I can buy a Mac laptop for $100 but it’s got a Power PC CPU, not Intel. Can I get software to run on it? I mean easily get software, not go to some obscure websites in Albania.
Most of the freeware, shareware, and commercial titles you’ll find on sites like MacUpdate or CNet will be “universal” applications — meaning they run on both PPC and Intel chips. So yes, you’ll have no trouble finding a lot of software.
At least this is the case for now. There are some Intel-only apps, and this will no doubt increase over time. Apps like Chrome and the latest Firefox are Intel-only, for example. (But you can still get the older versions of Firefox.)
Still plenty of non-Intel software out there.
All that said, there’s very little new software being written for PPC Macs, and little that Apple has released in the last two years works with them. They’re not dead yet, and $100 is a pretty good price for any late-model PPC laptop, but it’s not going to be doing anything cutting-edge.
If you own an iPod/iPad/iPhone, this will hold you back from upgrading, since the versions of iTunes that support the latest iOS versions don’t run on OSes that can run on PPC. Leopard (OS X 10.5), now two versions old, is the last one which can support PowerPC, and Apple’s modern stuff all requires systems newer than that.
Then again, the laptop (assuming it’s one of the G4 ones, not some ancient PowerBook) is probably worth more than $100 on the open market, so by that measure it’s a bargain. I wouldn’t buy it myself, but if your needs are modest it may be a good machine for you. What do you want to do with it?
Universal apps do not always mean Intel and PPC. They now can also mean 32-bit and 64-bit, but still Intel only.
This is how Firefox 4+ were released.
Note “Universal Binary” is the term for apps that run on PPC and x86. Universal apps seem to refer to iPhone/iPad apps.
You might find some more info on where to find software for your old PowerBook or iBook at Low End Mac. (Note: I’m not affiliated with the site, just a fan of keeping old Macs running.)