Uses for a PowerPC Mac Mini?
March 6, 2014 9:27 AM   Subscribe

My mother wants to send her old Power PC Mac mini to the dump. What else could I do with it?

It's a cute little machine but slow. I believe it is one of the original minis. Her Chromebook is working out so well that she never uses the mini anymore. Would it do a decent job as a file server? Can you think of some other creative uses for it? I'm open to all ideas and hardware/software alterations are welcome.
posted by selfnoise to Computers & Internet (15 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
There are possibly non-profit organizations that will be glad to take it, install Linux on it, and use it to teach kids to program.
posted by mkb at 9:35 AM on March 6, 2014

There are possibly non-profit organizations that will be glad to take it, install Linux on it, and use it to teach kids to program.

Have any URLs to any of these organization's websites?
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 9:43 AM on March 6, 2014

Put it on eBay. Somebody somewhere will want it for parts or for a hobby project or something.
posted by spilon at 9:45 AM on March 6, 2014

It can be used to host and share your Itunes media. Note that it does NOT have gigabit and is limited to 100 on the LAN and can be pokey on serving media wirelessly.

You can install Linux.

If it's got iLife '05 suite on the mini you can plug in a midi keyboard like M-Audio and make music with garage band. Note: PPC minis do NOT have audio in - so you'll have to come up with an alternative method for any non-midi sources like microphone vocals or instruments.

Set up MAME on it and play old video games.
posted by zenon at 10:18 AM on March 6, 2014 [2 favorites]

For your own use? You could install Linux on it, if you're motivated. It could work as a (slow) file server.

I don't think a non-profit would want to deal with the hassle of installing and maintaining it, unless they're very enthusiastic about running Linux on old non-x86 hardware.

Honestly, though, I'd probably try to get it recycled (better than sending it to the dump!). Goodwill Industries accepts electronics for recycling in some areas. Staples will take it at no charge, or your city/county might have an electronics recycling program.
posted by scatter gather at 10:38 AM on March 6, 2014

My PowerPC Mac Mini is currently being the house mail / print / web server. It's not very fast though & the disk is really slow. If I was putting any real load on the thing I'd be itching to swap it out for something more modern.
posted by pharm at 11:27 AM on March 6, 2014

I second putting it on eBay. I sold my old PowerPC Mac mini a few years ago to a company they were buying them because their workflow relied on a Mac OS 9 application and the mini was cheaper than redoing their workflow on another platform.
posted by birdherder at 11:38 AM on March 6, 2014

eBay. People buy these things - even old Apple products hold cachet.
posted by oceanjesse at 11:44 AM on March 6, 2014

Yeah, I would happily run it as an iTunes server at my house if I had it. Plug in an external drive, have everyone put their DRM-free music there, and boom.
posted by wenestvedt at 11:49 AM on March 6, 2014

Mine is hooked up to a television, to run Plex.
posted by inertia at 11:55 AM on March 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

I use my old PPC PowerBook to rip DVDs with an older version of Handbrake and copy video files off my TiVo. It's slow but it's fine for overnight tasks. It can also run an oldish version of Transmission.

There's a Firefox fork called Tenfourfox that will run on older PPC hardware, in case you want to have a halfway decent browser available.

Mine is hooked up to a television, to run Plex.

I'm pretty sure Plex is Intel only and won't run on a PPC machine.
posted by bcwinters at 12:15 PM on March 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

If you're going to send it to the dump or donate it, your mother may appreciate it if you wipe the hard disk and reinstall the OS. (or smashy-smashy the hard drive if going to dump)

Or do like I do, and stick it in a back closet since I can't find the original installation media.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 12:21 PM on March 6, 2014

Huh, I take it back, there is (or was) an unofficial Plex for PPC.
posted by bcwinters at 12:33 PM on March 6, 2014

Oh, damn. Yeah, Plex is Intel only. Sorry!
posted by inertia at 12:33 PM on March 6, 2014

RobotVoodooPower: You can always just boot a Debian PPC install CD and use that to securely wipe the disk. If you're not up to using the command line to do it then just choose to option to do an encrypted install: the installer will overwrite the disk as part of the process.
posted by pharm at 1:02 PM on March 6, 2014

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