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View Full Version : Is a Powerbook G3 usable for much?




RedCroissant
Nov 4, 2012, 12:59 AM
I am helping a friend set up and make sure that a Powerbook G3 he just bought will be a worthwhile purchase. So far, it seems to me like he got screwed on this deal since he paid $80 for this machine.

Will it load any webpages with Flash? Can it handle any modern webpages? I was able to navigate to and log in to my account on Craigslist, but can't seem to be able to do much else. Is this pretty what I should expect from it? Thanks for any advice.



G51989
Nov 4, 2012, 01:31 AM
Well, being the owner of a decked out Pismo, I can say.

No.

The Pismo barely can handle daily driving tasks, at least under 10.4OSX, Youtube is impossible via browser, though I guess Mactubes is OK at best,

I still use mine from time to time, sometimes it comes with me to work ( it has a new battery ), its also a 900mhz upgraded Pismo, the best the G3 has to offer. And it's very very slow under OSX.

But, I've tried some Linux Distros on it, currently its running Ubtuntu, and it flies.

If your gonna use it every day, you gotta ditch OSX and go to Linux.

Hrududu
Nov 4, 2012, 01:40 AM
Its important to remember that the PowerBook G3 made a lot of improvements over its somewhat short lifespan. It can be as slow as 233MHz and as fast as 500MHz which may not sound like much, but it really is a night & day difference. First off, early PowerBooks like the first model and the WallStreets have NO USB ports at all. The original gets no OS X support and the WallStreets don't run it well at all mostly due to a poor graphics card. Once you get to the bronze keyboard and Pismo PowerBooks, you get a more usable machine by far. These machines have built in USB, FireWire (on the pismo) and far superior graphics chips. Personally, I wouldn't pay more than $30 for any PowerBook G3 (I've gotten G4's for less than $50) and if you want to be really honest, anything under 1GHz is not going to be a system I would want to use every day all the time. So did he get "ripped off?" If he was expecting a computer to use daily and do any sort of flash playback, then yes. PowerBook G3 systems have reached the point of being fun toys for people who want to run retro software and not really for internet use.

My advice:
If its an original G3 or WallStreet: Run Mac OS 9 and Classilla for web. Max out the RAM.

If its a Lombard or a Pismo: Load it up with Mac OS Tiger 10.4.11 and max out the RAM.

orestes1984
Nov 4, 2012, 01:11 AM
Can it handle Flash? Yes, but why would you want that propitiatory junk? Will it handle youtube on anything more than 360p, probably not, but then streaming video requires a significant amount of CPU power that a machine that old simply does not have.

Will it handle basic flash things here and there? Yes with 10.4.11 and Camino installed you will handle some basic flash as well as modern page layouts, but it won't be brilliant.

You can run Lubuntu on it with Openbox, Cairo Dock, and Gnome Dock for a lightweight and modern browsing experience that is OS X like, you will even have an app store and Lubuntu will run the latest version of Firefox/Thunderbird instead of the incredibly outdated Mac versions. Yes even 10.4 Fox is incredibly outdated.

The reality though is that Flash sucks, it's a propitiatory piece of junk and you are better off using Websites that support HTML5. This machine CAN be set up to be a decent web browser and it will support some basic document editing as well using Open Office or whatever else you chose to use.

If it were me I would try Lubuntu with Openbox first before you go any further. It has a much smaller footprint and newer software than Tiger and will give better performance.

Would I spend $80 on a G3 Powerbook, to me they are far to old, but with enough patience they can be set up as a modern, daily use PC that is reasonably fast with new software provided you live within its limitations and realise the age of the machine. I say PC because I would suggest using it as a Linux PC rather than a Mac.

It will be much slower than your average $299 Netbook though so that's the drawback.

Michael Anthony
Nov 4, 2012, 04:50 AM
Screw Flash, I've uninstalled it even on my Intel Macs, and yes, that was a ripoff, I paid $70 (or was it $60?) for a 1.8GHz G5 iMac.

Imixmuan
Nov 4, 2012, 08:30 AM
for Linux on an old powerbook. I just put Lubuntu 12.04 on my ibook G4 for the second time, and it flies. There is no flash for PPC linux, so you need to use the well documented work arounds. Currently I am having some problems with gstreamer, there are several fixes out there but nothing is working for me right now. I can still hand off youtube files to gnomemplayer or VLC, but viewtube and minitube do not work.

In addition to Firefox being noticeably faster there is also Midori, a lightweight webkit browser really flies, and if you want some SERIOUS speed, luakit is also available and works on PPC linux. Luakit is a minimalist framework for webkit, and its the fastest browser I've ever used, on any platform. It only uses about 20-30 MB of RAM to launch so is perfect for a low RAM machine.

I would reccomend at least a basic comfortability with the command line, and some patience. Linux is not Mac OS X, there is not a huge mega corporation behind it, so you need to fix your own problems. Forums and Google shall be your friends. And, right click is f12 by default, which is retarded, but is easily changed to ctrl click via the command line.

If you want to stay Mac OS, I'd probably go 9 at this point. Tiger is so old and nine tenths of your fun will be running classic software via macintoshgarden dot com. And you will have Classilla, so the web won't be a total IE 5 disaster.

jodelli
Nov 4, 2012, 08:59 AM
I gave one away about a year or so ago because I never used it anymore. It was just too damn slow. Remember it's only b wireless.

I still have the last G4 Power Book made and even it has compatibility issues and a low frame rate on HD video, problems my old C2D Macbook doesn't have.

Ariii
Nov 4, 2012, 09:34 AM
It's fun for emulation, and it's very upgradeable. If it's the Pismo, you can use it for a lot try mobile YouTube with QuickTime, and don't even bother with Flash. They also make very nice word processors as well. If it doesn't have FireWire, stick with MacOS 9, but if it does, but 10.4.11 on it and disable the DashBoard. If you can afford it, get an upgrade, it makes a huge difference. Get 1 GB of RAM, obviouosly, and put a fast IDE HDD to use with it (It'll speed it up significantly). You might want to dual-boot Mac OS X with Linux, or even MacOS 9. Mobile FaceBook is perfectly fine as well. Get Adium to use, it works great with FaceBook chat and a lot of other things as well. Also, try using Camino as your main web browser, it will be way faster. If you do this, it'll be a very usable machine.

RedCroissant
Nov 4, 2012, 09:57 AM
Well, being the owner of a decked out Pismo, I can say.

No.

The Pismo barely can handle daily driving tasks, at least under 10.4OSX, Youtube is impossible via browser, though I guess Mactubes is OK at best,

I still use mine from time to time, sometimes it comes with me to work ( it has a new battery ), its also a 900mhz upgraded Pismo, the best the G3 has to offer. And it's very very slow under OSX.

But, I've tried some Linux Distros on it, currently its running Ubtuntu, and it flies.

If your gonna use it every day, you gotta ditch OSX and go to Linux.

Its important to remember that the PowerBook G3 made a lot of improvements over its somewhat short lifespan. It can be as slow as 233MHz and as fast as 500MHz which may not sound like much, but it really is a night & day difference. First off, early PowerBooks like the first model and the WallStreets have NO USB ports at all. The original gets no OS X support and the WallStreets don't run it well at all mostly due to a poor graphics card. Once you get to the bronze keyboard and Pismo PowerBooks, you get a more usable machine by far. These machines have built in USB, FireWire (on the pismo) and far superior graphics chips. Personally, I wouldn't pay more than $30 for any PowerBook G3 (I've gotten G4's for less than $50) and if you want to be really honest, anything under 1GHz is not going to be a system I would want to use every day all the time. So did he get "ripped off?" If he was expecting a computer to use daily and do any sort of flash playback, then yes. PowerBook G3 systems have reached the point of being fun toys for people who want to run retro software and not really for internet use.

My advice:
If its an original G3 or WallStreet: Run Mac OS 9 and Classilla for web. Max out the RAM.

If its a Lombard or a Pismo: Load it up with Mac OS Tiger 10.4.11 and max out the RAM.

Screw Flash, I've uninstalled it even on my Intel Macs, and yes, that was a ripoff, I paid $70 (or was it $60?) for a 1.8GHz G5 iMac.

I gave one away about a year or so ago because I never used it anymore. It was just too damn slow. Remember it's only b wireless.

I still have the last G4 Power Book made and even it has compatibility issues and a low frame rate on HD video, problems my old C2D Macbook doesn't have.

Here's an update for everyone that responded: Once my friend was able to find a working power adapter, I was able to power it on to see exactly which machine this was and what he would be working with. Here are the basic specs:

1. Apple PowerBook G3 266MHz PowerPC G3, 64MB RAM, 4GB HDD.
2. No USB or Firewire
3. Running Mac OS 8.6.
4. CD-ROM drive
5. It also looks like this machine has been taken apart a couple of times.
6. No wireless( I guess that's obvious by the model)

But you want to know something awesome about it? Assembled in Ireland!

If this changes anyone's advice, please let me know because I'm about to tell my friend that his machine is basically a word processor.

Jethryn Freyman
Nov 4, 2012, 10:17 AM
for Linux on an old powerbook. I just put Lubuntu 12.04 on my ibook G4 for the second time, and it flies. There is no flash for PPC linux, so you need to use the well documented work arounds. Currently I am having some problems with gstreamer, there are several fixes out there but nothing is working for me right now. I can still hand off youtube files to gnomemplayer or VLC, but viewtube and minitube do not work.

In addition to Firefox being noticeably faster there is also Midori, a lightweight webkit browser really flies, and if you want some SERIOUS speed, luakit is also available and works on PPC linux. Luakit is a minimalist framework for webkit, and its the fastest browser I've ever used, on any platform. It only uses about 20-30 MB of RAM to launch so is perfect for a low RAM machine.

I would reccomend at least a basic comfortability with the command line, and some patience. Linux is not Mac OS X, there is not a huge mega corporation behind it, so you need to fix your own problems. Forums and Google shall be your friends. And, right click is f12 by default, which is retarded, but is easily changed to ctrl click via the command line.

If you want to stay Mac OS, I'd probably go 9 at this point. Tiger is so old and nine tenths of your fun will be running classic software via macintoshgarden dot com. And you will have Classilla, so the web won't be a total IE 5 disaster.
Oh come on, OS 9 is ancient and doesn't hold a tiny sputtering candle to Tiger/Leopard.

skateny
Nov 4, 2012, 10:31 AM
Here's an update for everyone that responded: Once my friend was able to find a working power adapter, I was able to power it on to see exactly which machine this was and what he would be working with. Here are the basic specs:

1. Apple PowerBook G3 266MHz PowerPC G3, 64MB RAM, 4GB HDD.
2. No USB or Firewire
3. Running Mac OS 8.6.
4. CD-ROM drive
5. It also looks like this machine has been taken apart a couple of times.
6. No wireless( I guess that's obvious by the model)

But you want to know something awesome about it? Assembled in Ireland!

If this changes anyone's advice, please let me know because I'm about to tell my friend that his machine is basically a word processor.

His machine is basically a word processor, as well as a reminder not to buy anything without knowing what you're getting.

ihuman:D
Nov 4, 2012, 10:40 AM
Here's an update for everyone that responded: Once my friend was able to find a working power adapter, I was able to power it on to see exactly which machine this was and what he would be working with. Here are the basic specs:

1. Apple PowerBook G3 266MHz PowerPC G3, 64MB RAM, 4GB HDD.
2. No USB or Firewire
3. Running Mac OS 8.6.
4. CD-ROM drive
5. It also looks like this machine has been taken apart a couple of times.
6. No wireless( I guess that's obvious by the model)

But you want to know something awesome about it? Assembled in Ireland!

If this changes anyone's advice, please let me know because I'm about to tell my friend that his machine is basically a word processor.

Woot!Woot!

RedCroissant
Nov 4, 2012, 10:50 AM
His machine is basically a word processor, as well as a reminder not to buy anything without knowing what you're getting.

Yeah, I just came to that conclusion and it sucks because he doesn't know anything about computers, so the person selling it to him really took advantage of his need for one.

----------

Woot!Woot!

Yes, I enjoyed that as well even though I only have a wee bit o' Irish blood. Sorry my phrasing perpetuates a stereotype, but it's still fun for me.

Ariii
Nov 4, 2012, 10:54 AM
Here's an update for everyone that responded: Once my friend was able to find a working power adapter, I was able to power it on to see exactly which machine this was and what he would be working with. Here are the basic specs:

1. Apple PowerBook G3 266MHz PowerPC G3, 64MB RAM, 4GB HDD.
2. No USB or Firewire
3. Running Mac OS 8.6.
4. CD-ROM drive
5. It also looks like this machine has been taken apart a couple of times.
6. No wireless( I guess that's obvious by the model)

But you want to know something awesome about it? Assembled in Ireland!

If this changes anyone's advice, please let me know because I'm about to tell my friend that his machine is basically a word processor.

You probably have this model:

http://www.everymac.com/systems/apple/powerbook_g3/specs/powerbook_g3_266.html

You can still do a lot of gaming with stuff like DGen, and old Macintosh games... once you have the RAM maxed out, install MacOS 9 and put Classilla on it (Which is great on 512 MB)... look up the model on EveryMac.com to see if it can take AirPort, and you can always fit a PCMCIA wireless card into it. If the HDD is too noisy, just get a cheap CF card and an adaptor. AIM for MacOS 9 still works pretty well... your G3 may not be very practical for the price, but it's still fun to get old tech working :).

Oh come on, OS 9 is ancient and doesn't hold a tiny sputtering candle to Tiger/Leopard.

Toger and Leopard are nice, but Mac OS 9 is a pretty nice OS, the interface is great and it's quick... A large number of people are completely fine with it.

ihuman:D
Nov 4, 2012, 10:56 AM
Yeah, I just came to that conclusion and it sucks because he doesn't know anything about computers, so the person selling it to him really took advantage of his need for one.

----------



Yes, I enjoyed that as well even though I only have a wee bit o' Irish blood. Sorry my phrasing perpetuates a stereotype, but it's still fun for me.

It's not really the sellers fault. They only wanted buyers.

RedCroissant
Nov 4, 2012, 11:04 AM
You probably have this model:

http://www.everymac.com/systems/apple/powerbook_g3/specs/powerbook_g3_266.html

You can still do a lot of gaming with stuff like DGen, and old Macintosh games... once you have the RAM maxed out, install MacOS 9 and put Classilla on it (Which is great on 512 MB)... look up the model on EveryMac.com to see if it can take AirPort, and you can always fit a PCMCIA wireless card into it. If the HDD is too noisy, just get a cheap CF card and an adaptor. AIM for MacOS 9 still works pretty well... your G3 may not be very practical for the price, but it's still fun to get old tech working :).

The problem is that my friend doesn't have much money and he was told by the seller that this machine was till good for getting on the internet and for playing DVDs that my friend would need to complete certain required training. All of those components and upgrades would end up costing more than the computer and would still not make his computer usable enough for what he initially wanted.

----------

It's not really the sellers fault. They only wanted buyers.

I would agree with you on most days when it involves someone that does know about the product that they are interested in purchasing. However, when a seller makes false claims about the product being sold in order to convince someone to buy it that is looking for a deal due to budget constraints, some of the fault should in fact fall on the seller.

Ariii
Nov 4, 2012, 11:15 AM
The problem is that my friend doesn't have much money and he was told by the seller that this machine was till good for getting on the internet and for playing DVDs that my friend would need to complete certain required training. All of those components and upgrades would end up costing more than the computer and would still not make his computer usable enough for what he initially wanted.

Maybe just upgrade the RAM and download Classilla then. You should be okay on 512 MB for web browsing, though. Without a RAM upgrade, you can't really use it practically, at least not if it's supposed to be your main machine.

rjcalifornia
Nov 4, 2012, 11:45 AM
The problem is that my friend doesn't have much money and he was told by the seller that this machine was till good for getting on the internet and for playing DVDs that my friend would need to complete certain required training. All of those components and upgrades would end up costing more than the computer and would still not make his computer usable enough for what he initially wanted.

----------



I would agree with you on most days when it involves someone that does know about the product that they are interested in purchasing. However, when a seller makes false claims about the product being sold in order to convince someone to buy it that is looking for a deal due to budget constraints, some of the fault should in fact fall on the seller.

He got ripped off. I bought an ibook G4 1.2 Ghz with 1.25 MB of RAM (Airport Card Included) and Upgraded to Leopard for USD $130 with free shipping.

Even before, I bought an ibook G3 500 MHZ for USD $110 with a 10 GB first Gen iPod

We should you know make a sticky thread about the best powerpc laptops/desktop you must get.

I already made a blog about it some time ago.

keremtezcan
Nov 4, 2012, 11:57 AM
No. It is a ripoff. Buy a lower end Power Mac G5 for that money!

RedCroissant
Nov 4, 2012, 12:14 PM
He got ripped off. I bought an ibook G4 1.2 Ghz with 1.25 MB of RAM (Airport Card Included) and Upgraded to Leopard for USD $130 with free shipping.

Even before, I bought an ibook G3 500 MHZ for USD $110 with a 10 GB first Gen iPod

We should you know make a sticky thread about the best powerpc laptops/desktop you must get.

I already made a blog about it some time ago.

This site has been pretty helpful to me after i bought an iBook G4 and an iMac G5.

http://mymacintoshcollection.com/

This site is dedicated to PowerPc Macs only.

skateny
Nov 4, 2012, 12:19 PM
The problem is that my friend doesn't have much money and he was told by the seller that this machine was till good for getting on the internet and for playing DVDs that my friend would need to complete certain required training. All of those components and upgrades would end up costing more than the computer and would still not make his computer usable enough for what he initially wanted.

Given that you said your friend knows nothing about computers, he was clearly an optimal buyer for this machine at that price. I bought my iBook for $200 about two years ago with Leopard, Airport Extreme and Xslimmer installed. Since then, I've spent a total of $35 on a DC-in board, 1GB of RAM, and AC adapter. When APE crapped out with kernel panics, I bought a high-powered USB wireless router/signal booster for twelve bucks. Also got Tiger install discs from a friend on this forum for $16. Going to add a battery soon since I'm burning through the original during and after the hurricane here in NY. In my opinion, it isn't worth it to spend more money on this machine. The cost and learning curve for your friend just to get this up to being a serviceable 'Net surfer, DVD player and word processor simply doesn't make sense.

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I would agree with you on most days when it involves someone that does know about the product that they are interested in purchasing. However, when a seller makes false claims about the product being sold in order to convince someone to buy it that is looking for a deal due to budget constraints, some of the fault should in fact fall on the seller.

Based on what you wrote, it does sound as though the seller provided misleading information.

ihuman:D
Nov 4, 2012, 12:37 PM
No. It is a ripoff. Buy a lower end Power Mac G5 for that money!

They're about 200+ here...