My vision is the classic buy and old computer, bring it back to life with linux and give it to the kids. I can only blame the marketing by the computer industry (assisted my Moore's Law) on why we all continue to by new hardware. Like anyone, I'd love to shell out $1500 for a new machine for the kids, but budget and my interest in tinkering directs me otherwise. The other factor is that I want this computer to be "on-display" in the living room/play room so I don't want wires or a beige box looking all junky. For that reason I'm going with an older Mac.
I've paid $20.50 + $47.90 (S&H) for a Red iMac G3. I think I got housed a little on shipping.
iMac G3, Model M5521
450 Mhz PowerPC
20 GB Hard Drive
128 MB SDRAM
No Power Cord, Keyboard or Mouse.
I figure any power cord, usb keyboard and usb mouse will work to get me going. I can buy a nic e looking keyboard/mouse after it's working. I'm thinking $25. It's interesting that there are a ton of iMac G3s for sale on ebay, most of which don't have keyboards. I think they are all from school or library computer labs. It's a shame they don't just load up linux on them and keep truckin'. I don't know where all the keyboards go though. Maybe the keys get so full of gunk and finger grease that it's just foul to try to sell.
128MB RAM is a light for a modern linux desktop environment so I'll have to upgrade this later as well. I should be able to get 512 MB for less that $30.
Next came the selection of an operating system. I looked briefly at Yellow Dog Linux which seems to be the "market leader" for PPC linux systems. However, I don't see a CD iso for the latest version of YDL, I only see the DVD isos. This new G3 doesn't have a DVD drive...I think. Given my time and skill level I'm going to go with Ubuntu. The latest version, 7.04 Feisty Fawn, does not officially support the PPC, however there is what appears to be a robust "unofficial" version (here). I plan to install Edubuntu and Child's Play for the little kids games.
We'll see how it goes!