If you want more detailed information: it's available all over the net, alas in tiny pieces - I included some pointers. I assume you know how to google Here is the text version , here is the original web page. I actually tried most of the things mentioned. Note that my experience is based on a fast upgraded machine 1. Hope it helps, have fun. Its computing power is roughly equivalent to an iPhone 5. The latter models have slightly higher specs. More details in Wikipedia or in the Mactracker app. Since the Mac mini was very low cost for a Mac and it was the time of the "switcher" campaign, it is a very popular machine and easy to get.
However Apple keeps all the support documents still in their archive section and has all downloads still available. Almost all 3rd party software is unsupported as well, only a few notable exceptions like e.
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VLC player are still maintained. What the G4 does run are old versions of OS X Under Leopard it can run some relatively recent apps like iTunes Under Tiger it can also run older "Classic" apps, i. It cannot directly run Mac OS 9 or earlier. It can be used as a general purpose desktop computer if you can stomach the low speed and limited abilities. You can run Safari 5 and iTunes 10, but they will be slow.
Browsing is usable, but only a really old Flash plugin and old Java versions will work. Together with the older browser versions this means that your data can be easily compromised, so take care. Probably nobody will bother to write specific PPC malware, but I would not use my credit card or other sensitive data on this machine. As for watching video it can only play back SD and lower bit rate p. Full HD aka p video is out. Luckily the latest version of VLC player runs - on Leopard. It can be used to run old Mac OS 9 and Mac OS X software that might still be useful: a variety of old games there are many , special purpose software some of the synthesizer stuff is excellent and curiosities like those funny screen savers.
Actually the mini is probably the best option for those, as it is small, low power, can use modern peripherals like a HD monitor and USB keyboards and mice. It also has no unusual components that break easily.
As an alternative desktop OS the most usable will be a Linux. It might work as a firewall if you connect a USB 2. I did not try this. Most important for performance is the RAM. CPU clock speed can be 1. A bit of over clocking is also possible but requires electronics skills and serious risk tolerance cutting SMT resistors. It cannot output different content on the two ports, so there is really just one logical output. The original hard disk is a 40GB or 80GB 2.
Smaller drives cost almost the same new. The optical drive seems to be the least reliable component of the mini and also sounds like it chews on the disks. Although it can be very useful for OS installs, consider whether you really need an internal optical disk at all. Replacing the hard disk or optical drive is fairly easy, much easier than on a modern Mac mini.
Ubuntu: A follow-up on 32-bit powerpc architecture
Note that if you replace the optical drive with a modern component you may run into problems - I did. The G4 uses cable select on a small riser board. I you know more, please contact me. Also there is an optional modem port. The FireWire port can be used with some older devices like disks or digital video recorders. The FireWire port is very useful since it can be utilized to boot from an external disk or boot the Mac into target disk mode see below.
There are two USB 2. Note that the Mac mini can by default not boot from a USB device. If you feel comfortable entering cryptic Open Firmware commands, there is the possibility to boot from an USB disk by setting the boot drive to an USB device with Open Firmware see below. It doesn't seem to work with all disks though. First, the FireWire port can be used to boot from an external disk.
Second, any Mac with FireWire can be booted into target disk mode by holding down the T key at boot time. Target disk mode transforms the Mac into an external hard disk, i. This is handy if you want to install a new OS in case your optical drive is gone and a number of other trouble shooting scenarios. Apple and almost all 3rd parties do not release new updates anymore, but you can still download the latest versions from Apple. It is also significantly better supported by 3rd parties than Tiger.
Grab and mount an install iso
It has TimeMachine, a better Finder and Dock and better network integration. Base install is about 14GB fully updated and takes about one hour, updating another one. Often it may appear as if the machine is hung. Keep in mind you are running at minimum system requirements and be patient.
Here are the latest versions available:. Tiger was considered by many to be the first really good OS X release. Apple does not provide new updates any more, but you can still update everything to the latest available. It looks and feels dated with brushed metal windows and bluish Aqua looks, but is quite usable.
Some people claim that it runs faster than Leopard, but I cannot confirm that. Since the mini cannot run OS 9, Tiger is your only option to run those. You are running a software museum, enjoy the 90s.
Herbert Janssen: Mac mini G4 FAQ
That said, "Classic" Mac OS has a lot of nice apps and especially relatively many games. The Classic Environment does not support direct access to the hardware, so software that plays it dirty like a few games and utilities may not work - I did not encounter any. Here are the latest software versions you can run:. Installing multiple OSes, e. Gentoo, Debian and Debian derived distributions such as Ubuntu and Mint seem to have the best support. I tried several Ubuntu variants but did not get a single install to work right the first time.
Somewhat independent of you choice of Linux distribution is which desktop to run.
Mouse clicks may take a second or two to register, moving or resizing windows takes time, launching apps more so. I'd say forget about it. This one is a bit faster, but still sluggish compared to Mac OS X.
Big apps may take a minute to load. It is usable as long as no background tasks are running, so wait for any updates to finish before you judge and refrain from opening many apps in parallel. Tough choice, you say? It is possible to install any desktop from any initial install at least if you start with an Ubuntu variant. The only disadvantage is that you may clutter the menus with all the apps. Running e. VLC and Dropbox run. My recommendation would be to check Xubuntu or Lubuntu if you want a Linux desktop environment.
I did not test Gentoo, Mint or Linux for server use. There is a lot of information on the Ubuntu site and there are many options how to do it. I will just share some observations that worked for me and may be useful. I did all Linux tests on a triple-boot system with Tiger, Leopard and Linux on the internal hard disk.
Installation from CD is similar for the standard Ubuntu and Lubuntu.