Powerbook For College?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips, Advice and Discussion (archive)' started by TDT, Apr 4, 2004.

  1. TDT macrumors member

    Apr 4, 2004
    University of Iowa - Iowa
    Hey all,

    dang hitting edit too early, anyways I'm considering buying a powerbook for my college. I already have a pretty nice workstation, but I want something I can work on at college.

    Generally I would be doing a heavy amount of programming (perl, python, c++, java mostly), along with some web development. Along with that, I would need the basic functions such as e-mail, ipod, internet, etc.

    I am thinking of buying the 15 inch powerbook, the 1.25ghz G4. This will be my first mac, actually. I'm curious if such a combination would be worthwhile for the uses I want to use it for. I need something with some boost, especially for maybe the game or two I may try on it. Compact, light, etc are a must. Right now I got it set for 512 megs of ram because of the VirtualPC for mac.

    Which leads me to my second question. Is VirtualPC a good application to use on the mac? I would like to have a virtual machine where I can run linux and Windows .net server. I'm hoping that 512 megs of RAM will be enough, from reading the virtualPC site, it looks like the overhead of running a virtual machine isn't all that extreme.

    As far as development, I don't know much about macs - is there a good source of open source software that I can install on a mac? Something like a port of vi, some terminals, GAIM, etc?

    Lots of questions in one post, my apologies for that - I don't know all that much about macs, but from what I hear OSX is simply awesome, on par with Linux - hence my reason for buying a mac instead of a PC.

  2. wordmunger macrumors 603


    Sep 3, 2003
    North Carolina
  3. TDT thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 4, 2004
    University of Iowa - Iowa
    Darn it, I knew that someone was going to post before I could edit my post...dang it, lol
  4. TDT thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 4, 2004
    University of Iowa - Iowa
    I should note a lot that I am a total newbie at macs. I'm not a newbie at linux though. From what I know about OSX, it's built on top of FreeBSD (modified?). If I get a few terminal windows, I'll be happy.

    The worst thing I'm worried about is development. Are the gtk/qt libs available for the mac, ports of python and perl, etc? I'm assuming they are from just the popularity of a mac. Running windows within the mac would be very very handy since I do a heavy amount of development in windows as well.

    *shrug* It's going to be interesting either way since I know nothing about macs. Last time I used a mac, I couldn't figure out how to open the CDRom drive, I looked all over for a button on the computer. Had to ask someone else and they pointed to the keyboard...dang I felt stupid, lol.
  5. stoid macrumors 601


    Feb 17, 2002
    So long, and thanks for all the fish!
    I have that exact set-up minus the SuperDrive, and it works wonderfully. Plenty fast for programming, runs VirtualPC well, and even tackles Halo without complaining. Just showing it to friends, two of my classmates have purchased the same system. Very nice indeed.
  6. x86isslow macrumors 6502a

    Aug 10, 2003
    If you're into Linux, check out YDL . Those guys sell dual-boot macs with both linux and osX.
  7. TDT thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 4, 2004
    University of Iowa - Iowa
    Yellowdog linux, the mac equil. of Redhat Linux. Well, more like "RedHat workalike linux", since using the RH name even to post it here is against their copyright.

    I used to use RHL, but after version 8 it kinda annoyed me, so I'm thinking of sticking away from anything based with RHL, hehe. Installing linux on a mac may be good, but I think I'm going to stick with the basic setup...I hear that terminals and stuff are there, and work exactly like what I'm used to. I just want to make sure I get vi, vi is my favorite editor :-/ I live for vi...I gotta get a life, lol.

    anyways, thanks you two for responding so quickly. I'm glad to hear it runs VirtualPC well, that was kinda a worry of mine.

    One more question I do have, this is more of a tech question, but how does network mounts work on OSX? I mean, for example, can I use NFS to mount a drive? Does the network mounts work off MS's stuff too? I could set up samba too if that's what's necessary. I will need some network mount stuff, since I need to transfer quite a bit of information (all my school stuff, music, etc) to the new computer. I would rather not waste a DVD in writing it, if I can just network mount and transfer the information.

    Thanks again.
  8. TDT thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 4, 2004
    University of Iowa - Iowa
    Found out about NFS, found a nice tutorial site. Still kinda curious about SMB connections, but I bet it works.

    hehe, looking at screenshots of MacOSX look very impressive, I have a feeling I'm going to like this OS when I get to using it.
  9. portent macrumors 6502a

    Feb 17, 2004
  10. Westside guy macrumors 603

    Westside guy

    Oct 15, 2003
    The soggy side of the Pacific NW
    Last fall I was in a similar situation as you, I'd guess. I had been running Red Hat Linux as my main OS for a couple years (after being a DOS and Windows user for a long time). While I really liked Linux most of the time, it absolutely drove me nuts occasionally. To keep this short - basically OS X has exceeded my expectations, and I'm glad I made this switch.

    Perl and python are available natively. I believe qt is available natively, but the gtk porting project appears to have stalled (plus they were porting gtk1, not gtk2). However as portent pointed out, the fink project fills this need and others quite well - most all KDE and Gnome apps are there if you want them, so of course their libraries are as well. ;) The main big difference is that apps under fink are using Apple's X11 for the display rather than OS X's native Aqua. Apple's X11 implementation is first-rate though, and it plays extremely well with the native OS X apps; so I don't see this as a big issue.

    VPC runs acceptably unless you need hardware-accelerated graphics. I can run Visio (main reason I have VPC); I can run Internet Explorer to make sure things look the same on Windows; I can use scanners that don't have Mac support, etc. But I wouldn't plan on gaming with it. :) It's probably like running a P2-300 or so (making a wild stab at it) with a sucky video card.

    Edit: I should probably point out that my experiences have been with OS X 10.2.8 and above. People who used 10.0 and 10.1 often thought the BSD underbelly and X11 stuff were not well integrated with the more traditional Mac-like elements. So most definitely use the newest version of OS X, even if you decide not to get brand-new hardware.
  11. TDT thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 4, 2004
    University of Iowa - Iowa
    Thanks all for the help in this. I think I will get this powerbook soon, very soon. I have a feeling that I'm going to enjoy this thing, although some changes of my normal system usage will be needed. I checked out fink, interesting site there.

    It's kinda a shame about gtk2 not being ported too fast. I hope that they do port it, and pygtk, so I can do python GTK type apps.

    The idea of X running along with apple's own WM is pretty neat, I checked apple's site and read about that, was really pretty surprised. From what the site said, and some here, I guess that X runs pretty fast and works without any problems along with the normal interface.

    About all my normal needed development apps being there, I'm happy to hear that. I have a feeling it won't be too big of a much of a change from linux, but I'm sure it will take some getting used to. I will still have my other machines, hehe.

    Anyways, thx again for the answers, this should be an interesting adventure once I get this.
  12. mrdeep macrumors member

    Jun 23, 2003
    more importantly, emacs is included :D

    Yeah, i have that laptop and use it for those purposes.

    Fink is great
    xcode is good for c (normal, ++, and objective)
    I use jedit for java, perl, xml, everything else, but java apps tend to be pretty slow :-(
    and i use subethaedit or emacs for quickly editing stuff

    Virtual pc tends to be really slow, i installed windows 98 in virtual pc, make sure you install the "drivers" in windows 98.

    And something you didn't mention: games.
    You can play a fullscreen game (armagetron, warcraft 3) durring class, and hit command-m and it goes into a window.

    sentances, grammer, spelling: all overrated!
  13. kaylee macrumors regular


    Mar 21, 2004
    hi, just to let you know, 512mb of ram is probably ok for running virtual pc for windows 98/NT, but i would just like to say my boyfriend has a 12in pb with 768mb of ram and using virtualPC with winXP it wasn't exactly really fast. i know the 12in has a slower processor and all that, but it might be an idea to get as much ram as you can afford if virtual PC is something you will be running often. and if you aren't already aware, its best not to get your ram through apple because they are a lot more expensive. a lot of people seem to recommend crucial ram on these forums- here's a thread that might be useful for places to buy ram.

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