I've been taking the imac apart, mostly to procrastinate, partly because the motherboard (and yes it does have the dead bulging capacitors) has all those coils I want to steal for joule thief flashlights to give people, and because there might be some other useful stuff (anyone want in internal airport card or some 1-gig ram? or a big-ass lcd with a custom connector) inside it.
So one fine day -- I think it was while I had C in the basement gathering Raspberry Pi parts -- for no good reason I took the little 80gig boot disk out of the el cheapo and plugged it into the shuttle and turned the thing on, and damned if 5 minutes later when I turned around from doing a bunch of other things it didn't have a login screen. Now except for the x86 architecture these two machines have so absolutely nothing in common. Oh, and the screen was the wrong resolution and I had no idea what my password had been. (It took me three or four days to realize that "root shell" on the recovery-mode menu meant I had root and could add another user or just change my password; that's how stupid and rusty I am.)
Yesterday I asked J if it would be OK for me to cannibalize the hard disk from the imac, and she agreed. I plugged it into a couple of spare sata connectors, and not only did it appear as a disk, but HFS+ apparently opens just fine. So I have 4 gig of ram and 240 gig of disk and the machine mostly always turns on when I flip the power switch. Now all I need is to terminate another length of ethernet cable -- doesn't everyone have spares in their basement rafters -- and figure out a place to put the thing, probably behind the 3d printer. It would be nice to have something to talk to the printer and the other physical machines that isn't simultaneously doing slicing and renders and stuff like that.
Really, I'm just procrastinating, but I've built a couple of extruders and have plans for an hot end or two as soon as I find a random block of aluminum. And then maybe to get something actually printing.
And while I was rooting through the shuttle's BIOS setup I think I figured out why it wouldn't boot before -- the only option for booting from CD is with SATA, and the one I had installed was IDE. Whee.