I’m not a huge fan of Apple or most Apple products, but one Apple product I do find very handy is the Apple AirPort Express wireless base station. I’ve bridged our AirPort Express to our wireless router. What makes the AirPort Express so great is its portability. On a couple of occasions I’ve used the AirPort Express to set up Ubuntu on a laptop. Since the wireless in the AirPort Express is already configured all I need to do is find a wall outlet and a Cat5e cable. Plugging the laptop into the base station is just like setting up a wired network. Once Linux is installed and updates are done I can easily grab the wireless drivers and the notebook install is done.
Basically it saves me from plugging directly into our router, which is already crowded with devices and would require a very long Cat5e cable.
Mac OS X
Quite some time ago I started a discussion in a computer refurbisher’s list about the validity of installing Mac OS on refurbished Apple systems. We get a variety of iMacs and eMacs generally ranging from 350MHz G3′s to 1.2GHz G4′s. Since these systems are all PowerPC-based the latest Mac OS X will not install on them. But the real issue for us was whether or not we could install ANY Mac OS X on them. In most cases the answer appears to be “no.”
One very large refurbisher was quite insistent that their authority, a former prison guard (which makes no difference, a prison guard is not a lawyer), was correct in stating that installing Mac OS did not require the original discs. But the “Apple Computer, Inc. Software License Agreement” states quite clearly “This license allows you to install or operate the Apple Software only on a computer system that came bundled with a licensed version of the Mac OS at the time of original manufacture.”
Microsoft has a couple of programs catering to refurbishers, the Microsoft Authorized Refurbisher Program and the Microsoft Registered Refurbisher Program. While many perceive Microsoft to be an evil giant, they at least recognize the reuse market, and in fact they do a pretty good job of supporting that market with marketing materials, email support, and an every changing and updating of available software. (Recently they added Windows 7 to the mix of software available to refurbishers)
Apple does have a refurbisher program but like everything else it’s completely controlled by Apple. In the future if we start getting Intel-based Macs they’re more likely to get a Windows license than Mac OS simply because of Apple’s lack of a good reuse program.
If people donate the original CDs/DVDs that came with the Mac we install the software. Sadly most of the OS X software for G3′s and G4′s is so old it’s almost useless as an Internet computer. Safari is so outdated on versions of Mac OS X before 10.4 that it isn’t functional for most sites, and other web browsers like Firefox will only install on 10.4 or later.
For the most part Macs end up going to our recycler or to someone who wants it for nothing, which incredibly enough isn’t very often.