I just got an original iBook G3/300 (sometimes also referred to as “Clamshell”) from a friend and I have to say that I do like it very much. The hardware performance is essentially the same as I am used to from my Power Mac G3/350 Blue & White.
My friend, who had used it for several years and replaced it a few years ago with an Intel-based MacBook, had its main memory maxed-out so it features 544 MB memory: 32 MB internal + 512 MB from the expansion slot. He also managed to replace the original hard disk drive with a 120 GB drive, so I don’t have to worry about disk space limitation. He also replaced the original CD drive with a DVD drive, as I understand it out of necessity, because the original CD drive broke. He gave it to me with a fresh installation of Mac OS X 10.3 “Panther”.
I wanted to get Mac OS X 10.4 “Tiger” on it, but due to the lack of FireWire the PowerBook2,1 is not supported by Tiger. For the same reason, installing Tiger using target disk mode is not an option. Lukily with the upgraded DVD drive I can use the installation media directly. So I looked for a solution and found that XPostFacto would let me install Tiger. I gave it some thought and went along with my own Open Firmware hack, which is really easy to accomplish. Since it was easy to install Tiger on my Power Mac G3 B&W I thought that it must be possible to install it without third-party stuff on the Clamshell as well. I also found out that the 2000-models of the Clamshell feature FireWire and can happily install and run Tiger. The only difference between the original ’99 models and the 2000 models is more internal memory (64 MB instead of 32 MB), a DVD drive instead of a CD drive and FireWire-400 for the later ones.
My Tiger DVD is the one labeled as “CPU Drop In DVD”. After booting it I am greeted with an alert: „Your computer is not compatible with Mac OS X 10.4.”
I rebooted and went into Open Firmware (holding Command + Option (Alt) + O + F at the chime until seeing the Open Firmware prompt). I decided to alter the model to report PowerMac1,1, same as my Power Mac. That made the bootup stall. So I went with PowerBook2,2, which is the 2000-model of this iBook.
In order to do what I did, type in the following at the Open Firmware prompt:
- dev /
you will see a list of properties displayed, two of them are “model” and “compatible” – both have to be changed
- “ PowerBook2,2″ encode-string “ model“ property
this will set “model” to “PowerBook2,2”
- “ PowerBook2,2″ encode-string “ MacRISC“ encode-string encode+ “ MacRISC2″ encode-string encode+ “ Power Macintosh“ encode-string encode+ “ compatible“ property
this will set “compatible” to “PowerBook2,2↵MacRISC↵MacRISC2↵Power Macintosh”
The hard part really is to get the commands down correctly. Very important is to have each string starting with a white space after the double-quotes. So “ PowerBook2,2″ is correct, but „PowerBook2,2“ would be incorrect and result in an error. Also, it may be hard to understand the structure of Open Firmware commands. It is based on FORTH, a programming language, where the actual command what to do with a value follows that value. (Like calculating with a HP-28.) So “ PowerBook2,2″ is the string, and encode-string is what to do with it. Thereafter follows another string: “ model“, followed by what to do with it: property. So we set the string “PowerBook2,2” to be the new value of porperty “model”.
The same goes for the property “compatible”, but the strings have to be connected with encode+ – which again follows the second/third/… string. It is easier to understand if the whole command is logically devided:
- “ PowerBook2,2″ encode-string
- “ MacRISC“ encode-string encode+
- “ MacRISC2″ encode-string encode+
- “ Power Macintosh“ encode-string encode+
- “ compatible“ property
The encode+ command connects the second/thind/… string with the preceeding string. And the last part puts it all into the “compatible” property.
My Clamshell has a german keyboard. If you also have a non-US-keyboard you may need to search for the keys to press to get what you need. On the german keyboard this is as follows:
- „ (double quotation mark): Shift + ä
- + (plus): Shift + ` (between ß/? and Backspace)
- – (minus): ß
- : (colon): Shift + ö
- \ (backslash): – (next to the right Shift)
After changing the two Open Firmware strings is finished (it took me not more than 5 minutes) all that is left is to boot from the CD/DVD. Do this by typing the following at the Open Firmware command prompt:
- boot cd:,\\:tbxi
This will boot from the CD/DVD drive – and search for the one file that is blessed, that’s what the \\:tbxi is for. Otherwise you would have to specify the exact location and filename of the first stage bootloader, which will most likely differ for every installation and installation media.
On the Clamshell I would always prefer this method over hacking a Tiger-DVD because making a DVD for this one-time purpose really isn’t necessary. Also, if you don’t have such a DVD already or if, for whatever reason, you cannot find it right now but have the original Tiger-DVD at hand, the Open Firmware method is faster. The prerequisite and also the only limitation of the Open Firmware method is that you will most likely need a DVD drive in your Clamshell because the original Tiger installation media is a DVD – at least I’ve never heard of a installation CD for Tiger.
You might wander if this Open Firmware settings are saved which would make them permanent. The quick answer: no. On the next boot all altered strings will be lost. Therefor the Open Firmware method is safe since all changes are volatile and will not survive a reboot.
Anyway, this all worked very well and I was able to get Tiger installed properly. Once it is on one of the volumes on the hard disk, you can boot from there. What I did was to restore a backup copy of Tiger I had made from my Power Mac G5, so I didn’t have to make the updates to 10.4.11 and all that stuff again.
Overall I am very happy with my new Clamshell. Compared to my Power Mac G3 B&W the Clamshell has only 50 MHz less processor speed and supports almost only half the memory, but I don’t feel it being very much behind its bigger desktop brother and I like working with it a lot. The only issue is the display which only features a resolution of 800 by 600 pixels and hence prevents some iLife ’05 applications and Adobes’ Creative Suite 2 to run. Also, the newest version of iTunes for Tiger, 9.2.1, will not run because it requires (or checks for the presence of) a G4 or G5 processor. The latest working iTunes on the G3 is 9.1.1, although Apple recommends iTunes 8.2.1 for G3 systems.
All in all I can only recommend to use older computers, especially if they are as though and such great pieces of engineering art as this Clamshell!
Keep them running and use them!