Office 2008 and Adobe CS Installers Don’t Require PPC, Going to Miss AppleWorks, Quiet Computing, and More

This mailbag looks at the Office 2008 installer, Adobe CS upgrades, OS X 10.7 Lion not supporting Rosetta, and other topics.

Office 2008 Installer Not Necessarily PowerPC After All

From John:

Hi Charles,

I was just reading the weekly TidBits when I stumbled into this:

Adam Engst 2011-05-09 19:30

I just looked into this and on my Office 2008 DVD, there’s an Office Installer.mpkg, but that’s actually a document (really a package, which is a fancy folder) and when double-clicked, it runs Apple’s Installer application located in /System/Library/Core Services. And that application is Universal.

So I’m not sure what you’re seeing, but if other DVDs are like mine and rely on the Installer on the hard disk, it shouldn’t be a problem. I couldn’t find an Installer application on my Office 2008 DVD.

I don’t own any recent edition of Office, so it’s not something I can look into myself. But it does seem strange that Office 2k8 is throwing up a Rosetta installation request for Intel users under any circumstances.


Hi John,

My most recent edition of Word is version 5.1, purchased in 1993, so it’s not an issue I can investigate first hand.

Thanks for the tip.


Adobe CS Upgrades Do Not Require Rosetta

From Clive:

Dear Charles,

Reading the email form Demetrios on his concerns about the deletion of Rosetta from [OS X 10.7] Lion, there is one important point I think needs to be corrected. Whilst I am sure there will be some for whom the loss of Rosetta may cause problems, users of Adobe CS upgrades needn’t be amongst them. The Adobe CS5 upgrade does not require an earlier version of CS to be physically installed; the proof of ownership is determined at the point of purchase. It is perfectly possible to install CS5 from an upgrade DVD on a Mac without Rosetta.

I hope this will quell at least some of the concerns of those worried about upgrading.


Hi Clive,

Thanks for pointing that out.


Loss of Rosetta in Mac OS 10.7 and Adobe Products

From Bobby:

When you install Adobe programs from a CD or DVD update disc for licensees of a qualifying previous product, it will look for a previous version of the software running on the hard drive but also allows you the option to enter the previous versions install code as proof of ownership of a previous product instead. If you deactivate the old version and install the newer version (CS5/CS5.5 or whatever) and simply type in the code of the previous product when prompted by the installer that it could not find a previous eligible version of the program. You do not lose your previous product’s reduced cost upgrade price on new products purchased. They will install unless Adobe changes their rules. I have done it many times before when I retired a computer and just wanted to install the newest version of Illustrator, Photoshop etc. on the new computer.

If Adobe did not allow it that would be Adobe screwing you, not Apple. That would be an Adobe licensing issue.


Hi Bobby,

Thanks for the information. Another piece of the operative mosaic.


Going to Miss AppleWorks

From Ian:

Hello Charles,

The program I am going to miss is AppleWorks. I happily spent the money on iWork and would hate to give up Pages or Numbers, but I still don’t have a replacement for drawings. I had naively assumed that using Apple’s own software would guarantee at least a long term upgrade path. I found one CAD program which claimed to handle the files, so perhaps I will have to spend the money on that if and when I move onto Lion, but it seems overkill for my simple tasks.

Ian Baker

Hi Ian,

You might want to check out Inkscape, an Open Source vector graphics editor that, according to its developers, has capabilities similar to Illustrator, CorelDraw, or Xara X, using the W3C standard Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) file format and supporting many advanced SVG features (markers, clones, alpha blending, etc.).Great care is taken in designing a streamlined interface. It is very easy to edit nodes, perform complex path operations, trace bitmaps, and much more.


Discontinuing Rosetta Could Support the Notion of Apple CPUs in Future Laptops

From Richard Berg:


Regarding the dropping of Rosetta from Lion, it upsets me as well. I would be just as happy to keep Rosetta around. But if Apple is really thinking about using it own processors in future laptops, well, think about it: You buy a new Apple laptop which has it own processor. Call it the A6. Mac OS needs to be ported to A6 code, but when the transition from PPC to Intel processors occurred, it took time for all of the Mac OS to be rendered in Intel code. So Apple came up with Rosetta (for PPC) to handle the PPC parts of the OS as well as all the software which we users had which was written in PPC code.

Now if Apple does transition to a new “A6” processor, then the Mac OS would likely go through the same piecemeal transition to A6 code and, in order to support all the software that we users have written in Intel code, Apple will come out with “Rosetta for Intel”. I guess the thought of a A6 machine calling “Rosetta for Intel” which could then theoretically in turn call “Rosetta for PPC” to handle “legacy” PPC code is enough to scare off most ardent software coders. So maybe the dropping of Rosetta for PPC from Lion is indicative of a coming change in processor technology. Having one interpreter is bad enough. Having one interpreter call a second interpreter isn’t something they would want to do. So they start the shift now, especially if Lion will still be the shipping OS when “A6” machines make their debut?

Just a thought.

Rich Berg

Hi Rich,

Interesting hypothesis. Personally, I think the likelihood of Apple switching the MacBook famlies to ARM silicon in the near to mid term is exceedngly slim for a whole concatenation of reasons, although I wouldn’t rule out an iOS machine in a clamshell laptop form factor that wouldn’t be sold as a Mac – and what the landscape might look like five or ten years down the road as regards another CPU switch is another matter.

Real World Tech’s David Kanter posted an eloquent, detailed, and thoroughgoing analysis of why the rumor buzz that Apple will abandon x86 and migrate all its notebooks to ARM over the next two years doesn’t hold water, so to speak, observing that it would cause a massive disruption in the PC ecosystem and calling it an exceptionally unlikely scenario for both technical and business reasons. Kanter examines the several reasons Apple might have for switching to ARM CPUs in their notebooks, but finds them unconvincing.

It’s a great article worth checking out.


Windows 7’s XP Mode Isn’t Perfect

From Sam:

Hi Charles,

In today’s column, you detailed an extensive conversation with Demetrios, another Low End Mac reader, who espoused the capabilities of XP Mode (which is found in Windows 7 from Business on up).

Unfortunately, even XP Mode doesn’t restore things that worked fine in XP. At one of my client offices, they have an extensive macro system for creating legal documents – all based around Wordperfect 5.1, which runs in a DOS-based window. It was released on 6 November 1989!

Because it is used for extensive productivity work, these clients run it in full-screen DOS mode. In this mode, the DOS application writes images directly to the display buffer – a severe security risk, because it bypasses all of the security features built into the OS and offers a direct path to RAM.

Microsoft closed this security hole in Windows Vista by requiring a security feature known as WDDM (that’s what broke so many drivers). Unfortunately, WDDM also breaks full-screen DOS mode.

Therefore, these clients are facing an even more severe situation – the software that they’ve been running since they installed their first PCs is non-functional on the latest systems that they order. Surely buying a new version of Word isn’t quite as harsh as restructuring the backbone of your entire law firm?

That being said, I’m sure Adobe and Microsoft will release patches that allow the installation of CS and Office upgrades even with Rosetta gone – just as they did for Leopard and Snow Leopard. I suspect they’ll use a custom Intel application to read the PowerPC disks and install only the files that the upgrade installer looks for.

The past few years have marked a watershed – the two major OSes have diverged so far from their roots that they no longer maintain full compatibility with the software from the earliest versions (Windows 7 dropped DOS mode support, and Leopard removed Classic Mode). It boggles my mind that we even got this far – I see software that’s over twenty years old being used as an everyday productivity tool.

With obsoleted software, it’s only a matter of time until it becomes unusable for more than certain tasks. To use an analogy that you might like, it’s akin to trying to install the stereo from a 1935 LaSalle Roadster into a 2012 Mercedes ML. It just won’t work well, if at all.

Wishing you, and Demetrios, the best in your Lion upgrades – lest you have to endure the pains of Vista upgraders!


Hi Sam,

Thanks for this. My ignorance of technical nuances of survival in the Windows world is fairly encyclopedic, so I found this information interesting.

Of course personally I’m still running OS X 10.4.11 Tiger on two of my three production computers, so I’m a bit of a back-marker when it comes to new OS adoption, although I’m using Snow Leopard 10.6.6 on my Late 2008 Unibody MacBook.

I figure that a watershed of sorts is approaching with the release of Lion. It’s become clear that iOS/OS X convergence will be Apple’s focus going froward, and older Mac hardware users will be increasingly marginalized in the context of up to date compatibility.

At this point I’m not sure how quick I will be to upgrade to Lion, but I guess the pragmatic approach will have to be trying to learn to love Big Brother. Hopefully it won’t be as much of a jolt as we imagine.


Forget Lion, Give MintPPC Linux a Try

From Thomas Carlson,

What a great conversation about the end of PPC apps on Mac OS X. It’s all open-source from here on out if you want to stay with current browsers, security, and so forth. Try MintPPC, which is based on Debian Linux, Charles. It will work great on your Pismo.


Hi Tom,

Thanks for the tip about MintPPC. Are you using it?


For others interested, here’s how the developers describe it:

About Linux MintPPC,

Linux MintPPCMintPPC is a Linux distribution for 32 and 64 bits PowerPC computers which is based on Linux Mint LXDE, ported to Debian/PPC. The idea behind MintPPC is to have a fast good looking lightweight desktop manager, which runs well on older G3 and G4 machines. MintPPC is directed to desktop users who want a very fast system without the need to install software themselves. It is easy to use and it is complete. An advantage of this distribution for PowerPC users is that a few bugs, which are always present in Debian/Ubuntu, have been overcome.

Linux MintPPC PreferencesAfter installing MintPPC things like battery status meter, laptop sleep mode and sound will work out of the box. MintPPC is not affiliated with Linux Mint but it uses the same underlying source code. MintPPC was first released as Linux Mint LXDE Debian Lenny in May 2010. In October 2010 MintPPC 9 was released which was based on Linux Mint LXDE 9 (Isadora) and Debian Squeeze. Because of a conflict with the Linux Mint team, the name of the distribution was changed into MintPPC. MintPPC is developed by Jeroen Diederen (Linuxopjemac), a Dutch Linux enthusiast who also owns a general website about running Linux on Macs and by Tony Cygne (Ant2ne), an American Linux enthusiast.

If you are curious to see how compatible MintPPC is, you might want to have a look at the list of Macs onto which MintPPC was installed. Apparently some folks also installed it on a Microsoft XBox360 and a PS3. Try it out on your machine and post your results!

Linux MintPPCYes, I am. It’s currently running on my two PowerMac G4s, one a Digital Audio and the other a 2001 Quicksilver.

Everything works “out of the box” on the Quicksilver. The Digital Audio posed more of a problem, especially when it came to getting sound working. The Debian Squeeze installer assigns the wrong sound module to this particular machine. A talented programmer from Finland, Risto Suominen and I (just the Linux newbie tester) came up with a temporary work-around, and now sound works fine, even on external speakers connected to the mini-jack port. Maybe Debian will eventually get around to fixing their installer, probably in their next version, Wheezy.

If you go to the Machine List, your Pismo is right there on top. MintPPC is the best open-source alternative that I have seen to Apple’s now unsupported OS X Tiger.


Converting .docx Files for Mac OS 9 Versions of Word

From Lloyd:

Greetings, Charles:

Your exchange with Demetrius brought something to mind. I picked up a $1.00 (plus shipping) WallStreet PowerBook G3 (OS 9.2.2, 192 MB RAM, 6 GB hard drive, lots of old software) on eBay, and I installed Office 2001 on it. With Clasilla, I can surf, and Outlook 5.2 handles email nicely; what keeps this machine from becoming a daily driver are two things: Lack of WPA encryption capability is one, and handling .docx files from students is the other.

I found a shareware ($19.95) program online that claims to handle opening and facilitating conversion of .docx to other formats in OS 9. I wonder if perhaps you’ve heard of it, and if so, if it’s worth trying. It’s called docXConverter for Mac OS 9 and this is the site link to Panergy, the publisher.

Thanks for highlighting the Rosetta issues that Lion heralds.


Hi Lloyd,

Glad you found the Rosetta exchange helpful, and thanks for forwarding the docXConverter for Mac OS 9 link. I had not previously heard of this utility.


Danger Mouse and Macally iKey

From Laurence in response to Logitech Solar Keyboard Comments:

Charles W Moore wrote:

Hey, I too am a DangerMouse fan. Here’s a link….

I remember that Danger Mouse review – it’s why I bought a few at the time.

I wish I could find a fast, simple way of adding CDs’t my library – but iTunes is so cumbersome – is there a better, faster way?


Hi Laurence,

Not that I can think of, but I don’t have encyclopedic knowledge of this category. My music collection that I would like to digitalize is pretty well all on vinyl, and I haven’t really much explored what is possible there due to lack of time.


Seduced by the Logitech Solar, I have been enjyoing many hours of work but finally started to suffer pain in right index finger – returned to old Macally iKey 4 – no pain, but now impossibly clunky after the Solar.

Any idea of what the best I can find ?


Hi Laurence,

Sorry to hear of the typing pain issue.

Keyboard tolerance tends to be somewhat ideosyncratic, but of all the freestanding keyboards I’ve used, the one I can type on for extended periods without inducing pain is the Kensington SlimType.

Unhappily, the Mac version in particular seems to be getting harder to find, and I think this model is probably close to end of life.


Publisher’s note: I’ve been using the Macally iKeySlim since last November and love it.

Quiet Computers

From Zed:


I have a Mini that had this bad habit of spooling the fan up to unholy volumes. Researching the issue, I found a fix called smcFanControl. This is a control panel that lets you set the start and end points on the fan curve. The current system doesn’t use the fan at all until the processor hits an astounding 75°C. That’s crazy hot for a processor. I changed the profile to start spinning the fan at 30°C and run a straight line up to the maximum temp and fan speed. Now the fan cuts in far more often, but at very low RPMs, such that the computer is much quieter overall. Instead of the fan spinning at 5000 rpm once it hits 75°C, it now spins much more slowly and quietly when it starts to get warm. I’ve never seen the processor get above 45°C since I installed the program.

Check it out and see if you like it.


Hi Zed,

Thanks for the tip. I will look into that.

Interesting that you would regard 75°C processor temperature as “astounding”. My MacBook running Snow Leopard idles at around 78° – 79°C, which is right around the Apple calibrated fan tip-in point, but the fan doesn’t really go into high RPM mode until the processor temperature rises into the mid-80°s. These cited temperatures are as read out by the Temperature Monitor application.


Exactly the problem. 80°C is just way too hot. My RAM couldn’t take it, and I kept getting kernel panics. Not that Apple cares – remember the Apple III? Look up the temp issues with that machine.


Hi Zed,

Platinum Mac PlusThe Apple III was a bit before my time, but my first Mac, a Mac Plus, had issues with internal component failure due to no cooling fan (although I loved the silence). I had to have something replaced due to presumed heat-related failure, although I forget precisely what part it was.

My 233 MHz WallStreet PowerBook burned out its original processor chip when it was 3-1/2 years old.

I did some digging about maximum safe operating temperatures for Core 2 Duo CPU’s, and found this.

  • Intel Core 2 Duo (Conroe E4300, E4400, E6300, E6400) 61.4°C
  • Intel Core 2 Duo (Conroe E4500, E4600, E4700) 73.3°C
  • Intel Core 2 Duo (Conroe E6320, E6420, E6540, E6550, E6600, E6700, E6750, E6850) 60.1°C
  • Intel Core 2 Duo (Wolfdale) 72.4°C
  • Mobile Core 2 Duo 100°C

Presuming that my late 2008 MacBook has a Mobile Core 2 Duo CPU, that means in the low 80°s C its still running well below it’s specified safe maximum. Right now it’s ranging from 77° – 80° with the Chill Mat running and the internal cooling fan also running at low speed. When I used OS X 10.5 Leopard on this machine, it would “cruise” in the mid-60°s C, spiking into the mid-high 70°s under load.


Interesting that the mobile processor has such a higher temp rating. Perhaps due to the lower voltages. As you note though, the issue is really other components that can’t take those temps.


Hi Zed,

Making a virtue of necessity, perhaps. Still and all, this machine used to run at more civilizrd temperatures in Leopard. I wonder what it is exactly about Snow Leopard.’


Laptop Fans

From Dave:


Using the under-the-laptop cooling pad is a good idea; I’m not sure it can completely replace running the internal fans, though, since they would seem to be closer to the source of the heat. Also, I’ve found the fan-pads can sometimes be noisy – the one I use under my Late 2008 Unibody MacBook Pro makes a lot of racket when it first starts up, but that may be due to age and embedded dust.

15" aluminum PowerBook G4For your older laptops (and newer ones, too), have you looked at using App Tamer to put non-active processes to sleep? I first used it on my 7-year-old Aluminum PowerBook because background processes (often a web browser) were eating the CPU (especially Flash graphics that I wasn’t looking at). Lowering CPU utilization may be an indirect way to get the system to run cooler. I now use it on my newer 2008 and 2010 MacBook Pros, mainly due to Flash running in a background browser window.


Hi Dave,

The Targus Chill Mat is definitely less noisy than the MacBook’s internal fan. I also have an older model Targus Chill Mat that sucks air away from the bottom surface of the laptop and exhausts it toward the back that is even quieter than the current model, which pushes air toward the bottom of the laptop. It’s audible in a quiet room, but it’s a low-frequency sound due to the slower rotation speeds and larger diameter, less aggressive pitch fans.

App Tamer sounds like it might be worth a try. I do keep a lot of browser tabs open and usually have four different browsers running.


Searching for Omni TekStyl Case for 13″-15″ Laptops

From DJ in response to Laptop Sleeve Shootout: RadTech Tekstyl Omni Case from 2009:

Dear Charles,

How are you? I read your very well done and thoughtful post on the Omni TekStyl case from RadTech. I have searched high and low for a 15″ or even a 13″. They discontinued it two years ago. RadTech sells the 12″.

I absolutely must continue my search until I find one; I won’t explain the boring details why. Do you have one? I will come to where you are and pay you cash for it. Or do you know a friend, place, or entity I can find it?


Wish I could help, but as far as I can tell, the 13″ and 15″ versions never materialized, or if they did, it appears that they’ve been discontinued.

The model I have and reviewed nearly three years ago is the 12″ variant, which I used with my 12″ iBook. I expect it would work with a 11.6″ MacBook Air.


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