With the iBook now powering up successfully, it seemed like a good time to check the hardware out before embarking on going Linux.
The machine powered up with a chime, which means that the processor and RAM are working. The iBook had a standard 128Mb which is soldered on the main board, but I upgraded it a further 256Mb to 384Mb shortly after I bought it.
After a bit of mincing, the laptop eventually booted to the old familiar site of 10.4 Tiger. A super reliable operating system and works beautifully on PowerPC architecture. 10.4 was the operating system that introduced Spotlight that suddenly made all your files ‘findable’ and with the iLife suite, really felt like the Mac had truly become the digital hub that Apple had planned all along. In fact, had it not have been for Time Machine featured in 10.5, I think 10.4 would have been the go to operating system for most people. Anecdotally, it also introduced the dashboard and a means of creating your own widgets (which was pretty amazing at the time). Dashboard has become by and largely replaced by Notification Centre, which is a shame as I tend to use it as a quick conversion or time check etc.
The G3 iBook managed running 10.4 easily, which is quite a testament in itself, because when I bought it, it was bundled with OS 9.2.2 and I think 10.2 Jaguar. Bearing in mind that the G3 was well on it’s way out by the time 10.4 dropped, even though it had only been the processor of choice a mere three years previous, is indication on how well engineered PowerPC chips were and how much synergy there was between software and hardware.
10.4 had a special place in my heart too because I bought it (it came in boxes those days) on the opening day of the Apple Store in the Bullring, Birmingham. I remember queuing up and getting caught up in the moment and buying the OS as a souvenir almost. That was 2005.
Anyway, I digress, the iBook was lacking an Airport card due to that being used in a G4 Cube (that’s another story), but this was ok, because I would want to download over an ethernet cable anyway. The body was ok, one of the vents had a little bit of battle damage, the screen doesn’t close down because the mechanism was stuck and the display housing was slightly misaligned after being dropped. Display itself worked without any dead pixels. There were some light patches, visible in certain angles, but considering the age, it was all looking good. There was just one problem, which turned out to be more of a problem than I first imagined and that was the optical drive, which just spat discs out with mild distaste, it wasn’t interested in reading them. This was a problem in so far that Linux distributions tend to be downloaded as ISO images to be burnt on CD so to create a Live environment to test before installation. This wasn’t going to be possible, so I was going to need to get creative…