How to Make an iMac G3 useful again.

It’s a shame when people throw out perfectly good equipment just because it isn’t up to today’s standards anymore, for example that iMac I found cause someone threw it away. But let me get to the point, this post will have links and how to’s, in order to make the iMac do the following.

Surf the web

Play Music MP3’s

Play videos

Connect to a Server file share

Connect to a network printer (Not really, I gave up cause of driver issues)

Write up Homework Documents

Now this is what most computers do right? But in this case we need it to do only that and to do it well. I tried doing this with Ubuntu and Debian on that old powerPC but that was epic failure on the PPC part, or the video drivers, and other than that it performed at about the same speed running OS X. (no Speed improvement) So Mac OS 10.3.9 it is. That’s the latest this machine can handle I think, it has 512 ram and 120 GB Hard drive, it’s maxed out hardware wise too. So it was going to be a challenge I see. First let’s take care of the business

Homework and Writing. I had to look for a good office Suite for this thing. There’s Office 2003 for PPC Mac, but it’s slow, expensive and outdated. I don’t mind the slow and outdated, but the expensive part drew me away, and no, I was not going to install it illegally. I tried to search for OpenOffice but it’s too new, so was Neooffice. But eventually I found an old version of OpenOffice 2.3 that worked just fine. Note. I first tried out Abiword, the older version but it was too unstable and it had unusable font spacing. So I went the the OpenOffice. Get open office from here, the correct version for your system.

I also had to install X11 tools.

It’s included on the install Cd’s so you can also use that one if the new one from the Apple Site doesn’t work anymore. But you NEED X11 to run OpenOffice. For some reason it opens up a Terminal whenever it runs, and if you close it you close out OpenOffice so leave it running and it’ll function normally. Plus homework looks great in OpenOffice.

Videos and Media: For my brother connecting to my home server and watching whatever movies he wanted at anytime was necessary. Talk about important! So setting up shares was super easy, my Linux Box was already using Samba so iMac G3 just found it and he accesses my stuff with ease. The only problem was that Quicktime was more like Quit-Time and refused to play most video files. So i went to VLC and found an old version that just works much better.

VLC Player  0.8.6i for 10.3.9 can be found here. This one worked for the 10.3.9 Mac OS.

This page helps out if you have older or other versions of Mac OS. It’s nice of VLC to make it easily accessible for those of us on really old hardware.

Surfing the Web: I used firefox 2.0 here is the latest one that will work for 10.3.9 it works fine except for the addons and youtube is slow. I was expecting that anyways. but you can also try the Camino Browser with works alright. Just don’t touch that IE! Actually kidding aside, it worked, barely.

iTunes: The old version of iTunes played the music fine, most my songs are in mp3 and aac anyways, plus it even connects to my Rhythmbox home music share (on Debian). So awesome! Keep your music collection simple and if you want you could also just use VLC player and have that manage your music too.

Connecting to Network Printer: No drivers where available, Generic drivers all failed, and I gave up. I’ll try again some other time.

So all in all the computer is now useful! Yay! my bro can just put his stuff on a network share and print it out on the server so the network Printing was the only thing that didn’t work, plus i didn’t try very hard due to lack of time so we’ll see in the future. Alright so that’s all for today folks. I do hope this reminds you all that just because a computer is old, does not mean it’s useless.


About Zerin

But can you show me the source code?

Posted on June 14, 2011, in Computers and Internet. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. This is the article i’v been looking for! I myself was looking for a linux that would run on an old G3 but that was a pain.

  2. I have made to install Ubuntu (several years and several versions) on Imac G3. Problem is the Apple install (10.4) give high class graphics. Ububtu only 1024×768 with
    256 colors. Thats why I use iMac 10.4 on this machine.
    I give up Ubuntu on this machine. 100’s of possible configurations for Ubuntu give poor or no graphics

    • Ubuntu has the standard specs that an ordinary os has. (E.G Windows). Many computers including those less than 5 years old have problems rendering the UI because of Unity. It’s a shame that I can’t breath some new life onto my iMac g3

  3. This is just what I need,thanks a bunch! :)

  4. I do feel bad that Linux has abandoned the PPC achitecture. Especially after how much we brag about Linux running great on older hardware. But I mean, this was back then when PPC was like the runt of the litter. So it makes sense that any Linux distro on the iMac G3 will be hard to install and suck in just about every way, Graphics, codecs, programs that it’s more benefit to leave this with an Apple OS. At least we tried :)

  5. Peter Micheal Simkins

    Since I’m the kind of person who judges first-time-experiences, like Rap, I despise it… if I hear it I’ll leave and cover my ears, with Linux, it gave me such frustration that I reinstalled Windows XP Home Edition or that dreaded Vista and was so much happier, now as for Windows 8… sorry but Windows 7 32bit and 64bit will forever be the first and last stable Microsoft OS that I’ll ever keep using and Windows 8 can shove a flaming sword up it’s ass!

    I have no problem with Mac OS X, or whatever version it is now, but the last I found to my liking was Snow Leopard, sorry that’s just what I’d stick with with Microsoft eventually stops making easy-to-use and Windows 7-ish operating systems, if they have not done so already!

    But I would give up ALL my Lego’s just to see Apple revamp those “bubble-Macs”, but built with a flat LCD screen, DDR3 memory, at least a Core 2 Quad processor as an configuration option and a 3.5″ or 2.5″ 750GB-1TB 7200rpm HDD, as well as a BD-ROM/DVD-RW optical drive and the same colored transparent body!

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