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woolsherpahat
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 03, 2004 3:02 am    Post subject: IBook or Powerbook? Reply with quote

Hello. This isn't really a Gentoo-PPC specific question except in the regard that I plan to run Gentoo on whatever hardware I eventually purchase. It seems a lot of users here have either an Ibook or a Powerbook so I was hoping you could help me out with some options that have been sitting in my head for a while.

I'm looking for a pretty small laptop with good battery life. I don't really believe in "desktop replacements". They're loud, heavy and they might as well be a desktop. I need my future laptop to be able to do writing, music, programming, internet, stuff like that. I'm not going to be doing very much heavy lifting.

Things I want in a laptop are: Battery life, quality, relabilty, wireless

1)G3 IBook. It's cheaper and better supported. Does sleep work? Does apple sell refurbished ones?

2)G4 IBook. More costly but faster and if I buy it from Apple I can customize the hardware to exactly how'd I like it. No wireless or sleep though... darn.

2)G4 Powerbook. Edge of my budget but would be pretty sweet. Is the linux support better for the powerbook than the IBook?

What do you guys think?
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alok
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 03, 2004 6:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm actually in the same situation as you, so I'll try and help by showing you some of my findings.

I believe (don't quote me on this) that sleep does work on the G3 iBooks. Actually pretty much everything works on G3 iBooks running linux (including wireless due to the Airport and not the Airport Extreme). Unfortunately though, Apple does NOT sell any type of G3 laptop, refurbished or not. I actually called them today..

The iBook G4 is right now the front-runner in my laptop choice. I know it has an ATI Mobility Radeon 9200 which is better supported than it's nVidia counterpart. I don't believe it's possible to get 3D acceleration on an nVidia graphics card on PPC. This dilemma alone gave the iBook a huge leg up on the Powerbook. I know that the sleep function is not yet supported. Wireless is not supported in the G4 iBook because it has an 802.11g Airport Extreme card, and our friends over at Broadcom don't like sharing drivers. But I'm still okay with wireless since I do have a USB card that is supported. As for the rest of the compatiblity of the iBook, I am optimistic but still a little bit unsure. All of the iBook compatibility posts are a bit outdated and I would really appreciate it if someone would post their experience with an new iBook.

The PowerBook G4 was my first choice until I found out about the video card problems. The wireless situation is the same as the iBook G4 and I'm not too sure about the sleep. I, myself, couldn't justify shelling out that much more money for no 3D accelertion and a few performance increases.

All the laptops that I'm talking about are 12" and I'm looking at them through Apple's educational discount section.

Hope that was of some help and I hope I can find out more about the new iBook G4's
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woolsherpahat
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 03, 2004 7:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow, were definently in the same boat. I'm looking at using apple student discount to. It's one of the main reason I decided to buy apple instead of go the IBM Thinkpad route.

I'm thinking an IBook with upgraded ram will be a pretty good match in price/performance to a Powerbook especially considering the graphics issue. The IBook is also supposed to be a little tougher than the Powerbook, which apparently can dent.
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alok
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 03, 2004 8:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah, I'm gonna go with the iBook also and hope that all the hardware, other than the wireless and sleep, will work just fine. I can always dual boot until the sleep works.
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toojays
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 03, 2004 11:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There is another thread at the moment called "iBook: Old G3 vs New G4" which will give you some more info.

I have been meaning to make a web page about this, but to summarise, I have one of the newest model 12" iBook G4s, and here's the status:

CPU: Not yet fully supported. It defaults to booting at half-speed, which you can override in open firmware before booting into Linux. I am working on a patch for full cpufreq support, should have it done within the next week or so.

Video card: I have X working fine, and also radeonfb, but you need to apply a kernel patch to stop it flickering. glxgears gives roughly 700 FPS.

Ethernet: Works fine, including link detect so I can use ifplugd to configure the network when I'm plugged in.
USB: Works fine.
Firewire: Haven't tested
Modem: Haven't tested
Audio: Works fine.
Sleep: Doesn't work
AE: Doesn't work
Bluetooth: I don't have it, but I think it's supposed to work.
Combo-drive: Works fine.
TV-out: Haven't tested.
VGA Mirroring: Haven't tested.

Did I miss anything? If anyone is really concerned about one of the "haven't tested" bits, I'll have a check for you. Please make sure that if you buy one of these, you tell the salesperson that you really want AE, but won't buy it since it doesn't work with Linux.
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woolsherpahat
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 04, 2004 3:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The full support that the G3 has would be nice but I'm a little scared of putting 600 dollars down on something on ebay. I might give my local apple re-seller a call tomorrow and see if they have any G3's they'll sell me.
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rncwnd
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 04, 2004 8:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

toojays, what do you mean with 'AE'?
How is the wireless lan supported?
would you please be so kind to test bluetooth?

General Mac OS X question: Mac OS X is based on Unix / Linux. Is it possible to get (Open-Source) drivers for all the hardware (WLAN, Bluetooth, CPU-specific kernel patches)?
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woolsherpahat
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 04, 2004 9:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Airport Extreme wireless card is not supported on the G4.
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toojays
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 04, 2004 10:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

rncwnd,

By AE I mean Airport Extreme, which is the in-built wireless networking. I do my wireless networking via a USB adaptor, which works but it less convenient.

Sorry I can't test the bluetooth because my iBook doesn't have bluetooth built in (and I have no bluetooth devices anyway!).
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tomasino
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 04, 2004 11:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I use daily bluetooth with my SonyEricsson on powerbook and I think that on ibook should work too
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woolsherpahat
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 05, 2004 2:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, I called my local re-seller and they don't seem to have any G3 Ibooks. I'll try again and talk to a manager or someone who knows what they're doing tomorrow. I don't really feel like putting 600 dollars down on Ebay. I don't trust those goons. Especially after that one idiot shipped me a PCI wireless card without an RF shield, "packed" in a one sheet of newspaper....

Regardless, it's either a G3 with Gentoo via my local retailer or it's gonna be a G4 with Mac OS X through Apple. With a student discount the price difference is greatly reduced as well as the amount of risk invovled.

Maybe I should take another look at IBM Thinkpads?

If only the G4's had better support.
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alok
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 05, 2004 5:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

i'm gonna go ahead and just go for the iBook G4. if the sleep and wireless not working bothers me that much, i'll dual boot. it has to be supported eventually.
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toojays
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 05, 2004 9:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

alok,

The situation with the Airport Extreme does not look like it will be solved anytime soon. If you are serious about having Linux support for your hardware, I would recommend telling the salesperson that you would like to buy the AE, but will not do so because it doesn't have Linux support. Then go and buy a USB adaptor somewhere else.

What is their incentive to help with Linux support if you're going to give them your money anyway?
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kmarple1@hotmail.com
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 05, 2004 11:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm on a powerbook G4 17", and it works pretty well. Haven't worked on sound yet, since I haven't needed it, and the screen flickers badly, but still workably (sort of like a few bars of everything are reflected about 2 inches to the left), but I'm hoping the official driver will fix it. I'll get back to you when I finish :)
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alok
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 06, 2004 5:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I found a local retailer that sells new iBook G3's. They come with 128MB of memory, 800 MHz G3 processor, 30 GB hard drive, ATI Mobility Radeon 7500, and a regular CD-ROM drive. They do not come with AirPort cards, but the do use the old AirPort (non-extreme). This laptop costs $700 + shipping.

The G4 I was looking at on apple.com (education) had 256MB memory, 1.2 GHz G4 processor, 60GB hard drive, ATI Mobility Radeon 9200, Bluetooth, a combo drive, and an Airport Extreme wireless card. This laptop costs $1200 + shipping and possibly tax.

I can't decide for the life of me which one I should get.

Any advice?
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toojays
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 06, 2004 5:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

If it was me, I would get the G4, but without the AE card. If the G3 had a combo drive, I would buy that one instead, but a burner is too useful to go without these days.

They can't get you a G3 with a combo drive?
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alok
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 06, 2004 5:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

No, unfortunately they can't get the combo drive. But this laptop would be a supplement to my desktop computer which already has a burner and plenty of HD space. It would be far from my primary computer.
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woolsherpahat
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 08, 2004 8:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, just ordered a G4 IBook from apple. I'm sure I'll be spending quite some time here trying to get things smoothed out.
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sienarot
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 08, 2004 4:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Congrats on the iBook! I purchased one two months ago and I love it! I ordered myself the 12" model and my favorite thing about it is the portable size. Hopefully you don't spend too long getting your laptop going :)
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woolsherpahat
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 08, 2004 6:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sweet. I'm looking foward to it. I ordered a 12", 1GHz with Combo Drive. I opted for 768Mb of RAM and a 40GB drive. Hopefully it run Gentoo fairly well.
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alok
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 08, 2004 10:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I still haven't decided which laptop I'm gonna get, either the G3 800MHz or the G4 1GHz.

The G3 is looking very good because of the price and the compatibility, but three or four years down the road I wonder how much I'll need more performance that the G4 might give me.

Decisions, decisions....
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jdv
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 09, 2004 9:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

alok wrote:
I still haven't decided which laptop I'm gonna get, either the G3 800MHz or the G4 1GHz.

Pros for the G4 are:
-runs longer on battery (supposedly)
-double up on video memory
-DVD-drive and burner
-faster bus (133Mhz vs. 100Mhz) - I once read that it does make a difference, but I don't know if I belive it
-faster processor with AltiVec (duh)

Cons:
-lack of support for hardware
-it gets hotter (I think)

You probably already know all these, but I thought I would line them up anyway.

I was also seriously considering a G3 when I was shopping for an iBook in December last year, but finally got myself the G4, thinking I would use OSX until the hardware support on Linux was there. I've been using it ever since, and haven't regretted it once.

Well except I wish I'd waited three months, so I could have gotten the 1Ghz instead of 800Mhz... :wink:
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sienarot
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 09, 2004 9:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was in the same position a few months ago (G3 iBook vs G4 iBook). However, I opted to go with the G4 iBook simply because it was newer and I'm an optimist in thinking there will be more support later on for things not currently available at the moment. It may be a long while until the AE support, but until then, I have my D-Link DWL-122 USB wireless adapter to hold me over.

Regarding the speed difference between the 800mHz and the 1gHz, I honestly don't think there will be that much noticable difference in performance. The big difference seems to come from the amount of RAM you add, so add as much as you can afford (get third party RAM to save money; you don't need to buy it directly from Apple). My sister has a 900mHz G3 iBook and I have the 1gHz G4 iBook. Hers seems much more responsive in OSX than my iBook possibly because she has more RAM than I do. She has 384mb versus my 256mb, and even though 128mb doesn't seem like that much of a gap, her iBook does seem slightly faster than mine. Of course, this is all based on speculation, and not any actual benchmarks, so your mileage may vary.

I'm not sure if that will help in anyone's decisions, but I thought I'd just add my 2 cents just based on my personal experience.


Last edited by sienarot on Wed Jun 09, 2004 10:35 pm; edited 2 times in total
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alok
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 09, 2004 9:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I was also seriously considering a G3 when I was shopping for an iBook in December last year, but finally got myself the G4, thinking I would use OSX until the hardware support on Linux was there. I've been using it ever since, and haven't regretted it once.


But it seems like virtually no progress has been made on iBook G4 support ever since it's release. I mean, the processor still runs default at half speed, wireless lan doesn't work (nobody's fault, except BroadCom), and sleep doesn't work either. When I get a laptop, the first thing I want to do is format the HD and put gentoo on it, and I would like everything to work. It seems that pure frustration is driving me to get a 2+ year old machine.
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toojays
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 10, 2004 12:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Definately some progress has been made, because a month ago there was no support for full clock speed, and now there is. Okay, so you have to patch the kernel manually, but honestly, it's not that hard. (If you don't know how, just ask on the forums, I'm sure we can help you.)

The Airport Extreme thing is nobody's fault but Broadcom's and Apple's, so let's forget about that.

Yes, the sleep issue is really annnoying though. When you close the lid in OS X, you get a cute heartbeat LED, and instant-on when you open it again. But since I work in Gentoo, I have to shutdown my computer and boot it up again when I go to uni. :(

I think part of the problem we have as people who want to run Gentoo on Macs is that there is no real corporate support. Yellow Dog Linux seems to be more focused on the high-performance computing market at the moment, and AFAIK there is no other company who would be interested in paying for the development of this. So it has to be figured out by people working in their spare time.

I do think sleep support will come eventually. But I'm not holding my breath.
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