The G3 Workstation Wiki!

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MysticCow

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
May 27, 2013
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Is your G3 feeling its age? Is it just taking up space? Why not turn it into a WORKSTATION? No internet allowed, because the web is just nasty to our old trusty G3s. :( Well, mostly no internet allowed, as none at all may prove impossible until later.

Models to look for:
  • Power Macintosh G3 (Blue & White) Rev B
  • Power Macintosh G3 (Beige All-in-one)
  • PowerBook G3 Pismo 400 or 500MHz
  • PowerBook G3 PDQ 300MHz
  • PowerBook G3 Wallstreet 292MHz
  • PowerBook G3 Lombard 333 or 400MHz
  • iBook clamshell (FireWire) 366 or 466MHz
  • iMac (Summer 2000) DV SE 500MHz
  • iMac (Early 2001) Indigo, Graphite, Dalmatian or Flower Power 600MHz
  • iMac (Summer 2001) Indigo, Graphite or Snow 700MHz

Other decent choices:

  • Power Macintosh G3 (Beige Desktop)
  • Power Macintosh G3 (Beige Minitower)
  • PowerBook G3 (Kanga)
  • iBook clamshell 300MHz
  • iBook G3 12" 500 or 600MHz
  • iBook G3 12" 700Mhz (with the 16MB VRAM ATI Mobility Radeon - not the 7500)
  • iBook G3 14" 600 or 700MHz (16MB VRAM ATI Mobility Radeon)
  • iMac Rev B 233MHz (Bondi - nice to look at, but beware: the fan is running all the time!)
  • iMac (5 Flavors) 266 or 333MHz
  • iMac (Slot Loading) DV SE 400MHz

Avoid these models:

  • Power Macintosh G3 (Blue & White) Rev A - The first revision is known for it's unpredictable IDE controller and general bugginess.
  • iBook G3 12" 700MHz (Opaque 16 VRAM) or 800MHz with the 32MB Mobility Radeon 7500 (aka "the smelly-Book" ;) )
  • iBook G3 14" 800 or 900MHz with the 32MB Mobility Radeon 7500
    • Almost every iBook with the onboard Mobility Radeon 7500 has had GPU failure. You're lucky if you have a unit in working condition.


GPU Upgrades for Towers

  • ATI Rage 128-the stock card in B&W towers, gives easy and inexpensive access to a VGA port and improved performance over the on-board graphics
  • Radeon-provides DVI and VGA(but not dual display), a significant performance step up from the Rage 128. Supports Quartz Extreme, although this must be manually enabled.
  • Radeon 7000-a common and inexpensive card. Provides Quartz Extreme. Usually a single VGA output
  • Voodoo 5 5500-An excellent but rare card for Mac OS 9. Provides VGA and DVI. Can only be leveraged fully by specific applications. Requires additional power via a standard 4 pin Molex connector.
  • Radeon 9200-the best card for OS 9 applications and also provides workable performance in OS X. Supports Quartz Extreme for OS X. Has VGA and DVI, and can drive two displays. Note that if running OS 9.2.2, the drivers MUST be installed before installing the card
  • Geforce 5200-Does not work in beige G3s Must be flashed to work in B&W G3s. Supports two displays(usually via two VGA ports in the most common PCI variant). Also supports both Quartz Extreme and Core Image. The latter is important for Tiger and Leopard. A poor choice for OS 9 use
  • Geforce 6200-Does not work in Beige G3s. Must be flashed to work in B&W G3s. Most of the same properties as the Geforce 5200, but generally not recommended due to PCI bus congestion issues.

Choice of Classic Mac OS:
  • Mac OS 9.2.2 will be the best "Classic" Mac OS on any G3 and will provide the best pre-OS X software choices.
    Recommended minimum 128MB of RAM.
    _
  • Mac OS 9.1 will be the best option for software compatibility on low-end G3s with limited RAM, such as the first PowerBook G3 (Kanga).
    Recommended minimum 64MB of RAM.
    _
  • Mac OS 8.6 provides the best balance of speed and compatibility for many early iMacs and the original iBook. Not all G3s can run anything prior to Mac OS 9 and not all of the final "Classic" software releases were fully supported on 8.6. However, many OS9-specific and Carbon apps will run fine if CarbonLib 1.6 has been installed.
    Mac OS 8.6 will run natively on a first generation clamshell iBook, Lombard, PDQ, Wallstreet and Kanga PowerBooks. The B&W tower and any Beige desktop models, as well as the first Slot Loading iMacs, 5 Flavors and 1st gen Bondi Blue.
    Recommended minimum 32MB of RAM.
    _
  • Mac OS 8.1 and 8.0 - Yes, even the original Mac OS 8 will natively run on some G3 hardware such as the Kanga, Wallstreet and Beige G3 desktops. The PDQ shipped with 8.1, as did the original Bondi Blue iMacs.
    Mac OS 8 was released with native support for both the 68040 and PowerPC hardware and can provide acceptable performance on much older hardware like the Macintosh Quadra series (sub-40MHz). With this in mind, the G3 processor absolutely screams on this lightweight OS.
    Recommended minimum 24MB of RAM.

Choice of Mac OS X:
  • Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger will provide the most "up-to-date" and most compatible OS X experience. Remember to keep the Classic layer up by having OS 9 with it! On some early G3s, XPostFacto 4 will be required to install and boot Tiger.
    Recommended minimum 384MB of RAM. 512MB or more is best.
    _
  • Mac OS X 10.3 Panther will provide possibly the fastest OS X experience, however software choices are more limited. On some early G3s, XPostFacto will be required to install and boot Panther.
    Recommended minimum 256MB of RAM.
    _
  • Mac OS X 10.2 Jaguar introduced Quartz Extreme for compatible GPUs (16MB VRAM or more) and delivered decent performance and some improvements over earlier releases. All G3 models will run 10.2.8 natively with full hardware support, except for the Kanga.
    Recommended minimum 128MB of RAM.
    _
  • Mac OS X 10.1 Puma will provide the earliest, usable OS X workstation, while still providing a small selection of compatible software. Most G3s prior to the release of the iBook 700MHz with the Mobility Radeon 7500 (late 2002) were capable of natively booting into Puma (except for the Kanga).
    Recommended minimum 128MB of RAM.
    _
  • Mac OS X Server 1.2v3 natively supports many early G3 configs (Rage 128 or older) and makes for a very lightweight Rhapsody OS.
    Recommended minimum 64MB of RAM.

Mac OS 9 apps (remember the goal so no web browsers etc)
  • iCloud IMAP-Mail: Classilla (BTW: once Classilla installed the rest comes via download from macintoshgarden. Mmpfh, don't mention the browser ... - sorry about that!)
  • Office: MS Office 2001, AppleWorks6, NisusWriter 4, Acrobat5, Print2PDF, Acrobat PDF-Writer4,
  • Music: iTunes 1.0/1.1/2.04 for Radio-Stream (sorry, no connection to my other iTunes-libraries)
  • Graphic: Photoshop7, Elements2, Paint within AppleWorks6
  • webDAV: Goliath
  • ScreenSharing: VNCthing
  • FileSharing: Transmit (Panic), Fetch. (FileSharing only with OSX 10.5 or earlier or Leopard-Server running in a VirtualMachine (/w VMware Fusion))
  • File/Archive handling: StuffIt 5.5; Toast5
  • Windows: VirtualPC3/4/5 /w Win2k (Favorites: IrfanView, RDP-Client, Office2000 and PalmDesktop with Conduit-Software: HanDBase, SmartListToGo, DocumentsToGo)
  • just for the hell of it: iMovie2

Mac OS X
(again remember the goal)
  • LineIn (use external audio to passthrough to Mac speakers)
  • Microsoft Office 2004 and the 'MS Open XML Converter' app
  • AppleWorks 6, common on software restore discs.

Useful notes
  • Place holder delete when list starts.
Or do you need this for a G4?

Or maybe a G5? (Not yet developed)
 
Last edited by bobesch:

bunnspecial

macrumors 604
May 3, 2014
6,718
3,271
Kentucky
I'll work on a list of commercial CPU upgrades for the towers. I have two G3s that would classify as workstations-one has a 1ghz Sonnet G4 and the other a 1ghz G3.

There are also some notes I'll flesh out on quirks with certain CPU upgrades and specific quirks as well as jumpering to both get commercial upgrades to run at their rated speed or overclock factory processors.
 

bobesch

macrumors 65816
Oct 21, 2015
1,217
839
Kiel, Germany
@MysticCow: Great wiki!

Added my standard os9 installation-routine:
iCloud IMAP-Mail: Classilla (so, THE BROWSER took it's way in through the backdoor ;) - finally not too bad to get stuff downloaded from macintoshgarden)
Office: MS Office 2001, AppleWorks6, NisusWriter 4, Acrobat5, Print2PDF,
Music: iTunes for Radio-Stream (sorry, no connection to my other iTunes-libraries)
Graphic: Photoshop7, Elements2, Paint within AppleWorks6
webDAV: Goliath
ScreenSharing: VNCthing
FileSharing: Transmit (Panic)
Windows: VirtualPC3/4/5 /w Win2k (Favourites: IrfanView, RDP-Client, Office2000 and PalmDesktop with Conduit-Software: HanDBase, SmartListToGo, DocumentsToGo)
just for the hell of it: iMovie2

Makes os9 still a nice player within my home-/office network:
- VNC to any Mac/Win-Computer.
- FileSharing: connect via webDAV or via AFP to a Mac running Leopard (unfortunately I didn't succeed in connecting to OSX beyond Leopard, but it's possible to run Leopard-Server as a Fusion-VirtualMachine in order to get newer Macs connected...)
- IMAP-mailing
- working on Office-documents
(the rest is fun ...)

My G3-hardware to run native os9: Clamshell (early&FW); iMac G3 (Bondi/Tray&Slot "Flavours"); translucent 12" iBook-G3 800Mhz

Here's a picture of VirtualPC/WinXP-Fundamentals/RDP-Client6x to connect to my Win2008Server and VNCthing for ScreenSharing with ElCapitan
G3 Workstation.jpg
... and here's the quintessence of my first-ever approach to os9: https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/email-client-and-applications-for-mac-os9.1960993/page-2#post-22717102
Amazing to see the little amount of RAM (only about 30-40MB) used by os9. (Like Win2k which is also kind of minimalistik, when it comes to RAM-consumption)

About music and OSX/Tiger... As @Slix mentioned: legacy "LineIn"-App from "RogueAmoeba" streams analog audio-in to the Macs speakers. With any Blutooth-To-3.5mm Klinke Audio-Adapter or an Airport-Express(LAN and audio) the Mac may serve as a BT-Speaker or better as an Airplay-speaker.
With os9 "LineIn" can be selected easily via "Control Strip"
LineInByControlStrip.jpg

About the iBook 800MHz G3 translucent: decent machine and comes with dualboot os9/OSX from the same partition just out of the box - it's really fine except from it's abysmal smell, so no way to use it as a workstation at the office, cause it will make customers think about you not seeing the showers more than a fortnight ...

But please, can you help me about "Space" for os9 ... an app to manage different desktops?
 
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swamprock

macrumors 6502a
Aug 2, 2015
837
1,029
Michigan
About the iBook 800MHz G3 translucent: decent machine and able to boot into os9 natively - it's really fine except from it's abysmal smell, so no way to use it as a workstation at the office, cause it will make customers think about you not seeing the showers more than a fortnight ...
Have the same machine (a 12"), and runs fine as well, but yeah... that smell. I keep dryer sheets under the keyboard to stifle the smell a bit, but rarely boot the machine up anyway. I keep it as a working specimen of a model that wasn't exactly that reliable; having owned two other exact models that died during regular use :)
 
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AphoticD

macrumors 68000
Feb 17, 2017
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I mentioned the iBook with the 7500 in the hardware to avoid simply because of the failure rate. I have owned an original 800Mhz (32MB VRAM) 12” model back in the day, which underwent logic board replacement twice during the recall period.

I now have both a 12” 700mhz Opaque “Snow” 16MB VRAM model and a 14” 800Mhz model with 32MB VRAM in the original “iceBook” design. Both have the 7500 GPU. The 12” has now been through 3 logic boards in the past 4 or 5 months and is again dead in the water and the 14” is holding on okay now that I have propped some extra heat pads on the GPU at the underside between the EMI shield and the plastic bottom case. There is a bit of a bulge, but it seems to be fairly stable.

I am really disappointed with this 12” iBook. I have dismantled and reassembled it so many times now, I could probably do it blindfolded. I’m having trouble letting it go because of the nostalgic connection and I really like the design of this model over both the ice G3 and the white G4.
 
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bobesch

macrumors 65816
Oct 21, 2015
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Kiel, Germany
I mentioned the iBook with the 7500 in the hardware to avoid simply because of the failure rate. I have owned an original 800Mhz (32MB VRAM) 12” model back in the day, which underwent logic board replacement twice during the recall period.

I now have both a 12” 700mhz Opaque “Snow” 16MB VRAM model and a 14” 800Mhz model with 32MB VRAM in the original “iceBook” design. Both have the 7500 GPU. The 12” has now been through 3 logic boards in the past 4 or 5 months and is again dead in the water and the 14” is holding on okay now that I have propped some extra heat pads on the GPU at the underside between the EMI shield and the plastic bottom case. There is a bit of a bulge, but it seems to be fairly stable.

I am really disappointed with this 12” iBook. I have dismantled and reassembled it so many times now, I could probably do it blindfolded. I’m having trouble letting it go because of the nostalgic connection and I really like the design of this model over both the ice G3 and the white G4.
I have two translucent/ice 800Mhz 12" iBooks (like the ice-design more than the opaque - resemble the nice G5-iMacs) and both of them luckily work without any problems so far (dual-boot-option os9/Tiger on the same partition). Obviously (hopefully) a couple of surviving diehards with somehow sturdy inside ...

(I wish, there were non-smelly replacement-keyboards or a way to remove the sticky plastic sheet below the KB without leaving any remnants! Would be worth the effort, cause its a unique design.)
 
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txgraeme

macrumors newbie
May 30, 2018
7
2
Bay Area
I've been setting up my iMac g3-450 as a workstation, so am interested to see where this list goes. That LineIn app looks like a good solution for the sound, thanks for that.

I'm currently working on mine using an RPi 3b+ as router, connected via ethernet to serve higher speed wifi and act as VNC server. Not getting good streaming video throughput, but works great for some tasks.
 

MysticCow

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
May 27, 2013
831
381
My old 600 MHz iMac snow is going well as my workstation. And Classilla is surprisingly robust for a browser, so a lot of the internet isn't missed.

My big goal for this baby is to get her as a word processing, sound recording, and sound editing. Editing for me isn't that tremendous of a processing task on a G3 either, so don't worry about needing more power. That G3 is perfectly fine for me.
 
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bobesch

macrumors 65816
Oct 21, 2015
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839
Kiel, Germany
My old 600 MHz iMac snow is going well as my workstation. And Classilla is surprisingly robust for a browser, so a lot of the internet isn't missed.

My big goal for this baby is to get her as a word processing, sound recording, and sound editing. Editing for me isn't that tremendous of a processing task on a G3 either, so don't worry about needing more power. That G3 is perfectly fine for me.
Finished SSD-upgrade on my iMac-G3 last weekend and setup of Tiger tonight.
SSD installation with IDE-SATA-adapter had been a bit tricky: the first adapter's 2Pin-jumper didn't fit the needs to booting up the iMac and the second one with proper 3Pin-Master/Slave-Jumper nearly didn't fit into the housing and needed some reshape of the EMI-shield with a hammer...

Now the Tangerine is SILENT and also a bit faster ... music sounds great from the inbuild speakers - I use my iPhone via cable-connection/mic-in and "LineIn"-App from "Rogue Amaoeba" https://rogueamoeba.com/legacy
On their site there's also "Audio Hijack Pro" (to record audio) and "Fisson" (to edit audio). Well, only basic audio-editing ... I use "Fission" to edit voice-notes recorded on my iPhone to use them on my phone-answering-machine and occasionally to cut recorded audio-streams.

For Word-processing I'd recommend Offce01 for os9 (featured by McGardn ;) ) or Offce04 for Tiger.
File exchange via webDAV (Goliath // box.com; gmx.net; home-server) or via FTP (Transmit)

Tangerine.jpg
 
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bobesch

macrumors 65816
Oct 21, 2015
1,217
839
Kiel, Germany
iMac G3 hardware upgrade
Fix broken/rattling speakers suffering "foam rot": look here ... #1
SSD-Upgrade: look here #9

Going wireless with iMac G3 / iBook G3 Clamshell
OS X Tiger/Leopard: via USB-adapter
Edimax 150 Mbit/s Wireless IEEE802.11b/g/n nano USB Adapter (EW-7811Un)
(driver for Tiger and Leopard and later OSX-versions available on the website)

os9 / pre-Tiger: via Wifi-Ethernet-brigde (powered through it's additional USB-cable)
Vonets Wifi-Ethernet-bridge (VAR11N-300) (I've got the idea from this posting: #3)
or any other Wifi-Ethernet-brigde ... (no driver necessary)
 
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The first post in this thread is a WikiPost, and can be edited by anyone with the appropriate permissions.