Charles Moore's Mailbag

Mac mini Server Costs, UPS Canada Brokerage Fees, iDVD on OS 9, an Install CD Trick, and More

Charles Moore - 2005.03.07 - Tip Jar

Mac mini Server Costs: Who's Nuts?

From Peter da Silva

[From Real Costs of a Mac mini Server] "You know, I've been running the Mac Help Desk site for nearly three years, and have never been asked 'Am I nuts?'"

Well, it sounded like a crazy combination of capabilities:

"colo space is generally sold in 1U chunks, and a Mini is taller than that"

"Airport? $79.00"

That sure sounds like you're concerned about rack mounting, and you must admit that rack-mounting and then using wireless connectivity is at the least eccentric.

Okay, so let's consider this headless Mac as a Samba server somewhere. I'll give you the AirPort, but I won't budge an inch on the rest of my prices - well, maybe one inch on the monitor if and only if there's no other computer you can get to anywhere near the mini. If there's another computer nearby, any other computer, you can use its monitor for setup and VNC in afterwards. If not, a used 15" SVGA that's quite adequate for supporting any number of minis (one at a time) will set you back maybe ten bucks - I just bought a used 17" Trinitron for $40.

Here's some real prices from the net, today:

If you can't get a more than adequate monitor for your Mac mini for under $100, you're just not trying. Maybe $10 is unreasonable, but $50 is a generous allowance for a used monitor, and over $100 is just bidding up the price.

And you can get USB WiFi for a lot less than an AirPort. It won't look as good, but it'll work fine, if you spend $33 on

So, here's my new price:

  • Mac mini, 512M RAM, $574
  • 2 Hr UPS, APC CS 150, $60
  • Keyboard and mouse: $10
  • Monitor: $50
  • USB WiFi: $33

Total: $687

As for why I care - I just keep seeing these comparisons of the Mac mini with this or that, and they always way over configure either the Mac mini solution or the alternative to make it look better or worse. This looks like more of the same; show me where I'm wrong.

Re: "Real Costs of a Mac mini Server"

From Christopher Laspa

Hello Charles,

I read this piece with some curiosity, as there seems to be quite an interest in SMB / SoHo file server devices - and in the Mac community that emphasis seems to be currently focusing on the Mac mini. Actually, I too am looking around, but because of my legacy hardware (3400c & G3 WallStreet) and future hardware possibilities, I was looking for a solution that was more than just FireWire or USB. I need an ethernet connection, which supports all my gear nicely.

In my travels I found the soon-to-be-released LaCie Ethernet Disk mini, which initially will provide a 250 GB disk for US$299. They are also (or will be) offering a 400 & 500 version according to their site. The other side is there is a USB 'personal' connector and browser based set up and administration. More info can be found at their site.

I also found another SoHo file server solution in Canada, but I haven't been able to establish pricing yet. It has a 300 GB disk. Info on it is here (see: NAS 110):

I don't know much about this firm, but I do remember visiting their booth at Comdex (Toronto) a number of years ago. At that time they were promoting some very flash LCD monitors.

Personally, I think these NAS solutions could be a much better solution than a Mac mini, just by considering the hard drive size alone. Drive speed is another factor. Anyhow, I hope this is useful for the readers of Low End Mac.

Oh yes, one final note. Marc did not waste his money on a PowerBook 3400c. Just looking at Scott's input above regarding reliability should prove that. True, OS 8x/9x isn't for everyone, but lots of us who are creators vs. collaborators can get along just fine with this stuff. I still know of pro writers using PowerBook 160s, 180s etc. And why not? Whatever works! I only wish is my 3400c had 24-bit colour instead of 16. Material created in Photoshop 4.0 and Illustrator 8.0 would look a bit better (and a touch more accurate) on screen.

As always: Great column!

Christopher M. Laspa

Hi Christopher,

Thanks for the comments. I agree, if an old PowerBook or other Mac is doing the job you require of it, then you're in great shape. I still use my 233 MHz WallStreet every day.


UPS Canada Brokerage Fees

From Kevin Hayes

I came across your site when I was looking for an explanation of the excessive brokerage fees I get from UPS. Today was my last straw, as I received a shipment with a $74 dollar Canadian value and was charged a total of $32 in brokerage fees, etc. I too am taking a vow to never have UPS send my packages ever again!


Hi Kevin,

Tell me about it!

Whenever possible I instruct shippers not to use UPS for anything they're sending me from stateside, but I still occasionally get burned by UPS' outrageous "brokerage fees."

The piece de resistance was last summer when a UPS driver decided to save himself a 24 mile round trip to my house, found out where my wife worked (a 19th century village restoration), got his truck through the gate by implying that he had a shipment for that operation, then demanded a $50 brokerage fee on the item (value less than $100).

I complained to UPS Canada customer service, who said they would follow it up, but I never heard back from them.


Regarding iDVD for Mac OS 9

From: Michael Samarin

Hello Charles,

Regarding iDVD for Mac OS 9 and External DVD burner for Mac OS 9 topics in Miscellaneous Ramblings. I had also Quicksilver 867 with SuperDrive (manufactured in Nov 2001), and it came with iDVD for OS 9. In fact, I burned my very first DVD on this particular setup with iDVD and Mac OS 9.

Christopher Beaver should make full software restore from original 4 CDs. He will get iDVD installed only if his Quicksilver model originally came with SuperDrive. However, he should be aware that it will clear his hard drive completely. It was one of the first dual boot software restores CDs with Mac OS X as an option.

Best regards

Friendly, Michael

Hi Michael,

Thanks for the helpful info.


iMac Install Disc Trick

From Finegans

Here's a great trick you can do with the iMac Restore disks. I've done this with iMac Restore disks for OS 8.6, 9.0, 9.04. Try it - it works!

Put the iMac Restore disk in your CD drive. Open the "Configurations" folder. Drag the "iMac.HD./2012/charles-moore-picks-up-a-new-low-end-truck/" file onto your copy of Stuffit Expander. KAZAAM! After a few moments, you'll have a copy of the iMac HD on your desktop. Open it up - find the System folder - copy it to your hard-drive (you may have to rename a few things!!!). KAZAAM PART 2!!! You have a spankin' new version of the OS on your hard drive.

Cheaper than buying the OS install disks from Apple, the iMac Restore disks are all over eBay.

Let me know how it works, and I'll be glad to field questions.


Hi Dan,

Thanks for the interesting and useful information.


Performa 6300Installing OS 9 on a Performa 6360

From Nick

Dear Charles,

I am hoping you can direct me to information for my Performa 6360. I am trying to upgrade it to run OS 9. I found out it will not run 9.2, but will run 9.0 or maybe 9.1?

I bought a 9.04 installer disc, and it still won't install - it will boot up in OS 9 on this CD, but the error message is that this computer won't run the software.

There is a Sonnet G3 L2 card installed, but I have tried it turned off to no avail. I have read plenty of posts that this machine should run this software, even with the G3 card. Any directions would be most appreciated. Thanks!


Hi Nick,

OS 9.0.4 or 9.1 should work.

Your 6360 doesn't support OS 9.2, but there is an installer patch hack that allows you to install 9.2.1 or 9.2.2 on certain "Old World" Macs that Apple has decided to drop support for. OS 9.1 is the final version that Apple allows you to install on anything previous to the Beige G3.

The hack works with all of the "PowerSurge" models, including the 7300, 7500, 8500, 8600, 9500, and 9600. The 6500 seems to work as well. They also work on the PowerBook 2400/3400/3500(Kanga). The NuBus PowerMacs (6100, 7100, 8100 series, and the Duo 2300) have only been a limited success.

For more information, visit <>

Your OS 9.0.4 disk may be a restore disk for a specific model Mac. See Finegan's workaround in the letter above.


OS 9.0.4 from iMac DV Installs on G4 Sawtooth

Power Mac G4Ted Bragg


Thought I'd toss my two cents in on the OS 9 install problem. I put my iMac DV's OS 9.0.4 disc on a G4/450 Sawtooth with no problem. It installed just fine.

I think the problem lies in the iMac DV install disc's reliance on the ATI video system and onboard USB, specs both my iMac DV and G4 tower share, but the 7200 series doesn't.

Generic OS 9 discs should work just find for his machine. OWC has them for $37.

-Ted Bragg

Hi Ted,

Sometimes it will work; sometimes not.

For example, the OS X 10.2.3 Restore disk that came with my iBook won't boot my Pismo PowerBook, and the OS 8.1 CD that came with my WallStreet won't install a system on my Umax SuperMac S900.

Thanks for the OWC link. Best price I've seen for OS 9.


PowerBook 3400c

From Heather Anne Hurd


Really enjoyed the articles regarding the 3400c. I, too, have a mint circa '97 PB 3400c/180. It's simply my favorite PowerBook. I have a dozen PowerBooks, ranging from a 1991 PowerBook 100 (still works great!) to a PowerBook G3/233 WallStreet.

I love them all, especially the PB G3 and my PowerBook 1400c/333, but my 3400c is my fave. It's like the 747-400 of late '90's PowerBooks. Huge, heavy, solid, reliable, reasonably fast (still) - and the active matrix screen is one of the best I have ever seen on any laptop.

It does WiFi and most everything else under OS 9 (9.1 on mine). I am planning on maxing out the RAM soon and getting a new battery. Simply put, it's a great PowerBook that I plan to use for years to come. I especially liked the "downgrade" story - going from a 2002 iBook to a 1997 PB 3400c, cool!!! Anyway, the PB 3400c is a great older PowerBook and very affordable!

Heather Anne Hurd

Hi Heather Anne,

Wow, you really are a classic PowerBook fan. Love your 3400 as 747-400 metaphor. Thanks for the testimonial and rock on!


PowerBook 3400c and the Grey OEM Mac OS 9 CD

From Stéphane Gervais


I too have a PowerBook 3400c, given to me by my father after he upgraded to an eMac, that is currently running with Mac OS 8.1. I figured it's time to upgrade the poor thing. It runs perfectly still. I've changed the hard drive myself to a 20 gig and added the maximum memory allowed. Internet connection through a wireless Oricono PC Card without a single hitch. And now I want to upgrade the OS to 9 so that I can enjoy some of the new features on the Internet.

So, my question is, what is the deal with the grey OEM CD's? If it is marked 'iMac' on the CD, does it mean that only iMacs can use it? I have found sites that sell these CD as being able to perform full install on close to any Mac computer. Is that true? Or will I have to purchase a real retail version of Mac OS 9 to be able to upgrade my PowerBook? The white CD with the orange 9 on it.

Thank you in advance.

Stéphane E. Gervais

Hi Stéphane,

OEM Restore CDs that ship with new Apple computers will sometimes work with other models, but often not. I can't predict which will be the case with what model.

One trick with the Classic Mac OS is that you can usually just drag a copy of an installed System Folder from one Mac to another so long as the destination machine is supported by that system version.

You could also try the workaround Dan described above.

Doing this of course falls outside Apple's licensing parameters.


Booting Clamshell iBook from FireWire Drives

From Angela Brett

Hi Charles,

I have a FireWire drive with Tiger installed which I often boot my clamshell iBook SE 466 MHz from. The other day I tried booting a PowerBook G4 1 GHz from it so I could see some of the fancier eye-candy, but it wouldn't boot from the FireWire drive. I was a bit concerned as I'm getting a new PowerBook G4 very soon and want to be sure that it will be able to boot from the drive. While researching this, I found an intriguing comment on the page /1996/umax-supermac-j700//misc/05/0203.html:

"Editor's note: Two FireWire-equipped Macs that cannot boot from FireWire drives are the clamshell iBook (366 & 466 MHz) and blue & white Power Mac G3"

I'm most surprised to read this, since my clamshell iBook has no problem booting off the FireWire drive, while the PB G4 was not even powering up the drive early enough to boot from it. It's a SmartDisk FireLite drive, and before I got that disk I booted the iBook from my iPod.

Angela Brett

Power Mac 9500The Dead Power Mac 9500

From Dominic Canterucci


I was re reading the specs of the 9500, and came across the saga of yer dead 9500. How did it ever play out? 'Tis a shame I didn't hear about it earlier, as I have a spare 9500 motherboard, in my closet. I've used the 9500 since I got it in early 1996. At the moment, it's got almost a gig of RAM, two hard drives (one running 8.6, the other 9.1), a Radius Thunder Card, and a Newer Tech G3 card running at almost 500 MHz, and a USB card. All in all, a pretty sweet machine quietly heading into it's 10th year of steady service, with over 43,000 hours on it. I dig the 9500, almost as much as my Lisa. Of course, the coolest Mac of the era, which was a clone, was the Umax Super Mac S900, which one day I'll track one down and add it to my Mac collection ranging from a Lisa, 128k, and so on.



Hi Nick,

We never did get the old 9500 going again after it got fried. I think the carcass may still be around somewhere - long since stripped for parts.

Both my son and I got Umax SuperMac S900s. Both have been upgraded with FireWire and USB cards, and his with a 500 MHz Sonnet G3. It runs Panther happily. I don't use mine much anymore, but it's still a cool machine.


Editor's note: We still have a couple S900s in use at home. Two of my sons are happily using them with OS 8.x or 9.x. They are real workhorses. dk

PowerBook Tech

From Martin Rocek

I am sorry to bother you, but some time ago, you wrote about PowerBook Tech. I went to their website and bought a TiBook 400 logic board. The site accepted my credit card (which has been charged), but I have received no communication of any kind from them, despite repeated email messages to them. Their phone number is disconnected. Am I being scammed? Should I stop payment on my Visa card?

Any information or advice would be greatly appreciated.


Martin Rocek

Hi Martin,

This is troubling news.

I don't know what might be going on, and it would be inappropriate for me to advise you as to whether you should stop payment (is that possible with a credit card?).

I guess you have probably tried directory assistance for a possible new phone number.

They're in Berkeley CA. I ran a Better Business Bureau search, and the following was what came up:

The Bureau has processed one customer complaint on this company since the Bureau file opened in February 2003. The company addressed the disputed issues of the complaint and the customer verified that the complaint has been resolved satisfactorily.

The Bureau processed a total of 1 complaint about this company in the last 36 months, our standard reporting period. Of the total of 1 complaint closed in 36 months, 0 was closed in the last year.

This complaint concerned:
1 Delivery

It was closed as:
1 Assumed Resolved

Good luck!


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Charles Moore has been a freelance journalist since 1987 and began writing for Mac websites in May 1998. His The Road Warrior column was a regular feature on MacOpinion, he is news editor at and a columnist at If you find his articles helpful, please consider making a donation to his tip jar.

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