Using a 14-year-old Mac mini as your daily driver. Can it really be done?

“Last week, I sent a piece extolling the joys of the Hackintosh, a concept that is very much a response to the demise of ‘the good old days’ of Apple,” Ernie Smith writes for Tedium. “But as I was working out the details on that piece, I had a not-so-secret hobby that was taking up quite a bit of my time.”

“I was trying to figure out if I could revive a Genuine Apple Product™ that had seen better days. My acquisition of this product was a total impulse buy: After reading up on the Mac Mini G4 and remembering that it was the first computer I ever owned that I had not purchased refurbished or used (though not my first Mac), I decided to relive those days by buying a new one,” Smith writes. “I gave myself some parameters, however: It had to be as cheap as possible, and if it was broken, I had to fix it. After some research and some careful bidding on eBay, I bought a damaged one — for $10, plus shipping. And I got it to work.”

“Linux is an option, of course—a number of the open source operating system’s flavors, most notably Ubuntu, support the PowerPC platform, which has seen wide use in a number of other places, most famously the Xbox 360 and Nintendo Wii. Maybe I’ll do that at some point. But honestly, I was just hoping to relive my own past a little bit — in the form of a computer that was once the machine I found necessary to get through my day. But thanks to the internet’s drumbeat, I can’t do that,” Smith writes. “The Mac Mini G4 is not a sign of our past. It is a sign of our future — a future that will not allow the past to survive on its own terms.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Now, if that Mac mini were an Intel-based Mac mini, instead of the 1st gen. Power PC model from 2005, Smith would have had a lot better luck. He’d be able to run a more modern OS. It’s the divide between PowerPC- and Intel-based Macs that’s a leap too far.

[UPDATE: 6:49pm ET: Corrected take as per “JC” below. Mac mini (Early 2009, Macmini3,1) can run OS X El Capitan 10.11.6 and macOS Mojave via Mojave Patcher.]


  1. The second generation Mac mini from 2007 (2,1 designation) cannot run High Sierra, not even close to it. Officially it can only run 10.7 “Lion.” I’ve got three of them laying around in various stages of repair, using one to power my big screen, watching movies via VLC. I used a bunch of these for servers 5-12 years ago.

    On the other hand, I fired up a 30-year old Mac Plus from its original external hard drive after sitting in an attic for 25 years Ran great. Rather nostalgic seeing all the old apps and files I used and created way back when.

  2. Still using a lampshade iMac from 2002. Basic stuff, nothing extreme. Actually runs pretty quick. Really useful to have the screen move around for my customers to see. The dome is comparatively large though.

  3. I have a KVM switcher and have a G4 MacMini running Tiger, so it can still do Classic, a first generation Intel Mac Mini that is partitioned in two for Snow Leopard and a Boot Camp XP, and the original G5 Tower 2003 running Snow Leopard.

    Across the room is my Cube purchased after 2000 MacWorld NY with the first airport (flying saucer), fully functional running Tiger, but also can boot into OS9!

    And PS: I have my first Mac, the 512K FatMac and that baby still boots up!!

    I have purchased 59 Macs since 1985.

  4. Wow.. sorry i clicked on “read more…” which took me to his web site that went on for pages and pages.. this guy needs to dig into photoshop or illustrator and create something worth viewing.. what a waste of time and talent going on ad-infinitum about something no-one cares about. I’m using a Mid-2012 Macbook pro with dozens of current great apps, so why would i want to waste my remaining life tinkering with a 14 year old Mac mini! Sheesh! Rather rebuild something useful like 14 year old car!

    1. Hi macawesome88, nice to meet you! Thanks for pointing out that the site lives up to its name. 🙂 I understand it’s not for everyone, but the entire concept around Tedium is overthinking things many people don’t consider. It’s a reaction to clickbait, and your reaction isn’t an accident!

      Anyway, as a creator who has worked in a lot of realms including graphic design, illustration, and editing, let me just say that I want to encourage you in your own initiatives but point out, respectfully, that there are many ways to create things! Just because John Zorn is a little out there for some folks, and his stuff doesn’t get played on the radio like Kenny G, it doesn’t mean he should put away his sax. Likewise, I hope you’re creating cool things on your computer even if they’re not everyone’s up of tea!

      In a world where so much time is wasted on endeavors that may not pan out to anything, I think there’s something valuable in sweating the small stuff sometimes. Not enough people do it. It’s OK if you don’t. But I’ll enjoy my long, strange trip the same way that you enjoy your own. Cheers.

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