Using an iMac G5 for Workshop use, or something else? Ideas wanted


In the summer, my Grandparents brought a new computer to replace their ancient, slow and not-very-good iMac G5 (with iSight). They gave me the old computer, as they didn’t want to go through all the bother of eBaying it, and sending a really really heavy computer.

It’s been sitting on my desk since then, hooked up to my main monitor. I don’t really use it - I have a nice modern computer which is thousands of times newer and better. The old G5 can’t load certain (more modern) webpages, can just about play YouTube videos if you remember to use the right browser (although there are no play/volume control/settings buttons, so you just have to guess and click), and so it’s basically been rendered completely useless.

I don’t really want to get rid of it - I remember it as one of my first memories of my grandparents house (I’m 14) and I too think that it simply wouldn’t be worth the tiny amount of money or benefit of selling it when I have to deal with P&P etc. Besides, who wants to throw an old PC away?! :)

I want to find a use for it however, because I don’t like to have useless clutter lying around, and it’s a shame to keep something which once cost over a grand in a cupboard being unused. It would be fine to use for many things, but the elephant in the room is that it has an old PowerPC processor - so it can’t run many modern apps.

I have however got it to run an old version (1.0.1 or something I think) of the Arduino IDE. This could actually make it useful, as I could have it in my workshop so that I write the code at my desk, and then quickly transfer it to the iMac over a flash drive. At the moment, I have to cart my breadboard-and-crocodile-clip circuits into my bedroom (where my main PC is) from the shop - and they always fall apart. With this newer setup, I could leave them on my workbench and simply drag a USB cable over there. It would also act as a nice 3-USB power supply, and might interface with my RasPis with some persuasion. However, I’m a bit worried about dust - it’s so dusty in my shop from MDF, plastic, cheese puffs, concrete from the floor… you name it, it’s turned to dust in my workshop. I don’t want to ruin the computer by putting it in this environment, and looking around the web I think it’ll be OK.

Do you, the wider electronics community have any other ideas for it’s usage? I wouldn’t mind taking it apart too much, although if it could stay in one piece it would be better. Has anyone else used a PC in their workshop - what precautions did you take?


An interesting question! I’m not a Mac person myself, but this is what I know:

In terms of web browsing, a fork of Firefox has been developed that targets PowerPC machines, including the G5. Most crucially, though, it can render these modern web pages:

There’s also LowEndMac, which is a repository of news, software and the like for users of older Macs:

Best of luck in your endeavours!

EDIT: Ah yes! Almost forgot; you could install Linux on it. There are a fair few distros out there that target PowerPC based machines.

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You could pull the old guts out and put something new inside?

You could install a Linux OS Ubuntu or Mint or whatever takes your fancy is good.

I will try installing linux on it - and then I could probably use a more up-to-date version of the Arduino IDE. I could also then use it to further my linux knowledge beyond the realms of the raspi, and write some raspi code on what I’m sure would be a faster machine. The other thing I’d love to do is to run Chrome OS on it but I think that might be pushing my luck! Or I could attempt to turn it into a 17 inch monitor…


Once you have a Linux distro on there you can set up a Python IDE and write some code for your PI or whatever…good learning platform. I would avoid chrome OS as its too basic. Fedora is pretty fun also check out Amahi server that’s a good project! :)

Great! In terms of distros, I’d probably look at a lightweight variant of Ubuntu (perhaps Xubuntu or Lubuntu) or Linux Mint XFCE edition, because they have a desktop environment that’s geared up for older hardware.

I’m not a mac person either - I hate the things, but you can’t help but feel the love for any old computer! I’ll have a crack with a few different distros soon.