For several months now I’ve been working on my FrankenMac. My friend began his life as a PowerMac 8600 with about 64MB of memory, no VRAM, an IMS/ixMicro Twin Turbo video card and a 2GB drive. The price was just right — free. I brought him home to start a project of upgrading an old Mac to the point that I could eventually run OS X.
One of the first things I did was get more RAM for it. I upgraded it to 568MB of memory, put in a Sonnect Crescendo G4/400MHz CPU, an ATI Radeon 7000 video card in place of the Twin Turbo, an ultra-wide ATTO Express PCI SCSI card, a Quantum 4GB ultra-wide disk, and a Sonnet Tango PCI USB/Firewire card. After all was said and done I probably spent about $250 on the whole (that’s without the OS X costs). I managed to get OS X 10.3.5 ($65) and a set of OS X 10.4 CDs ($70) for it. I figured worst comes to worse I would have the 10.4 CDs to upgrade my wife’s QuickSilver PowerMac from 10.2.8.
Anyway, after several starts and restarts I have finally gotten my FrankenMac to work quite nicely. I ended up settling on putting OS X 10.3.5 (10.3.9 after the Apple software update) rather than 10.4 because 10.4 really dogged the machine (although it would probably have helped if I had installed the right version of the Sonnet Cache kernel extension — but there were also minor video issues: when the Mac would boot up under 10.4 you wouldn’t see the graphic boot screen but rather the text messages that are logged during boot). Anyway, I’m quite happy with it and I plan to migrate over from the Windows XP laptop I have now over to OS X. I’m still waiting for the Belkin Mac ADB to PS/2 adapter to arrive so that I can use it with the Belkin SOHO KVM I have on the desk. Right now I’ve got it connected to the KVM using the Belkin USB/video cable set but when I power on the Sony VAIO laptop (connected through PS/2 ports) the KVM won’t switch back over to the Mac.