A Casualty on the Front Lines

No, this isn’t a misplaced war correspondent piece! The title refers to my much loved and long serving Power Mac G5 Quad, which until this week has been on the front lines of the internet as the server for the Happy Macs Gopher site.

G5 Quad

Regrettably I went into the lab mid this week to find its fans running at full throttle and the CPU temperature meter registering well over 80C. Amazingly, the machine was still running and still responding, but of course I shut it down immediately.

Thinking that it might just be a software glitch in the temperature control system, I let it cool off for an hour or so and then restarted it. It started up normally, but to my dismay, the CPU temperature meter started to climb immediately, the fans kicked up in tandem with it, and eventually I was right back to where I had started: fans at full throttle and an unacceptable CPU temperature level. I shut the machine down again to preserve what little run time it would have left at those extreme levels of heat, and pondered what to do next.

I have to conclude that the G5’s elaborate cooling system has failed after many years of faithful service. These machines are well known for this problem, but usually the failure is more catastrophic than the one I have experienced, with cooling fluid spilling out all over and staining floors, carpets and anything else in the near vicinity. I really can’t complain I suppose: 2005 to 2018 is a pretty good run for any computer …and it has not been easy service of late. As mentioned above, this machine has been on the front lines of the internet for several years now, serving up the Happy Macs Gopher site 24x7x365.

I will have a good look at it this weekend, and in the short term at least, I will replace it with my original personal Mac, a Power Mac G5 Dual 2.3 GHz. I will have to fire up the G5 Quad for a limited last run, to transfer the Gopher site off of the HDD and onto a backup drive. This will let me restore it onto the G5 Dual and get it “back on the air”. I can only hope that G5 Quad survives this final service without too much (additional) damage.

Looking forward, G5 Quads are becoming hard to find on eBay these days, and so it may be a while before I can replace my failing friend. I doubt that I can actually repair it – I lack both the time and the skills to do so. I may simply have to “harvest” all the useful components from it (hard drives, RAM, video card, etc.) and put it out to pasture permanently. This weekend’s examination will tell the tale.

RIP my long faithful friend!

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Living Life the G5/Tiger Way

Regular readers may have noticed that the pace of postings here at the Happy Macs blog has slowed down quite a bit. There is a reason for that. In January, I started a new job, and moved halfway across the country in the process. The Happy Macs lab was completely dismantled and packed up, and remains largely in that state. We have moved into an apartment for the short term, while we decide where in our new location we would like to buy a home.

I have a small “computer corner” in the new apartment and that is all. I brought two prized computers with me to the apartment and set them up in the computer corner: my Power Mac G5 Quad and my Power Macintosh 7300. Everything else is in storage until we buy and move into a new home (with the exception of an incredible Power Macintosh G3 and its accompanying AppleVision 850AV monitor that I picked up a short while ago, and have yet to begin work on – that will be another post at another time).

Power Mac G3 and AppleVision 850AV

Which brings me to the topic of this post. Note that I did not mention any current day computers. My “daily driver” up until the move was my 2012 27” iMac, a 3.4 GHz Intel machine. An excellent computer, but packed away in a box at this point I’m afraid. Before the move, I backed up all the contents onto an external hard drive and brought that with me. When I set up the computer corner, I restored that backup onto my Power Mac G5 Quad, and for the next six months or so, it will be my daily driver. This post is being composed on it right now.

G5 Quad

So, for the next many months, I will be living life the G5/Tiger way. It is almost like stepping back in time to 2006 when these machines were the shiny new state of the art. Back in 2006, the Power Mac G5 Quad was a kick ass machine. Know what? It still is. Granted, I have accelerated this machine a bit. The boot volume is an SSD, and the main disk is a fairly modern high speed 7200 RPM drive with a whopping 64MB of onboard cache. The computer itself is equipped with 8 GB of RAM, and sports the top end video card of the day in 2006, the nVidia Quadro FX 4500, itself equipped with 512 MB of video RAM.

nVidia Logo

So, the machine packs a punch, but it is still a 2.5 GHz PowerPC G5. By today’s standards, it would be considered pretty low powered I am sure. However, in daily use, I can honestly say that I don’t really notice that. In fact, the opposite is true. The machine feels crisp and fast and I can do everything on it that I was doing on the iMac before (with the exception of managing my most recent iPod, the 160 GB iPod Classic, which I purchased just before Apple discontinued them). As I have often opined, “older” does not equal “obsolete”. This machine is fully up to the challenges of the day, and I am thoroughly enjoying working on it once again.

In the meantime, as we get fully settled in, and I get fully up to speed on my new job, the pace of posting should start to pick up here again. There is lots to do! I am finally in a position to load up my Gopher based vintage Mac software repository and of course there is the Power Mac G3 and AppleVision 850AV to work on … All of this and more will be tracked here in the Happy Macs blog. Stay tuned!