(Listing this here for future reference… and maybe it’s useful for other iMac owners.)
A few days ago, my minions found an old iMac G3 at the dump. And what do you know, it was in excellent condition.
But, what to do with it? It’s ~12 years old, so its usability is limited. Then again, bringing me an iMac is like bringing me a kitten… I just don’t have the heart to send it away. :)
To be precise, it’s a tray-loading iMac revision D, 333 MHz G3 processor, color “grape”, 160 Mb memory, 6 Gb hard disk. It doesn’t have a Firewire port, so it probably won’t install Tiger (although there are ways around that); but even if it did, with meager specs like that, it wouldn’t be a happy camper.
(It still had all the original owner’s stuff on it, by the way… good thing I am not into identity theft. ;-)
I installed Jaguar on it first, but I don’t have the CD with developer tools (later to be known as XCode), so that wasn’t very useful. Most modern software isn’t available for Jaguar anymore, anyway; it’s just too old. It was nice to see it again in all its pinstripey glory, but that was about it.
So, back to Linux again. But as luck would have it, none of the Linuxen I tried worked. I mean, they didn’t work at all. They would seem to install properly, then when I rebooted, the machine just sat there, gurgling, not doing anything.
As it turns out, some iMacs need a little help showing graphics properly. I ended up installing Debian 6.0.1 netinst (the PowerPC version, naturally), tweaked xorg.conf, then manually installed XFCE at the prompt. Then startx, and it showed me the desktop without a glitch. It’s a bit slow to start, but after that things are reasonably fast.
(Using netinst, you install only the packages you want… it’s a bit more work, because some important packages like gcc, make and sudo need to be installed manually, but on the other hand, your system isn’t bogged down by stuff you don’t really need. I am using XFCE because it’s relatively lightweight, more so than GNOME or KDE, in any case.)
I am now trying to compile Chicken on it… who knows, maybe this machine will be useful after all. :)