OT - Question about using a older Apple

Eric Dunbar eric.dunbar at gmail.com
Wed Apr 19 01:57:32 UTC 2006

On 18/04/06, Eric Dunbar <eric.dunbar at gmail.com> wrote:
> On 18/04/06, Wade Smart <wade at wadesmart.com> wrote:
> > 04182006 1859 GMT-6
> >
> > I have maybe the opportunity to get a pretty solid
> > PowerBook. Its the older model that is black
> > with a 14" screen. When you see them for sale its
> > the one with the shark on it.
> >
> > Anyway, anyone have any experience with this?
> > Im thinking, a good laptop, a good OS, its not
> > that fast, 500 I think, but I can type and still
> > learn the OS.
> If it's got a shark on the screen it's probably _not_ 500 MHz. The
> sharks went hand-in-hand with the PowerBook G3 Series (aka
> "Wallstreet") IIRC.
> Just a quick and dirty run down on the black PowerBooks (the best
> looking laptops ever made IMNSHO):
> Really Old (stay away, will probably cause your brain to explode):
> 1. "PowerBook G3" code name "Kanga" (1997, 250 MHz)
> Old (YMMV, these PowerBooks use "OldWorld" FirmWare and require
> "BootX" as their bootloader (a little complicated and not formally
> supported by Ubuntu or YDL)):
> 2. "PowerBook G3 Series" code name "Wallstreet" or "Mainstreet" (1998;
> 233, 250, 292 MHz) (avoid the 233 MHz, it's a lemon)
> 3. "PowerBook G3 Series Rev. 2" code name "PDQ" (1998; 233, 266, 300 MHz)
> Not-so old (will work nicely, uses "NewWorld" Firmware):
> 4. "PowerBook G3 (Bronze Keyboard)" code name "Lombard" (1999; 333 &
> 400 MHz). Nice machines. USB 1.1 & SCSI.
> Sort-of-newish (very nice):
> 5. "PowerBook G3 (FireWire)" code name "Pismo" (2000, 400 & 500 MHz)
> Very nice machines. Best laptop ever made IMNSHO. If it were 10x
> faster it would _nearly_ offer exactly what the fastest laptops out
> there today offer.
> USB 1.1 & FireWire (400 Mbps)
> Comments:
> 1. CPU upgrades are available for nearly all these laptops so you need
> to make sure you understand whether it's a 500 MHz upgrade
> "Wallstreet" or a 'real' "Pismo" (the Pismo is a much, much, much
> nicer machine).
> 2. The PowerBook G3 (FireWire) aka "Pismo" also has a special Airport
> slot (a modified PC slot) for an Apple Airport wireless card (damned
> expensive... they're more $$$ USED than the NEW Airport Extreme card
> that Apple currently sells)
> 3. You can add 3rd party PC cards to all of these laptops which'll
> give them FireWire, USB 2 or 802.11b/g.
> 4. If you fall in love with this form factor, it's possible to get a
> CPU upgrade to 800 MHz G3 or 500 MHz G4.
> Happy hunting.

Additional thoughts...

1. Only the Lombard and the Pismo have USB (1.1.). Only the Pismo has
FireWire (IEEE1391). All non-Pismo PowerBook G3s have SCSI.

2. 14" screen (1024*768) only appears on the high-end PowerBook G3
Series and both the Lombard and Pismo.

3. Wallstreet/Mainstreet, Lombard and Pismo have S-Video output and
VGA output (upto 1600x1200 IIRC). The earlier PowerBook had a
proprietary Apple connector for video output.

The Lombard and Pismo* do monitor "spanning" by combining the internal
montor with one of the external video outputs (both can't be active at
the same time... use the same portion of the video card). This means
you have a much larger desktop (great if you're doing graphics work of
working in many documents at once. I'm not sure if Linux supports the
monitor spanning feature.

*the earlier ones probably do monitor spanning too, I just don't know
from personal experience

4. The Pismo came with a DVD-ROM and it was a BTO on the Lombard.

5. If you've got money to burn or are capable of a bit of surgery you
can find replacement drives for the Lombard/Pismo bay which will allow
you to add a Zip or even a DVD-RW drive to your laptop.

6. The Lombard and Pismo both could accept two batteries and give you
upwards of 10+ hours of work time on a single charge (more with a
Newer Tech battery). Unfortunately, at $140 USD each two batteries
would nearly be more expensive the a Pismo. If you're really
adventurous you could rebuild your own batteries at roughly half the
cost (search for pismo battery and you'll see a number of detailed
rebuilding instructions).

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