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Apple switched to Intel processors in 2006 – any Mac from before then uses the PowerPC platform. For a while Mac software was designed to work on both types of computers, but those days are for the most part gone.

Put simply: you cannot use the latest Mac software on devices build before 2006. Whether you’ve had such a Mac for years, or picked it up at a garage sale, figuring out what you can and can’t do with such a Mac gets confusing fast. I should know: my primary computer until a year ago was a PowerMac G5. That is admittedly among the most powerful PPC Macs in existence, so speed wasn’t much of a problem for day-to-day computing – the machine could keep up with low-end devices even six years later. I could easily use this hardware for another couple years, from a hardware perspective.

The problem is software. Apple hasn’t released a PPC-compatible operating system since Leopard, meaning new features, and the Mac App Store, are completely out of reach. The situation with Apple’s desktop software isn’t much better: the last browser offered by Apple for PowerPC is 2010’s Safari 5, and Apple’s media player iTunes was last updated for PPC that same year. The latest versions of iWork and iLife you can use is ’09.

And it’s not just Apple that’s abandoned the platform – they put out software longer than most. The latest versions of Microsoft Office, Adobe Creative Suite and anything else you can think of probably won’t work on your PowerPC Mac.

This would all be fine if you had access to web apps, but even that’s potentially limited because of a lack of browsers for the platform. Google never even made a PowerPC version of Chrome, so it’s not usable. The last PPC version of Firefox is 3.6, meaning you’re up to date as of early 2011. And Opera fans are stuck with version 10.

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Luckily, there is workable software out there. You just need to search for it.

Using Your PowerPC As A Normal Mac

You can use your Mac, as-is, to get things done. It just takes some flexibility, and the right software. Here’s how to get started.

For Browsing: TenFourFox


Is there a modern browser for PowerPC Macs? Yes. It’s called TenFourFox, and it’s a PowerPC Mac build of Firefox TenFourFox - The Firefox 4 Browser For PowerPC Macs TenFourFox - The Firefox 4 Browser For PowerPC Macs Experience the speed increase and new features of Firefox 4 on your Power PC (PPC) Mac. The speed increase alone is worth it. There are lots of reasons to upgrade to Firefox 4, but it's... Read More . This software is maintained to this day, and based on Firefox’s Extended Support Releases. This means you won’t necessarily get the latest Firefox features, but you are getting a modern browser that’s periodically updated – you aren’t being left behind.

For Media: VLC


Stick with the old versions of iTunes and Quicktime if you want – there’s nothing wrong with them. But if you want a lightweight media player that can play just about anything, I recommend VLC. It’s still maintained for PPC, so far as I can tell, and it works wonderfully on that platform. Best of all: it can play just about any file (assuming your Mac can handle it – HD video might be stretching things for an iMac G4).

For Work: Old Versions Of Commercial Software

It’s not up to date, but older commercial software will work just fine on your Mac. Office 2008 is the last version for this platform, and that’s not bad. It’s compatible with files from the latest version of Office, and is the last version of Office to not feature the Ribbon interface (perhaps a plus).


It’s also worth checking out iWork ’09, which many feel is actually better than Apple’s latest offering. This software is lightweight, so its pretty fast even on older Macs. Many longtime Mac users swear by its word processor, Pages, though Excel fanatics may find Numbers disappointing as a replacement.

Are you a designer? It’s worth noting that your PowerPC Mac can’t run the latest versions of Adobe’s Creative Suite – but it can run CS5. While lacking the latest features, this software is extremely capable to this day. You’ll be hard pressed to think of features you’re missing out on, compatibility with newer versions aside.

Finding More Software

This quick list shows that there is, with some digging, uses for a PowerPC Mac running OS X. There’s a lot more software out there, however. I highly recommend you check out this archive of PowerPC software.


I also recommend you check out and subscribe to, a blog that to this day digs up software compatible with PowerPC Macs. And you can simply search for software on your own. Any download marked as “Universal” or “PPC” should work for you.

Replacing OS X With Linux

Want up-to-date software on your PPC Mac? Consider making the switch to Linux. You’ll find the latest versions of Firefox, LibreOffice and basically any other open source software you can think of, all in a central repository. Stop searching for software and simply get to work.


Ubuntu, among the easiest versions of Linux for Mac users, offers a community-maintained version for PPC Macs. The Ubuntu Wiki offers an in-depth outline for installing on PowerPC, which you should check out if you’re interested. I’d also recommend checking out PowerPC Liberation, a blog about installing Linux on your PPC Mac. You’ll learn a lot.

It’s worth noting that most commercial software for Linux will not work on your PowerPC – this means no Adobe Flash, no Dropbox and no Google Chrome. Put simply: companies are not compiling versions of this software for PowerPC, even on Linux.

Still, open source isn’t exactly limited: you’ll have access to tens of thousands of programs. Install, then explore. You’ll be amazed what your old Mac can still do.

Alternative Uses For Your PPC Mac

We’ve established that it’s perfectly possible to use an old PowerPC as a regular computer, but is it ideal? Not really – these machines are probably quite slow to anyone used to modern devices. Don’t panic: there are other uses for this hardware. Here’s a quick list:

As Your Own Alternative To Cloud Apps

We taught you about OwnCloud, which is a cross-platform, self-hosted alternative to Dropbox, Google Calendar and more ownCloud: A Cross-Platform, Self-Hosted Alternative to Dropbox & Google Calendar ownCloud: A Cross-Platform, Self-Hosted Alternative to Dropbox & Google Calendar The NSA and PRISM scares demonstrated that governments can and will access the various popular online cloud services. This means that now is one of the best times to consider creating your own cloud solution.... Read More . Well, as it turns out, this software is easy to install on a PPC Mac running Linux: just check out your distro’s package manager.


Set up the server on you old PPC, then install the client on your other computers – Windows, Linux or Mac. You’ve now got your own version of many popular cloud service – there’s even an online music player! – without the need to trust a third party company.

I couldn’t find a PPC Mac version of OwnCloud. Consider this a compelling reason to install Linux.

As A File Server

Your Mac can serve up files to your network. Plugged directly into your router, this makes for a decent local server. It’s not as full-featured a solution as OwnCloud, but it works if you just want local file storage.

Jackson outlined how to share files across Mac and Windows computers How To Easily Share Files Between Mac & Windows Computers How To Easily Share Files Between Mac & Windows Computers Read More back in 2008 – these instructions should work perfectly on your PPC Mac.

As A Bittorrent Machine

So long as you’re using your old Mac as a server, why not also put it to work downloading torrents? has a list of BitTorrent Clients for Mac, many of which offer support for adding files over the network. It’s worth trying out.

As Anything You Can Imagine

Is an old PPC Mac the ideal computer in 2013? Not really. Is it useless? Absolutely not. With the above tips you should help you put old hardware to good use.

What have I missed? A lot. You could, for example, strip the Mac parts out of your old device and rebuild – but that’s something for another article entirely. In the meantime, leave what you think an old PowerPC Mac could be useful for in the comments below.

Oh, and if anyone wants to try any of this out, I’ve got an old PowerMac G5 in my closet. If you’re in Colorado we could make a deal…

iMac photo by Omega21, usage of image free under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

  1. Eugene
    August 7, 2016 at 11:50 am

    Dear Sirs,
    I was very pleased to read the article from Justin Pot about the use of the old PowerMac....
    Thanks and Regards, Eugene Wallace, artist

  2. Obec
    June 10, 2016 at 6:13 pm

    Thank you for the article. I'm in Colorado. I'm not sure if you still have that G5 with you. I just got a dual processor G5 with the monitor for $20. Great shape. I couldn't resit myself. Love the case. Maybe do a full teardown and install a newer Mobo with PSU. Who knows!
    -Will try Linux or Remix_OS and have fun with it!

    Once again thank you for the ideas!

  3. MyRobert
    March 21, 2016 at 1:36 am

    What about video editing? And, word processing? Neither of which require a beefy CPU.

    iMovie from the 10.5 PPC days still rocks compared to nearly everything that's available on Windows TEN YEARS LATER. And, video formats haven't changed sustantially in the intervening years so you can get video into compatible format without much effort. Pair iMovie up with a G5 processor and you've got a nice simple video editor that can handle simple videos (the HD part might get you, though).

    For that matter, iPhoto was a decent photo manager that still holds its own compared to anything you can get for free on Windows. And, frankly, it seems like Photos isn't much of an improvement over iPhoto from the PPC days!

    Pages or Microsoft Office (2008 or earlier) both offer great word processors and the entire Office suite is available in Office versions 2008 and earlier. Both still produce 100% compatible documents with modern Office versions.

    And, a similar story applies to Adobe. If your budget is tight you can easily lay your hands on an $80 PowerMac G5 with dual processor and a few gigs of RAM. Adobe software from that era can sometimes be found for a song (or even less) while you'll be paying many hundreds of dollars for "modern" software that really isn't that much different.

    Even web browsing. I just bought a G5 to refurbish for my father (have decided against it... too heavy) and am surprised at just how well TenFourFox works. The two CPUs really make the PowerMac G5 something special. My cheapest Windows 10 tablet has 50% more raw processing power than this 2 GHz dual G5 but, this machine still manages to do a good job of NOT seeming like it's 13 years old.

  4. Spadefist
    March 19, 2016 at 4:21 pm

    I recently crumbled and bought a maxed out 20" G4 iMac after stalking them on eBay for the past 5 years and was wondering was the last PPC version of Synergy was? So I can integrate it into my desktop setup.

    Thanks in advance!

    • Justin Pot
      March 22, 2016 at 1:30 pm

      I'm afraid I've no idea how to find the PPC version of Synergy, this article itself is a bit of an antique at three years old and I'm just not up-to-date on PPC stuff. Maybe someone at could help you out?

      • Spadefist
        March 22, 2016 at 1:48 pm

        I actually figured this our today and got it working, v1.3.1 works and the iMac is now part of my (exceptionally big) desktop setup :-D thanks anyway

        • Justin Pot
          March 22, 2016 at 2:09 pm

          Im glad you got it working, enjoy!

  5. Chuck Carlley
    March 11, 2016 at 4:55 pm

    Thanks for this article Justin! I am using my using my 2004 1.8 GHz iMac G5 to run Motu's Digital Performer 7 sequencing (music) software. Does a great job even with only 2 GB of RAM. I truly appreciate the information on Ten Four Fox and VLC for media as my biggest concern with this machine is keeping the browser at a usable version. Thanks again.

    • Justin Pot
      March 11, 2016 at 6:41 pm

      I'm glad this is still working for you!

  6. Shane
    March 1, 2016 at 12:37 pm

    I'm about to but a power mac G5 from a friend and it comes with a complete adobe suite, if I was to change to my OS to Linus would I still be able to keep the adobe suite? thanks in advance

    • Rad
      April 21, 2016 at 4:17 am

      Nope, Linux will not run OS X software, although you can dual boot OS X and Linux by selecting boot disk (assuming you have Linux and OS X on 2 different HDDs) during startup.

  7. Sorch
    February 10, 2016 at 8:47 pm

    I'm reading this on a powerbook g4 12" 1.33ghz maxed out at 1.25gb of ram really nice article.

    • Justin Pot
      February 10, 2016 at 9:15 pm

      Well done!

  8. themacmeister
    February 5, 2016 at 3:22 am

    I have a liquid-cooled DP PowerMac7,3 2.5GHz -- look forward to trying out MorphOS if the 1GB memory limit has been overcome on this particular machine (I have 4GB installed). $111Euro is a bit rich, but worth it considering how much work has gone into it. Pretty weak graphics (3D) card support tho. Hope my 9600 XT can keep up :-)

  9. imacoo7
    January 4, 2016 at 2:45 pm

    I actually use my powerpc G5 for doing simplistic videos to post on youtube... I have 3 other new macs that I use for various things, but the ppc does come in handy , when I have company over that want to do a little bit of web surfing... at any rate, these machines are still very useful and not a total wash. My ppc has 2 TB and 4GB of ram and runs faster (IMO) than my 2014 mac mini

    • Justin Pot
      January 5, 2016 at 4:28 pm

      That's quite the fleet you're running there!

  10. Paul Potter
    December 6, 2015 at 1:11 pm

    Very useful old computers, and mostly very cheap to buy nowadays.

    Posted from my G4 Mac mini

    • Justin Pot
      December 6, 2015 at 4:22 pm

      G4 even! I thought I was tough for using a G5 back in 2012, but you've taken this to another level. Good on you!

      • Paul Potter
        December 6, 2015 at 5:54 pm

        Thanks! :-)

  11. Anwar Shiekh
    June 16, 2015 at 1:52 am

    My main machine at home is still a G5 power Mac.

    * WebKit 600.7.7 keeps Safari up to date,

    * Microsoft Entourage (Web Services Edition) works with an exchange server, although I still use Native Mail. Microsoft Entourage (Web Services Edition) goes with office 2008 but needs to be downloaded separately.

    * MacTeX 2015 still runs on a PPC Mac

    • Justin Pot
      June 16, 2015 at 2:15 pm

      That's pretty cool! I've got a G5 Power Mac still, but I never use it. I should find out if someone like you would be willing to buy it.

      • Anwar Shiekh
        June 16, 2015 at 2:18 pm

        Nice, and I'm in Colorado; but what would I do with a second G5 PowerMac?

    • Justin Pot
      June 16, 2015 at 2:20 pm

      I'm sure you can find something to do with it...

      • Anwar Shiekh
        June 16, 2015 at 2:23 pm

        Maybe so, but it is not something I can afford to put money into.

    • Justin Pot
      June 16, 2015 at 2:25 pm

      Ha, I was expecting you to! Enjoy your setup, it sounds great, let me know if there's any PPC software you're missing – I used to be pretty good at finding it.

      • Anwar Shiekh
        June 16, 2015 at 2:26 pm

        Much appreciated, but I think I am in great shape.

  12. omar
    May 10, 2015 at 6:05 am

    you can use almost any PowerMac (incl. iBooks and Powerbooks) with G4 and ATI gfx to run MorphOS (
    Its an alternative operating system, coming from the Amiga world - it is de facto a successor of the Amiga OS.
    Its got a modern khtml-based browser with html5 support, very fast OS, can play 720p (or even some 1080p) on a stronger G4 (1ghz and above).
    Its a fun little (hobby) OS perfectly suited for everyday computing and gives new life and outstanding speed and performance for the G4's (it even runs on some G5).

    • Christian Bonato
      May 13, 2015 at 8:40 am

      Thanks Omar! I'm going to try MorphOS on HD partition, and will try to give my feedback here.

  13. Christian Bonato
    April 7, 2015 at 1:40 pm

    Well, the iBook G4 is not doing aynthing per se... But now I can code from my laptop, and the VNC graphic latency is VERY good (almost none). We're talking 10.5.8 accessing 10.10.2., and a 1024x768 max on the iBook G4. I guess VNC had its standards pretty well defined a decade ago or more. Remote control is one more reason not to throw away a G4 laptop.

    • Justin Pot
      April 7, 2015 at 4:33 pm

      That's really cool, thanks for sharing!

  14. Christian Bonato
    April 6, 2015 at 4:34 pm

    Could you add a chapter on VNC ? I'm astounded. I read your article and was already resigning myself on installing Linux (not that this option is not interesting, quite the opposite).
    I was looking for a way to code an HTML5 Web App from my iBook G4, and that means no PPC-compiled HTML5 brower available... Not to mention Textmate, and other mandatory softs (node.js, etc).
    But there's VNC ! And it performs surprisingly well. I have control over an iMac running Yosemite, and 9 1920x1080 virtual screens !
    I'm going to lower the resolution though, not because of performance, but because the 1920x1080 interpolation on the iBook G4 screen, while pretty good, makes for a too tiny GUI.
    Wow. I'm baffled.

    • Justin Pot
      April 6, 2015 at 5:24 pm

      VNC is a pretty good use case, I didn't even think of that! So you've got your portable old laptop controlling an iMac, clever. Have you used it for productive work at all?

    • omar
      May 10, 2015 at 6:09 am

      "I was looking for a way to code an HTML5 Web App from my iBook G4, and that means no PPC-compiled HTML5 brower available…"

      there is: its the Origyn Web Browser (OWB) for MorphOS.

      Its for ppc, its fully html5 compatible, got webinspector and its available and up-to-date (updated regulary).

    • Justin Pot
      May 10, 2015 at 9:56 pm

      That's pretty cool, have you had any luck with MorphOS on Macs, omar?

  15. jason stanford
    February 24, 2015 at 2:15 pm

    Thanks Justin, gonna hook it back up soon, there was a lil tech issue of the fans attempting take off rpms a while back, it seemed to subside, hopefully its not gonna come back if I stick ten-four fox and one of these xmbc programs on (any idea which?) Jason..

    • Justin Pot
      February 25, 2015 at 3:54 pm

      Hey, I'd grab 11.0 but know that it's a couple years old. Most addons won't work, but for local video this should work great!

  16. Fordnats
    February 22, 2015 at 4:03 pm

    Hi folks. I always loved macs from working in the print industry around 93 to 96. After that I didnt really use any computers til about 2005. I bought some nasty cheap pc (typing with it now!) which has just about kept going. two years ago, somewhat bindly, I picked up a 'spares or repair' ppc on ebay for less than a ton. I posted a mac bod in london two HDs to install the two last OS's upon, I bought a couple of fancy graphics cards for it (which I have not yet attempted to install) and managed to get it working. I then got really frustated with the lack of software support and left it for dead. Its been a glorified paperweight for over a year now. I just thought I would google 'is there any use for a 2005 powermac' today, and voila, here I be.
    Initially I wanted the mac to work as a music centre, recording my deejay sets, running music software for deejaying, running Launchpad and Serato, I dont actually know if it's able. If it's not I am thinking of maybe employing it as a media streamer. Is there is a version of Kodi or something like it it could run? Thanks in advance, Jason..

    • Justin Pot
      February 22, 2015 at 6:12 pm

      There's a version of XBMC (precursor to Kodi) that runs on PPC, it's a couple of years old and doesn't get a lot of updates. Addon compatibility is bad, but if you just want to play local media it should work fine. I don't really know about DJing software, sorry.

  17. nod
    February 9, 2015 at 5:52 pm

    Okay. This is all wonderful however there alternative versions for nearly all software you may want to use on ubuntu. For example chromium Is chrome. It's exactly the same. There is also pepper flash instead of Adobe flash. Let's not forget the beauty of open sorce. You can compile it to work on a g5.

    • Justin Pot
      February 9, 2015 at 6:51 pm

      Can you get Chromium working on a PPC Mac, though? Last time I checked you couldn't.

  18. MickeyBlueEyes
    December 20, 2014 at 11:58 pm

    I've been to a lot of tiny design houses in small towns that are still rocking PPC hardware, if it still does the job efficiently and to a good standard then a lot of very small business don't see the point in upgrading.

    A small print house near me, until the owner retired in 2013, had a monster of a large format printer that only worked under OS9, so you would always see an old Beige G3 PowerMac set up that all the files had to be passed to for print.

  19. Ben Tignor
    April 26, 2014 at 3:19 am

    Don't forget gaming- while there are some ways, it's pretty difficult to play PPC Mac games on Intel machines. It's a lot easier to use a G4 or G3. I use my G4 to manage my old iPod and my PPC gaming. There is a very diverse library of PPC games -and don't forget that since OSX (up to Tiger) has support for Mac OS 9 software- and the later PPC Macs run them like a dream.

  20. Pam
    March 15, 2014 at 7:54 pm

    I got so excited when I read this article because I figured I could keep using my iMac G5 os 10.4.11. I even bought copies of Leopard and CS3 which I found on craigslist. Well, what a big fail. Leopard would not load on my machine. I keep getting a, Installer could not create the folder "/Volumes/Macintosh HD/BaseSystem.pkg.180co5HBG" message, and now when I turn it on all I get is a gray screen with alternating question mark and finder folder. Should I give up and try and sell the software or is there a way out of this?

    • Justin P
      March 17, 2014 at 3:43 pm

      I'm not sure what this would happen, outside a dying hard drive. Have you tried using Disk Utility to wipe the drive completely, before installation? You can run disk utility from the installation disk, click "Utilities" at top.

  21. Garrett Nelson
    February 21, 2014 at 5:38 am

    May the PowerPc live forever... on mars.

    • Justin P
      February 21, 2014 at 2:36 pm

      The idea makes me very happy.

  22. Robert Hill
    January 2, 2014 at 2:38 pm

    I have a old iBook G3 running osx Tiger, and even though I do web design and development I find I use it more than my desktop (Athlon II x2 2.9ghz 4gb, win 7 and Arch Linux). The at the moment I use Adobe CS2 for Photoshop, illustrator and indesign, but most of the time I use text editors, gimp, Inkscape and netbeans on all my machine including my iBook, of which all is up to date and on osx tiger the best I found is text wrangler for code. The only disappointment I have but I cope is that I can't run skype, owncloud or teamviewer, but teamviewer will allow me to remote access to the iBook just not from it, and skype I have to sign in while offline then switch wifi on after otherwise it says that it's not up to date and locks me out, but they are mine things, otherwise it does not harm my workflow and I still have dropbox for file sync.

    Happy new year everyone!

    • Justin P
      January 3, 2014 at 2:23 am

      That Skype workaround took you a while to figure out, I'm thinking. :)

  23. James E
    December 6, 2013 at 1:01 am

    Don't forget about - they've a Mac section

  24. Oscar
    November 30, 2013 at 11:46 am

    In the navy and I bring an iBook G4 1.2 with Leopard on cruise. I can listen to music, play videos and when we pull in I hook it up to the wired internet to create a wireless access point (a feature which Apple broke in later releases of OS X). Once set up I use an iPad to check email or surf the net, but go back to the iBook to actually respond to emails.

  25. Frank Costa
    November 30, 2013 at 4:37 am

    Mahatma Gandhi: There is more to life than simply increasing its speed.

    Can still get any of my PPC Macs (Pismo G4, iBook G3 12" 900, iBook G4 1.33 14", G4 1.67 17") to do what I need. My Clamshell iBook G3/466 SE (Firewire) with a 40Gb 5400 RPM HD is just for fun and use it in my shop to play my music collection on Toast 5.

    Still work daily in System 9 on my Pismo using AppleWorks 5 for writing songs, books, screenplays. Can make slideshows using AW5 and GraphicConverter and print them to pdf's with James W. Walker's wonderful PrintToPDF application. I listen to music with Audion on all my Macs. I can even go on line with Classila if I want in System 9.

    I use my 17" in my music studio to record my stuff on GarageBand 2 which is all one needs (the Beatles did all their stuff on 4-track analog :-)

    I use OS X 10.4.11 on all the machines. Safari 4.1.3, iCab 4.9, and Camino 2.1.2 can get me anywhere in the world I want to go. OS X is mostly for email, surfing, watching youtube vids, etc.

    I use ixquick for my search engine and never use ANYTHING Google or MicroSoft. Because of my desire for privacy I also use nothing Apple supplies with an "i" like tunes, photo, etc. I store nothing on line and never let my Macs save any passwords, etc. The most frustrating thing that Apple did in my 20 + years of use is to start snooping and saving info like MS and the rest :-/

    I'm glad you didn't get a tude about us who decided to let the Intel ship sail without us. Since I started on a MacPlus on System 6.8 I have come as far as I need to :-)


  26. Freedom S
    November 27, 2013 at 5:05 pm

    I've been working on Macs for about 15 years, but after owning my 1st Mac for about 4 years now, I've quickly become disappointed with the path that Apple has been going since the Intel switch. About a year ago, I was graciously GIVEN a fairly updated PPC Macbook with OS9 and X installed, but I have yet to dive in to see what it can do. I realize my ignorance in assuming that it was, for the most part, an obsolete history lesson. After reading this article, I've gained a lot of insight and some really good ideas on how I can make it work for me. Thanks for the links and info!

    • Justin P
      November 27, 2013 at 8:44 pm

      Glad to hear the article was useful. Do let us know what your PPC Mac ends up doing for you, okay?

  27. John
    November 23, 2013 at 2:00 pm

    The Low End Mac site also has a lot of stuff on using PPC macs--primarily from the OS X side, though with occasional nods to Linux. I know some folks at LEM have had a ... ahem... "debate" with Zen over the PPC LInux vs. OS X thing. I tend to use a mixture of both on my PPC machines, of which I have like 6 or 7 ... or maybe 10, whose counting? They're incredibly cheap. In fact, if you look on your local craigslist "free" section, you can occasionally find people giving them away. I obtained my secondary desktop--a 1.42 GHz G4 emac with 2GB ram and Leopard on it. Which brings me to my main legitimate use, if you have enough space on your desk, which is to use it as a secondary computer to offload CPU cycles onto, and/or use as a separate screen. Now, my main computer is the also rather low-end 1st gen intel Core Duo 1.83 ghz Imac, which is still barely keeping up with the times and maxes out at Snow Leopard (officially). So, when I want to do work on my intel Imac, I can put music or a video, or a SNES9x game on the Emac. When I want to watch something on netflix, which has to be done on my intel Imac, I can switch to working on my PPC emac and fire up Safari 5 or TenFourFox. Another big advantage to still using OS X is the iTunes server and back up function, since this function seems to be compatible across OS X verisons and Architecture types. I back up my iTunes library to all of my OS X devices, so I have myself backed up on like 5 different hard drives, and since they're all using OS x, restoring the library to new computer, or one with a wiped HD, is as simple plugging in one of my backups into the ethernet or wifi network and importing the files. There are probably quite a few uses I could add if I thought about it longer. Lastly, I have to concur with Zen, PPCs are just absolute beasts from a hardware level-- I have a G3 Lombard Powerbook, made in the previous freakin' millenium--1999-- which as far as I know has outlived its own power cord, a hard drive or two, and a ram stick. It's running the latest stable version of Debian Linux (7.0 wheezy), and I can kind of browse facebook on it, play flash games with gnash, and even stream mobile phone quality (.gp3) videos from mobile youtube. And all but one of my dozen or so PPCs are still functioning.

    • zen
      November 23, 2013 at 4:33 pm

      The issue with LEM is that they don't practice moral advice. They encourage the use of outdated and insecure OS and don't offer safer solutions.

      In a crowd of idiots they might seem capable, but to people who truly know tech, they suffer from backward immoral ignorance. They are so ignorant that they don't even understand why their advice is bad.

      Dan Knight, the founder/owner of LEM, has very little computing ability and knowledge and needs to stop giving people advice.

      The biggest enemy to technology and good methods will always be ignorance.

    • John
      November 24, 2013 at 10:23 pm

      zen, I understand your contentions, but isn't the PPC community already small enough that you wouldn't want to encourage infighting? I mean, I know some folks think Mac OS X is really the only way to go, even though most PPC devices are stuck on Tiger and Leopard still, and I find it quite fanboi-ish that kind of steadfast clinging-on to the old OSes and pretending like Linux is some horrible unworkable mess. But that said, I mean there are still vastly more people using Windows XP than any form of Mac Os X, let alone the old PPC variants. Aren't there ways to bridge the gap and try to make the PPC variants of OsX at least somewhat more secure? I mean, OS X is BSD under the hood, and I don't if it would be feasible, practical or desirable to write updates for the underlying Darwin code, but perhaps there are other ways to make those machines running OS X a little more secure by air-gapping them, or at least not using them for any crucial functions, are using Tor (if it exists for PPC)? I mean, if you're just using it for a file storage or media playing device, what's wrong with just using OS X? FWIW I've decided to try installing Debian PPC on a more powerful machine than a maxed-out Lombard-- my 1Ghz emac with 1Gb ram. I hope your blog will have some helpful advice!

  28. Matthew H
    November 21, 2013 at 10:07 pm

    "Apple switched to Intel processors in 2006 – any Mac from before then uses the PowerPC platform. "

    Alas, not entirely true. Before that, Apple used Motorola (yes, *that* Motorola) processors. I'd pay good money to read a 'Are there still any legitimate uses for a Motorola Mac?' article. I'd wager that there are, at least in design and industrial circles. There are still some amazing games from < 2006 that only really play reasonably on a PPC mac.

    • zen
      November 22, 2013 at 1:01 am

      Motorola made 68k (pre-PowerPC) and PowerPC CPU. There has not been a 68k system made since 1994.

      All the PowerPC chips but the G5 involved Motorola engineering. Motorola and IBM made most of them together.

      Apple has used the following PowerPC CPU's:
      601 (engineered by both)
      603 (engineered by both)
      604 (engineered by both)
      G3 (engineered by both) (manufactured by both)
      G4(engineered by both) (only manufactured by Motorola)
      G5 (engineered by IBM alone)
      Current "Power" arch (engineered and manufactured by both)

      Motorola's CPU division is now known as Freescale Semiconductor. They still make 603, G3, and several different G4 chips, along with Power architecture chips.

    • Justin P
      November 22, 2013 at 3:54 am

      When did they use the Motorola chips? That's kind of crazy to think about...

    • zen
      November 22, 2013 at 4:42 pm


      Do you not realize that Apple used Motorola CPU from the very start and up to 2005 when they dropped PowerPC?

      I will break down Apple CPU makers in a very simple way:

      1976-79 Motorola MOS CPU
      1979-94 Motorola 68000 Series (aka 68k)
      1994-2005 Motorola/IBM PowerPC

      From the 601-G3 CPU both Motorola and IBM worked very close. For the G4, Motorola pretty much took the motive on this one. IBM helped engineer the G4 a bit but all of them were made by Motorola.

      The G5 is 100% IBM, but it is the beginning of the Power arch, and after the G5 the two started working together again, and still do today. Motorola is more skilled at engineering and manufacturing vs. IBM. I say that because the best PowerPC chip (the G4) was almost 100% theirs, and IBM always has better results when they work with Motorola in both engineering and manufacturing.

      Motorola is the #1 partner of Apple in their history when it comes to how long they made hardware for them.

    • Anonymous
      November 22, 2013 at 5:10 pm

      I made an error adding the Motorola name to the MOS chip.

      So to be clear, Apple used Motorola CPU from 79-80 to 2005.

    • Justin P
      November 22, 2013 at 6:21 pm

      And now Apple's longtime partner is owned by their biggest competitor in the phone space. Tech is weird.

    • zen
      November 22, 2013 at 9:17 pm

      Apple and Google were good friends until 2009. From 2006-2009 Eric Schmidt (google CEO) was on the Apple board of directors. It really pissed Microsoft off.

      He left in 2009 because of a conflict of interest.

      Regardless of anything though, Motorola/Freescale have always made the greatest computer hardware on earth IMO, and in the opinion of many in the science and engineering world.

    • Justin P
      November 22, 2013 at 9:26 pm

      Hey Zen, would you like a job?

  29. Mac P
    November 21, 2013 at 8:12 pm

    Thank you Justin P for mentioning . We started blogging in 2011 with the idea of gathering and sharing informations about PowerPC only and I'm very happy that we (PowerPC users) come close and it makes me very happy all the time that I get e-mails from people all around the world sharing tricks and ideas to make these machines still running in 2013. Of course we do have limitations/secure issues when browsing internet but my iBook still firing up everyday and I will keep on as long as he still waking up from his sleep time. What comes at the end is not the pleasure of having the newest machine, it's the feeling of running these guys which I consider the great area of Apple Computers. Don't you think the iMac G3/G4 / PowerBook G3/G4 PowerMac G3/G5 one of the most beautiful computers ever?

    • Justin P
      November 22, 2013 at 3:58 am

      Thanks for stopping by! I've linked to the site in the past as well, if I recall, explored your stuff quite a bit when I was still on PPC. I left your ranks about a year ago, but keeping that thing running was fun. Thanks for the help.

  30. zen
    November 21, 2013 at 7:31 pm

    I forgot to comment on HD video playback on PowerPC.

    There is a little known, and no longer available, Mac OS app called CorePlayer which is insanely efficient. I have a copy of it myself and am able to play any 720 and 1080 HD I have ever tried to play on it. It's essentially cellphone tech brought to the desktop. The company folded last year.

    I need CorePlayer to play HD, because I have a single CPU in my most powerful system, but VLC 2.0.8 and up (2.0.9 is the last to work on PowerPC) has massive improvements to dual CPU optimizations. People with dual G5's have said that 720p at least plays perfectly. Some claim 1080 plays also, but I don't own any G5 hardware to comment on that personally.

    For me it's about stability as I mentioned. Many G5 towers live a long life but they can't touch the early to middle era G4 towers for longevity. Mine are all built in 2000. I obviously upgraded the CPU's. Only the last G4 tower, the MDD, had any stability issues, but even it had a much better track record than many G5's.

    I am also a certified Mac tech and have been since 1993, so I know the reliability track records well. Some G5's live forever though. The G5 was an IBM only venture, which showed why it's better to work with Motorola as they started in 1991 and continue to today.

    • richard hanmer
      November 22, 2013 at 9:56 am

      Zen - insightful and interesting comments i must say. Is there anywhere one can get hold of Coreplayer? I myself have a 20inch flat panel iMac G5. Still lovingly used for email, office and as an iTunes music server. I wonder if CorePlayer might allow me to play HD material more easily.

  31. zen
    November 21, 2013 at 3:42 pm

    I wrote my post into several paragraphs, yet the comments system as merged them all into one giant block of words.

    • Justin P
      November 21, 2013 at 6:14 pm

      Just the preview: the actual comment is split. And brilliant. Thanks for stopping by and sharing. Had no idea about the Mars rover thing...

  32. zen
    November 21, 2013 at 3:40 pm

    I am the owner/author of PowerPC Liberation.

    I said this in reply to a reader of my blog recently, that computer performance is as much reliant on user ability and habit, as it is on the raw power of the hardware.

    All of my computing is done on 2x single CPU G4 towers (1.8GHz and 1.0GHz), and any extra power I need spills over to a dual 450MHz.

    The more power a consumer needs, the more they are a slave to modern (and very bloated) code. Almost no developer outside of the Unix/Linux world actually writes efficient/stable code anymore.

    If someone has true computing ability that goes outside a GUI prison on Win and Mac, then they can get by with a lot less power. Because their habits and tasks don't require it.

    When all someone can do is point and click, they have no real computing ability, and are forced to be a slave to whatever shit tech exists because they don't have the ability to find their own path.

    Also, anyone who knows how to at least compile open source code can make anything open run on Mac OS or Unix/Linux.

    In reply to:
    "It’s worth noting that most commercial software for Linux will not work on your PowerPC – this means no Adobe Flash, no Dropbox and no Google Chrome. Put simply: companies are not compiling versions of this software for PowerPC, even on Linux."

    Those limitations are as much a part of x86 Linux as any other arch. People on Linux use either HTML5 or scripts to redirect web video to mplayer or vlc.

    Bottom line... PowerPC systems (specifically G4 towers) are of the most reliable hardware ever made on this earth. They outlive virtually every enterprise level rack server I have ever dealt with.

    People who do work of even mild importance (I'm a BSD/Linux developer), need to put stability before all. Performance is meaningless if it's dead or not running. Any of my G4 towers will run circles around a newer system that doesn't run, or needs constant effort to keep running.

    Lastly, PowerPC is far from dead. It's only dead at Apple. Motorola and IBM still work hand in hand with Power arch tech, which is 100% code compatible with PowerPC software.

    The G4 7448 (what my 1.8GHz G4 is) has recently been released for space use. A radiation hardened version was released earlier this year. Virtually all computer powered devices in space use radiation hardened versions of G3 and G4 chips. Because they are the most reliable CPU's ever made.

    The current mars rover is powered by a G3 200MHz.

  33. Ish
    November 21, 2013 at 8:10 am

    CS5 will NOT run on PPC Macs. CS4 does. CS5 Requirements: CS4 Requirements:


    CS4 Master collection runs (I've tried it) but only without Premiere and any other apps NOT included in CS3. CS3 was the last fully compatible version.

    • Justin P
      November 21, 2013 at 4:19 pm

      Yeah, I messed this up. I'll make the changes later today...

  34. Gary Klein
    November 21, 2013 at 3:44 am

    I use mine so I can use my older film scanner. I have a powermac G4 silver door. What is wonderful about it is that I can make it boot into OS9, which allows my Nikon Coolscan LS2000 work perfectly every time. I have older photoshops on both partitions and frankly, I do just a few things to photos that do not require the newer verison. Best of all I got my G4 for free. Maxed out the ram and put another hard disk in and walla. That was when Apple was apple. Don't get me wrong I also have a new mac mini in my house that also boots into windows, but I just hated the idea of throwing away a perfectly good film scanner.

  35. Diego Albuja
    November 20, 2013 at 11:32 pm

    For now, I am still using my G5 for the day-to-day work and there's little inconveniences... and pros:
    You are sure you never will install a program that slows your computer, because there isn't :)
    What can run on a PPC, will run very well: fast text (Office 2008) and imagen editting (CS3's); music creation (Logic 7); browsing (ten4fox); social networking (fake flash and webkit); youtube (mactubes); video (VLC); need something else?
    I play Go online with no problems at all.
    There's pretty games still running (Civilization 3, GBA, Snes, Neverwinter Nights...)
    In fact, for a home-computer it is enough.
    Don't think about HD (use your tv).
    Forget Blueray (use a... blueray).
    It's hard, very hard, to keep updated on software and new online services.
    And don't ever think of playing online.
    PPC's aren't suitable for a publicity agency or something like that.

    If you don't care, as I do, about the cons, then a PPC is great: with a effective OS and, solving the magnitud level, as fast as the lastest comps.

  36. Red
    November 20, 2013 at 8:51 pm

    I recently came on to a bargain deal for a Powermac G5 dual 2ghz tower and could not pass it up. It’s running 10.4.11 (Tiger) and I have to say that even though this OS is almost a decade old, it looks a lot cleaner than the current Mac OS. Not as cluttered and I really like the simplicity of the dock in this version. I can’t believe how responsive this computer is. I can surf the web (TenFour, OmniWeb, iCab), watch videos, even work on editing photos in Photoshop (CS3) without any problems. If I didn’t know it was a PowerPC, I don’t think I would have noticed any difference from an Intel mac.

    So over the past few months I ended up finding a lot of great software and games. There’s a wealth of stuff out there and PowerPC software sells pretty cheap. I’ve decided to give this computer even more life. Purchased screen recording software from (they still sell a PPC version) and am currently creating reviews of legacy games/software for YouTube. I think there are still people out there who are interested in watching these, even if for just nostalgic reasons. Wish me luck! I’ll post the channel when I get it up and running.

    • Justin P
      November 21, 2013 at 3:27 pm

      Pretty excited to see your YouTube project! Make sure you also tell, as I'm sure your content would be a great fit over there.

    • Red
      November 25, 2013 at 8:26 pm

      Will do. It will most likely be sometime in January. I've been in the middle of moving and things will be hectic from here until right after Christmas. I have a few old games I was able to come into (including the original Ubisoft Halo 1), which I plan to do a short review on and am searching ebay for more legacy software. Not sure if I should just stick to early OS X or go into OS 9 (using Classic)? There seems to be a lot of interesting products out there from the OS8-9 era, especially graphic and 3D software. As soon as time permits I'll start on this project.

  37. V1CT0RTH3CL34N3R
    November 20, 2013 at 8:44 pm

    You're frustratingly accurate here - partly because of the CONSTANT annoyance of bowsers telling one to upgrade this or that, then misdirecting you to an irrelevant page to do so. By partly, I mean what we have here is, as you said, a good starting point. There is still so much useful stuff out there - this last time a hard drive went down, I decided its replacement would never have to have flash installed. Bonus! There is a YouTube video (can't get at it right now but ill return with a link if its needed) - just some dude who's rewritten the last PPC flash for FFox , unofficially, and now no one cares for 'us' we can get away with posting old links wherever we like, within reason, kinda....

    A further reason why it's a 'partly' is the old 'Why did Apple jump ship to intel", and (as per, with Apple), it was purely a unit price decision. Because of the marginal differences Intel gathered selling midrange rubbish to PC slaves, they were able to massively discount parts and bottom line costs, including taking advantage of the ever popular practically slave labour situation in China (there's your cost difference), this same approach was taken on with regards mac engineering. Hear that, gloating Mavericks? Your computers run on the tears of slaves.. So, of course, as a massive entity like Apple (and a few other major players) jumped ship, the market left the PPC to die out. Keeping 2 OS was never going to happen, obviously, but the zest with which Apple have done so has been quite shocking, and the full possibilities of Universal (properly Universal) Binary has never been seen to its potential, why should it? But being dumped so harshly really hurt the feelings.

    You also forget the main bonus from Mac as it was - the lack of Malware or viruses! Keeping your nose out if stinky places and keeping your baby clean, you'd probably never encounter a virus, I never have, that I know of. Soon as windows-minded hardware and software design poiled the sanctity of Mac, up popped the first major viruses - you would have to be a true ass to deny that 'coincidence'.

    I'm certainly gonna be checking your links out, maybe even proffer some of my own to go with. I'm grateful for another lifeline as well - Apple doesn't take into account those of us without bottomless wallets; "You need a new x, y, z " every other week, it's way beyond the reach of the lower to lower-middle classes - Apple has always been fairly elitist, but these days maintaining a PowerPc is a very powerful cheap alternative for the moment, but there's been no indication from the open source world that the architecture isn't going to be supported , and until such an event, I'm sticking with what I know and love. Sure there are limitations, problems, lack of support, but - like old Ray Winstone and the rest of the 'Sexy Beast' crew would affirm -
    "Where there's a will (and there IS a will) - There IS a way : There's always a f***ing way" !
    There is still activity in this neglected arena - they're not dead yet

  38. Daz King
    November 20, 2013 at 8:19 pm

    I use PowerMac G5 1.8 Ghz, 4Gb RAM (running Leopard, and oddly all of the software you have described in your article except the LINUX route!) which still keeps up with my partner's DELL Optiplex 755. I run Adobe Illustrator/Photoshop and InDesign (CS3) without any problems. I still use Safari (5.0.6 with a FlashPlayer Plug-in), which I know has a 'Memory Leak' problem, but when using facebook it's still really fast (closing, then reopening Safari after a couple of hours!)
    I guess I am a Die-Hard' Mac user at heart, and not really able to afford the new 'Shiney-Stuff' and I am uncomfortable using Windows, so as long as it still is viable, I'll keep on using it!

  39. Like Fun B
    November 20, 2013 at 6:07 pm

    There's a Mac Pro tower sitting in my office right now. I just reinstalled the OS from original media. The guy who owns it really wants it up and running simply because iMovie is the only video editing application he knows how to use, and he can't afford anything newer.

    I also see G5 Mac Pros in a lot of places that have a big investment in newer Apple hardware (newspapers, law offices and ad agencies, mostly), repurposed for simple word processing and web browsing. Really, as long as there's file compatibility between the older models and the newer ones, you can do just about anything you want with one, even if it's not much of an exaggeration that somebody's new iphone is probably just as fast for actual computing.

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