Saturday, September 4, 2010

A/UX - Apple UNIX

A/UX - Apple UNIX

A/UX was Apple's solution to Sun workstations in an attempt to break into the business and server market. Since the Macintosh could only boot into its standard system software, the UNIX layer ran on top of System 7 as seen in the screenshot image (A/UX 3.1.1, the latest version created).

A/UX 3.1.1 required a 68030 CPU with FPU. A popular choice was the Mac IIci with cache card, or a Quadra 950 which offered the most powerful solution. A/UX does not run on all 68040 based systems. In particular, AV systems such as the 840av will crash upon boot. 68LC040 based systems are incompatible due to the lack of FPU, and interestingly enough when a full 68040 CPU is installed in some of these systems it was still unable to run.

I have personally run A/UX 3.1 on a IIci and Quadra 610. Failed attempts include the 840av and LC475 with full 68040. My next attempt will be an SE/30 which are known to run it just fine, albeit with a memory upgrade.

Monday, August 30, 2010

PowerBook 5300

Macintosh PowerBook 5300

The PowerBook 5300 was Apple's jump into mobile PowerPC based notebooks. It was offered in 100MHz and 117MHz configurations using the 603e CPU. Like the 190, the 5300 came in both grayscale and color screen configurations. Base memory was 8mb expandable to 64mb. This series was plagued with a few problems, most notably being the original lithium ion batteries catching on fire during testing at Apple. This led to a recall and replacement with a NiMH style found in the 190 series. For a PowerPC notebook, the 5300 was also painfully slow compared to its desktop counterpart as the CPU lacked L2 cache.

My personal PowerBook 5300 is actually a frankenstein unit as the screen was pulled from a 190cs model. I have 24mb RAM and a 540mb HD, running OS 8.1. I find that performance is only slightly better than my PowerBook 190 in standard tasks.

Ultimately the 5300 fails as a PowerPC notebook. Anyone considering purchasing one should instead look into the PowerBook 3400 which offers a larger screen and a better system design.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

PowerBook 190

Macintosh PowerBook 190

The PowerBook 190 ran on a 33MHz 68LC040 CPU and generally shipped with somewhere between 4-8mb RAM. The original 190 was a 16-shade grayscale display while the 190cs featured a full color display. This same form factor would go on to house the PowerBook 5300 series and allowed for swappable components.

My PowerBook 190 is loaded with 28mb RAM and a 540mb HD. MacOS 7.6.1 is currently installed. There is no built in networking on the 190 so you must use a PCMCIA card to connect to networks via either modem or ethernet. 

These systems can still be used today as a budget word processor for the road. The keyboard has a good feel to it and the design of the laptop allows you to type without causing wrist problems. Web browsing might not be to pleasant but the 190 is fast enough to use such software as Hotline and FirstClass when traveling.

Quadra 840av

Macintosh Quadra 840av

Introduced in 1993, the Macintosh Quadra 840av is the fastest 68K Mac before Apple moved to the PowerPC platform. The CPU clocks in at 40MHz and is a full 68040 compared to the 040 LC and Centris series which was typically without the FPU. These powerhouses can be upgraded to a maximum of 128mb RAM and support three Nubus expansion slots. S-video input and output are also standard additions to the logic board. The special DSP chip can be used by supported audio/video applications to increase performance.

The Quadra 840av supports System 7.1 through MacOS 8.1. The system does have one major drawback, which is the inability to run the Apple UNIX (A/UX) software due to the OS's incompatibility with the DSP chipset. A Quadra 800/950 must be used for A/UX.

My personal Quadra 840av setup includes a 2gb HD, Zip drive, 17" Multiple Scan display, and a full 128mb RAM. It runs MacOS 8.1 quite nicely.