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Use PowerPC for a week?

tsundoku

教授か何か洗練された者
For reasons already mentioned by Cory5412, I have difficulty considering machines running older versions of Mac OS X to be "retro" anything, and I don't find the idea of using it to be particularly challenging or interesting, but I have been putting some thought lately into what is and isn't possible (or reasonable) in Mac OS 9 today. If MacSSH had UTF-8 translation, I could probably take that particular "challenge" without too much frustration.

 

VMSZealot

Well-known member
I was challenged to up the ante and use my LCIII for a couple of days. With Mulberry, BBEdit and MS Office I was able to work quite happily - although I did later run into some difficulty when importing my older MS Office work directly into the latest version.

I used Gopher instead of www, and when I did www it was in text only using Lynx. Mulberry handled my email, and Fetch shuttled my work onto newer computers when it was time to return to the modern day.

Honestly, it still wasn't too much of a challenge. The biggest problem came when I discovered that (ahem) I'd forgotten to uninstall lemmings!

 

Garrett

Well-known member
Totally possible, but slow. When I interned at the local newspaper office where I wrote articles on a Mac mini powered by a G4 processor (it was the original MacMini from 2005.) While it was extremely slow (although many times faster than a similarly aged IBM desktop model running Windows XP) it still got the work done, and I could fairly decently access the internet using the thing without any major problems. It rendered most websites correctly with some minor issues (due to either the low resolution of the CRT monitor it was connected to, or the old OS and processor that could not handle newer web standards.) When my internship was up this Spring, it still purred along nicely.

The transfer from PowerPC to Intel processors didn't happen too terribly long ago, only nine to ten years ago. It's not like when they switched from 68k to PowerPC, which would make more of a challenge but still (mostly) do-able with some tasks.

IMG_1511.JPG

 
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raoulduke

Well-known member
I agree with ianj (and Cory). And when I tried to use a Kanga indefinitely it was just flatly impossible given the need to interface with modern networks (of which I am not the administrator).

 
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tsundoku

教授か何か洗練された者
I was actually saying that I'm interested in the general idea for Mac OS 9 (but not for OS X). While I would probably not do a formalized "challenge," I am casually experimenting with which tasks can be reasonably accomplished on a Mac OS 9 machine and which can't. People whose primary computing language uses the Roman alphabet can get away with offloading some of the more difficult to a shell server and using MacSSH. For non-Roman locales, using a legacy character encoding works for localized messages, but UTF-8 filenames cannot be easily read. MacSSH is open-source, though, so that could change!

 
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Schmoburger

Well-known member
I was actually saying that I'm interested in the general idea for Mac OS 9 (but not for OS X). While I would probably not do a formalized "challenge," I am casually experimenting with which tasks can be reasonably accomplished on a Mac OS 9 machine and which can't. People whose primary computing language uses the Roman alphabet can get away with offloading some of the more difficult to a shell server and using MacSSH. For non-Roman locales, using a legacy character encoding works for localized messages, but UTF-8 filenames cannot be easily read. MacSSH is open-source, though, so that could change!
I don't find it at all a challenge to use OS9 for most tasks... as mentioned earlier in the thread, I use my (admittedly slightly tickled but still  thoroughly obsolescent by 3 hardware generations) 9600 very regularly with 9.2 and a modest G3 upgrade. Realistically under 80% of situations it does anything I would expect of the G5 just somewhat slower... but even in saying that, it isnt a huge arrow to the knee given that the G5 has 6 times the 4-5 times the RAM, bus bandwidth  and raw processing speed (not even accounting for the inherent improvements in actual architecture... Obviously the 9600 would be slow as balls if I were to run 10.2 (which is installed and possible to boot from but I have zero inclination to do so as if I wanted to use a totally abandoned  version of OSX I can boot up my iMac's, Yikes, G3, or Sawtooth), but under a "classic" operating system and running software designed for it, it is capable and pretty damn fast. :)

For what it is worth I could theoretically use it for everything and it wouldnt really be too much of a problem, as there are legacy applications that do thye job well for any productive task i might need to undertake, and Classilla makes for a very capable web-browsing platform. That said, Youtube is a problem and certain modern pages are very resource heavy or just dont play well (TC forums for instance, operate terribly in Classilla). And add to that my entire 2 and a half week long music library is stored on my hard drive, and while this would be theoretically possible on the 9600, the 36Gb cap on SCSI hard disks would make it impractical to store all my music locally, and whilst using a firewire drive  is an option as it has a firewire card, it is messy... vs just tossing a pair of 500Gb HDD's in the G5 and never having storage concerns for another 10 years.

As for the G5 itself, I consider it to be a fairly pedestrian feat using it as a daily machine. The only issue (if you can call it an issue) I have encountered is the inability to use Skype as of last year, which isnt a major concern as I havent used it in years as I always hated how slow and buggy it always tended to be in it's early days, and Australian telecommunications infrastructure is crap anyway so connection issues always made the experience suck. I have Skype on my iPhone anyway and I still dont use it. The only other major issue is the inability to back up my iPhone to the G5 since iOS 7 reuires iTunes 11 which is unavailable for PPC... again this is an annoyance, but can be worked around by either buying a $50 Windows machine for the task or going PCless and using iCloud. Aside from these two issues, using my G5 daily is really no different to using my housemates 3 month old laptop, except that the user experience is IMO, nicer on my Mac. Speedwise, there is really no difference, and there is an older version of a commercial app, or an open-source or freeware sollution to almost everything I will use the machine for. I could buy an iTrashcan tomorrow and realistically it wouldn't be expected to do anything my G5 doesnt do sterlingly already.

 

hellslinger

Active member
Is the objective of this challenge to use the PPC hardware, or use retro software?

My Dual 1 GHz MDD G4 running Lubuntu 14.04 PPC is a competent machine. Current mainline builds of Firefox with HTML5 means it's usable. For non-web tasks, it's surprisingly snappy -- much more than OS 10.3 or .4 ever was.

 
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IPalindromeI

Well-known member
The one about Macintoshes with 680x0 processors. "Modern" PPC on isn't terribly interesting, especially with OS X >10.2/any cross-platform Unix. Just run an x86 box, less hassle, just as interesting, and far faster.

 
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hellslinger

Active member
Alright, Mr. Stick-in-the-mud, but this thread is about PowerPC for modern tasks, so if that isn't interesting to you...

 

Cory5412

Daring Pioneer of the Future
Staff member
In my mind, "put Ubuntu on a Power Mac G4" isn't really very exciting. It would have qualified for the first RetroChallenge, but it seems like RC has become more project-based. The entries I've seen over the past few years have involved restorations, learning how to do a certain task, or programming things. The person who hosts it does a lot of things with DEC systems, too, but I also see a lot of stuff being done with 8 and 16-bit microcomputers.

The RetroChallenge rules now explicitly say that a computer that "can run Windows XP" is probably too new. A lot of really old things from 1996 will happily run Windows XP, so I think that gives you an idea of what they're expecting. They say exceptions can be made for things that are exotic, but I'm thinking that that would involve something like "building a Briel repica 1!" or doing a project on something that almost nobody has in their home.

I personally wouldn't count anything NewWorld at all, on the Mac side of things.

It can be interesting to match old hardware with new software (or the reverse!) but it can be a little anti-climactic. The whole point of the RetroChallenge was to push boundaries and get people excited about older computers. (It was probably one of the first things 68kMLA did that acknowledged 68k Macs as something that might not be totally practical as every-day main computers any longer.) 

Ultimately, if your needs are the same today as they were ten to fifteen years ago, then that's fine, but when I see this kind of thread where somebody wants to use a PowerPC Mac for any length of time as a "challenge" all I can think is what if I did the same thing with my Microsoft Surface RT (2012, but really slow), or my ThinkPad X31 (2003). I ruminate on it for a moment and then realize that it would be like my daily life.

That said, as IPalindromeI alluded to, the 68kMLA is really focused more on 68k Macs. We expanded a few years ago, and to be honest, I would personally like to contract back again -- possibly limit to beige/oldworld PowerPCs and Mac OS 9. (Due to connectivity, Mac OS 9 might actually be an interesting productivity challenge, but it depends on how/where/with-whom you work, and one of the original stipulations of the RetoChallenge Endurance "Competition" was that you could use work-provided resources for work purposes without an impact on your score.)

 And add to that my entire 2 and a half week long music library is stored on my hard drive, and while this would be theoretically possible on the 9600, the 36Gb cap on SCSI hard disks would make it impractical to store all my music locally,
There are SATA cards that'll happily run the biggest SATA disks you can find in beige PowerPCs. If you use Mac OS 8.1 or newer you can use HFS+ to make very large volumes efficiently.

SCSI itself also isn't limited to 36 gigabytes, but SCSI disks bigger that can be somewhat difficult to find, as most of them are probably being snapped up by people with systems where a SATA or IDE card isn't a practical choice.

 

gdanie

Active member
I've done this several times.  My 700mhz g3 iMac is a fully featured machine, as far as I'm concerned. Especially since its maxed out in RAM.  OS9 has all you need, especially on the abandonware front.  The only place that its really lacking is with the web browser.  And even that is doable -with Classilla I can at least read most of the news sites I read, a lot of my forums (I haven't tried this one - yet), email is a cinch with gmail's HTML-based version, wikipedia loads well.  Thats why I've held onto the g3.  Good, working piece of hardware.

 

wthww

Administrator
Staff member
I could definitely do what I need to do on the net with my Powermac 6100 -- itd be sorta pokey, but y'know :)

//wthww

 

Schmoburger

Well-known member
I've done this several times.  My 700mhz g3 iMac is a fully featured machine, as far as I'm concerned. Especially since its maxed out in RAM.  OS9 has all you need, especially on the abandonware front.  The only place that its really lacking is with the web browser.  And even that is doable -with Classilla I can at least read most of the news sites I read, a lot of my forums (I haven't tried this one - yet), email is a cinch with gmail's HTML-based version, wikipedia loads well.  Thats why I've held onto the g3.  Good, working piece of hardware.
This page is as good on my souped-up G3-powered 9600 as it is on my G5 so I doubt you will have any dramas on the iMac :) TC is a bit boggy in Classilla but then I don't have huge expectations of nearly 20 year old hardware heheh. For what it's worth, to a point you can still find a way around most things on old hardware other than some specific tasks that require specific pieces of software that just arent supported  due to inadequate hardware or deliberate deprecation... ie. Skype. For most general tasks though, older hardware is fine if you are comfortable with the slower pace and aware of the security risks and tailor your use accordingly.

 

hellslinger

Active member
This page is as good on my souped-up G3-powered 9600 as it is on my G5 so I doubt you will have any dramas on the iMac :) TC is a bit boggy in Classilla but then I don't have huge expectations of nearly 20 year old hardware heheh. For what it's worth, to a point you can still find a way around most things on old hardware other than some specific tasks that require specific pieces of software that just arent supported  due to inadequate hardware or deliberate deprecation... ie. Skype. For most general tasks though, older hardware is fine if you are comfortable with the slower pace and aware of the security risks and tailor your use accordingly.
I truly admire your patience. I ditched my PowerLogix upgraded 8600 in 2003 after I got my tangerine iMac G3 400 MHz.

These days, I'm completely spoiled with my 4.5 GHz 4690k on SSD with Arch Linux. 

The funny thing is: this overclocked monster gaming PC is the first machine I've had that boots as fast as a IIcx or SE/30 with System 6.0.8.

 
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CC_333

Well-known member
OK, so here I am. I've been using my Dual 1.25 GHz MDD as my main desktop for about three weeks.

It's not too bad, actually. Just slow.

Even YouTube plays decently (on low, of course).

c

 

Unknown_K

Well-known member
The problem with PPC and Youtube is that once you can view video at 1080p resolution (using any old crappy pc)  its hard to go 480p again. Plus I don't think Netflix works on PPC anymore.

 
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