Trying to justify keeping my Powerbook G4

Discussion in 'PowerPC Macs' started by L Oquence, Aug 14, 2019.

  1. L Oquence macrumors regular

    Jul 10, 2014
    My G4 powerbook (1.67 ghz hi-res) got me through High School, and has served as a back up laptop when my 2008 macbook died suddenly halfway through the start of my first year at Uni, until I got my Air for Christmas that year. It's a fantastic machine, and I love it to death and would hate to part with it.

    Ergo, I've reached an impasse that I believe many a PPC owner who upgrade to intel has to face:

    What do I do with the old machine?

    I've contemplated these ideas:

    1. File server.
    Sounds nice in theory, but everything I need shared access between my 1,1, iOS devices, and Air for, I simply use iCloud for anyway. I suppose it's possible I could write a small script to have it automatically upload/download files from

    Also, in terms of redundancy, the Mac Pro can take up to 4 hard drives and I use 3. (Small SSD as start up disk, larger HDD as scratch, and a Windows install.) I could fill the last bay with a 3-4 tb hard drive and get the same effect.

    This is the 'traditional' use of old hardware, but I'm just not sure I have a need for it.

    2. Second monitor with ScreenRecycler
    I won't have a lot of desk space soon, after I get a set of reference monitors for my desk, since I'll have a monitor, a PS4, a Mac Pro, and two reference speakers all sharing the same desk, so I don't really have room for a larger monitor. (I would love to get a cinema display in addition to my small Dell Monitor, but simply don't have the desk real estate this year.)

    But, a small 15 inch laptop that can be put away when not needed that I can have at the side of my desk while I work in R Studio, write an essay, or make music in Garageband would be great.

    I think this might be the most reasonable use case.

    3. Distraction free writing machine
    When I have essays do at University, I could lug this thing to the library and not deal with modern distractions (texting social media etc.).

    Only issue is sometimes I need to statistical analysis in R, and I'm unsure of what IDEs are available for PPC, because RStudio doesn't seem to have an old UB version based on a cursory google search.

    4. Expensive digital photo frame
    Self explanatory.

    So two questions then:
    A. Which of these seem most reasonable to you?


    B. Are there any other use cases I haven't considered? I'm not a big watcher of movies so using it for anything media doesn't really appeal to me - I use apple music for my music listening needs.
  2. reukiodo macrumors regular


    Nov 22, 2013
    Personally, I would use it for all those tasks, since if you have a need and it fills them. Some don't necessarily coexist (file server AND portable writing) but can be made to work since you're moving and probably don't need the server available at home when you're out anyway.

    If you set it up accordingly, is there any reason it can't do everything you've already listed?
  3. Amethyst1, Aug 14, 2019
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2019

    Amethyst1 macrumors 6502


    Oct 28, 2015
    Is your Mac Pro already running 24 hours a day? If it is, you might as well use it as a file server if you've decided that you need one. If it's not, having the PowerBook run 24 hours a day is going to be quite a bit cheaper in terms of electricity costs than the Mac Pro.

    This sounds like a great use case. I'd ensure the two machines are connected with gigabit ethernet for best performance. When I played around with ScreenRecycler using a 12in PowerBook as the host (i.e. the one that the application was running on), I noticed that e.g. using iWork '09 on the second screen and dragging its windows around caused WindowServer to kinda hog the CPU. The impact is probably much lower on a Mac Pro but I'd give the app a try with your specific use case before purchasing.

    I'm facing the same problem finding an UB of RStudio. However, just for writing it will be great.

    Personally I find this to be a bit of a waste of a notebook but it would still be better than having it sit there just collecting dust. However, having the backlight on all the time would wear it out in the long run.
  4. eyoungren macrumors Core


    Aug 31, 2011
    ten-zero-eleven-zero-zero by zero-two
    My own PowerBook G4 gets the honor of being the machine I take with me when I go out to coffee shops.

    Maybe that's not a use case for you, but I find that in these trips all I need is a web browser and Office 2008. I can access my server from outside the house so saving files I generate on this Mac isn't an issue. And Time Machine will still backup over the internet to my server too.

    I also use it whenever I need period design programs. I've got Adobe CS2 on it and Acrobat 8, along with QuarkXPress 6.

    Other than that, I really don't need to justify keeping it. :)
  5. RhianB macrumors 6502a


    Sep 3, 2016
    505 USA
    Keep it because it’s cool & you like it. That’s all the justification you need.
  6. L Oquence thread starter macrumors regular

    Jul 10, 2014
    Unfortunately my current nomadic lifestyle and the large amount of stuff I need to get rid of doesn't justify this. :(
  7. Jubadub macrumors regular


    Nov 1, 2017
    If you ever do decide to get rid of it, please please make sure it gets into good hands that will always take care of it well.
  8. L Oquence thread starter macrumors regular

    Jul 10, 2014
    I think as a general idea, this is valid. Keeping it as a second monitor/distraction free writing machine is probably my personal most relevant use case. I can't see myself really needing a file server currently.

    Also... OSX Tiger. Completely forgot about that. OS9 games!
  9. RhianB, Aug 14, 2019
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2019

    RhianB macrumors 6502a


    Sep 3, 2016
    505 USA
    Agreed. If you do choose to sell it, offer it here. I’m sure somebody would give it a good home.

    Anyhoo, all I’m saying is that I’ve gotten rid of on a number of cool things over the past 20 years that in hindsight, I didn’t really need to & would like to have now as a 41yo, so think hard about whether the inconvenience of a laptop (mind you it’s exact design is for mobility - ohhh the irony :D ) is so much that you need to get rid of it. You can get creative - stash it at mom n dads house in their garage. My commodore64 lived at pops garage in a box literally for 20+ years before I retrieved it.

    Either way, best of luck to you.
  10. eyoungren macrumors Core


    Aug 31, 2011
    ten-zero-eleven-zero-zero by zero-two
    I've let an Amiga 1000 with 1mb sidecar and games (original boxed Lemmings) go because I decided I didn't 'need' it anymore. This was before I ever signed on to this forum. Someone at the Goodwill got a deal.

    And my Commodore 128 and 64 with three 1541 drives and two 1581 drives were given away by my parents to a church.

    All stuff I wish I could get back.
  11. mmphosis macrumors member


    Jan 3, 2017
    The only reason I use an Intel PC is to, sadly, run newer versions of Adobe Flash in a web browser. Otherwise...
    • The PowerBook G4 has the best keyboard.
    • The 12" PowerBook G4 is the perfect size. New 12" PCs are underpowered, and any new PC coming close to my spec requirement for a new PC, is a bulky 15" to 17" behemoth -- no thanks. If I am going to buy new, the new shiny needs to be 13 years ahead of the PowerBook G4 and it's 2019, and I have yet to see anything.
    • The PowerBook G4 does not have something like the Intel Management Engine (ME) running all the time with complete control over the PC.
    • The PowerBook G4 has Open Firmware. It does not have EUFI, or other annoying legacy hard-coded firmware.
    • When I connect monitors, the PowerBook G4 does the right thing. It's a crap shoot with a PC.
    • I can plug an Ethernet cable into the PowerBook G4. No dongles.
    • I can run old software that can do everything that I need to do. And, I find it easier on the PowerBook G4.
    • I can compile new software (if the source code is available.) Anyone have the Adobe Flash source code?

    But you are right. The PowerBook G4 is unjustified, and I have a good home for it.
  12. Jordan XP macrumors member

    Jordan XP

    Jul 5, 2019
    Install TenForFox.
  13. L Oquence thread starter macrumors regular

    Jul 10, 2014
    I’ve used PPC for years. I know about TenFourFox.

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