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An OS for a powerbook 3400c

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I have a powerbook 3400c 240mhz 603e 80mb 4gb hdd. its currently in possetion of my mum but i just bought her a G3 ibook to replace it (a 300hmz clamshell, it WILL run tiger or ill scream)


It has OS9.22 installed now but its really slow, still usable though. I will be using it for work to connect to Networks for testing/confuguring comms equiptment and to IOLans and jetstreams via serial. i need a decent OS that will be able to do all this and still be fun for some messing coz i like to try new things.


My current options are Mac OS 7.5 (its free so why not), OS 8.6 or OS X server 1.x (if i can find a copy in the UK)


I need to know what others think is best or if there are any other options (maybe Linux).

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Well, I can tell you what I did with my PowerBook 3400c (200 MHz, 80 MB of memory and a 10 GB hard drive)... I run Mac OS 8.6 on it.


Why the Mac OS?

Because there is nearly nothing that I can't run on this system in that configuration. Here is a list of installed apps*...

Adobe Acrobat 5.0

Adobe Distiller 5.0

Adobe Acrobat Catalog 4.0

Adobe Dimensions 1.0

Adobe GoLive 5.0

Adobe Illustrator 8.0

Adobe ImageReady 2.0

Adobe LiveMotion 1.0

Adobe PageMaker 6.5

Adobe PageMill 3.0

Adobe Photoshop 5.5

Adobe Premiere 5.1

Adobe Type Manager Deluxe 4.6

AppleWorks 6.2.8

Apple iTunes 1.0

BBEdit Lite 6.0

ClarisDraw 1.0


Corel WordPerfect 3.5e

CorelDraw 8 LE

Fetch 3.0.3

FileMaker Pro 5.0

Fractal Design Painter 5.0.3

Macromedia Flash 5.0

Mathcad PLUS 6

Mathematica 2.2.2

MathReader 4.2

MetaCreations Bryce 3D

Microsoft Excel 2001**

Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.1.7**

Microsoft Outlook Express 5.0.6**

Microsoft PowerPoint 2001**

Microsoft Word 2001**

Microsoft Word 5.1a**

Mozilla 1.3.1

Netscape 7.0.2

Netscape Communicator 4.8

Nisus Compact 3.4

Nisus Write 4.1.6

Opera 6.0.3

Softpress Freeway 2.0.3 LE

PiXELS 3D Studio 3.7

QuarkXPress 3.32

QuarkXPress 4.11

QuickTime Pro 5

QuickTime 6.0.3



Sound Studio 2.0.7

SoundEdit 16 2.0.7

SoundEffects 0.9.2

Strata VideoShop 4.0

StrataVision 3D 4.0

Theorist 2.0.1

Which includes a GB of training material covering almost every app installed. This system is designed to be a training system, and since most of the primary features of todays software titles were there in previous versions, a system like this with tons of titles and materials to work from can get people up to speed on software before having to buy the current version (and this hopefully helps them become productive even sooner with that new software).


Plus it serves as a back up school system, so it has 700 MB of math documentation on it (about 300 PDF papers), and a back up work system with almost 800 MB of documentation on Apple hardware and software (mostly in PDF, with some in HTML).


And the games I have installed...




Dark Forces

DOOM (Ultimate)


Final DOOM (Plutonia)

Final DOOM (TNT)

Hellcats Over the Pacific

Hellcats- Leyte Gulf


Marathon 2

Marathon Infinity


Myth: The Fallen Lords

Souls in the System



Warcraft II

Wolfenstein 3D

Wolfenstein Castle

Wolfenstein Resurrection

Wolfenstein- Spear of Destiny

Most of these are here for my wife, though the DOOM, Marathon and Hellcats series are there for me.


Why Mac OS 8.6 in particular?

Three reasons:

  1. Mac OS 8.6 was by far (in my opinion) the most stable of all the non-Unix Apple operating systems. Not counting Blue Box in Rhapsody 5.6, I have four systems (PM 8100, PM 8600, PB 3400c & PB Duo 2300c) that are running Mac OS 8.6. And all of them are great systems.
  2. Mac OS 8.6 has the best resource usage to feature ratio. That is to say, 8.6 uses less system resources while providing more features than any other non-Unix Apple operating system. I can run just about any Carbon app made, while having the system itself use between 50% (compared to Mac OS 9.0.x/9.1) to 25% (compared to Mac OS 9.2.x) of the memory of later versions of the Mac OS.
  3. Carbon compatibility, which is missing from Mac OS 7.6 to 8.1. That stops you from running quite a few later apps.

This is not to say that Mac OS 9.x.x, Mac OS 7.6.1, Mac OS 8.1 or Mac OS X Server 1.x aren't great systems to run on a PowerBook 3400c... it is just that Mac OS 8.6 was the only system that gave me the most compatibility while leaving enough system resources to let my applications run nicely.


As it stands, even with the system being a little on the slow side (yours is, of course, faster than mine) I can do just about anything on that 3400c that you can do on a computer. For example, I can make a complete web site with integrated Flash and QuickTime elements with what I have on that system... which isn't too bad for a 10 year old system.







* To answer the question... Yes, I do own legal and licensed copies of all that software. Some are older versions of software I've been using for years, others are old versions of software I bought on ebay so I would have a version of them to learn from. Two examples are Premiere and Mathematica, both of which I got on ebay at $25 and $50 respectively.


** I, personally, don't use Microsoft products (and haven't used them since 2002). But this system is set up as a training system which gets loaned out to clients and other people I work with so they can learn how to use software they may need. So even though
may not care to use Microsoft products, I don't expect others to abstain from them like I am.

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Thanks for the replay, i have been leaning towards OS 8.6 mainly due to compatibility, i would love to get OSX server 1.x running on there but the lack of Blue Box puts me off (i have studied your site :( ) so such an informative reply from probably the guy most experienced with Apple Operating systems here is the best advice i could hope for. I will try to get myself a copy of OS 8 on ebay, even if i end up not using it on the powerbook i will find a use for it some place else and its not exactly expensive.


Thanks again for taking the time to post.



I would still like to hear from anybody else that may think differnet.



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I would have to agree with RacerX on this one. I personally think that Mac OS 8.6 is the best non-Unix Mac OS of ALL-TIME! With a kernel that boasts complete multitasking and memory protection... this one rocks the house.



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Well, in wanting to make sure that all views on this subject are presented, I know someone who is very experienced with the PowerBook 3400c and a major fan of Mac OS 7.6.1.


He and I differ on which OS we prefer... but I'm a strong believer in helping people find the right solution for them. And sometimes those solutions are different than what works for me.


At any rate, even if you decide on 8.6 (which I favor :( ), his site (System 7 Today) is still a very great resource.

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Macintosh PowerBook 3400c

Codename: "Hooper"

Introduced: February 1997

Discontinued: November 1997

Machine ID: 306

Model Number: n/a

Support Status: Obsolete

Processor: PowerPC 603ev

Processor Speed: 180, 200, 240 MHz

Coprocessor: Built-in FPU

Cache: 16 KB data, 16 KB instruction L1, 256 KB L2

System Bus: 40 MHz

Hard Drive: 1.3 (180 MHz), 2.0 (200 MHz) or 3.0 (240 MHz) GB

Media: 1.44 MB floppy, Optional 6x (180 MHz), 6x (200 MHz), or 12x (240 MHz) CD-ROM

Weight and Dimensions (US): 7.2 lbs., 2.4" H x 11.5" W x 9.5" D

Weight and Dimensions (Metric): 3.3 kg, 6.1 cm H x 29.2 cm W x 24.1 cm D

Original Mac OS: Mac OS 7.6.1 (PowerBook 3400 Enabler)

Maximum Mac OS: Mac OS 9.1

Firmware: Open Firmware with Macintosh ROM

Logicboard RAM: 16 MB

Maximum RAM: 144 MB

Type of RAM Slots: 1 - PB3400

Minimum RAM Speed: 60 ns

Graphics Card: None

Graphics Memory: 2 MB

Built-in Display: 12.1" Active Matrix 16-bit SVGA LCD

Resolutions: 800 x 600

Display Connection: HDI-15

Expansion Slots: 2 - Type II or 1 - Type III PC Card

Expansion Bays: 5.25-inch bay (Accepts PB 5300 or PB 190 modules)

Hard Drive Bus: ATA

Backup Battery: 3.6V lithium

Power Adapter: --

System Battery: Macintosh PowerBook Intelligent Battery (32 Wh Lithium Ion)

Max Watts: 45 Watts

Ethernet: Optional (180 MHz) or 10BASE-T (200 and 240 MHz)

Infrared: 1 - 1.152 Mbps

Modem: Optional (180 MHz) 33.6k (200 and 240 MHz)

ADB: 1

Serial: 1


USB: None

FireWire: None

Audio In: 1 - 3.5-mm analog input jack, 1 - Built-in microphone

Audio Out: 1 - 3.5-mm analog output jack, 4 - Built in speakers

History: When it was announced in February 1997, The PowerBook 3400 was the fastest portable computer in the world. After several years of PowerBook trouble, Apple hoped to revitalize its portable market share with this new PCI-based model. Its drive bay was compatible with the older 5300 model, and it was the first PowerBook to utilize the 1 MB IrDA Infra-red standard. The 3400 ranged from $4,500 U.S. for 180 MHz and no CD-ROM to $6,500 for 240 MHz, fully loaded. (The 240 MHz model was announced at the same time as the slower models, but shipped several months later.)

Created by Mactracker Copyright 2001 - 2006 Ian Page


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thanks for the replies, i wont get the powerbook back until next month but im currently rebuilding my Powermac 9600 to test things on, its much faster than the powerbook but ill atleast get a feel for whats possible. My first mac was an ibook G3 running Panther so i never really used Pre X apple operating systems except for system 6 running under shapeshifter on a 40mhz 68040 Amiga 1200 about 10 years ago or more.

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  • 1 month later...

I second 8.6. I used to run 9.2.2 on my 3400c and UMAX c600 because I needed to run new programs, but nowadays that hardware is so outdated it doesn't matter. Even 9.1 is so much faster than 9.2 it's not funny. 8.6 is a good medium, it'll be fast but still run most things you want it to. Of course you could go with 7.5.6- any newer Powermac will fly with OS 7. But you'll give up a lot of compatibility.

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I have it up and running with OS 8.6 now and its not doing too bad, the only problem im having is browsing the internet is sloooooooow. when i click on a link it takes ages for the page to appear, i have no idea if its caused by the network card or if a 240mhz 603 is just too slow at decoding images. it was the same with OS 9.22 and every browser is just as slow (tried IE4.5, IE5.1.7, netscape 4.7 + 7, opera 5 and 6 and icab). i have a lucient WaveLan silver pc card on the way and am gonna get airport working on it (it can be done) so that should prove if its the card causing the slowness or not but i know a Pentium 166 is much faster running firefox on windows 2000 so the CPU should be able to cope. Then its back to Ubuntu to see if i can get a decent display from X :P

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  • 2 months later...

my experience is that the best one is os 9.1 although it uses more rams for the system but speed is much faster than 8.6 , besides the running ie on 9.1 is way faster than 8.6 and lot of new software such as itune , yahoo needs 9.1


my two cents

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  • 3 months later...

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