By May 12, 2013

Why buy a 7 year old Mac Mini?

morph31tools I’m sure seeing the title of this post you’ll thinking that there really is no good reason to buy hardware that’s so old, and normally I would agree with you. So why have I just splashed some cash on a 7 year old Mac Mini on eBay?

A few weeks ago I started to clear out some garage space and came across my old Amiga collection. I have an A500+ and an A1200 still. Having spent so much time with them in my youth I simply cannot bring myself to throw them out, they are the main reason I ended up doing what do now.

Seeing these old machines got me thinking.

I knew that the Amiga brand had gone through numerous other companies including Escom in 1994 and Gateway 2000 in 1997. The current trademark owner, Amiga Inc, licences the rights to sell hardware using the Amiga or AmigaOne brand to computer vendors Commodore USA, Eyetech Group, Ltd. and A-Eon Technology CVBA.

Since I last booted up my Amigas, maybe 8 years ago, a couple of AmigaOS 4 systems have been released and most recently, in 2012, A-EON made the AmigaOne X1000.

What has that got to do with an old Mac Mini I hear you ask. Well with a sense of nostalgia I started reading up on the still alive-and-kicking Amiga scene. I came across MorphOS. MorphOS is an Amiga compatible operating system that has been continuously developed since 2008 and the latest version, 3.1 was released less than a year ago. The interesting thing about MorphOS that since version 2.4 in 2009 it has supported G4 Mac Mini’s.

I went on to eBay and found myself a bargain Mac Mini G4 for just under £80. I picked up the last version of the G4 with the 1.5GHz CPU and the 64MB graphics card.

The Mini arrived with OSX Leopard pre-installed but with just 512MB of RAM it ran like a proverbial dog and was pretty much unusable. Not to worry though as I didn’t want it to run OSX.

Having downloaded the trial ISO of MorphOS I booted the Mac from its DVD drive and set about installing MorphOS. The process took about half an hour and was soon ready for its first boot.

This is where it really surprised me. The boot time from cold with MorphOS is about 5 -10 seconds. The OS is blisteringly fast breathing new life in to that old hardware.

There’s good networking support, a webkit browser and mail client as well as various other tools and applications that make MorphOS a completely usable OS. There’s also a whole raft of other applications out there that cover almost every topic and if that not enough, you can still run the majority of Amiga applications on there.

I’m not suggesting for a moment that MorphOS is going to be a contender against the likes of OSX, Windows or Linux but for anyone like me that grew up with their Amiga it’s definitely worth having a play with and is a great lightweight alternative to Linux.

If you have a Mac Mini sitting around then you can bring that box back to life with a usable OS and can download a trial version of MorphOS for free.

Have Fun!


Posted by: Matt

About the Author:

More than 20 years in the IT industry. Blogging with a passion and thirst for new technology since 2005.
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