has a very crap mono speaker that faces downwards. Also, the LC 575 has always been one of my favourite Mac's, and was the second Mac I owned.

Anyway... got some preperations to do but it will happen. :)



Well-known member
Good luck. I think at month's end you're going to have a lot of caching up to do. All the stuff you couldn't do on the 68K machine. Either that, or you'll find yourself defaulting to your phone for the majority of the stuff. I've seen these challenges before. I think it would be more of a challenge not using any computer at all for a month.



Well-known member
Lol I basically didnt use one for nearly 2 years.... but nah Ive decided when i undertake this challenge it's gonna be strictly oldtech except for the facebook app... only for the simple reason that its the most common way people get in touch with me. :)

But yeh, I reckon it'll be a testing experience to say the least.

I actually just remembered earlier tonight, when i started my first year of high school in 2000, one of the computer labs still had an LC 575 in it getting used daily alongside various Powermac/Performa 7600's, 6360's, and 5260's. lol



Daring Pioneer of the Future
Staff member
When the RetroChallenge was new, smartphones weren't a thing, and they certainly weren't something that the vast majority of the people on a retrocomputing web site (even the people who are literally children 18 and younger) would have.

I personally think that having a cell phone as an assist machine is cheating a little bit, although in years past, there was a lot of talk about what counts as a suitable assist machine and what services of a modern computer are and aren't appropriate to use remotely.

One example is that 68k mail clients have issues with the security required by some very modern ISPs and very modern types of mail servers. (I don't think Exchange 2007 and newer allow any kind of unencrypted pop or IMAP access, for example.) The question there is whether or not it's "fair" to use a modern computer via SSH or telnet (like an OS X machine or SDF or a local linux computer) to do things like run alpine, ttytter, or lynx/links (and possibly access m.facebook.com)

The other question is whether or not you're allowed to use something like an iPod if you don't sync new music to it during the month and treat it basically the same as you'd treat a cassette/dat/cd walkman (devices that can't access facebook/twitter/e-mail.)

One issue is that if you're allowing yourself your phone and a remote assist computer for text-only use (under the guise that you could have telnetted into your ISP's or university's UNIX server when 68k Macs were new) then I think what you're going to end up with is a phone and a dumbterm to a remote UNIX system.

My guess is the concensus will be that at that point, you may as well just telnet or SSH into said UNIX system from your Power Mac G4 and give up.



Daring Pioneer of the Future
Staff member
Incidentally, given that G4s haven't received security updates to their operating system in a long while at this point, seeing the results of a telnet/SSH Internet Productivity Challenge would be particularly interesting. SDF is a free resource, and it's usually not hard to get a shell account on a friend's linux system, or a cheap VPS slice.

There was a time when I was doing most of my Internet productivity on a linux system I accessed via SSH, including almost all of my e-mail (several accounts) and a lot of writing, as well as twitter/facebook. It worked out really well when I was using my HTC Touch Pro2, which has an excellent keyboard but not too terribly much else. It also worked extremely well because i could keep my "internet" stuff (like IRC chats and e-mail) running while I hauled my laptop from class to class or used school machines.



Well-known member
Mmmmm I wasnt intent on using facebook as facebook per-se, only the instant messaging side of it as basically a glorified, web-based SMS system... A few years ago I wouldn't even have done that, but in 2013 unfortunately I recieve more electronic correspondence via facebook IM than SMS or phonecalls. If it werent going to compromise my day to day communications as greatly (say had i taken the challenge in 2008 prior to facebook being a staple communication medium and prior to it having a viable IM function), I'd simply do away with it altogether... Alas, I am a slave to the changing times :(

As far as it's other functions go however, the actual page itself, if it will not function on old browsers or equipment, I'll go without. To be honest, it will be a very very refreshing change of digital scenery... going a month without seeing stupid memes full of cat's and willy wonkas and reading about how wonderful somebody thinks the meal they cooked is, and vague statuses about how much somebody i know hates somebody else i know... :lol:

With the mail etc side of things, I was reasonably expecting I would run into problems etc with regard to the massive gaps you mention in security protocols that exist between the servers of now and the mail client applications of then. Whilst in this instance it could be considered that for the purposes of a productivity-based challenge, a helper device is appropriate, I would in this instance, probably attempt to work around this in a rudimentary fashion using the webmail facilities provided by my ISP, and as far as the web-based hotmail and gmail accounts go, I dare say I'd hope that they work in some dodgy kinda fashion on my browser. Unless I was expecting a particularly important email however I dare say I wouldn't resort even then to the iPhone as a helper, simply out of principal. :)

I guess I'm lucky enough that I've never embraced the portable self-cointained digital media-player since it's conception, having never owned an iPod, owned and used a Zen for about 3 weeks before I stuffed it in a drawer never to be seen again, and even now I have half a dozen videos ripped from youtube on my iPhone that represents my entire portable music collection, which never actually get listened too. In my car I have a USB stick connected with most of my iTunes library on it which baSICALLY replaces my CD's... This means that for what it's worth, I probably wont even feel the effects of such limitations. :) I had put some thought towards what was acceptable as far as accessing music etc remotely and drew a conclusion that whilst anything dependant upon an OSX-specific function would be immediately ruled out, any solution involving simple file-sharing connectivity between machines would be perfectly acceptable, as in theory, replace the G4 with a WGS over ethernet and you have in essence a network configuration that was valid and possible on the technology available in the 90's... In theory, I could go a step further and have the G4 booted into OS9 to even more accurately replicate a typical 68k/60x era setup. WHilst admittedly, 40Gb hard discs didnt exist in 1997, the basic Appleshare and TCP infrastructure did, and theoretically, a remote file server with my 10Gb music collection would still have been possible, even if stretched over multiple volumes. :)

The only real issue I have come by that would appear to require me to cheat and have to accept is actual connectivity to the outside world... Realistically, I would like to be able to simply install a commslot modem and use my ISP's dial-up function to establish web-connectivity for the month of the challenge, however my property no longer has an active telephone line as such, with my flatmate and I having opted for a full cable-based telecommunications package earlier this year... basically even our landline telephone is connected via our broadband internet connection. This means that connectivity via broadband is the only option and as such will possibly require other hardware or software as an intermediary to help it along at worst, or at best, will mean I'll have to put up with net speeds that were unheard of at the time.



Well-known member
I've contemplated this for a while, and I don't really have any solutions to offer, here's a few thoughts:

Most of the older mail clients do not support SHA(anything) SSL certificates, which most people have moved to since MD5 based certs are old, and there's evidence they have been compromised. So, you might encounter some difficulties there.

The web browser situation is pretty abysmal and I really think it's not particularly reasonable to attempt to solve. However, most of the major web services provide web api to access them, and the web3.0 model or whatever is native client side apps on mobile devices with the web interface being kind of secondary. So it's somewhat reasonable to create native macos apps for these services using their web apis, and have an actual usable client side experience. The hiccup there is lack of infrastructure like ssl, oauth, etc. Nothing impossible, just tedious.

I've considered doing a client for accessing 68kmla this way, but I don't believe phpbb has any real API to speak of, and scraping the HTML would be tiresome and error prone. Some alternative forums use software that bridge the forum to NNTP, so you can use your favorite usenet client to read/post, which is nice.

MacSSH still works, although again doesn't support some of the newer encryption, so it might not work with some of the more strict servers that have disabled legacy enc types.

Another option is using X11 and remote displaying modern apps on the macos system. Unfortunately, I haven't found an X11 implementation for macos that supports higher color depths. Combine that with newer unixy apps only working with 24bit or so, and a lot of apps won't display. For instance, I have yet to find a modernish X11 browser on any platform that supports 8bit color.

VNC is always an option, although not a great one. Modern resolutions can be hard on 68k vnc clients. I've experienced frequent client crashes in almost every client out there. When the client is working, the resolution of most macos systems is so low as to make modern UI not very pleasant to use.



Daring Pioneer of the Future
Staff member
Wow, you're taking this a lot further than I expected.

To be honest, I don't think there was anything that didn't allow for modern home networking connections, and as such a cable or DSL connection, even if those weren't necessarily period appropriate for the time (which would be better thought of as 1992 or 1993.)

Webmail is probably right out. About three or four years ago it was still possible to access gmail with a 68k Mac, you might be able to get to OWA Light from Exchange 2007/2010 or earlier, but that's kind of an issue where it's anyone's guess as well, and you likewise might have luck with pure HTML Gmail, presuming they're not forcing HTTPS. (which may be more of a security issue than anything else, at this point.)

There are options for intermediary mail servers, but I'm of the mind that it would be easier to just use alpine.

A USB stick connected to your car stereo is definitely inaccurate, but I suppose it depends on how far you want retrochallenge to extend as it pertains to your personal life. I've heard competing ideas on this. It was generaly agreed that it isn't something you must bring to work, although I suppose you could if you were so inclined.

In terms of remote graphical computing -- 68k Macs pull so much electricity that it's almost not worth talking about, and if retrochallenge involved going as far as VNC to make one of your use cases possible, then I'd say that you're probably done, both with the letter and the intent of the RC.

Remote X is more interesting, although I haven't looked at it and it sounds like the display bitness issue may really be a showstopper for that use case.



Active member
Hey, this is cool! Glad to see the idea of using a 68k machine in a modern environment. Good luck and let us know how it goes!



Well-known member
Gonna be a while off yet it seems. Turns out that all my LC5xx computers... every single one of the dozen that I have, whilst in storage have either developed bad caps or had batteries leak and destroy the logic boards, and all the hard drives seem to have simultaneously gone bad.... :-/

Would seem my biggest barrier to success thus far is actually electro-mechanical in nature. Oh what a world....

Guess I got some work to do.



Well-known member
Internet on a 68k Mac is going to be on a par with internet on Windows 3.1. It won't be pleasant, even if you're using an 840 A/V with Mac OS 8.1.



Well-known member
You know, if wannabe only had some means of allowing form entry and such, it would be useable for many more things like logging in and posting to this forum. The forum can be read perfectly well using wannabe as things stand, even on a 68k machine/ ethernet, but it lacks a few of the essentials needed for real text-only use.

Mind you, losing such things is probably what makes it fast!