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You are here: MacNN Forums > Hardware - Troubleshooting and Discussion > Mac Notebooks > Advice on cheap old laptop for a writer?

Advice on cheap old laptop for a writer?
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Sir Arthur Dent
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May 28, 2005, 08:26 PM
 
I'm a writer and a proud, happy owner of an iMac G5. I'm looking to get a portable writing computer as cheap as possible, but I'm not sure what would be best. I will use it only for writing, so I don't need it to be fast at all. I would probably just run it from the command line and use pico or emacs. My question is, which laptop should I look to buy, and is it possible to install only the BSD subsystem off the 10.4 install discs? If this isn't the best forum for this question, my apologies.
     
osxisfun
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May 28, 2005, 08:31 PM
 
i would look into a g3 class ibook (used) you can get a good one (600mhz+) for $300+

install 10.3 on it and you should have a fine writing machine.

(i doubt you will run it from the command line. 10.3 will run fine on the machine above for what you want IMO.)
     
sodamnregistered2
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May 29, 2005, 02:07 PM
 
Pismo G3 500MHz

It had a 1MB cache which went a long way towards making it "snappy" and I would think you could just type on it forever. It's also a complete legend in every way. I STILL see it in print ads.

I'm not sure what version of OS X you can run on it though.
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dual G4 800MHz (sold), dual G4 450MHz (sold), G4 450MHz (sold), Powerbook Pismo G3 500MHz (sold)
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FeralCat
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May 29, 2005, 02:16 PM
 
Well, how much is your upper limit? That would be really helpful. If you really only want to use BSD, why get an Apple laptop at all? I'm sure you could get a workable x86 laptop at a local Computer Renaissance or recycler for only a couple of hundred, max. If you really want a Mac laptop, there are some incredible deals on either brand new G4 iBooks for $899 from Amazon or, if you want a PowerBook, TechRestore has Titanum G4 PowerBooks starting at $799 (PowerBook G4/550 Mhz 256/20GB/CD-RW/DVD with 15.2" LCD). Neither of those machines will be super slow, and will run Mac OS X very well. I'm typing this on a 400 MHz TiBook w/ 384 MB of RAM now, and it runs Panther quite well. Well, at least until I launch iPhoto...
     
TheIceMan
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May 29, 2005, 09:40 PM
 
How about a G3 iBook starting at $399.00 at TechRestore?

[Update]: They are "Restored" which is explained below.
What condition is the system in and what does Restored mean?
We return these products to as close as possible to their factory specifications. This includes replacing any parts that have failed, restoring factory software, cleaning the units and insuring that they function correctly.

So, do the Restored items you’re selling have any signs of use?
Yes. Restored products may have signs of prior use, including, but not limited to, cosmetic scratches and blemishes on the outer case, light keyboard marks on the LCD screen and other cosmetic blemishes that do not affect the overall performance of the item.

What kind of warranty do the products you sell come with?
Our warranty is pretty simple, most of our Restored products come with a nice 6 month warranty.
( Last edited by TheIceMan; May 29, 2005 at 09:50 PM. )
     
webb3201
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May 29, 2005, 09:45 PM
 
All good choices. When I write, i like a compact package I can take with me everywhere. I recommend an iBook g3 in the 700-900 range if your budget supports that group. If not, grab a Pismo or a TI 400 (both in the same price range).

As to BSD only, not sure why you would want to do that. If you want a good dependable system to write with that has UNIX underpinnings, you should stick with OSX. Everytime I try to move to another OS on my Powerbooks (yellowdog, darwin, Freebsd), i end up realizing that I am jumping through too many hoops to handle my normal workload, and end up back at OSX.

I actually have an iBook 500 I bought day one that I still use all the time to write articles. a great size and very sturdy. That will most likely run you under 400.00, and will handle all of the current Apple OSs and major applications (some with a little patience), have firewire and be generally nice to carry all of the time.

If you can move into the 800-900 range, maybe a rev A 12" Powerbook 867. Smallest form factor with good performance.
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Spliff
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May 29, 2005, 09:55 PM
 
Originally Posted by osxisfun
i would look into a g3 class ibook (used) you can get a good one (600mhz+) for $300+
Aren't the G3 iBooks prone to logic board failures? Any G3 iBook you buy will probably be out of warranty, so $300 seems like a waste of money.
     
Zap2
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May 29, 2005, 09:57 PM
 
i say safe the money for a low end ibook, or when the updae the ibooks buy a older rev not used, under sales.
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webb3201
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May 29, 2005, 10:10 PM
 
Originally Posted by Spliff
Aren't the G3 iBooks prone to logic board failures? Any G3 iBook you buy will probably be out of warranty, so $300 seems like a waste of money.

Prone to failures is hard to quantify. I have not seen any major reports other than a batch of g3 800s that are actually still under coverage based on some problems. I know of at least 12 iBooks in the 500 to 700 range that are still running great after 3-4 years of heavy use by one of my associate groups. I think that 300.00 for a capable writing machine is not a waste at all.
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Spliff
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May 29, 2005, 10:17 PM
 
Originally Posted by webb3201
Prone to failures is hard to quantify. I have not seen any major reports other than a batch of g3 800s that are actually still under coverage based on some problems. I know of at least 12 iBooks in the 500 to 700 range that are still running great after 3-4 years of heavy use by one of my associate groups. I think that 300.00 for a capable writing machine is not a waste at all.
Okay, cool. Just need to avoid the iBook 800.
     
   
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