Down to what’s necessary

As my MacBook Pro slowly dies, I’ve called my old G4 iMac back into service. Years ago, that machine was wiped clean and given an install of Mac OS X 10.5 before being boxed in the basement. On Friday I will wrap up one week of using it as my primary work machine. In that time I’ve found that it’s slow, beautiful and perfect. Here’s why.


After confirming that everything still works, I prepped this machine for duty. Specifically:

  • Update the OS. It’s currently running Mac OS X 10.5.8, and that’s as high as it’s going to go.
  • Install necessary software. Remember, I’m starting from scratch with a retail install of Leopard. I write for a living, so my needs are minimal. After one week, I’ve installed Colloquy, Twitterrific, Growl and Dropbox. That’s it. IRC serves as my virtual “office,” and I use Growl to pop up keyword notifications so I don’t miss important discussions when Colloquy is in the background. Typically I use Tweetie for multiple account support, but on the iMac I only need my personal account so Twitterrific it is. Finally, all the docs I’ll need to work with are either in Dropbox or Google Docs.
  • Get on the network. Simple with my home Wi-Fi.
  • Connect the hardware. My trusty Extended Keyboard II is hooked up via a Griffin iMate, and a USB extension cable connects my Mighty Mouse.


After months of using my MacBook Pro’s 15-inch screen, I had forgotten how lovely the iMac’s 20-inch display is. Unfortunately I’ve lost my external Viewsonic, as this iMac only offers mirroring. I’ve also noticed that the iMac is significantly quieter than the MacBook Pro, whose fans whirred like a hovercraft after a few hours.

I’m using TextEdit as my text editor and Preview as my image editor. Best of all, since I’ve got Dropbox installed I can work on documents with my iPad or the iMac thanks to PlainText (here’s why I love PlainText).

Yes, the UI is a bit slow compared to what I’m used to. But it’s still perfectly acceptable. Sometimes I must give a webpage an extra fraction of a second to scroll, and often Mail takes its time while downloading the bulging AM inbox. But waiting a half of a second isn’t the end of the world.


This is the most beautiful computer Apple has made. The articulated arm and adjustable, swivel display still strikes me as gorgeous. While seated in front of it the screen seems to hover above my desk. Apple’s contemporary machines are gorgeous but the G4 iMac is a knockout.

Over the past six days, I’ve been able to discover just what I need to complete a day’s work. That turns out to be:

  1. A G4 iMac
  2. An Internet connection
  3. My beloved old keyboard
  4. A mouse
  5. A browser
  6. Colloquy
  7. Twitterrific
  8. Dropbox
  9. TextEdit
  10. A clean, quiet room

And that’s it.