Questions about Powermac G3 capabilities...

Discussion in 'PowerPC Macs' started by Stinkythe1, Jan 3, 2007.

  1. Stinkythe1 macrumors regular

    Mar 30, 2005
    So I recently won a Powermac G3 off of eBay for a really good price. Here is the auction:

    Now, my plans are just to have this as a constanly on server type of machine, where I'd probably have it set up as a headless box and just use it as a fileserver or whatever. I'm planning on putting in two fairly large size hard drives and about 512MB of RAM in it, however I do have some questions about it's capabilities.

    1) Since I won't be sitting at the computer and using it everyday and it will only be holding files, would it be fast enough to run Tiger? I know that these machines are great for upgrading, however if I don't have to then that would be great.

    2) Would it be possible to install Apple Remote Desktop on this machine to administer it, or would a 350MHz be too slow?

    3) What is the maximum hard drive size that these machines support, or is that only limited by the Operating system? I would like to put 2x 320GB hard drives in it.

    4) I would LOVE to use a firewire tv tuner card and have it set up as a TiVo like device, however the 350MHz kind of worries me. Does anyone have any experience with using a TV tuner and recording shows on this slow of a computer?

    Thanks guys. I'm pretty excited about this computer.
  2. dpaanlka macrumors 601


    Nov 16, 2004
    Yes, it falls perfectly within Apple's Tiger requirements.

    Probably way too slow, but you can get 1ghz G4 upgrades for it.

    Two. The size limit is like 120gb. You'll want to pick up a SATA card.

    There are processor upgrades as mentioned above. Besides, at their time they were considered video editing systems. They can handle DV video just fine, and that is probably more than enough for what you want to do.
  3. kalisphoenix macrumors 65816


    Jul 26, 2005

    It's never made more sense to throw Linux on a machine. Seriously.

    I had a Power Mac G3 with a 1.1GHz G3 upgrade card, 384MB RAM, and modern hard drives on it. It was pretty painful using it with Tiger. And, mind you, it was my primary machine at the time, until I got an iMac Core Duo...

    If it's going to be headless, there's no reason for it to be running OS X anyway. It's just going to be sucking up disk space, processor usage, virtual memory, and so forth. The best thing that you can do is throw Linux on it. Then you can administer it from any computer (even a Windows computer), from anywhere... through ssh.

    I realize you may not be comfortable with Linux, or may know nothing about it, or may hate it. I don't really care -- I'm not a Linux zealot (anymore). I just think it's the best way to use this machine to its potential.

    A Power Mac G3 fulfills the requirements for Tiger only because it has Firewire. It's a technicality. The Blue&Whites are too damned old for anything more than OS X Server 1.0.

    Linux is going to be more useful, more versatile, perform better, and be more satisfying. That's just my opinion.
  4. dpaanlka macrumors 601


    Nov 16, 2004
    I must say I completely disagree with everything the above poster said. I use a B&W G3 with a G4 upgrade, 1GB of RAM, and various fast Radeons for years, right up through the intro of Tiger. It was stupendous... out of my 80 or so Macs the B&W was definitely one of my favorite.
  5. prostuff1 macrumors 65816


    Jul 29, 2005
    Don't step into the kawoosh...
    The only problem I have found with the Blue and White G3's is that the onboard Firewire can be flaky. It sometimes works and sometimes does not. It really depends on your luck

    I would suggest getting a SATA card, a halfway fast G4 upgrade for it (Around the 600mhz range and then attempt to overclock it), abour 512MB of RAM, and maybe a PCI USB/Firewire card if need be (once you find out if your firewire wants to play nice).
  6. kalisphoenix macrumors 65816


    Jul 26, 2005
    RAM Upgrade -- $50 or more on eBay.
    1GHz G4 Upgrade -- $300 on OWC.
    PCI Radeon Upgrade -- $25 or more on eBay.
    USB2 PCI card -- ?
    SATA PCI card -- ?
    OS X Tiger License -- Haha, just kidding.

    That's a lot of dough for a machine that's still going to have a 100MHz bus, a 1 GHz G4, PCI graphics, and rely on PCI cards for damn near everything. It can't accept an Airport card, so you'll have to use another PCI card for that after sifting through compatibility lists to find the right one... or sink it right next to your router.

    And why? So that Tiger will run "stupendously" on a headless fileserver.

    Ridiculous. The lowliest 486 has enough guts to saturate a 100Mbps network. Why crank up all these statistics on an obsolete machine when it's just going to sit there and serve files all the time?

    Throw Linux on it. Better performance for no added money.
  7. dpaanlka macrumors 601


    Nov 16, 2004
    Both of mine always worked. Yours probably had started to become lose from the motherboard, suffered from corrosion, or something to that extent.

    Definitely a gig of RAM. SATA yes, G4 yes, USB only if you want USB 2. FireWire will probably be unnecessary. If this person wants to actually use it, a Radeon 9200 would be a good idea too.

    He also said he might want to use it as a DVR or something. You can usually find those G4 upgrades cheaper on eBay too. Remember, I actually had this thing. Did you have one? Can you give the best review of how it runs? In fact, my good friend still has one (running Tiger) and it's great (still with original G3!). Radeon 9200 is a must if you're going to sit in front of it (he has one of those).

    Oh yes, and I find Linux repulsive.

    EDIT: Oh, I guess you did. Well I still disagree with you, since I see one all the time running Tiger and it's just fine.
  8. kalisphoenix macrumors 65816


    Jul 26, 2005
    Which Linux can do -- and, amazingly, with a wider array of hardware than OS X.

    Yeah, it's pretty obvious that it's warped your sensibilities.

    Well, there you go again -- it requires upgrades to be useful. I dunno. My wife has a Sawtooth G4/450 with 768MB RAM, and the damn thing beachballs constantly. Maybe it just needs a processor upgrade, a SATA card, overclocking, a new video card, and more RAM.

    It's probably not your biggest fan either. Glad to see, though, that you admit being grotesquely impartial. I prefer OS X to Linux (as evidenced by the fact that I don't currently run Linux), but I still think Linux is a far better choice for this machine and these purposes.

    It was (along with an iBook 366MHz/384MB, which ran Tiger noticeably better -- I only used the PM because I had two video cards and two displays, which made it easier to write) my main computer from July of 2005 (when I sold my first iBook G4 and downgraded) until March of 2006 (when I bought an iMac Core Duo). I didn't play games, edit video, or teleconference... but it was miserable, and I tore the damn thing apart and sold it as soon as was humanly possible.
  9. Stinkythe1 thread starter macrumors regular

    Mar 30, 2005
    I'm sensing some anger in this thread.

    Anyway, my roommate and I did discuss the possibility of putting Linux on it, however, I'm not that comfortable with using SSH, however, if it comes down to whether or not I will have to throw another $300 on a processor upgrade to get it to do what I want it to do, then I may have to live with it.

    Since this computer will be on 24/7, I would also like it to handle my torrent transfers, and that was the reason for remote desktop, so I could access it from my powerbook like I was sitting there at the computer and manage the transfers.

    Now, that may be somthing that VNC would be able to help me with. How would VNC hold up on the G3? That would also take care of the OS X / Linux dilema.

    Thanks for the advice.
  10. kalisphoenix macrumors 65816


    Jul 26, 2005
    Eff off. Tosser.


    *nods* But by all means, don't take my word for any of this. Install OS X and mess around. OS X might suit you just fine. For me, it was miserable.

    Therein lies a problem. The only decent torrent software on OS X that I'm aware of is Azureus, which is slower than Michael J. Fox threading a needle.

    You might check out Enhanced CTorrent, in favor of the Linux environment, which is a CLI bt app.

    It's available for Gentoo. Not sure about Ubuntu/whatever you'd like to run. Surely available for Debian.

    Let me know if you have any other questions :)
  11. DZ/015 macrumors 6502a


    Mar 23, 2003
    New England
    I laughed so hard at this I choked!

    The B&W is fine if you want to run OS 9. All of mine (6 total) never handled anything higher than jaguar (10.2) without choking often. Can it do what you ask, yes. Will it have a hard time doing it, yes.

    If you are coming from the windows world, imagine running XP on a 233MHz Pentium II. It will do it, just not very well.
  12. Stinkythe1 thread starter macrumors regular

    Mar 30, 2005
    I thought older macs could handle newer versions of OS X a LOT better than older PC's handling newer versions of Windows, since you pretty much have to double or even triple your ram when upgrading to XP.
  13. kalisphoenix macrumors 65816


    Jul 26, 2005
    If I remember correctly, the RAM requirements from 9 to OS X went from like 32 to 128MB. And 128MB RAM for OS X is laughable.
  14. redeye be macrumors 65816

    redeye be

    Jan 27, 2005
    My girlfriend works on my old G3 400 (tigered).
    She does sometimes complain about word being slow.
    Whenever she has a problem I use Chicken of the VNC to take over her screen. The fact that I prefer this over turning around (as she sits right behind me) must say something about it running acceptable (or me being dead lazy ;)).
    As for torrents, I sometimes use Transmission on an clamshell (G3 300 panther). It's a lightweight app without the monitoring stuff azureus gives you. It does work great for my needs.
    The Tivo thing might be pushing it on the processor side indeed.

    She might get a laptop from work, at which point i will probably do exactly what the OP is trying.
  15. SmurfBoxMasta macrumors 65816


    Nov 24, 2005
    I'm only really here at night.
    Having owned a B&W until recently, I can tell you that it will definitely run Tiger, but it will need a full GB of ram and a fast HD or 2 (preferably SATA) to do it without constantly beachballing......other than that notta problemo

    I also had a G4/550 card in mine, oc'd to 650, but that was more for the Photoshop work my wife does than anything else......

    As a headless server/storage device, I would say go 4 it asap :D
  16. MisterMe macrumors G4


    Jul 17, 2002
    I must say that I am with dpaanlka on this one. I don't have a B&W G3, but I do have a 500 MHz PowerBook G3 (Pismo). It has exactly one hardware upgrade--I upgraded the standard 128 MB RAM to 384 MB RAM. Updating the OS from MacOS 9 to MacOS X actually speeded up QuickTime and Microsoft Office. In each case, the superior memory management of MacOS X over MacOS 9 more than compensated for its larger footprint.

    I notice that those screaming that their older computers are inadequate say nothing of their hard drive capacity. However much hard drive space you have, you should maintain at least 10% of it as "free space." This gives the virtual memory system enough space to do its job. For many operations, this is much more important than having the latest and greatest processor running at top speed.
  17. Sam0r macrumors regular

    Jun 15, 2005
    Birmingham, UK
    Personally I'd slap linux on it, upgrade the ram to 512mb.

    That'll do fine for everything except video streaming.

    I got one from ebay (Exact same spec) for £30, apparently it was broken, but I turned it on when I got it and it booted OS 9 perfectly fine.

    I loaded it with a 40gb hard drive and 1gb of ram, it was quite fast for a 350mhz machine, I actually used it with tiger at work, although it was a bit slow to use with dreamweaver and photoshop, but it wasn't THAT bad.

    You might be better off getting a firewire hard drive instead of an SATA card and drives.

    Personally, I'd get two 250gb firewire drives and mirror them, although I don't know how well that will work.
  18. kalisphoenix macrumors 65816


    Jul 26, 2005
    What did it do for general performance and usability? Did it use resources as well as Linux (sans X11) would? Keep in mind that the OP isn't going to be using this for QuickTime and Office :p And no one is talking about the kernel, either -- OS X has a good kernel. I'm talking about the bloated, completely unnecessary (for a server) interface.

    I'm hearing people say that running OS X on this machine isn't that bad, but no real reasons why it's better than Linux. One person is grossed out by Linux, so we can assume that the aesthetics of Apple's BSD underpinnings and VNC'ed Aqua are somehow going to bring love and light into the OP's life that would not exist with a CLI Linux. But as far as actual sensible reasons.... these just aren't being expressed.

    I said I had "modern" hard drives in it -- ie, not the 6 or 12GB drive it shipped with. To be more specific, I was using two 7200RPM 120GB Western Digital Drives. Each had generally between 30 and 40GB free, since (like I said) this machine wasn't used for archiving t3h internets or anything.
  19. millar876 macrumors 6502a


    May 13, 2004
    Kilmarnock, Scotland UK
    i currently have remote desktop client 3 installed on my 450MHz iMac G3 with only 320 MB RAM so i dont see you having any trouble with on a tower.
  20. redeye be macrumors 65816

    redeye be

    Jan 27, 2005
    Ease of use.
    Same software on all machines.
    Great forum to ask questions when you run in to (server) problems.

    I do agree with you that Linux would kill a lot of overhead, and if the OP is willing to learn about linux he/she should go for it. OS X is just so damn easy.
  21. Stinkythe1 thread starter macrumors regular

    Mar 30, 2005
    I am feeling like it would be a better idea to put Linux on this machine. I'm planning on getting a Happauge WinTV-PVR-500 MCE. This tuner card has two tuners and a hardware encoder/decoder, so that should considerably cut down on the encoding/decoding strain from the CPU.

    Another reason is there really isn't any good server software for a OSX based PVR where you could have a backend and then a frontend hooked up to your TV. However, I'm planning on putting Linux on this computer and have it run a MythTV backend. I'll probably build a mini ITX box for about $200-$300 for a front end to be hooked up to a TV.

    I think my mind may be made up. Thanks for the advice.
  22. chaosbunny macrumors 68000


    Mar 11, 2005
    down to earth, far away from any clouds
    I use an old 300 mhz G3 ibook with 384 mb ram I got for free 1 year ago as a recording device with my EyeTV. It still has its original 6 gb hard drive, so I can only record one movie at a time and have to transfer it to my powerbook afterwards. But hey, how often is there something on television thats worth recording anyway?;)

    The ibook runs 10.3.7, and while it is not possible to watch the recorded stuff on it, it has no problems with the act of recording itself.

    If you don't want to mess around with linux Os X 10.3 is probably the best choice for your machine.
  23. FoxyKaye macrumors 68000


    Jan 23, 2004
    Livermore, Terre d'Ange, Bas Lag, Gallifrey
    I second that emotion - I installed a Macally FireWire/USB card on my old B/W and it was much more reliable than the onboard FireWire.

    My B/W was my primary machine for a number of years before giving it away when I got my iMac G5 - by the time I gave it away, I'd added the following:

    * G4/500 MHz upgrade (some of these require the firmware to be flashed in OS 9, some don't - it depends on the company)

    * 832MB RAM - the Rev. 1 G3s, which appears to be the one you won, have picky RAM requirements. OWC has a good writeup about it on their site - IIRC, it has something to do with the density of the RAM - some of the early RAM busses couldn't accept higher density RAM that worked on later Rev. 1 machines and Rev. 2s.

    * Radeon 7000 - this had plenty of VRAM for me for a long time (32 MB), and made watching DVDs perfectly fine. There's also the Radeon 9200 with 128 MB that will work in the B/Ws, but I didn't find it cost effective.

    * USB2/FireWire PCI card - as mentioned above.

    * IDE/133 PCI card - the IDE on the motherboard is dog slow (and also a bit flaky on the early Rev. 1 machines) by today's standards. Also, at one point I had 5 hard drives installed in the machine (one using the onboard IDE, four using the card) - there's lots of space in the case if you creatively install things and take out the ZIP drive (which is kind of useless these days). These days SATA is the better bet for a PCI card.

    For your purposes not all of these updates would be practical - but when I finally gave away my B/W it was running Tiger with fairly good speed. It is true that for fileserver and headless uses an OS with lower overhead like Linux would be less taxing on the system. But, if you like to tinker and upgrade, the B/W has a lot of possibilities.

    My old B/W that I gave away in 2005 is still running now - 10.4.8 and handles (albeit on the slow side) CS2, iLife '06 and a few other sound editing programs the current owner put on it.
  24. MisterMe macrumors G4


    Jul 17, 2002
    In general, my PowerBook G3 improved in performance and usability when I upgraded to MacOS X. If you want to use Linux, use Linux. You don't need the excuse that Linux will turn the old machine into a usable machine. Running MacOS X, it is more usable than the it was when new.
    You are mistaken. No one is trying to stop you from running Linux on your old machine. If you want Linux, run Linux. However, you will not be able to run all the fabulous MacOS X-based apps that many of us rely on. This is just one reason why Linux is not even a consideration for most Mac users.
    Without access to your machine, I have no idea why it has problems running MacOS X--if it has problems. However, I can assure you that your computer's problems were specific to your setup and not general to your model Mac.
  25. kalisphoenix macrumors 65816


    Jul 26, 2005
    *sigh* This isn't Hegel, folks. It's quite easy to understand.

    What about this don't you understand? I don't want to run Linux. I don't run Linux. I didn't run Linux on the PM. As I've recently posted in another thread, I installed Linux on an iBook G3/366 (attempting to escape OS X's rampant RAMicide) and found the real-estate usage and performance to be inferior to that of OS X on the same hardware. I'm not a Linux zealot.

    But for a headless server doing filesharing and whatever the OP wants, Linux is a better choice. Why? Because it takes less disk space. Because you can easily turn a system into precisely what the situation demands. Because it easily supports multiple partitions on internal hard drives at different mountpoints, which is good for security as well as system reliability (if you've never had a log go berserk and fill your server's boot disk, that's not much fun). Because of Usermode Linux's added security (not that it necessarily matters to the OP). Because Linux is built for this situation, and OS X is built for podcasting.

    Seriously. Take a deep breath and stop trying to be Joan of Arc. I'm not attacking OS X -- merely saying that it's a bad use of resources here. You'll note that the OP wasn't talking about how much he wants to use iMovie, DEVONthink, iChat, or even iTunes. It's a damn fileserver.


    You're right. I'm lying. There were no problems with running OS X. It ran like a goddamned dream. That's why the machines are still selling at the same price they were new, and no one on MacRumors has a Mac more powerful than that. Because a B&W G3 fulfills everyone's needs. No need to upgrade. Someone in this thread has already said that G3's were video-editing machines in their day-- yeah, so were SGI Irises, and they had a 12.5MHz CPU!

    You don't need much hardware to run a good network server. The current machine would do fine with Linux running a server. In fact, most of the computing power would go unutilized. But 128MB RAM is absurdly little for Tiger. Does Tiger even install without modification on so little RAM?

    So why upgrade this machine if Linux doesn't require an upgrade and will provide the same functionality the OP seeks, at better performance?


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