iMac Buyers Guide
Apple® currently has two types of iMac available for purchase -- the iMac G3 and iMac G4 (with the LCD screen). Since April 2002, a new eMac, targeted at the educational market is available as well. All iMacs and the eMac have USB, Firewire, Ethernet, 56k Modems (which on some models are incompatible with Linux) and are Airport wireless upgradeable.
The more inexpensive, slower iMac G3, which has either a 500 MHz, 600 MHz or 700 MHz PowerPC G3 processor. The Indigo ($799) iMac G3 has a 500 MHz Processor, with 20 GB Hard Drive, 128 MB of RAM and a CD-ROM drive. The higher end Graphite and Snow ($999) iMac G3 have a 600 MHz processor, 40 GB Hard Drive, 256 MB of RAM and a CD-RW drive. All iMac G3 models have an built in 15" CRT. These systems are reasonably priced considering that you get, especially with Firewall support, CDRW and the faster G3 PowerPC based processors. If you are looking for a basic inexpensive development system to start out on the PowerPC platform or a nice workstation, then the iMac G3 is definately for you.
The more expensive iMac G4 contains a 700 MHz or 800 MHz PowerMac G4 with Altivec (to accelerate multimedia), a CD-RW or CD-RW/DVD-ROM or CD-RW/DVD-R drive, a 15" LCD screen (which is the same viewable size as 17" normal CRT montor) and a slim profile that fits nicely on a desk. The CD-RW drive iMac G4 contains a 700 MHz G4 processor, 40 GB Hard Drive, and 128 MB of RAM. The CD-RW/DVD-ROM iMac G4 has a 700 MHz G4 processor, 40 GB Hard Drive, and 256 MB of RAM. The CD-RW/DVD-R iMac G4 has a 800 MHz G4 processor, adds a 60 GB Hard Drive and 256 MB of RAM. If your space is limited, and are looking for a PowerMac that can fit on a desk, do not need PCI slots, and your budget is limited, the iMac G4 may be the best PowerMac for you.
People in the educational market can now get the eMac. It has a 700Mhz G4, 128 or 512MB RAM, a 17" flat CRT display, a Geforce2 MX with 32 MB VRAM, a combo DVD/CDRW drive and starts at reasonable $999. It's certainly worth a look for students and broke teachers ;)
If you need PCI expansion, more then 1 GB of RAM, or a monitor bigger then 15" LCD (equal to a 17" CRT) or 17" CRT, then you should get a PowerMac G4.
You can buy iMacs from any Authorized Apple® Reseller or direct from Apple®. There are sometimes delays with the Apple® store due to demand.
If you cannot afford to purchase a new model iMac or simply want a cheaper alternative, there are some options open to you. You can check pricewatch.com or similar sites, for vendors selling off older stock. It maybe possible to pick up a iMac 350 for below retail value if you can find one. The best bet for older equipment, is eBay. eBay is an auction site, where you can always find used and new Apple® systems. A quick search of eBay today shows several iMac DV 400MHz systems with bidding closing between US$500 and US$900. If you are new to eBay, we recommend you read the on-line documentation carefully and check out the feedback of a seller before bidding. The safest bet are auctions with Buy It Now options.
All iMacs and the eMac work with Linux. The iMac G4 and the eMac have NVidia graphic chips though which are not yet fully supported under Linux, meaning that you will not be able to use all resolutions and that you will not benefit from accelerated graphics within the Linux GUI system. Not all USB or Firewire devices work with Linux either. You should check our accessories guide and the vendors web site prior to purchasing a USB or Firewire device that you want to use in Linux.