Mac Fallout Shelter

Software that Worked During My Months in Iraq with My PowerBook

- 2005.12.20 - Tip Jar

Now that I have the PowerBook G3 Lombard and the necessary hardware for everyday use, we'll look at the software I used in Iraq when I had periods of months at a time without Internet access.

Operating Systems

  • Mac OS X 10.3 Panther: At the time I was deployed, this was the latest and greatest from Apple. I runs great on the Lombard and sadly is the last version of Mac OS X to officially supported on the Lombard. I did the whole upgrade ladder - every time I managed to get access to the Internet, the first thing I would do is run software Update.
  • Mac OS 9.2: The Lombard can dual boot and I highly recommend it. Its better to reboot into Mac OS 9 than to use classic because of speed. Another import thing is that Apple's DVD player software only works in Mac OS 9 and not in Mac OS X.

Web Browsers

  • Safari: I had some problems with different versions, but it became much more stable when I downloaded the version with Mac OS X 10.3.9. It's a great browser.
  • Camino: Camino worked on pages that caused other browsers problems.
  • Firefox: Firefox is another browser that also worked good.


  • iChat: iChat works great with other Macs running Panther, but it requires a fast connection for voice or webcam. AIM for Windows must be XP and didn't always work on my PC laptop. I also had to use iChatUSBcam to get iChat working with my IceCam. IceCam is a very good USB webcam that's fully compatible with Macs and is flexible.
  • Yahoo Messenger: Yahoo Messenger almost always worked for me. It's a bit outdated (last update 2003.09.17) but allows video chat with different platforms and at slow connection speeds.


  • Mail: Apple really did it good by making Mail. I find it a whole lot better than Eudora. The Address Book is nice and has a great layout.

Work related

  • ZTerm: The best solution I found for logging into console on communications equipment using a USB-to-serial adapter. It's compatible with Panther and even Tiger. ZTerm never gave me a problem, not even in mission critical moments. It works great to configure Cisco routers.
  • Microsoft Office: I used the old 2001 edition both in Classic mode and in Mac OS 9. Both ran at decent speeds. Excel and Word documents for reports and graphs made me look like a "squared away soldier".
  • Network Utility: A great time saver for network admins like me.


  • iPhoto: Great for organizing the hundreds of photos I took during the deployment. iPhoto is also great for reducing the size and quality of files when sharing your pics with friends and family.
  • Adobe Photoshop: Simply the best photo editor. I used Photoshop 8, and it ran at decent speeds on the Lombard - just make sure you don't run any other programs at the same time or it will get slow.


  • VLC: VLC is a great "play everything" media player. It's especially nice because it will let you play DVDs on Panther with your Lombard. Apple's OS X DVD Player doesn't support the Lombard. VLC also plays VCDs and tons of other formats and media types.
  • MPlayerOSX: MPlayerOSX will also play almost anything - especially things VLC wont play.
  • iTunes: iTunes is great for organizing music and buying music as well. I really wish they had podcasts back then. I would listen to InsideMac every month from the Macworld CDs included when you buy the magazine. It was the closest thing to radio or a podcast available to me.



  • Quake III Arena: This is a good multiplayer first person shooter (FPS) and will let you play against people all over the world, and it's very easy to setup on a local network. It works with Windows and Linux, so everyone can play. Quake III Arena runs great on the Lombard in Mac OS 9, but not on OS X. Be sure to get the Quake III Gold Edition, because it includes versions for both Mac and PC.
  • Return to Castle Wolfenstein: This is a great single player FPS. Multiplayer option worked but was too slow on the Lombard.

When I got my Lombard and installed Panther, it was in fact the first time I had ever used Mac OS X. I was blown away by the number of great features. The Lombard turn out to be a very good machine to learn this new version of the Mac OS.

DVD playing was best in OS 9 with Apple's DVD Player, which takes advantage of the Lombard's built-in hardware DVD decoder. If you must watch a DVD in OS X, VLC was good (but a bit choppy).

I am not a big gamer; I mostly just play FPS. The Lombard did not disappoint me - it was stable and loyal to me in any situation. I used my Lombard in 135° Fahrenheit heat, and the fan was blowing hard. I could hardly see the display because of the sun, but it kept on working.

This ends my series on the Lombard as a field computer in Iraq. Next time I'm going to talk about networks.

As always, feedback and comments are welcomed. LEM

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