Sunday, April 25, 2010

Yellow Dog - 2002 eMac Pt 1

Links: the eMac   eject the cd tray   eMac disassembly

A friend recently graced me with a CRT display 2002 eMac (apparently built 07/11/2002). The system would not boot as of late. These early eMacs are underpowered dinosaurs with 128MB of RAM, a 700 MHz processor, and so on, although they were the thing to have in 2002. To make it available for classroom use, a free OS, a keyboard, a mouse, and a GB of RAM seemed right, hopefully while remaining beneath $100.

some features
Model A1002 G4 700 MHZ Power PC
Firmware 4.x OS
Display 17" CD-R/W
NVIDIA graphics(32MB VRAM)
Upon disassembly, I learned I had also lucked into the prior owner's decision for a 512MB RAM upgrade, giving a total of ~641MB RAM. Taken with a 700MHz processor speed, watching video might or might not be possible.

Yellow Dog
To get it running, Yellow Dog linux looked like a natural choice. They've apparently released a PPC distro (in this case 6.1 dated 20081119) for some time. The originally installed software was Mac OSX 10.1.4, and it supposedly could handle up to 10.4.11. If any of these became available later, I could always blow-out the Yellow Dog.

For hardware upgrades, it looked like I could get a $50 keyboard, a $60 RAM upgrade to 1GB, upgrade the 2x speed "Super Drive" (optical drive) to a 32x DVD-RW, and put in a larger IDE HDD than the standard 60 GB, if I wanted. But a keyboard and mouse at least.

CD/DVD tray
In order to install Yellow Dog, I had to open the CD/DVD tray. The CD/DVD drive tray flap on the front of the shell would not open with the system powered-off. Powered-on, the system was not booting, so I could not use the keyboard eject. So, it was a Catch-22. Luckily, the shell needed to be removed anyway to clean 8 years of dust from the system.

I found, upon disassembly, that the flap opens from the top to the bottom, that is, the hinges are on the bottom of the flap covering the DVD drive. Unpowered, one can insert a small screwdriver at the top of the flap and pull the flap down. Additionally, the Airport card is behind a cover plate, behind that flap. To change the Airport card then, open the flap and remove the interior cover plate (two Phillips). Pulling the Airport card should be accomplished before the disassembly required for swapping the DVD drive or the HDD.

Disassembly was no problem; essentially, a 2.5 mm hex and a good Phillips. I followed these instructions and would only add one clarification; The power switch cable needs to be disconnected from the chassis, not from the cover, this was left unstated in the guide. Needle nosed pliers were helpful to apply removal pulling pressure on the plug itself rather than pulling on the plug's (thin) wires. The plug is keyed for proper reinstallation. Disassembly voids the warranty, apparently, but that was no problem on a donated system.

Once apart, as expected, the insides were caked with dust. Dust is a large problem for enclosed cooling systems that rely on unfiltered air (think also "laptop"). I took an air hose to the uncovered chassis before proceeding further.

As I got into the system, it appeared that a RAM upgrade had already taken place. It appeared to be a 512MB card, which would provide 756MB RAM, probably enough. At any rate, adding or deleting RAM involves nothing more than removing the bottom plate. The same for changing the jumper on the optical drive, albeit the angle is slightly difficult. I moved the jumper from the far left (slave) to the center jumper, hoping this was the right setting for "master". This is needed so I can boot off the DVD. We'll see if I got it right -- there was no jumper sticker.

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