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back to article Apple banishes Macs to old folks home

Apple has quietly declared that Power Mac G4s, Xserve G4s, and the PowerBook G4 are now either "vintage" or "obsolete." These designations make once top-of-the-line but now elderly Macs ineligible for repair at the company's service centers. Also, Apple will no longer provide their users with either parts or documentation. …

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Silver badge
Linux

Shame..

They are still good machines - I've got a 400MHz G4 and one of the dual processor mirror machines at home, although neither has been turned on for some time. There's also a G4 Powerbook by my desk but that's been dead for some time.

Penguin because I use Linux, my wife is the Mac person.

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joe

something doesn't add up

Does "Powerbook G4" only refer to the original titanium models? The aluminum G4 systems were in production until 2006, which wouldn't put them in the "more than 5 years old' category.

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Silver badge

Bah

"Vintage". "Obsolete". I've got another term, based on my adventures while trying to repair my brother-in-law's G4 - "Pile of Crap".

Everything from the battery used to keep the bios alive upwards was three times more expensive as on my similarly-aged PC, which suffered none of the failure modes this pile of overpriced garbage did. I'm not kidding here. A new power supply cost almost three hundred dollars and the bios battery was nearly twenty. You'd have thought for three hundred dollars the power supply would have been protected by a fuse or circuit breaker. I did. I was wrong.

The much-vaunted design called for the heaviest thing in the case (the power supply) to be secured a foot above the most delicate thing (the motherboard) so you needed three hands when dismounting it, and for the depleted-uranium CRT to be perched on a delicate ribbon of perspex that broke when I looked at it wrong from five feet away.

After I got it working again I was treated to OS 9 in full swing. I remember well being told by many how much easier to use this was than the hated Windows 98. Never has the mendacity of the Apple fan base been thrown into harsher relief than in the following hour of discovery.

I don't doubt some people prefer to use Macs than other types of computer. I just don't like to stand next to such people any more, since I now believe them to be insane.

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Gold badge

Yep...

Stevie sums it up. I work in a computer surplus, the 400mhz or so (Graphite and Yikes!) G4s were reliable, but sloooow. The newer G4s, we get approximately an 80% failure rate on them. Melted CPUs, blown power supplies, faulty motherboards, some work but need a new hard disk (they had IBM Desktars... the irony of a Apple being downed by faulty IBM components was rather amusing.. at first.) The flowerpot Imacs have proven more reliable.

That said... we put Ubuntu on all our Macs and PCs, and the result is interesting.. I get actually a good fraction of the Mac purchasers commenting "Oh I was going to put Ubuntu on there anyway, that saves some time" (compared to the PC buyers). They reason, if they can't put 10.5 on there anyway*, they might as well run something else like Ubuntu.. they usually have a newer mac to get their quality time in with recent-vintage OSX. The rest usually run OS9 with OSX 10.2 or so, to run older apps they have.

*10.5 needs an G4-833 or up without hacks. And with hacks, apparently 10.5 is slow enough on older models anyway that the few who have tried have said they got 10.5 on but went back to 10.(whatever they had) anyway for speed.

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Jobs Horns

Re: Bah

Thank you sir - Mactards are clearly unhappy about their empty bank accounts and this is why they constantly indulge in their "evangelical" bs. Misery loves company after all.

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Fine machines

In contrast to Stevie, my '99-vintage Sawtooth G4 is still giving sterling service, and has been trouble-free since the moment it was unboxed. A Mac that can boot both OS 9 and X 10.4 is a handy beast to have around.

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@Stevie

"the heaviest thing in the case (the power supply) to be secured a foot above the most delicate thing (the motherboard) so you needed three hands when dismounting it"

Most people open the door so the motherboard swings out of the way. God knows how the hell you tried to remove it. Sounds more like a neanderthal trying to work on a Porsche. And I don't like to stand next to neanderthals. They have cooties.

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Jobs Horns

mac tactics

I own a dual boot 1 gig tower and a 1.67 powerbook, they both still excite me when I turn them on. They both still do the job thoroughly, they both are still humming along great! The g4 and panther were the best machine/O.S. combo ever devised, and rock solid to this day. As soon as mac went to intel it spelled the death knoll for apple. I've despised that move to this day. I know why they are doing this, apple is forcing people to buy new macs. I've seen the writing on the wall for a while, I think it's crooked. At this point M.S. is doing a fair job of imitating osx, and p.c.'s/macs are exactly the same guts, that's why I just bought my first p.c.. You know what? my top of the line, brand spanking new p.c. is only slightly faster than my g4's! Until mac gets off the intel shit, there is NO reason to ever buy another one.

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Stop

Stevie, you're an idiot.

Stick to your virus ridden, user-unfriendly Windoze boxes then you utter berk.

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Flame

Way too much crap on the screen

"I don't doubt some people prefer to use Macs than other types of computer. I just don't like to stand next to such people any more, since I now believe them to be insane."

OS9 (and some of the earlier versions) were very different and comparing them to windows 98 is very difficult, how do you compare apples to bananas? OS X is yet another thing, although it looks familiar, because MS copied it (again and again wrong) to get Vista.

98 (and all systems based on that UI) is a pile of shit user interface-wise and while Apple did that better, they have serious NIH-syndrome and that produces sometimes really weird results. Especially combined to seriously underpowered hardware (Compared to ambitious UI-programmers, not by itself. Much too much chrome and candy).

Dual-core processors have helped that a lot, but to a guy who likes twm (=me), every one of these modern oses have way too much crap on the screen and 99% of it is, not only unnecessary, providing zero information, but actually visual clutter, garbage or bullshit, if you want to call it that.

On Linux I can choose the window manager and that alone puts it ahead of most of the others.

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Coat

And the news is...?

@joe, yes, they're talking about the Ti PowerBooks at this time.

As to the news value, many other manufacturers revoke any meaningful support for their products sometime between the time the warranty is up and five years. Heck, some companies don't really even offer any meaningful support at all.

Quite contrary to the experiences of PC people who try to "fix" friends' old Macs for them, I have made the experience that Apple hardware in a production environment tends to last rather longer than most other brands. Generic Dells and HPs tend to get replaced after 2 to 4 years; I have worked in outfits where 8-years-plus Macs were happily shifting bytes quite productively. Maybe that's why the gripes: with most brands, a withdrawal of support after five or more years doesn't really matter much; that piece of hardware has long been and gone to silicon Nirvana. But hey, they still have that fav old App "File Router" happily shuffling data throughout their Linux/Windows network... running on sth like a PowerMac 7500.

Note on the side, after seven years of sturdy, sterling service, with an aggregated uptime of around six and a half years, my trusty old TiBook 867 MHz finally went to hardware heaven late last year. I loved the G4 CPU. It could out-Photoshop the quickest Intels of its day and then some (Vector units, yay!), and drew about 1/10th of the power. Oh, well. It did more work during its lifetime than most immobile workstations. And these days, eight Xeon cores are nothing to sniff off, either, when you're doing video and raytracing.

Mine's the one with the PowerPC logo on the back.

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Anonymous Coward

@ Stevie

ODFO

kthnxbai

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Silver badge
Flame

@Stevie

I fixed my sawtooth G4, swapped PSU (only as I needed more power), CPU, added all sorts of drives with no trouble whatsoever.

Obviously there were screws loose somewhere when you were doing the job...

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Jobs Horns

@Steve

You are right and still as bad today. If your machine is out of warranty then take out a mortgage to get if fixed. Overpriced bling.

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By an interesting coincidence...

...I found a still-functioning Power Mac 7200/120 in the hall today. Not fast, but still working and twelve years old.........

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Cheap?

I wonder if this will make the price go down for the old used G4s? I've always wanted a Power PC machine to run FreeBSD.

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Gold badge

Guys you are talking past each other

Except for the person calling Stevie a berk (you are WRONG), you guys are right, but talking past each other.

The early G4s, sawtooth included, were VERY reliable. G3s and older? Reliable in general. A few individual "beige" models had cache problems, but in general these were plenty reliable. Several other G4 models -- quite reliable. But Stevies right also, some models have alarming design problems, blow power supplies, melt CPUs, blow motherboards, etc.

@Dave, I urge you to at least make sure your machine is dust-free. I've seen roughly 3 out of 4 mirror door DPs I get in come with 1 or both processors absolutely cooked. (If 1 cooks, it typically still runs as a single proc machine.. if both cook of course the machine's a goner.)

@"mac tactics" I bet your PC has Vista. Windows in general is a piece, but Vista takes the cake.. it's BLOATED. Believe me your PC will spank any G4 configuration by a WIDE margin if you get Vista off it. If you "need" Windows, Windows XP, otherwise I recommend Ubuntu. There's slimmer and faster Linuxes than Ubuntu but it's pretty fast while being fully-featured out of the box.

@Way too much crap on the screen... ahh a twm man 8-). What is your opinion on vi versus emacs hahaha. (I stay out of that one, I use joe, which ends up being mostly a wordstar clone.)

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Price?

"I wonder if this will make the price go down for the old used G4s?"

You can buy working G4-s and imacs in wienna for 1 euro as e-trash... (working means plug them in and they boot up with all the data of the last owner still intact)

Imho, macs got worser and worser since Wozniak stopped working on them. I have an old G3 I got for free, but I can't really find much use for it, even though the video capture cards still work. Besides that, it doesn't matter how I look at it, the sticker still reads 'made in china', while at that time, everybody else was assembling computers in ireland.

On the other side, the oldest computer I'm using is a 17 years old toshiba laptop, which happen to have the same form factor and screen size as todays netbooks. Suprisingly it still runs and it's still supported. (a year ago I could buy a bigger ssd for it in the first shop)

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Silver badge

I guess that my Quadra 840AV

Is close to "stone age" or some such. A nice machine in its day, but not now. I still have Word 5.1 on it for those occasions it might be necessary. Back in those days, you could have 64 megs of memory and it would actually be quite a machine. Boy are those days long gone.

Now days 1 gig or so is necessary to just boot. Added functionality? Marginal!

But for a 68k Mac, it was a screaming machine. If Motorola/Freescale (and Apple for that matter) kept with the 68k things might have been different.

Oh, well off to the real "vintage" list....

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Happy

No Big Deal

At one time I had a 486 66mhz PC loaded with linux and running no desktop at all. I changed the startup scripts to launch a single browser window with no window manager at all. It was all I needed at the time and it ran fine in the small amount of memory available.

But I have and will continue to use macbook pro for traveling consulting.

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re: mac tactics

One of the main reasons for the switch was that the G5 chips run too hot. That's why there were no G5 PowerBooks – you'd be able to fry an egg on one. Similarly, they didn't put the fancy water-cooling system in the G5 towers just because they could; it was necessary to keep the chip from overheating.

I used to have a Sawtooth, which lasted for quite a while. A couple of hard drive failures (IBM DeskStars, so no surprise really). Eventually the power supply was full of 6-7 years' worth of dust and cooked itself, and might have taken down the motherboard with it. Replaced it with a Quicksilver and a PowerBook ('02 model), both still running great.

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Anonymous Coward

Hmm ...

... yet I can still get parts and service for a 1984 Porsche 911 Coupe

at any one of a hundred dealers ...

-

Funny old world.

-

Chris

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Ari

no added functionality?

Ok, for Herby (writing to us from the stone age, and quite pleased with it, thank you very much!) stating that there is no added functionality mean you are completely missing the point.

Sure, in the 1970s you could actually complete most of the tasks for which we use more modern computers now. Your level of expertise on the system had to be very high, and most of the tasks were very time consuming. Then we got GUIs (well, the mac people did, I still hammered away at a DOS based crapfest) and many tasks got much easier.

Through refinements in the usability part of the GUIs we have had huge changes in what can be done and by whom it can be done. That is because of all the GUIs, but Apple has usually been leading in making systems usable by normal people (or at least anyne affording their systems).

Now I can sit down with no understanding of photo editing and fix my family photos, arrange them and such. Or I can go into photoshop and use my expert skills for more complex tasks (many of which are not possible on older hardware, or so time consuming that you can have a child born and see it go to college before the task is complete). Same goes to text/layout/sound/video work and more. Tasks which were impossible for anyone without their own printing shop can now be done be grandma in her spare room.

As for OS bloat, to do these things in a simple and understandable manner we need more processes and more complex processes running all the time. To keep your tasks visible (so you know what you are running) you need memory and prcessing power.

Ok, Vista didn't work out well (is a bit bloated, in that it can almost do the stuff that other OSs can do but needs twice the hardware) but hopefully Seven will fix that. Then we'll have three (main) OSs that are quite usable, for people with different needs.

As a former Win tech I mostly run MacOS and Ubuntu, with one old XP machine (switched around the time of Vistas unveiling). They have their different strengths and weaknesses, the Macs main weakness is purchase price. Ubuntu can take a bit of work if there are any driver issues, and the WinXP machine needs more careful virus/adware protection. On the other hand EVERYTHING has windows drivers (even though the driver management model is annoying), the Mac's user interface beats the others hands down and Ubuntu is free and pretty.

I dislike Vista. It can be made to work decently and is kind of pretty (too much flash for my taste), but is more quirky than the free offering (Ubuntu), is more expensive than MacOS and has a more annoying and quirky user interface than any of the others. Not even mentioning UAC (which can easily be disabled, but that defeats the purpose), which is rubbish. Based on the WinSeven beta MS seem to have fixed many of Vistas faults. Here's hoping!

@"mac tactics", I would also say check for Vista. It is (even after all I said above) too bloated for what it does. The same machine with WinXP, Linux(Ubuntu is usually easy) or even Win7 might be much more sprightly.

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Dan
Jobs Horns

Fugly

That is one seriously ugly case. It reminds me of an 80s new romantic haircut.

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5/7 years is very longstanding at Apple

I'd be surprised if the released Snow Leopard didn't work on PPC Macs; Apple's OS typically supports everything under five years old, and usually isn't superseded for the next 2 years. (i.e. you very rarely have to upgrade hardware for 7 years even if you always use the latest OS). It's one reason for the very sharp worldwide end of life cutoffs that Apple has.

Checking out LowendMac.com's mac profiles suggests to me that PPC support will end with the next full release of OSX after Snow Leopard, which will be at least 2 years away in the second half of 2011.

I've never really agreed with Apple's repair/warranty policies, which largely lock out competent people from executing economical repairs by forbidding the resale of spares and making them absurdly expensive. At the same time Apple's sanctioned module swap with refurbed is pretty poor at reliable repairs. The upside to be aware of is that your broken Mac on eBay will be snapped up by a third party repairer for a remarkably large price, and then you can buy something that's never been broken.

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Thumb Down

What Maintenance?

The point you missed is that macs can last for a long time without maintenance. I still have an 8 year old G3 iMac which runs mainly iTunes and Firefox on OSX 10.3 perfectly adequately albeit a little slowly. My point is that it has NEVER required any maintenance, all I have done is add a bit more memory. I have a G5 but I can't bear to part with the G3. You've listed probably ALL of the problems that have come up over the past few years, and Apple have always fixed them. Know any windows pcs that old which still work, and can use XP? I don't.

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N
Bronze badge

Shame, but good news for independants?

I had a ton of G4s on a network and they seemed fine, Ive still got one of the G4 cubes, its a tad slow now, but it just needs a bit more ram.

As for PCs, Ive had every kind of problem imaginable including one turning into a smoke machine whilst playing UT2004.

Hopefully, the decision will permit smaller companies to take on the work that Apple dealers will loose.

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Why is this news?

In the Apple world, a certain amount of time goes by and the various models get put on the various status modes. Simple as that. Seems the Reg is trolling for hits again by making this some type of Apple conspiracy. No conspiracy here.

@Stevie: MLB batteries are available on the open market for 5 bucks and less. Ever hear of that thing called the internet to check these things? The battery is a standard size. And why replace a power supply on a machine worth nothing when a quick trip to craigslist, freecycle or ebay will net you a whole machine for a few bucks or free?

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oh dear, how sad, never mind ... some people have bad luck 8-)

I've still got 4 working G3 iMacs including an original OS9 233Mhz, a G4 Cube (superb machine), mirror door G4 dual cpu powermac (makes a fine server), G4 mac mini (makes a fine DVR with EyeTV .. will upgrade when the newly expected revision finally comes out for 1080p crispness), G5 iMac, white G3 800Mhz iBook (Apple replaced the motherboard 2 years after warranty expired due to GPU overheating issue .. still going strong today though), clamshell G3 (still a great little wireless browser machine even without a working battery) and 1st gen black intel Macbook (works too well with Leopard to justify an upgrade to core 2 version and a free copy of crossover lets me run a couple of windows only apps).

I've never bothered to replace the internal batteries .. don't see the point, they boot fine without and NTP keeps the clocks in sync. Only had one Apple hard drive failure, one EMP fried ethernet port (nearby lightning strike which also killed a router and switch) and a stick of dodgy non-Apple memory. Lots of other failures on non-Apple machines though. So after many years of happy service I see no problem with either Apple hardware or continuing to run 'unsupported' machines on old software.

Recently got an 8G Acer Aspire One running as a Leopard hackintosh .. just wish Apple would release a netbook as the form factor is perfect for mobile work. I guess that all makes me an Apple fan although after almost 30 years of small and big computing I'm less of a boi 8-)

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Thumb Up

Cube

I'll still hang on to my Cube with CRT. Bought it 2nd hand. Sort of trying to find a Airport card for it (they're going for upwards of $80+ here in Australia). Looks good with my iSub. Still turns heads all the while it sits next to my latest iMac. I use the Cube as a storage/reference machine via Firewire.

Quiet.

@ mac tactics - I think you may need to wake up to yourself. intel shit is here to stay. Just run BootCamp and be done with it.

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Anonymous Coward

(untitled)

Im running a very nearly 10 year old g4 tower as my network server, dual 450mhz processors, gig of ram, 10.4 server, no troubles, plus it was the last step in making my entire network gigabit, w00t

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Jobs Horns

Wait...

Aren't all macs obsolete?

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Ah, memories......

I spent many an hour back in the day arguing with the Mac fans, it was fun. I do not know nor will I ever get so ingrained to an operating system or a computer that it runs my life. There's even Mac fans still out there who believe every machine is crafted by hand in Cupertino by loyal sandal wearing Mac brethren.

I did, however, get frustrated with product activation on Windows XP, and tried my hand at a Sawtooth. It was ungodly expensive, and as I recall I had to buy a $150 adapter so it would work with one of he early Cinema Displays. One was DVI, the other ADC, I don't remember which. The Sawtooth worked, but was slow, and at the time there wasn't a whole heck of a lot of software of OSX. On top of that, the clear plastic on the case was crazing and cracking all over.

I tried again a few years later, with a G3 laptop and a Mini. The laptop had fantastic battery life, but was interminably slow, and the white plastic finish was prone to scrapes and cracks. After only a few months of gentle use the power adapter connector went funny, so that you had to hold it a certain way to keep it charging the battery---odd since it wasn't even loose.

The Mini was an interesting idea, but on my standard PC LCD monitor I got occasional flickering red lines that I never saw on a PC. And again, it was simply too slow to get much done.

I briefly thought of a G5 when the prices on them dropped, but finally decided to just stick with PC's and go to Ubuntu if/when Vista gets to be too much. All Ubuntu really needs at this point is game makers and a few major software vendors to sign on board and it'll be the alternative OSX should have been.

I can already list the replies the few surviving Mac fans will make, so just save time and pick a number:

1. Apple should be "rewarded" for the quality it puts in it's products and I should have plunked down all my money and the newest and most expensive to get the whole "experience."

2. I was either lying or faking about using Apples and SHOCK! walking away! No one does that!

3. So what? G4's were two processors and at least three styles ago, we need to look at the new Apple TODAY.

4. OSX is simply the best OS ever made and it's my fault for not appreciating it, and (again) only the newest and fastest hardware can fully use it.

5. (My fave) Apple is a hardware company and not a software company, and it needs to keep making new hardware to survive. You don't really expect them to keep supporting a decade old processor, do you? (Usually spoken to me by the same sort of people telling me in 2000 they'd be using their G4's forever.)

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Joke

Support

Why doesn't Apple simply neglect to support like the other vendors?????

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Jobs Horns

Bugger.

Obsolete?

Suckfocks, I just bought a G4.

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I just installed Vista Busiess

on a pretty recent machine compared to what Apple calls obsolete, MSI Neo4-f with 2GB RAM, Athlon FX2 3800+ and a WD 120GB drive. Had to since I couldn't clean my Canon IP4000 inkjet nozzles from Linux and I have to try some perl apps as well as ActiveSync on Windows anyway.

Ok, it 4.5 hours to get Vista up and running without any applications, pretty much compared to the 1hours for a complete Centos 5.2 incl. applications or 1.5 for a full OSX 10.5 install on my macbook.

Am I a Mac Fanboy? You bet!

I do system administration for Windows Server, unix and linux based database and mail servers from my iMac or Macbook, I have VNC, remote X, SSH, all the shells and scripting languages etc.pp. without ever touching anything then the original install media!

I get paid to support customers servers, not my own workstation, so a system which "just works" is worth every penny.

Linux can do this, too. I have that on my EeePC and in a handful virtual machines :-)

Oh, btw, on the same machine now running Vista Business, I had Kubuntu 8.10 + KDE4.2 +CrossoverOffice +MS Office 2003 running in less than 2hours.

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Linux

Linux boxes

They make great Linux boxes running something like Ubuntu or YellowDog Linux.

I have an old iMac G3 which is slow as hell (although I'd say it's more of a hardware fault as it runs about as fast as a 68k Mac Classic) but it makes a great Litnux box with it's lovely high quality CRT screen and it can be used as an LTSP Client so coupled with a half decent server it's still usable for web browsing, office tasks and e-mail.

What I'd like to know though is now will I be able to pick up an old G4 cheap enough gut it and stick in an ATX motherboard? :-)

Rob

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ancient macs

I have a Powerbook 140 and a 160 which still work fine on the mains lead, batteries are dead, both of which lived in a damp cold garage for at least 10 years, I have used Macs since the days of OS6 and never had a failure yet despite heavy usage, got knows how many decent PCs we have been through in the same time

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Stop

@AC from 7th February 2009 19:52 GMT

"Aren't all macs obsolete?"

Interesting question. I remember a time in early 2008 when Best Buy in the U.S. were getting so many premium-brand PCs marked "Vista Capable" back because they really weren't, they put up "Vista Capable" banners in their Apple corners... because ALL Intel Macs could run the full-blown Vista feature set... (sole exception being the entry-level Mac Mini of the time because of its low-power graphics chip; the current model can. I notice that I can still get plenty of "ready-to-use" machines that won't run most of Vista's eye candy more than a year after release of that POS.)

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Happy

Still using my G4 Ti Book ...

... I have a broken hinge (this happened last week, and the folks at the local Mac repair shop said they can do nothing since Apple won't ship them a replacement part) that apparently I will have to try to fix myself (I know, real work, quelle horreur!), but otherwise it still generally runs like a charm.

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Not if you still use it..

Obsolete is meaningless.. I'm running 10.3 on my beige G3 tower with a Sonnet card in. Full memory, 220 gigs of hard drives, a super-drive and dual boot to OS 9 to utilize the Perch card RCA input ports to rip my vinyl. Will even be trying to jam Tiger into it in a few weeks when I get the time, just to see if I can.

Can this klunker run video? No, but it's a wonderful home network music server. Can't complain about 10 year old hardware that's run flawlessly since I bought it - and won't.

Deb.

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jon
Happy

If it works then it's useful

though not a great fan of Macs have learned to appreciate them after having been given three G3 and two G4 systems for free (gotta love the WEEE directive). They are spending their golden years doing more work on daily basis than they ever did in the office where they once lived and now act as my own mini server farm running portions of my website.

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my G4 is STILL running well

i have been using my dual 1GHz G4 tower every day for over 6 years, i have replaced the video card, added 2 x 250Gb HD's and added a USB 2 pci card

...... and i work on 2+Gb photo images

it may not be the fastest machine on the block by any means, but i am not the fastest retoucher in the world, and the only time i am kept waiting is when i open or save these files

i think i will be saddened when i replace this, my first mac, with one that will (hopefully) be the G6

even my original flatscreen 17" monitor is still in daily use!

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Obsolete?

Fine. When they make my G5 obsolete, I'll install Ubuntu on it.

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Made in Ireland

I have a g4 dual 450 Sawtooth and it's still going strong. It's run reliably for the last 9 years, and is fine for surfing the web / programming / a bit of photoshopping now and again.

One of the things I liked about it was the made in Ireland badge - you don't see that anymore. Everything's assembled by weeping slave children in China.

Not really tempted by a mac now - the imac and mac pro lines haven't been updated for ages now and don't look very good value for money. They really need to do a consumer tower for about £600 with parts you can actually replace yourself.

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Linux

It is Interesting

how some people get so excited about an OS for a computer.

There are those whose manners are almost as good as a squad of Adolf's SS in a Synague.

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