Extending the useful lifetime of a 12" 867 MHz PowerBook G4?
August 20, 2006 3:20 PM   Subscribe

Do you have ant ideas for extending the useful lifetime of a 12" 867 MHz PowerBook G4?

The machine, now running 10.3.8 runs noticably slower than it did in its 10.2 days. I'm thinking of reverting. I'm highly tempted to give Mac Ubuntu a try as it claims to run on G3s, so I'm hopeful this will improve the system's performance. Any thoughts on this? Also, any ideas for tarting up the scracthed aluminium shell? Any other thoughts or tips? RAM is already maxed.
posted by nthdegx to Computers & Internet (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
What are you doing on it? Mac OS X 10.3.8 should run faster than 10.2 and it should be a very usable machine whatever version you have. Software hasn't gotten much more complex in the last 3 years as it has done in the past.

My guess is the hard disk is failing or you have lots of crappy software add-ons installed.
posted by cillit bang at 3:36 PM on August 20, 2006

What in particular seems to be slower? I can't think of any reason why 10.3 would be significantly slower than 10.2 -- in fact it should be slightly faster. Also, 10.3.9 has been out for years, any reason why you haven't updated to it?

Also, is your hard drive full, or nearly so?
posted by xil at 3:37 PM on August 20, 2006

Best answer: I sold my 12"/867 PB for $500 and got a macbook. I think the prices are anywhere from $500-750 for that model still. A new lowest end macbook is $1200 or so.
posted by mathowie at 4:07 PM on August 20, 2006

Best answer: run MacJanitor on it (runs some of the Unix scheduled cleanup scripts that typically don't get run on a machine that's not on and kicking 24/7), which might help a bit. make sure your disks are OK (run Disk Utility). you might want to run the Apple Hardware Test on it (should have come with your computer) to make sure the hardware's OK - sometimes RAM will go bad silently and the computer just won't recognize some of it, which can make your machine feel slower. you might also try an Archive and Install of OS X 10.3 to see if it feels faster with a new System.
posted by mrg at 4:11 PM on August 20, 2006

Best answer: I have a 800Mhz G4 iMac that was unbearable slow when I went from 10.2 to 10.3 with 256MB of RAM. I upgraded to 512MB for like $30, and it was like I'd purchased a whole new machine. Massively different. I now expect it to now carry me through 10.4 or even 10.5. If you're using 256Megs of RAM, I'd say it's worth getting the RAM whether or not you end up buying a new machine. I also have an iBook that is 4 years newer than the iMac. You'd think I'd greatly favor the iBook for most tasks since the performance is so obviously improved, but I still do 70% of my work on the iMac. I'm writing this on the iMac and I still choose to rip CDs and DVDs on it instead of the portable. I really only use the iBook when I'm away from home or if I want to be in front of the TV. Buy the RAM.
posted by putzface_dickman at 5:06 PM on August 20, 2006

Surfing and MetaFiltering should be just fine on this machine. Keep it by your bed or living room couch or other convenient place where you might like to access the net and do not now have a computer.
posted by caddis at 5:37 PM on August 20, 2006

Try the Kubuntu-PPC Live DVD on it. It might be noticeably faster than OS X. At least it was for me, on a 15" 867Mhz Powerbook G4.
posted by aye at 7:16 PM on August 20, 2006

Best answer: Someone gave me their old iBook, which is much slower and older than the one you've described above. I primarily use it for web browsing.

Try running ShadowKiller on it? It removes shadows from windows, and makes my machine run much faster. Also, I use Camino for web browsing, instead of Firefox.
posted by hooray at 9:32 PM on August 20, 2006

Best answer: heres a procedure for you:
-buy tiger
-back up data
-wipe drive clean, install tiger
-add ram
-voila a nice little ultraportable for taking around town

if you look around, you should be able to get tiger for way under retail
the same is true for ram, look at the forums at a place like MacNN

finally, the hard drive might be a bit long in the tooth, so consider taking a very technical and heart-wrenching--but actually not that scary in the end--plunge and replacing it (especially given that it is out of warantee)
posted by weaponsgradecarp at 10:28 PM on August 20, 2006

What weaponsgradecarp said in the last comment, except you already have the RAM.

A fresh install of 10.4 is just what you need. Also, be certain to keep at least 10% of your harddrive space free. Depending on what kind of work you do, consider getting an extra monitor to extend your desktop. I'm typing this on the exact same machine, which I'd like to keep for at least another year. I'm going to get a 19-inch LCD to fend off the screen-envy I get when I see my friend's 15-inch PowerBook or my sister's MacBook.
posted by reeddavid at 11:44 PM on August 20, 2006

Best answer: OP said that RAM is already maxxed.

I upgraded my old 500 Mhz G3 ibook from 10.1.5 up to 10.3. Everything slowed waaaayyy down even after doing all the system cleaning I could. Boosting RAM helped since I only started with 128, but since you can't do that, it might be worth planning to upgrade.
posted by beatrice at 11:51 PM on August 20, 2006


OS X is great about putting extra RAM to use. Conversely, for Panther, and especially Tiger, 512MB is pretty much the minimum you can have for decent performance, and a full gig is a better idea.

Also, what the other people said about MacJanitor, etc.

And upgrade to Tiger, if you can. Unlike Windows, Mac system updates (within the X version, anyway) tend to get *better* performing, not worse.
posted by jammer at 9:34 AM on August 21, 2006

Best answer: People, he's already said the RAM is maxed.

Also, any ideas for tarting up the scracthed aluminium shell?
Plaster your lid with stickers, either from your own sticker collection or with custom stickers. Alternatively, you could try to polish out some of the scratches with a polish kit like this.

I'd also recommend doing a fresh install.

If you have any interest in a G4 1.2GHz iBook, I'm preparing to sell mine to finance a MacBook.
posted by junesix at 10:32 AM on August 21, 2006

Best answer: This question came up just as I was noticing that my (same CPU and 640 MB RAM) 12" PB was much slower than it used to be. I followed xil's advice and checked to see if my HD was full. 2 GB remained, but I decided to clean some stuff anyway. I now have 8.5 GB free, and my computer is running much faster. So YMMV, but I thought you might be interested in my experience with a similar situation.

JDiskReport is a good tool for visualizing what is taking up space on your HD. OmniDiskSweeper is also good.
posted by epugachev at 8:07 PM on August 25, 2006

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