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a deathbed for Malkovich

by Rob Friesel

…or: a reprise of the “thoughts on replacing our iMac G5” thread.

b0rked DIMMThough discussed here before, I think that this is the real thing this time. As Malkovich1 approaches its sixth year of service, it is getting close to completely shitting the bed. Gone are the days of the annoying random shutdowns, but they were recently replaced with another ominous message. About a week or so ago, I came home to hear the fans spinning like crazy; and when I force-restarted the machine (because it wouldn’t wake up), it decided to greet me with this:

 
Invalid memory access at %SRR0: 00000000.06610b84
	%SRR1: 10000000.00003030
Apple PowerMac8,2 5.2.5f1 BootROM built on 04/06/05 at 12:46:02

Welcome to Open Firmware, the system time and date is:
To continue booting, type "mac-boot" and press return.
To shut down, type "shut-down" and press return
Reducing system power...
ok
0 > _

Well (I thought) that’s not good.

And indeed, it wasn’t good. It took some deep digging, but I found this somewhat obscure problem described in a forum post. Their diagnosis? A bad DIMM or else some other memory-related failure on the logic board. So I dove in, pulled out both DIMMs. Re-seated DIMM #1 in the “A” slot; same problem. Pulled that DIMM back out, and put DIMM #2 into the “A” slot. Malkovich came back up–but it was a short-lived triumph. A few days later, the “Open Firmware” message was back. Could both of the DIMMs have gone bad? I moved DIMM #22 into slot “B” and though that first start was quite slow, it did come back up. And it has stayed up ever since. But I’m sure it is just a matter of time before the second slot dies as well.

So we’re asking the same question we were asking in April ’09: replace the iMac with another, newer iMac? or get a Mac mini? An iMac may be a bit more, but they’re significantly better-equipped machines, and by the time you get a decent-sized monitor to hook up to the Mac mini3, you’re paying almost as much anyway. And since the tv has fit nicely into the equation already… But still, it’s an open question. Anyone out there have strong feelings on the subject? Anyone with a good (or bad) story to tell?

UPDATE (1/28/2011): Well we may have our hand forced and have to make this decision sooner rather than later. Discovered Malkovich had turned itself off (or otherwise failed) last night and would either (a) not come back up at all or else (b) would write a lot of junk to the screen that concluded with “Kernel panic! We’re hanging here…” We’re strongly leaning toward “mini”, largely on cost but also because taking a good long look at our usage patterns suggests that anything else (however desirable) would be largely under-(un?)-utilized. Wish us luck…

  1. Our trusty ol’ 20″ iMac G5. []
  2. Since DIMM #1 was now long gone… []
  3. There’s also the option of hooking it up to the TV, since the desktop is mostly for storage and not day-to-day use. But that would make that corner of the living room quite crowded. Especially w/r/t/ power outlets. []

About Rob Friesel

Software engineer by day, science fiction writer by night. Author of The PhantomJS Cookbook and a short story in Please Do Not Remove. View all posts by Rob Friesel →

3 Responses to a deathbed for Malkovich

Justin says:

Our mini (Orson) has been cranking along for years as our media/hulu/netflix machine.

The biggest benefit to a mini over the iMac has been the flexibility. We can change our setup pretty easily if you want to say, hook it up to the TV, a monitor in another room, or just stick it in a closet to serve random media.

The small footprint just adds to this flexibility. Want to hook it up to a projector in the basement for old timey movie night? Much easier to move the mini than to drag around a display. When it gets old and cranky and you, say, retire it to the kitchen, it will have a better chance of fitting in with the other appliances – rather than crowding out the coffee machine.

It also means a much better set of choices for displays – both in cost and type. This is also a fewer moving parts equation – after the warranty ends, if the monitor dies you are stuck looking for a whole new machine.

So yeah, go with the mini.

found_drama says:

@Justin– I believe that’s the direction we’re currently leaning toward. There are some kinks about the specifics that we’re still trying to sort out, but that is starting to look like the option that makes the most sense.

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