Okay, here's the problem --
I have a vintage iBook, tangerine clamshell. I've been using it in my present job for about a year and a half, making teaching materials with AppleWorks. I should be able to automate some of these teaching materials, where I just have a program and feed it a list of words and it formats things and lays things out, etc., but my Java skills aren't really up to it, and I apparently need to learn a bit more patience with CSS.
I also need to be able to access openoffice at work, since I am not a fan of Microsoft's poor excuse for an office software suite. (There's only so much disappointment I can stand from a monopolist, Bill, Steve.) And I want access to the Gimp, as well.
The obvious solution is to buy a new computer, since this vintage iBook is only 300 MHz, 192 MB RAM, 5.6 GB HD, USB only and unable to boot from USB (no Firewire), running MAC OS X 10.2. But that option really is not available to me. (I have serious financial issues here, just like the rest of the world.) Besides, a new MacBook contains an iNTEL CPU. (There's only so much disappointment I can stand from a monopolist, Andy, Craig, Paul.) I understand I could run AppleWorks on an iNTEL MAC via Rosetta whatever, so the primary issues are cost and, well, iNTEL. If I could afford the cost, I might go pragmatic about monopolies.
Ultimately, I need to move off of proprietary software. (The problem with AppleWorks should be enough explanation why?) That's more reason to run Linux. But that's a separate topic.
A second obvious solution would be to purchase a used iBook or PowerBook with a faster processor. Hopefully, I could find one that can still charge its battery, unlike my iBook, where various abuses have rendered the charger and battery dead.
Hopefully, I'll get a chance to buy the battery charging boards before they become impossible to find any more. They're not that expensive, just hard for me to find in Japan. Although, truth be told, even the roughly $100 dollars the two boards tend to be listed at is a tight squeeze for me right now.
So, I was in Softmap the other day getting a new power supply for the iBook. This time I bought one that has the wires all detachable from the brick, Sanwa Supply part #ACA-A11, so that when I dump it in my bag, the wires aren't put under as much stress. And maybe I'll be able to build a replacement for that lousy shielded head next time the wires break right behind it. While there, I picked up a 160G hard drive for about JPY 7000 (about USD 70). They said that the RAM was no longer available, so I left without RAM.
Then, yesterday, I stopped by Pasokon Kobo on my way back from interviewing for a summer job to help pay the August rent, and they had the RAM chips there. The original spec is a 60 MHz part, but Apple says 100 MHz will do, too. Looking around the web, you find people that claim success with the 133 MHz part, and that was what they had, so I dropped another JPY 8000 (about USD 80) on that.
Very interesting to note that lowendmac says that all of this dance was for nothing. You can't even boot Mac OS X in a partition larger than 8G, and that the partition has to be entirely in the bottom 8G. I'm not sure if that's true with this model, one of the last tangerines with the 64M RAM soldered to the motherboard. I ran Mac OS X 10.2 in a 15G partition on it for a year, using it as my personal web server, and I currently have two separate installs of Jaguar on two separate partitions, one partition is 20G, the other, higher up, is 5G, and there is a 4G partition at the very bottom for booting Classic so my kids can play Bugdom, and I can play with openBSD.
Both of the Mac OS X partitions boot, although the Mac OS 9 partition presently does not, apparently because I did a proper partitioning when I installed Fedora and now there are way too many partitions for Classic too remain sane.
[Update: I have checked the readme file that comes with Mac OS 10.2 and it makes no mention of the iBook in the section dealing with the 8G limit. Apple's current information page on the limi does, however, include the iBook. I'm inclined to think this was a case of collecting all the disk drive issues under one roof.]
Anyway, this is my third option, to simply upgrade the iBook and keep using it. I have to figure out what trade-offs I'm going to make, but, other than that, this appears to be the direction I'm taking. Since this post is becoming long, I'll post the pictures of the process in another blog or two.
My fourth option was to get a VIA ultralight and spend the next month moving all my materials to apps that work fully in Linux. But that has the cost factor, as well. At this point, I'm still sitting at under JPY 20,000 (USD 200), to keep this machine running.