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I have been given 10 old eMac computers to donate to a local primary school. I am a PC person but I have volunteered to set these up with some kind of office suite. The specs are:

  • 700MHz G4
  • 640MB RAM (should be enough for anyone!)
  • OS X 10.3
  • 40GB hard disc with 30GB free space

I'd like a recommendation for an office suite that will work on these old boxes. I have tried Open Office, both the latest version and 2.4.3 for PPC with no luck. Yes, I do have X11 installed.

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What was the problem with Open Office? – Aaron Havens Mar 27 '10 at 1:01
"640MB RAM (should be enough for anyone!)" A thousand times more than what anyone every should need ;-) – Thilo Mar 27 '10 at 2:26
I think OpenOffice did not have enough RAM or something like that. It just failed to start with no error message. – Adam Pierce Mar 28 '10 at 6:41
up vote 5 down vote accepted

X11 isn't the route you want to go with primary school children and teachers. Especially not on ancient PowerPC Macs.

Unfortunately, Mac OS X v10.3 was obsoleted half a decade ago. It's hard to find anything that runs on it still. You might look for a way to acquire an old version of NeoOffice (which I think used Java instead of X11, so I'm not sure it's that much better, or old licenses to MS Office for Mac, AppleWorks, or iWork '06 ('06 was the last version to support 10.3, and that was only 10.3.9, which should be a free upgrade -- run Software Updates if you haven't already). iWork '06 only had Pages and Keynote, no Numbers, so if they need a spreadsheet, that's a deal-breaker.

You can't even get a decent browser to run on them, so you can't even point them at Google Docs or anything.

Overall, I'm not sure this donation will be worth the time-expense and frustration (not just yours, but for the students and teachers that would have to try to keep these dinosaurs running). You might be better off trying to eBay these things and donating the money to the school.

I say these things as a longtime Mac user who has always been close to primary school teachers and has seen a lot of ancient-equipment donations go bad.

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Seriously, don't give a bunch of kids some X11 garbage they're never going to use. Recycle them and call it a day. – Hasaan Chop Mar 27 '10 at 1:46

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