Old Macs put to good use: another example

OS9. WTF? VNC. FTW!: With this highly acronymised yet catchy title, a few days ago my friend Grant Hutchinson posted an entry on his blog detailing his most recent server configuration to control his Web server at home from elsewhere. What’s lovely about it is that:

The server itself (running the very site you’re viewing) is an 11 year old Power Macintosh 9600/200 dual processor with 256MB of memory and a pair of 4GB hard drives.

The choice of the Web server software is interesting as well: Grant is using WebStar 4.4 by Kerio (formerly 4D). Sadly, as the brief Wikipedia article informs, “On June 30, 2008, WebSTAR was officially discontinued. Technical support for the product will end as of June 30, 2009”. It’s too bad. However, don’t miss the first external link referenced in the article: The Crack A Mac Story from the TidBITS archive. You’ll understand just how good this piece of software is.

Now back to Grant:

Keeping the VNC server company alongside WebStar is an old school version of Maxum’s Rumpus for FTP and the unbeatable Summary for raw log crunching. Sophisticated Circuit’s iDo Script Scheduler keeps things tidy by firing off a series of maintenance AppleScripts, while Rebound! handles monitoring and recovery tasks for when various application or system events go kerflunky.

The lesson here is always the same: vintage Macs can still be quite useful, you just need a purpose and a good bespoke configuration — as I did with my PowerBook 5300. Nowadays finding software for pre-Mac OS X systems (sometimes even pre-Mac OS 9) may be harder than back in the olden days, but hunting is fun and the results can actually be rewarding.

4 thoughts on “Old Macs put to good use: another example

  1. Thanks for the nod, Riccardo. Just so you know, the old Power Mac won’t be entirely replaced by the brand, spanking new Xserve which arrived last week. There is a place and a purpose for everything, including OS 9 servers. Cheers.

  2. You’re quite welcome, Grant! Thanks for stopping by. I’m glad the PowerMac is still serving you well. I’m venturing in a similar project, and despite 2 SCSI hard disks managed to die the very same day, I was able to resuscitate my PowerMac 9500 with the help of another vintage peripheral: a Maxoptix SCSI magneto-optical drive! (For the record, the unit itself weighs more or less like a Macintosh SE).


  3. Talking about vintage Macs…any idea for a Powerbook 140 with just the onboard 2MB RAM and no hard drive? I planned to try the ARDI’s (from Executor/DOS 1.2) OS replacement, but it refuses to boot with such a thingie, spitting it out immediately. Perhaps this happens for the usage of 68040 code (as Executor aimed to emulate a Quadra, not a plain 68000), or maybe for some missing Installer-like magic. Do you know other Apple System replacements (I love alternatives), capable to run on a hardware as small as this? I’d like the minimum size possible, in order to run free stuff as the Jove editor. Widening the question: do you know other (small) alternate OS-es for a 680×0 Mac, rather than the usual NetBSD and MkLinux? I’m asking that because, even in the 8-bit arena (not to mention the “usual” PC), the scene of independent coders wildened for a while, producing free OSes for the Commodore 128 (which was a small personal rather than a home computer, so it fitted better) and even the 64 (Lunix, a small Unix-like OS). I’m aware of Minix 1.5 and Mac06 (and MacNET, aka the KA9Q NOS port), but they run as applications, thus still requiring the MacOS to boot in the first place. The question in itself may seem a little kinky but, in these times of software freedom and extreme interoperability, choosing “one from one” operating system seems a bit outdated scenario, especially for legacy/junk hardware which often comes “naked”, without disks or licences. As more people are aware of that, I hope that someone capable to move in that direction already did; but my contacts with the Mac environment aren’t tight enough to be that sure. Any suggestion? Thanks in advance.

  4. > not a plain 68000

    Update: it seems to be a 030/16, not a 68000 (too bad I didn’t check out that first). Meanwhile, the screen itself started to behave badly ()very bright line in the upper half of it) and the right hinge literally broke while folding the screen (a Compaq Contura 3/25 did that TWICE, the first time having the screen replaced by the maker). Now.. er, well, it still boots (a ShapeShifter customized System 7.0.1 is the only thing I have, now) but it’s living an Out Of The Body Experience, like a Robocop2 prototype in the making, as I had to dismantle it completely and pay attention not to short some electrical parts (and that’s how I found the CPU model: on the daughter board). The “thing” is to be put apart, at least until I find a way to re-encase it; but I’m still curious about the software topic, for the times it will power on again. 😉

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