The Low End Mac Mailbag

Old Macs Last and Last, Removing Mac OS 9, and Disposable Notebooks

Dan Knight - 2008.05.29 - Tip Jar

Old Macs Last and Last

From Gary Jackson continuing the discussion in G3 iMac to the Max:

That's great. It reminds me of a wonderful story...

About 10 years ago, when I was in high school in the tech club (we basically built and rebuilt PCs), I stumbled upon an SE/30 and demanded my parents buy me one.

I thought it would be a fun project to gut it and maybe regut it with PC parts, as that was what I knew. My father finally found one and brought it home sometime the following summer. It was cute.

I set it up on my desk later that day and decided to test fire it. It was so easy to set up. Just a mouse and a keyboard. I flipped the switch and fell in love.

I used that computer for reports all through high school . . . I didn't touch a thing inside the case. It was 15 when it died. Still with a happy face.

Before I could afford the iMac I have now, I had an all-in-one Performa with OS 8.6 (don't remember the model no.), also unmodified.

It ran Cubase. I smiled. Another $60 well spent.

Now the iMac I have now. Which I already discussed.

The funny thing is people all through art school would still bring me their PCs to look at when they were sick. I could never fix them with all the IRC and whatever settings. The technology eats itself.

The last PC that was brought to me, I gutted the tower and filled it with G3 tower parts that I was going to use myself but had no need for. I slapped an Apple sticker on the side of the tower case and handed it back to him.

I hear that, 6 years later, he uses it everyday still.



That's a great story indeed. It's a shame that old Macs eventually die. My SE/30 hasn't worked in a few years, but I refuse to part with it. Someday I'll probably get it fixed. It was a wonderful machine in its day.


Removing Mac OS 9

From Kevin DeMers:

Hi Dan:

G4 1.0 GHz 14" iBook. Running OS X 10.4.11. I do not use OS 9 - I am interested in removing it - can you think of any good reason why I should not ?

How to remove it "correctly" - can you refer me to an article or do you have any advice ?

Thank You!

Kevin DeMers


If you never need to use Classic Mode, you can safely remove Mac OS 9 by putting System Folder in the Trash and deleting it.

If there's any chance you may ever need Classic Mode, it doesn't take that much space on the hard drive. Another idea would be to copy System Folder to CD-R just in case you need to reinstall it someday.


Disposable Notebooks

Dear Dan Knight:

How about a computer that is not internally upgradeable (i.e. you can't upgrade RAM) that is cheap enough to be disposable, thus when the average user finds it too slow, he will throw it away and buy a new one. A larger version of the MacBook Air with more ports and lower prices would be a good example. I doubt Apple will take it, but still....

Yuhong Bao

Yuhong Bao,

Apple already makes a thicker version of the MacBook Air with more ports and lower prices - it's the MacBook, which uses the same sized screen and the same keyboard. Better yet, at up to $700 less than the MBA, the MacBook is faster (2.1-2.4 GHz vs. 1.6-1.8 GHz), accepts memory upgrades, and supports standard 2.5" hard drives, so owners can choose faster and/or higher capacity drives, which helps keep them from being "disposable" notebooks.

Despite the few unupgradable computers, such as the MBA and XO laptop, I think the future belongs to computers that accept upgrades, making it easy to upgrade RAM or hard drive as you need to rather than replacing the whole computer.


Indeed, I know that the MacBook is not a good example. What I mean is that the MacBook Air would be a good disposable computer, except that it is too expensive to be one.

I would target this kind of disposable computer to the nontechnical user who don't know anything about RAM, for example. That is why I said "average user".

Yuhong Bao,

The idea of a "disposable" computer doesn't sit well with me, but if they make it cheap enough, it could work. The keys would include a Migration Assistant for moving everything to your new computer when you upgrade, which Apple already has, and a trade-in program that would assure that the old computer is repurposed (perhaps donated to a school, distributed in a developing nation, etc.) or properly recycled.

The tricky part would be finding the balancing point where features, performance, and price are all optimized. Too little RAM or too small a hard drive would seriously hinder sales, but too much would put the price too high. I could definitely see Apple doing something along these lines with a MacBook Lite (based on the MacBook): remove the optical drive, solder 2 GB of RAM to the logic board, put in a 160 GB hard drive, use a 2.0 GHz Core 2 Duo CPU and integrated graphics, include a high power USB port for an external SuperDrive, slim it down below 1" thick (should be easy without an internal optical drive), and sell it for $699.

Mac users with no notebook or outdated notebook computers would line up in droves, use it for 2-3 years, and then migrate to a newer version. FireWire and USB 2.0 provide easy access to more storage with external hard drives and flash drives. Schools would go nuts for them as well.


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Dan Knight has been publishing Low End Mac since April 1997. Mailbag columns come from email responses to his Mac Musings, Mac Daniel, Online Tech Journal, and other columns on the site.

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