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What is the best 'bang for buck' mac laptop ?
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cayenne
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 28, 2004 7:49 pm    Post subject: What is the best 'bang for buck' mac laptop ? Reply with quote

Hi all,

I've done Gentoo on x86, and a couple of sparc desktop/server boxes. I'm wanting to get a good deal on a laptop to put Gentoo on....for something that can travel, or at least not lock me into the office while at home, and can roam wireless in the house.

I've been reading up here on the iBook and powermac laptops, and it looks interesting. I've read through the install HOWTO on the 15" powermace...and saw some things didn't work, like the graphics acceleration,etc.

So, I'm looking for suggestions for if recommending a mac laptop, buying used, what would be the best bang for the buck system...and have most everything working on it? G3 vs G4 processor? How much ram do you need in one of these things for good performance? On what you might recommend, what would a good price on eBay be for this?

Many thanks in advance!!

cayenne
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 29, 2004 12:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm going to say the iBook. Inless you have a specific reason to use the extra power of an Powebook, the iBook wins for budget reasons. Stick with the 12" and load it up with 3rd party RAM to save some money. You'll enjoy 3D accleration in Linux with the iBook which as far as I know doesn't work on the Powerbook. For wireless you'l need a USB-based NIC since Broadcomm hasn't been forthcoming about their chipset and drivers.

It's hard to beat the iBook for price.
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 29, 2004 1:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

go with the ibook g3. (i have a g3 800mhz, but get a 900) because for one, it will be cheaper, and two, it is fully compatible (i heard some problems with sleep on the g4).

everything is supported on mine, dri hardware acceleration etc (like mentioned above). zojas has a very good guide for this at:
http://www.desertsol.com/~kevin/ppc/

the only thing thats not supported, is the software modem, (like a winmodem) except through external hcfusbmodem drivers that are VERY buggy and incompatible with 2.6. but that is a problem that you will have with both ibooks and powerbooks.

everything is wonderful, with 4+ hours battery life

i would also agree, put third party ram in it (add a ful 512mb, which is the max and will leave you with 640) which you should get for around 100-115$ if you buy around.

you should be able to get that system for not that much (i cant guve you an actual price, maybe 700$ or 800$... not sure, bought this rev2.2 ibook new a couple years ago, for 1300$)


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 29, 2004 1:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I also agree with the bit about going with a G3. The G3 has supported sleep and if it's just using the regular Airport 802.11b card that will have support too.
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 29, 2004 1:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I personally cannot recommend enough the Tibook rev III (the Radeon M7-equipped one). It is old enough so that everything just works under Linux, and it's been a joy to use for three years (yeah, I bought it just when it appeared, struggled for about an year to get the graphics card fully functional including sleep). It's been my main machine (desktop replacement if you want) basically from when I got it (minus the two month until I managed to get a usable Linux on it).

Not very sure about the price you can get for the thing, if it is of any significance one just sold on eBay for CAD2200 or something which looks to me like a fair price.
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 29, 2004 1:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

bruda: that happens to be the same video card in the ibook that i have (2.2), a radeon 7500 (M7), but what is the clock speed on the Tibook revIII that you have?

because if you are talking about bang-for-buck, and you said 2200$ (canadian was it?) and the ibook is most definately sub-1000$

i know it had a +3 inch screen, but is that worth it?

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ruben
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 29, 2004 8:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would also say that the most intersting laptop for the things you wanna do, is one of the last iBook G3s. For the time being the iBook G4s are not yet fully supported (i think problems with sleep, and for sure with the wireless airport extreme). But it also depends on what you wanna use it for... is processor speed an issue ? I would also recommend you to max out the ram to 640Mb. The iBook i have is a 12inch G3 800Mhz, with a combo-drive (DVD-CDRW), 30Gb harddisk, Airport card. As mentioned before, the softmodem in it doesn't work 'out of the box', there's a (commercial) driver which is currently not working on 2.6. I don't need the modem however.
In general i'm very very happy with the laptop, it's pretty comfortable to take it with you (not heavy), i love the working 'sleep'.. it's just so convenient to close the lid, bring it home, open it again and have your desktop back. The battery time is also pretty long, as someone mentioned about 4 hours, although you can squeeze out a bit more if you're carefull (like dimming the screen as much as possible, lowering cpu speed when on battery, use the laptop-mode from the kernel to mimise harddisk activity) The only things that could be better for me would be a faster harddisk (applications start up a little slow to my feeling, although that they barely use cpu time), and i also had the bad luck that my portable had problems with its logic board. Apple does repair this specific problem for free (even when the laptop is out of warranty from AppleCare), but i've had to send it back 3 times, which is kinda annoying (not being able to use my laptop for in total more than a month).
If you don't care too much about the non-working things on the G4 (i *think* working sleep is just a matter of time and i think there's a post about how you could use 'suspend-to-disk' on the G4 as an alternative -can someone with a G4 confirm this?-, but airport extreme is another thing since Broadcomm refuses to release specs, although you can 'roam around' with an usb wireless card hanging on your iBook), then you could go with that because the faster models will be a bit faster. The PowerBooks are very nice laptops, but won't give you the "best bang for the buck", unless you need the extra cpu power.
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 29, 2004 2:58 pm    Post subject: Thank you! Reply with quote

Thanks to all for the great replies and info. I think I'll start shopping for a deal on a G3....and look for loading it with 3rd party ram.

I don't have much a use for a modem...BUT, I can see that occasionally on the road I might need one. If the internal one isn't an option...will a 3rd party one (USB? pcmcia?) work?

Again, thanx for all the great advice!

cayenne
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 29, 2004 3:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think if you make sure the usb-modem is supported on linux, then you should be able to get it working on the iBook.
(you also mention pcmcia, remember that the iBook G3 doesn't have pcmcia! iBook G3 has 1x Firewire, 2x USB, 1x headphone jack, 1x connection for external monitor)

Also, before you go out to buy an extra modem, be sure to try out the linuxant driver from http://www.linuxant.com/drivers/hcf/full/downloads.php. I've no experience with it, but it can't hurt to try the free version...
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 29, 2004 6:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I noticed you were asking about prices, you might want to consider getting the iBook used or refurbished. Just google for "refurbished iBook" and you should find a few dealers.
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 29, 2004 6:52 pm    Post subject: Wireless question... Reply with quote

I've been looking at some of these...finding deals here and there...just a couple more questions please.

As far at the wireless goes. I understand only the original airport cards on the laptops are supported....not the extreme.

I'm assuming this airport card will talk to a regular 802.11b wireless network, correct?

Also, I'm a little confused...I read about some of the G3's for sale having the card 'installed'. Is this not just like a wireless card you plug into a x86 laptop or is it something you have to pop the case and install it......? If so, can I install this or is it something you have to take it to a mac dealer for?

I'm finding non-ebay pricing for used/refurbed G3/700Mhz with 256M ram, 14" screens and 30G hd's for about $779 plus S&H. Does this sound about right?

Also, does a 'combo' drive just mean it plays CD and DVD or will it also write one or both of them like the superdrives on the newer ones?

Thanks again for the advice and answers...

C
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 29, 2004 6:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I sort of like the way the powerbook G3s look, a good one might run you as much as a new ibook G4
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ruben
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 29, 2004 8:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The airport card will indeed talk to regular 802.11b wireless networks.

About "installing" the card... you don't need to go to a mac dealer for that. You can lift up the keyboard, and under the keyboard you can find a slot for the airport card (and the connection for the builtin antenna), also, under the keyboard you have access to the extra memory slot (the ibook G3 has 128Mb builtin, and there's an extra memory slot which will accept 512Mb). You can install both the airport card and the memory yourself.

The combo-drive in a G3 is a dvd-cdrw drive, so you can read dvds and cdroms, and you can write cdroms.

hmm... i don't know about the pricing... the 256Mb RAM is probably 128Mb builtin and 128Mb added ? Does it come with a combo-drive or a cdrom-drive ? How old is it ? I guess that one doesn't have an airport card yet ? Does it have a new battery ? Since you mention "non-ebay" pricing.. is that from Apple and do you get Applecare with it or some other warranty ?

Maybe someone else can give you an idea about whether it's a fair price, i don't have an idea about it... maybe you should compare it to the price of a new model in the Apple online shop ?
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 29, 2004 9:37 pm    Post subject: Again...thanx Reply with quote

ruben wrote:
The airport card will indeed talk to regular 802.11b wireless networks.

About "installing" the card... you don't need to go to a mac dealer for that. You can lift up the keyboard, and under the keyboard you can find a slot for the airport card (and the connection for the builtin antenna), also, under the keyboard you have access to the extra memory slot (the ibook G3 has 128Mb builtin, and there's an extra memory slot which will accept 512Mb). You can install both the airport card and the memory yourself.

The combo-drive in a G3 is a dvd-cdrw drive, so you can read dvds and cdroms, and you can write cdroms.

hmm... i don't know about the pricing... the 256Mb RAM is probably 128Mb builtin and 128Mb added ? Does it come with a combo-drive or a cdrom-drive ? How old is it ? I guess that one doesn't have an airport card yet ? Does it have a new battery ? Since you mention "non-ebay" pricing.. is that from Apple and do you get Applecare with it or some other warranty ?

Maybe someone else can give you an idea about whether it's a fair price, i don't have an idea about it... maybe you should compare it to the price of a new model in the Apple online shop ?


Again, thanks for all the info and help so far!

It is from one of the used/clearance places I found searching online. Some of them come with 1 year warranty...most with 90 day. Not from Apple. I went to their site, and can't find any G3 ibooks there...only the G4 stuff.

No, I don't thing this one in particular has an airport card installed....new cards seem to be about $99.

I've read that you can disable the 'tapping' part on the touchpad...but, I was wondering.....I'm VERY used to using a wheel mouse...with the wheel acting like a Unix 3-button mouse when you click it.

Can I attach a wheel or 3 button mouse externally to the iBook and have it act right? I've only seen one button mice on Apple computers. And even with a laptop, if I'm on a desk, I prefer to use an external mouse.

From what I've seen on eBay, the G3 iBooks, with up to 384? ram, airport cards, 30-40G drives, 800-900Mhz, 14"...are about $700-$750 avg. The other places I've mentioned...have about $779...and I was thinking that $30-$80 difference from a company for warrantied goods...might be worth the little bit extra.

Y'all have given me a great deal of good info here...and I think I'm about ready to make an informed purchase....just a little more looking.
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ruben
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 29, 2004 10:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Personally, I would also pay a little more to have some kind of warranty.

About the wheel mouse, you can attach an usb wheel mouse to it and it'll work. (probably some configuration needed in XFConfig) In any case, i'm using a scroll mouse right now and it's definitely working. And i also disabled the tapping for the touchpad. Oh... and even when you're using the touchpad, there is a kernel option to let you emulate the second and third mouse button with some keys (like F11 and F12 for example).
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 29, 2004 10:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

if your still on the hunt for "bang for buck" and you are going to travel alot, you might be better off with a 12 inch. (with virtual desktops etc, its not that small) but thats up to you (and your wallet :)

the ibook has 2 usb slots, and i assume any linux compatible usb mous will be just as compatible with the ibook. (like mentioned above)

you can disable the trackpad tapping (which i find hideosly anoying) with pbbuttonsd (which will also turn the special keys at the tope of the keyboard active) and you can put other keys attached to th second and third clicks (i find the wierd enter key and the right apple key the easiest, btu its up to you) in (i forget the actual place, but i think zojas mentions them in his guide) http://www.desertsol.com/~kevin/ppc/

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 29, 2004 11:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

just dont get they colored i book they look like sh*t
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 30, 2004 2:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

and ive heard they break like shit too!
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 30, 2004 2:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

thats probably just because parents think they are toy computers for their two years olds
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 31, 2004 6:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I highly recommend a pismo powerbook with a daystar G4 550MHz upgrade. I bought one on eBay (with 512MB RAM) about a year ago for about $900. You can probably still get them direct from DaystarTech.

It runs OS X Panther fine and some things seem to work even better on gentoo linux! The 3D acceleration is not supported in Panther but it works fine under gentoo. (Maybe there's some way to get it working in Panther, but I can't figure it out. FlightGear gets 3 fps no matter what.)

sleep works perfectly when I close the clamshell and brightness/volume keys work using pbbuttonsd.

3D, irda (at least with a Palm PDA), sound, usb, sleep--everything works! I'm still using kernel 2.4.24. Don't see any need to upgrade.
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 01, 2004 12:18 am    Post subject: I've found a couple Reply with quote

I've got a couple I'm looking at now. One question....

I see these G3's I'm looking at come with either 30 or 40 Gig drives. If I get a 30G one, how hard is it to swap out a 40 gig one? Is it possible. Can you put in larger drives than that into these laptops?

I'm wanting to play with OSX, but, will definitely be using Gentoo Linux as my primary OS on the thing...and I'd like to have as much disk space as possible.

Sorry for the noob Mac questions...this will be my first one, and I'm not that familiar with them....

All the help so far greatly appreciated!

cayenne
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 02, 2004 1:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

you CAN swap out your hard drive...

but doing so will void whatever warrantee that you get.

it involves un screwing the case, and taking off the pretty white bottom....

but i think once you do that, its right in front of you... i think... have not done it myself (30 gigs has suited me, but if you have the option go with the 40)


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 05, 2004 9:20 pm    Post subject: Ok..found one Reply with quote

Ok, I'm looking at one of the latter model G3 900's...with 40G drive. Most come with less than max RAM, but, I'm gonna bump it up the the limit. Prices seem to be in the $800+ range.

I'm getting mixed reviews on my research. This has the ATI card on it...some say it works with 3d Acceleration....others say no.

Any definitive answers here.

Other than that, from my readings here and other posts...everything else, sans the modem, should work.

I've read through the guide for Gentoo install. A little confused...says you don't need a /boot partition, but, also that it has to be ext2 or ext3. On my x86 boxes, I've always used ext3 for the /boot partition...and ReiserFS for the rest of the partitions. Will it hurt to put a /boot partition on this iBook? Does anyone not use ReiserFS or XFS on the iBook?

Also, I'm wanting to play with OSX, and it comes with Jaguar I think disks...but, Linux will be my primary OS...so, what's the min. sizing I need for OSX to function nicely? Should I put it on first then Gentoo after I repartition? Should it go on first partions or can you put it on the latter partions? Would this work?

/dev/hda1 (bootstrap)
/dev/hda2 /boot
/dev/hda3 swap
/dev/hda4 Linux
/dev/hda5 OSX

Any other gotchas you might could tell me about? I'm really curious about the 3d acceleration on the ATI card in the 900Mhz iBook..

Thanks again for all the great input...I'm very excited about this new box...

cayenne
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 05, 2004 11:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

you CAN have a boot partition, but it is not necesary and just complicates things.

i think the problem is the ppc guide was made by changing the x86 guide, and things got a little mixd up..


the radeon card works (i have a 7500 at least mine works) but you have to probe the modules (radeon, agpgart, and uninorth-agp) beforehand, and compile them as modules.

x used to do that automatically, on startx, but now that crashes it...

but yes, 3d acceleration works.

also, your numbering is not going to work (/dev/hda1 is partition map, /dev/hda2 should be bootstrap, and /dev/hda3-6 or 7 are apple drivers, and then after that you can put your own partitions.)

but your idea is good.

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 06, 2004 1:44 am    Post subject: Thanx... Reply with quote

Man, I really appreciate all the help with this so far. Hope it might help other noob ppc Gentoo-ers.

Do you know how much space is required by OSX as a min? I want to play with it some...but, need most room for Gentoo.

TIA,

C
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