Which distro best to use for a low spec, old iMac.?

Liam Proven lproven at gmail.com
Mon Dec 12 12:44:47 UTC 2011

On 11 December 2011 16:10, Bas G. Roufs <basroufs at gmail.com> wrote:
> Hello Everybody
> At present, I am helping a friend to get his old iMac useful again. The
> hardware is still good, but low-spec. But the Apple software running on it
> is hopelessly obsolete - whenever trying to update it, a password is being
> asked for which has not been delivered to my friend, when he bought the
> machine. In the mean time, it has become clear who the original owner was
> and where she lives. He tries to get the password via her.
> I have two main questions in this context:
> Which distro whould you recommand me?
> How best to install the distro on the specific machine?
> With respect to the first question - I am considering the latest 11.10
> version of three *Ubuntu distro's:
> Ubuntu;
> Xubuntu (xubuntu.org)
> Lubuntu (lubuntu.org).
> Ad 1. Which distro?
> Which of either of the 3 distro's whould you recommend me, taking into
> account the specificatios summarised below?
> Model - iMac
> Processor - G4 (2.1.), 700 MHz, L2 cache 256KB per processor;
> Internal SDRAM Memory: 640MB, PC133-333, divided into DIMM0, 512 MB and
> DIMM1, 128 MB.
> HD: Maxtor, ATA4D040H2, 38,16 GB.
> Bus: 100 MHZ.
> Upstart-CD ROM drive: version 4.40 fi.
> Modem: Dash 2, Apple version 2.6.3 with the software
> "InternalUSBModem.kext"(v.2.6.3.)
> Ad 2. How best to install the distro to be chosen?
> With respect to the 2nd question, how best to install the distro to be
> chosen, I am considering two options - after backing up all the data
> elsewhere:
> simply over writing the whole HD
> dual boot.
> Over writing the whole HD?
> Given the hopelessly obsolete state of the software running on it, I
> seriously consider that option - of course, after backing up all the data at
> some external HD. The new Linux distro would prolongue the life of the
> machine in my opinion.
> Dual boot?
> This could be an option in case my friend does manage to find the right
> password and to update the whole configuration. However, I am doubting
> whether this could deliver a workable, safe result. I have very little
> experience with Apple/ Mc.OS.
> However it may be, I would appreciate your feedback and thoughts.
> Respectfully yours,
> Bas Roufs.

That is an "anglepoise" iMac G4, right?


I would suggest wiping & reinstalling Mac OS X. That machine will run
Tiger - 10.4 - well, which means it can run some quite modern browsers
such as TenFourFox (Firefox 8 for PowerPC Mac OS X) and Camino 2. It
can run Adium for instant messaging, Thunderbird or Apple's own Mail
programs for email among many others, LibreOffice for productivity and
many other Free or open source software (FOSS) packages.

If you can find a cheap old OS X DVD, then you could use that to
remove the password on the machine, but it's probably better to wipe
it and start over.

If you can borrow a newer Mac, you could install Mac OS X 10.5
"Leopard" using Firewire Target mode or LeopardAssist, but this is
more work. Tiger will do more and run better.

Liam Proven • Info & profile: http://www.google.com/profiles/lproven
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