Edit: Unfortunately, the images originally included in this post are gone, because of hosting problems in late 2009. My apologies.
I occasionally yammer a little too much about the usefulness of old computers, and this time it might have come back and bit me on the
The IT staff at work got a little tired of me talking up Linux on old machines, and when I encouraged them to give me their old junk, they said, “Oh, we’ve got a computer for you. …”
Enter the PowerBook, a castoff from a long-departed techie who used it to test in-house network connections and do a little Web development. It’s a 400Mhz Bronze G3, 64Mb PC66, 6Gb hard drive, USB, ethernet … and looks a lot like this.
It’s certainly not a bad looking computer. Hard to believe the original price was $3,500 though.
There’s no damage to the screen, all the keys are present, it has a hard drive, memory, a processor — all the requisite parts. It might even have Yellow Dog Linux on it. And I have been assured by a rather gleeful tech crew that it worked fine last time it was turned on.
Ay, there’s the rub.
It hasn’t been turned on in about four years. And that’s because the batteries are dead. And the batteries are dead because the power supply is malfunctioning.
And that’s why they were so excited about dumping this old laptop on me: I just took some of their junk off the shelf for them, and took it home with me.
I refuse to quit though. It’s a matter of pride now. I’ve taken the step of testing the power supply with a Fluke meter and the tip lets out less than 1V DC, which I take to mean it’s broke. I ordered a new one off ebay, but I sincerely suspect that one was also defective, since it didn’t result in any life in the laptop.
My biggest fear at this point is that the power supply receptacle might be hosed. That used to happen a lot on old Inspirons — the actual bracket that held the power tip would go bad, rendering the receptacle — and the rest of the motherboard — more or less useless. I don’t imagine it wasn’t a problem in other hardware of the pre-2000 era too.
So this is my latest project, one that I hope I have adequate time and ambition to complete. I don’t have a whole lot of experience with Apples, so this is (in part at least) a new experience. Everything is ready, I got my PPC Ubuntu CD out, I’ve wiped it down with a mixture of vinegar and tap water, and blown dust and hair from the keyboard.
Now all I got to do is turn the darn thing on.