Old macs

I’m kinda into old macs

still got my powerbook g4 12"
running osX 10.4.11, protools 7, mBox inputs
made this…
awhile back,
even used it this summer (needs a new pram battery)

macBookAir 11" osX 10.7.5 parc, aalto, monolase, grayscale 64
made this…

just now put linux on ysidro’s old macbookpro 13" from mid 2012
it’s pretty great,
(he’s now got a faster razer)
although, some things are the same…
more ram, runs better
apple says 8gb is max, but some cats say 2x8gb (16gb)
opened it up and got that (16gb) rockin’, it’s good
stoked to be runnin’ ORCA
(on a 64bit machiine)
learning lot’s about linux, and computer culture in general

understanding more about how the apple cats were thinking…
not everyone who runs a personal computer
needs to be a system administrator, right?

music biz dichos
don’t upgrade until you know it’s stable,
or unless you have to,
or if you’ve got something going, …don’t,
just use it, make music
linux seems to be all about updates
(maybe 'cause it’s good system administration?)

late 80’s ucSantaCruz, porter college
(david cope was the provost…
he brought jose montoya to play music in the dining hall
and have an art show at the provost house, really moved me
I took electronic music from gordon mumma,
made music concrete tape loops and put laura’s vocals on it,
kept doing it, digitally)
me and laura had to sign up for classes (even art classes)
in unix, at a unix terminal in the library
it seemed silly, in the 80’s
computer languages came and went every year

but they were right, unix was the language of the nascent internet
(and later linux)

like, what is a computer?
(early 90’s astronomy grad students at santa cruz
loved to take the dust covers off of their unix terminals,
made it look like what a raspberry pi looks like today)

command line tactics
chmod +x


My Macbook pro is turning a decade next year. It is locked into OSX 10.9.5 until it dies. I will be lost if anything catastrophic ever happens to it. Looking at the MSRP of a new MBP gives me anxiety. Strongly considering going the tablet route if the day ever comes.

The only functioning computer that I still own that’s older is a sony vaio desktop I had as a teenager. Rock solid computer.


actually my linux laptop is still on debian old-stable because it’s been going from project to project and i can’t afford the time for a major system upgrades and all the tiny things that will be different with the new versions of each software i use. Basically it will probably be frozen “forever” in that state.

My old Mac Mini G4 has been retired for a while, i can’t seem to find usage for it yet. It has served well, though.
The 2006 Macbook 2,1 running 10.5 was until last week hooked to my LaserJet 4 printer. It was the only system in the house that would correctly drive this 90’s printer without second thoughts (unfortunately, something unknown has recently broken this synergy).

In a corner of the living-room, there is an iMac G3 running OS9. But the hard drive makes such a loud whistling noise that it is unusable. It is waiting for me to find time to replace it.


I have an old iMac G3 that I never really used for anything serious but just enjoyed turning on and clicking around with for ages. It reminded me of when I found computers fun.

I’ve since got it up and running with Reason V1, and have made some of my best music on it, and even played a few live sets with it (only spectacularly crashed once)!

Also hooked it up to the internet for a while last year, very limited number of sites still supported it but it was a good reminder as to how far we’ve come.


I miss my 2011 unibody so much. It died with the dreaded GPU issue twice and the second time was the kicker. No logic boards left anywhere. I have a 2018 MBP now and its just not the same.

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My 2011 is going the same route. At least the new MBPs are ditching butterfly keys. But the 2011 will always hold a dear spot in my heart. (so many ports, and the trackpad that actually tracked and didn’t feel like I was hurting it to make it work!)


Currently really considering getting an ancient G3 or G4 for the sake of running older software on an old computer that potentially can still be serviced somehow as long as parts are still available. @ansgaria’s post in the All things drone thread really triggered something. :slight_smile:
Potentially also cheaper than a raspberry pi combo with the added bonus/bulk of a huge screen.

That’s what I did about a month ago. I bought an old G4 TiBook after seeing a Twitter post about Xynthi, bought it with the intent of putting loads of old software on it. So far I’ve just got Xynthi working. I’ve got 10.3.9 and OS9 on it. Some OS9 software crashes when I try to load audio, so I still need to figure out what’s wrong.

I got the computer for about 50 euros. The battery will not charge beyond 3% and will almost always turn off if not plugged in.

So far worth every penny, if just for Xynthi. Wonderful noisemaker instrument. I’m working on some pieces using that as the primary source of audio. Mangling it in CDP and with a modified discman.

If anyone has got any other old OS9/early OSX software they would recommend, please do. Odd supercollider patches, old max/msp, whatever you got.


i grew up with macs. my first (family computer) was a performa 550, the all-in-one design with a caddy-style CDROM. Last mac I used was a ‘graphite’ power mac G4. I was a huge mac head, part of a macintosh users group etc.

suffice to say, I went PC and never looked back. I just built an 8 core AMD pc with 32 gigabytes of ram for less than a thousand dollars. I couldn’t be happier.

I would try older versions of soundhack, although the current version still runs on my current battled mid 2012 OS X machine with current software and other gems that might still work. https://www.soundhack.com/freeware/the-boneyard/
Also, I am not sure which ppooll version might work: https://ppooll.klingt.org/index.php?title=Main_Page

Soundhack works fine on my 2012 machine as well. And ppooll I use regularly. I could use an old version, where the spectral plugins still worked. Worth seeking out I suppose.

Also, worth trying a few of these from the maker of Audiomulch:

Older software is fine, but I should point out that I’m an audio software developer and I go to some trouble to support the broadest possible range of old Macs.
That means, the plugins I make (NEW plugins) support PPC. So I support old macs now, and if you can run Audio Units on these old macs you ought to be able to use anything I make (so long as the plugin is not too CPU-hungry, which most aren’t).
Airwindows is me. I’m doing it on purpose, though most people don’t know about this part. It limits some of the choices I can make (for instance, I don’t think I can do the modern Gatekeeper stuff) but I think it’s important for people to be able to have tools that aren’t expensive, and old Macs can be very not expensive and still work as great DAWs if you have good converters. Heck, some of them come with built in optical ins and outs so you can run the very best of converters, and then they will perform with as high sonic quality as anything you could want :slight_smile:
(oh, I’m also doing LinuxVST for those putting linux on these machines)


Just last weekend I (semi) retired my 13" 2010 C2D MBP and upgraded to a mid-2012 15" retina i7. A significant upgrade in terms of computing power and screen real estate, yet I don’t have to buy any dongles and I get to keep using the same keyboard I’m used to. Hoping this 2012 lasts me another 5-6 years. It sure does run hot…

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For a split moment i thought this thread was about a new version of Cold Mac. Something with the same principle but other function in it… A man can dream :frowning:

On Topic: I still have my G3 and sometimes start it up to play some diablo 2 on it. It still runs great

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I have a few things:

A Powerbook G3 Lombard with OS9 and Reaktor 4 and Ableton Live 3. You have to bounce a lot but it can make tracks. The GUI isn’t very responsive. I wish I could find my Reaktor 3 dongle to convert the Weedwacker ensemble to Reaktor 4, but it’s gone. That was my first favourite synth. I bought Reaktor 3 and a (long-since failed) iBook G3 when I turned 18 and got all the money my parents had been saving up for me since I was born… literally spent it all the day after my birthday, haha. I wish I’d explored Reaktor more, coming back now with 15+ more years of synth experience it actually seems pretty great. The Lombard is the last one with SCSI, it sits nicely on top of an old sampler like an E-mu Ultra.

Then there’s the G4 tower with 3 Pulsar cards. This isn’t set up right now. The tower is a hand-me-down from my brother who bought it new when it qualified as a super computer, and I’ve used it for various things over the years… I bought the cards a few years ago because it seemed really cool, but after a bit I found out I actually didn’t like the sound at all. Should get a MotU 424 card for it maybe.

Earlier this year I got a Quadra 650 with a Digidesign SampleCell II card and a ProTools Nubus system. Unfortunately I can’t get the ProTools system to quite work, I think the interface (Avid branded 888) is faulty. The SampleCell is pretty fun, though, when paired with Turbosynth it’s endless fun. And I love the black and white System 7 interface. If anyone has an old 20 bit 882 or 888 interface they don’t need, I can give it a good home.

I have to say though, all in all, I think of this as separate and a hobby. These were great instruments/tools when they came out and they do exactly what they did then today, but a five year old laptop and some free software is much better if you want to actually make music. Mac OS before OS X crashed a lot and screen redraws were very slow, and you absolutely will lose work and hate yourself… but me, I grew up on it. That OS 9 boot screen is just magic to me.


I don’t have any old mac but would love to test these older software from Curtis Roads

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I also like my mac(s) and as much as possible I try to use them and keep them as long as possible rather than buying another (often the new specs do not satisfy me: lack of simple USB ports, necessity to buy a ton of adapters etc). However, sometimes they does not age well, (screen, battery, magsafe connector problems, etc.). Right now I have my main imac 27 of 2012 in repair, this repair (new screen + thunderbolt ports) is going to cost me a third of the price of the original mac (i7 processor, 3T hybrid drive, it’s a good machine for audio).

My question is: are you trying to (diy) improve your old mac computers a bit or are you keeping them in their original state and factory specs ? For example, I have a white macbook core2duo from 2008, it has become very slow, I wonder if it would be worth to replace the hhd disk with an ssd, I’m not even sure this can be done. On top of that, it’s now impossible to find a secure (Up to date) web browser running on Mac Os Lion, I’m thinking about installing Linux on it only if it’s feasible.

What is possible to do in terms of hardware and software to keep these machines as long as possible? Do you have any tip ?

I’m running a beige g3 hooked up via scsi to my Kurzweil k2000. I use a really nice wave editor called Alchemy to load samples via scsi and edit them. An ftp server is used to load samples onto the mac from my main daw. I’m also running Metasynth, Turbosynth and Recycle for making and mangling sounds.


I got cloud generator running and it is ok for offline granulation. I couldn’t get pulsar to work. I prefer real time for granulation since it is such a trial and error kind of thing.