OS X Jaguar on a 400 MHz PowerBook G4

2003 – Last Friday, I received a copy of Mac OS X 10.2 Jaguar in the mail from a reader. After finishing the morning site update, I rebooted my 400 MHz TiBook into Mac OS X 10.1.5 Puma, inserted Install Disc 1, and began the long, slow task of updating Quicksilver, my TiBook.

10forward

My TiBook was upgraded to 512 MB just days after I bought it, and I replaced the stock 10 GB hard drive with a faster, quieter, higher capacity 20 GB drive last year. Performance under OS X was not perky, but it was adequate. Classic performance was also comfortable, but thus far OS X had been more of an obstacle to productivity than a benefit. Still, it was a neat new OS to play with.

I’ve been hearing that Jaguar makes a huge difference, and I had been planning on buying a copy when finances cleared up a bit, so I was thrilled to receive a free copy.

Installation

Old timers will remember when the entire Mac OS fit on a single 800K floppy, how System 7 grew to require several floppies, and how by System 7.6 the Mac OS had grown to the point where only CD-ROM installation made sense. Still, it was pretty fast.

Not so OS X, and Jaguar comes on two CDs. Each installation takes a long time, and updates aren’t really any better. It took over an hour to install the Jaguar update on Quicksilver. And then I had to download another 80-90 MB of updates to get up to the 10.2.3 level. All told – and with big thanks to a cable modem – it still took nearly two hours before I was ready to run Jaguar on my Mac.

Software Updates

Then I ran into software problems, notably OS X applications on my hard drive that weren’t ready for Jaguar. I had to download new drivers for my Logitech Cordless Elite Duo mouse and keyboard. I updated Internet Explorer from 5.2.1 to 5.2.2 to deal with security issues. I got the latest version of OmniWeb, which I am liking more all the time. Norton told me to check for a new version, but they had nothing newer than 6.0.3 on their website.

Mac OS X 10.2 Jaguar

I’m expecting to run into more, but that was enough for now. I just wanted to play around a bit and get a feel for Jaguar. I wanted to feel how it compared with 10.1.5 – and I like it so far. (Before you ask, the TiBook only has 8 MB of video memory, so I won’t benefit from Quartz Extreme.)

The iApps

My primary reason for wanting to move to Jaguar isn’t any sort of religious commitment to Mac OS X. Sure, it’s the future, but I’m too pragmatic to jump until there’s a good reason for it.

No, what I really want is the new spam filtering in Apple’s Mail application. I have a couple email accounts that primarily attract spam, and I plan on using one of them to test and train Mail. I’ll keep you posted.

Of course, the big drawback of using Mail, as Charles W. Moore observed last Friday, is that Mail doesn’t work in OS 9, so committing an email account to Mail means committing yourself to OS X on a regular basis. I’m hoping Jaguar will make that possible, but I’m only going to use low-traffic email accounts for now.

I can’t make heads or tails of the Address Book. It would be nice if I could tell it to grab names and email addresses from Claris Emailer and PowerMail, then grab names from my Yahoo Messenger and AIM accounts, but if it has the ability to do such simple things, I can’t find it anywhere.

I launched iChat once, but since it’s only integrated with AIM, something I rarely use, I couldn’t really test it out.

I’ll definitely want to play with iCal, since that could be a big reason for my wife to move her business from OS 9 to Jaguar – that’s four machines (three iBooks and a 333 MHz iMac) that each have at least 192 MB of memory and big enough hard drives. Her business is built around Claris Emailer, Internet Explorer, AppleWorks, and MYOB Account Edge, so the migration should be pretty easy.

Other Apps

One of the first things I downloaded once I had Jaguar up and running was Delocalizer from Bombich Software. This clever bit of freeware removes all the localization files you don’t need, so I had it remove everything except North American English support. That freed 441 MB on my hard drive.

Back to OS 9

After playing around in Jaguar for about an hour, I decided to start writing this article and rebooted in OS 9. It’s not that I had to, but Claris Home Page is a classic Mac OS application, and I still feel a lot more comfortable in OS 9. Maybe that will change in coming weeks.

There are three good reasons for working in OS 9 when I use Home Page. The first is that if I edit any of my site files in Classic Mode, I have to upload my changes while working in Classic Mode. If I don’t do that, I won’t be able to upload any changes when working in OS 9 until I’ve done an upload in OS X. I don’t know why that’s the case, but I’ve learned to live with it.

Of course, once I get to the point where I am using OS X as my primary operating system, this problem will go away.

The second reason is that uploading files via Home Page in Classic Mode is much, much slower than doing so in OS 9. I’m not talking about a little slower; we’re talking 4-5 times as long – and that hasn’t improved with Jaguar.

My third reason for preferring to work with Home Page in OS 9 has nothing to do with the program per se, but with the way I work. Three times a week we run a network backup, but I also keep a backup copy of my site files on a separate partition from the one where I usually work (years back, I used to use a Zip drive). I use Copy Agent to transparently “smart copy” or synchronize files between the two locations as necessary. Yes, File Synchronization addresses this in OS X, but it’s a separate application to run, not an agent that sits in the background to manage file copying. It works, but it’s less efficient than Copy Agent.

In all honesty, Claris Home Page is outdated – it doesn’t even support DOCTYPE declarations. Still, it’s an efficient, friendly tool that’s been good enough for nearly 7 years now. It’s an old program that many would consider obsolete, but I have yet to find a competent replacement that isn’t bloated, slow, and expensive. I’ve tried GoLive, Dreamweaver, and Freeway (hooray for free trial versions) and have not been impressed. Home Page remains my biggest obstacle to leaving Classic Mode behind.

Finally, I’ve got a lot of very useful macros in QuicKeys, and I simply don’t want to pay for yet another software update.

A Glitch?

I’ve got only one problem with switching from OS X to OS 9, and that’s probably peculiar to the TiBook and other models that support dual displays. Every time I boot into OS 9 after using OS X, the Mac OS sets up a secondary display of 640 x 480 and thousands of colors – even though I don’t have a second monitor attached. It happens every time, and if I reboot into OS 9, the virtual monitor disappears.

It’s not just a minor frustration. This steals processing power, because the Mac is updating two displays – even though only one is present. On top of that, if I’m not careful, the mouse disappears right off my TiBook’s LCD into the nonexistent virtual display. I hope Apple will fix this soon. It’s one more reason to avoid switching between OS 9 and OS X, and in this case it makes me less likely to use OS X because of the performance penalty or need to boot twice to get the classic Mac OS to work as it should.

Performance

Is Jaguar faster than 10.1.5? Well, it definitely feels faster on my 400 MHz TiBook without Quartz Extreme support. Time to run SpeedRun and find out:

 partition  graphics disk  CPU  RAM
OS X 10.1.5   210     302  138  263
OS X 10.2.3   239     286  146  265

SpeedRun was run three times and the results were averaged. Graphics performance is about 15% better and the CPU score is about 6% higher with Jaguar. The RAM rating is within 1% of earlier results, which is an insignificant difference.

The hard drive score is 7% lower, which may be due to much higher fragmentation on the hard drive. But to optimize the hard drive, I’ll need to boot into OS 9 and run Norton Speed Disk – and I’m trying to avoid booting into OS 9 as long as possible so I can really get the feel for OS X.

I also ran Let1kWindowsBloom on the TiBook, then discovered that I’d never recorded results under 10.1.5. With thousands of colors, the 400 MHz G4 ran this benchmark in 71 seconds. At millions of colors, it took 72. Let1kWindowsBloom was the only application running at the time.

Comfort

It’s almost a year since I first installed Mac OS X 10.1 on my TiBook. I’m pretty comfortable with it. I’ve slowly learned how it’s different from the classic Mac OS and learned to work with or around the differences. I have wanted to like OS X since the beta, and between my ongoing experiences and Apple’s ongoing updates, I’m getting there.

10 Forward?

I’ve intended to try living with OS X for a week, but until now I’ve never been able to do it for even a day. I’m hoping Jaguar will change that – and that IE 5.2.3 under Jaguar will be a lot more stable than 5.2.2 was under 10.1.5. Since installing Jaguar on Friday and rebooting into it after the last site update of the day, I have not yet booted back into Mac OS 9.2.2.

But switching from System 6 to 7, 7 to 8, or 9 to X isn’t an academic exercise. I’m a genuine, died-in-the-wool Mac user who is pragmatic enough to want sufficient benefits before switching. I don’t change for the sake of change; I change because something is better.

That’s why I’ve gone up to five years with a good enough computer, still stick with tried and true (and considered obsolete by some) software, and am rarely an early adopter of a new OS release. I want to know what the benefits are and weigh them against the costs.

Slowly but surely, OS X is winning me over.

When I make the switch (and I realize that switching is inevitable), I’ll have to update a lot of essential utilities (Retrospect Client, QuicKeys, Default Folder) or find suitable alternatives. In the long run, OS X will change the way I work for the better, but until I’m able to live with it as my primary operating system for a week, I haven’t crossed the Jordan to enter the promised land.

We’ll see how close we get during my first week with Jaguar.

Keywords: #macosx #osxjaguar

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