Sunday, July 17, 2011

Mid-project update: You give a mouse a cookie...

You give Shira an old G4 computer, and...
  • She'll want to install Ubuntu 10.04 Server Edition on it.
  • She'll want to run the Minecraft server.
  • She'll want more than 400Mhz. She'll go on eBay to find replacement processors.
  • She'll want to install a Quicksilver proc in the Sawtooth (AGP graphics) machine.
  • She'll need to cut the aluminum heatsink to fit with a dremel.
  • She'll want some thermal paste.
  • She'll want to know why her processor doesn't run. She'll restore the old processor to its place.
  • She'll suspect it is the out of date firmware.
  • She'll need to reinstall Mac OS 9 to update the firmware.
  • But she cut the CD drive, so she'll need to rearrange everything in the case to make it reach the other IDE connection point.
  • She'll need to torrent Mac OS 9, because nobody owns or sells that anymore.
  • She'll need to format the drive as HFS+ so the installer can write on it...
  • She's tired now. She'll want to take a break to watch South Park at 2:30AM.
  • She'll need to run the Ubuntu LiveCD but it won't run anymore.
  • She'll want to try a new IDE cable (but it won't work)...
  • She'll finally format the drive with mac-fdisk and a utility on Mac OS 9
  • She'll install Mac OS 9
  • She'll find firmware update is a .bin and can't be opened without Stuffit Expander
  • She'll try to unpack the update on her OS X laptop, but the G4 won't run it like that
  • She'll try to install Stuffit Expander on the G4 from the install CD but it crashes the computer
  • She'll download a version that does install and use it to unpack the firmware update
  • She'll find that the firmware update requires at least Mac OS 9.1
  • She'll apply the 9.1 update.
  • She'll curse the name of the person who packaged the US UPDATES with incompatible UK SOFTWARE. ARGH.
  • She'll torrent 9.2.1 US English. God Bless America.
  • FINALLY! She will install 9.2.1, and run the firmware update. Firmware version updated!
  • She will swap the processor, cross her fingers, and press the power button...
  • She'll want to run some tests and install Ubuntu again, but the CD drive isn't powered, because she accidentally connected the fans in parallel with it...
  • She'll want to fix it but her soldering iron tip is burning through itself (and yes, this can happen. I have seen it happen twice). Time for a new one.
  • She'll go to the hated Radioshack. She will want to make this very clear: she hates Radioshack. But it is in walking distance, while Fry's is a thirty minute drive.
  • She'll find that Radioshack won't have the same type of tip, so she'll have to put down $10 on a new El-Cheapo iron...urgh.
  • She'll discover that the CD drive is powered but Chuck Norris himself couldn't get the LiveCD to boot off of it. The Debian LiveCD won't boot either. Just Mac CDs work. Weird.
  • She'll spend two hours reading about Open Firmware, trying to get something with any distro of Linux on it to boot.
  • She'll find the magical command: boot usb1/disk@1:1,\install\yaboot
  • She will shout in surprise and then sigh when something appears about corrupted Amiga block partition thingies, and presents a 'boot: _" prompt. However, the install will continue after about ten seconds.
  • Install complete! But what's this... "DriveReady SeekComplete uncorrectable error???"
  • She will listen to dying hard drive sounds and conclude that her IBM drive is almost dead. Unfortunately, nobody is selling hard drives at 2am.
  • She'll find a small family run electronics shop the next morning, where a very nice dude sells her a replacement drive (IBM Deskstar 20.5 GB) for $10, and throws in another drive (Western 40GB) for free. They are even formatted as HFS already!
  • She'll install Ubuntu again and run the Minecraft server.
So what's the verdict?

1) The Minecraft server and Java are resource hogs, so while the rig can run them, it does a terrible job. Clients connected to the Minecraft server experience severe lag and the game becomes completely unplayable.

2) Since there is nothing to be lost, I may eventually open it up again and mess with the bus speed and CPU multiplier.

3) I no longer think the CPU is the bottleneck. I'm not really a hardware person, and I don't know how all this works, but I get the sense that the 100Mhz bus speed isn't going to cut it. The G4 has a 100Mhz bus speed. My laptop has a 1.07Ghz bus speed. Oh well.

So...what kind of awesome, interesting things can I do with a dinosaur tower?