Apple, Os x and a Mac pro3.1?


I just got my hands on an old Mac pro 3.1. It is a single CPU (2,8 Ghz quad core) 4 GB memory, 1 TB HDD machine. So, while not very impressive by todays standards, considering how old it is I’d say it is not too bad, and something I could play around with a bit.
So, I was thinking of getting a new copy of the appropriate OS, and just try it out a bit. Probably it will end up as a Minecraft server in the end, and possibly something else. Suggestions on that are welcome!

My main question though, as I have never used Macs at all, is regarding OS. Which version should I get? I suppose newer versions have might have cool new features, but both price of OS and load on the HW are bound to go up on newer ones.
All input appreciated!


You are probably entitled to download the latest OSX for free. The slight difficulty is that the download is controlled via the App Store. (There are often other ways of getting to the download, the hackintosh community do this - but since you have a real Mac, you are legally entitled.) You should be able to build a bootable USB install drive. (There are lot of instructions on how to do this, Apple support this on a Mac, so if have access to another Mac somethere you can build one). Once you have one of those you can do a scratch install trivially.

If the Mac will boot now, you should be able to sort out an upgrade to the latest version. It is worthwhile going with the latest, both for security, but curiously also for performance. The later versions of OSX include dynamic memory compression which noticeably reduces pressure on physical memory, making your 4GB more useful.

No idea bout a Minecraft server. Given MS own Minecraft now I have a feeling you may need to install Windows, which you can do (via bootcamp), but it seems a waste of a lovely machine.

Problem is though, that this is a machine I salvaged from the scrap heap at work, so I’m not sure if keeping the OS will work, since I’m guessing it will be registered on the company, and I don’t want to play around with that license.
I do not have another Mac machine to work with, but I guess it should be possible to create a bootable USB drive / CD in windows…

There is no stupid Windows like registration. It is a Mac. It is entitled.

A potential problem is if you do not have admin privileges on this computer, which you will need to create a USB install drive. There are ways around this, but they’re all a PITA.

Age aside, you’ve still got a very nice machine there. Slap another 4GB RAM and an SSD in there and you are good.

Single user mode is a keystroke away. The question will be - does it boot up now? If it does, probably good to go with little effort. Agree - boost up the RAM, and add an SSD and it will be a very nice machine.

If it does boot now, knowing what OS version it is on would help.

And you can get the version by clicking on the apple icon in the top left corner and choosing “About This Mac”.

Ok, thanks for your answers. I will try and boot it up, see how it looks.
Given that it boots, can I do a fresh install from app store? I would really prefer to get rid of everything old, as I have no idea what’s on there, it has been used as some sort of server, and I don’t know what it’ll start doing if I just leave stuff running…

Boot with the command + “r” keys held down.
That should get you into recovery mode, where you can use Disk Utility to wipe the hard drive, and re-install the OS. Make sure you have a working network connection first.

I’m typing this post on an identical machine, which I bought new in 2008. Still works fine for home use. It’s been my primary desktop since I bought it.

I’m still running OS X 10.6.8 Snow Leopard, but am planning to upgrade to a much newer system any day now. My understanding is that you have to have Snow Leopard (v10.6.8) or newer in order to directly download and install up to the newest OS (El Capitan) from the Mac App Store.

A really useful application, which is also free to use, is Mactracker. I install this on every Mac, and it clearly helps identify the machine and the specs on it. It also shows what the latest OS that it will support. It contains a database of every Apple product too.

I just recently upgraded a Mac made in 2009. I used the original installation discs to wipe out the drive, and continue to run software update until the App Store became available. From there I was able to download the latest which is Max OS 10.11.3 (El Capitan‎).

I ended up following Francis Vaughans adivice, and updated through app store, and then did the cmd + r thing to get a fresh install. I had to “hack” the admin password, but a quick google taught me how to do that through single user mode.

Thank you to all who replied! Now I just have to find a reasonable use for this thing… :slight_smile:

Quicker and easier to just use the built-in “About This Mac”

MacTracker includes more history about the Mac than About does. You can also look at other models too.

Good and enjoy!