Vintage Mac News

5 Weirdest Macs Ever, PPC Luddite Calls Low End Mac to Task, and Lubuntu on Power Macs

This Week's Apple and Desktop Mac News

Compiled and edited by Dan Knight - 2012.10.12

Vintage Mac News is a roundup of news related to vintage Macs* and other older Apple products. For other Mac and Apple news, see Mac News Review. For iBook, PowerBook, and other portable news, see The 'Book Review. iPad, iPod, iPhone, and Apple TV news is covered in iOS News Review.

Purchases made through links to and Apple's iTunes/iBook/App/Mac App Store support Low End Mac.

News & Opinion

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News & Opinion

The 5 Weirdest Macs Ever

Macworld's Benj Edwards muses:

"...if a company produces hundreds of computer models, chances are that a few might come out looking a little too distinctive, little too unique, or little too weird. Here are the five weirdest Macs ever released by Apple.

5. Flower Power and Blue Dalmatian iMacs (2001)

Flower Power iMac"About three years into the iMac G3's lifespan, Apple ran out of colors. It had manufactured iMacs that were Bondi Blue, Blueberry, Strawberry, Lime, Tangerine, Grape, Graphite, Indigo, Ruby, Sage, and Snow."

"In February 2001, Apple found the answer: It debuted iMacs with multicolor patterns named Blue Dalmatian and Flower Power that came molded into the case plastic."

"Some thought the new patterns were ugly, while others just secretly barfed."

"Beneath their tacky exteriors, they were solid, dependable iMacs, of course. But outside, they were both really weird, so they share a tie for the number five position on this list."

4. Twentieth Anniversary Macintosh (1997)

20th Anniversary Mac"If one were asked to name the most indulgent, over-engineered personal computer ever created, one might casually mention the Twentieth Anniversary Macintosh. Then duck.

"Apple released the $7499-computer to celebrate its 20th anniversary in business - almost a year after that anniversary had passed. The machine cost more money than most individuals had  . . . and its resulting scarcity bred a cult-like following that persists to this day."

3. Power Macintosh G4 Cube (2000)

Power Mac G4 Cube"Just after Steve Jobs announced the Power Mac G4 Cube in 2000, Apple fans immediately remembered the cube-shaped NeXT Computer from 1988 and began to sense a pattern emerging.

"Aside from those two computers, that theory has never really been put to a good test. Perhaps some day Apple will release a hoard of cube-shaped iPod prototypes (with cube-shaped earbuds - ouch!). Until then, I'll admit that the only two notable cube-shaped PCs released in the United States arrived under the purview of Jobs. So yes, he probably liked cubes."

2. Macintosh XL (1985)

"You're looking at the original Hackintosh. That's what folks called the Macintosh XL back in the mid-1980s, because the product featured the body of an Apple Lisa 2/10 and the brain of a Mac.

Macintosh XL"The Lisa debuted in 1983 (predating the Macintosh by one year) with the exorbitant price of $9995 (mistake number 1). Understandably, sales were slow. Apple attempted to revitalize the Lisa line with the release of the Lisa 2, which launched alongside the first Macintosh in January 1984 (mistake number 2). Macs outsold Lisas by a huge margin, and Apple knew the Lisa platform was doomed.

"Seeking to clear out existing Lisa 2 inventory, Apple bundled the unit with Macintosh emulation software and re-branded it as the Macintosh XL. It launched in January 1985 as part of the Macintosh Office system.

"To Apple's surprise, high-end consumers snapped up the $3995 Macintosh XL in dramatic fashion, buying up Apple's entire supply within five months of its release.

"With 2 MB of RAM and a 10 MB internal hard drive (at a time when the most powerful 'regular' Mac included a non-upgradeable 512 KB of RAM and no hard drive), the Mac XL seemed a bargain for users who wanted a Mac with enough memory to actually be useful. It even sported a higher display resolution than its smaller Mac cousin (608 by 431 versus 512 by 342 on the original Mac)."

1. Power Macintosh G3 All-In-One (1998)

Power Mac G3 All-in-One "Pop quiz: Name the first partly translucent all-in-one Macintosh. If you said 'iMac,' you'd be horribly, terribly mistaken. But we'd all forgive you for thinking that.

"No, that honor goes to the Power Macintosh G3 All-In-One, announced in March 1998 - a mere two months before the iMac. Amazingly, this 59-pound beast of a machine slipped in under Steve Jobs's watch, although you can be assured that this molar-shaped monstrosity traces its origins to a time before he took charge."

Et Tu, Low End Mac? Et Tu?

PPC Luddite's Dan writes:

I'm a bit late on this because I spend the bulk of my time proving my horrible time-management skills instead of checking my email, but I just saw the minor brouhaha that started when Zen at PowerPC Liberation put up an excellent post about Linux keeping PowerPC relevant. Well, Low End Mac responded with the following:

We love old Macs here at Low End Mac, and we've fiddled with BSD and Linux from time to time, but I take just the opposite perspective here. Windows is huge. Macs are big. Linux is small, maybe 2-3% of the desktop market, and most Linux software is compiled for x86 PCs, not old PowerPC Macs. Further, going from the Classic Mac OS or Mac OS X to Linux is a giant step backward in ease of use. Sure, it may be more secure, but we're Mac users because we love the Mac experience. Ditching the Mac OS for Linux is like taking a luxury car and replacing the automatic transmission because you want more control. I'd rather enjoy the smooth ride and the scenery than think about shifting gears, so even though I do have a Linux box here at Low End Mac headquarters, it's not a bastardized Mac. My 2¢.

And Low End Mac's Daniel Jansen added in Zen's comment section:

We're linking to your article in this week's Vintage Mac News, and while I wish you and other PPC Linux users the best, I think you're only creating an even smaller platform.

Ouch. I have to say, I'm vaguely insulted by all this talk about Linux not being user-friendly given my widely disseminated and universally acclaimed install guide that if followed faithfully and with a true heart will lead to the user-friendliness that Mac users crave.

If you saw my install guide posts earlier but not lately, I've spent the last several weeks revising and adding to them. I've added several sections to Part IV, including Gamma Settings, Trackpad, CPU Frequency Scaling, Fonts, Search, and GTK Themes. Also, I turned the Graphics Acceleration section into a short novel. If you're like me you can spend way too much time googling information for your own personal install guide, but feel free to crib off mine and hopefully it'll save you some time. ;)

In the meantime I, and I expect others, will keep writing about Linux because with OS X dead on PowerPC and increasingly restrictive toward developers on Intel, it's becoming less interesting these days.

And to prove me right, Zen is promising more posts about Lubuntu including an install guide.

Publisher's note: I'll admit to not having run any version of Linux on PowerPC Macs in quite a while. I honestly don't see the point, because my OS X 10.4 Tiger and 10.5 Leopard G4 Power Macs do almost everything I need to do - and the few things they can't do well can be done on my 2.0 GHz Intel-based 2007 Mac mini. Why learn another operating system and new software (often far less polished than Classic Mac apps) when my PPC Macs remain perfectly useful running OS X?

I do have Ubuntu 12.04 installed on a 2.8 GHz Pentium 4 computer, and while it works and has more up-to-date apps than my PPC Macs, Linux is as alien to me as Windows, which I've also used very rarely.

Low End Mac has long supported the efforts of the Linux PPC community, but until now it has never amounted to much. Maybe PPC Luddite and PowerPC Liberation can change that, and I certainly wouldn't mind setting up an old G3 or G4 Mac with Debian or Lubuntu at some point, but I guess I just haven't reached the point where I need an alternative operating system. Although Apple and most developers no longer support it, OS X on PPC is far from dead. dk

Lubuntu Loves My Upgraded Blue & White G3

PowerPC Liberation's Zen says:

"Last night I setup Lubuntu 12.04 on my Stormtrooper (B&W G3 w/G4 500 MHz, 1 GB RAM) and it runs beautifully. With OS X my 400 MHz Sawtooth is normally a bit faster than this machine even with a 100 MHz faster CPU because of the faster memory controller in the Sawtooth. This is not the case with Lubuntu at all....

"Another item worthy of note is that of the 5 video cards I have used in all my testing Lubuntu likes a Radeon 7000 PCI the best . . . None of them work quite as well as the 7000 PCI....

"I have tried every version of Linux available for PowerPC and Lubuntu is my favourite by far. I would put Debian Squeeze and Mint about tied for second."

"In terms of the Ubuntu family only Lubuntu gets my personal approval. I have tried every single one and while they are all complete enough to be usable, only Lubuntu is lightweight enough to match and even surpass Debian performance. Some people think that installing LXDE in Ubuntu will produce the same OS which is not the case at all. The lightweight ideology of Lubuntu goes much deeper than the GUI. Lubuntu has the balance that any good OS needs which is great performance combined with full capability.

"In the next few days I will post a full Lubuntu install guide since I have had a lot of emails and a few comments asking for help. I will take you from downloading and burning the iso right through to having it fully setup for use."

* Although Apple defines vintage as models discontinued over five years ago but less than seven years ago (at which point Apple calls them obsolete), we prefer a definition that has more to do with a lack of functionality and the end of active support by Apple than with how long Apple makes service parts available.

Dictionary definitions of the word vintage start out with wine, but it is also applied to a group of items that share certain characteristics, originated in a specific time period, and/or is characterized by excellence, maturity, and enduring appeal - a classic.

As we use the term here, vintage refers to Macs and related software, operating systems, and peripherals that Apple has left behind over the years, whether that's an original Macintosh or a Power Mac G5 running OS X 10.5 Leopard. At present, we consider all pre-Intel Macs and all versions of OS X that run on them vintage (and at some point we'll extend that definition to include Intel Macs that can't run OS X 10.7 Lion, and so on).

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