End of the Road in Sight for OS X Tiger and My Pismo PowerBooks
The proverbial bell is tolling louder for Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger and PowerPC Macs.
19 months ago I was delighted to discover that the TenFourFox hack of post version 3.6 Firefox had given my two old Pismo PowerBooks (with upgraded memory, hard drives, and G4 CPUs) a new lease on life as production machines - no longer frontline road warriors to be sure, but still very useful as utility computers.
However, that appears to be coming to an end. With the past two or three builds of TenFourFox, these old PowerBooks are running slower and slower, to the point of near-unusability, with many minutes of spinning beach ball constipation. I've even resorted to ancient Netscape Navigator 9, which is a speedster by comparison. Unfortunately, it is also woefully out of date security-wise, lacks a bunch of features I've become accustomed to in TenFourFox and other more recent browsers, and has stability problems in the bargain. Not a satisfactory solution by any means.
I suppose I really can't complain. The Pismos are 12 years old, and OS X Tiger, introduced in April 2005, is soon to be four revisions out of date. It's actually quite remarkable that the party has lasted this long. Thanks are due to software developers like Trans-Tex Software's Tom Bender, who's kept my Tex-Edit Plus word cruncher standby current supporting a Tiger version, and special appreciation to the Dropbox folks for continuing to include Tiger support with their cloud service software upgrades.
On the other hand, Tiger support stopped at version 3.1 for Bare Bones Software's TextWrangler (it's now at 4.1 in Snow Leopard and Lion), another important tool in my production suite, although version 3.1 remains available for download - along with version 3.5.3, the last to work with OS X 10.5 Leopard - on the Bare Bones site.
It isn't that I have any particular sentimental attachment to OS X 10.4. It's a good operating system and rock solid on the Pismos, but I would happily run Leopard if it supported the Pismo. I'm aware that hacked installs are possible, but not without a degree of kludginess that I would find unacceptable on a work tool.
I'll continue working around the increasing angularities for a while yet, but browser support is really key. Not too ancient versions of Opera and OmniPage help, but they aren't really the answer that TenFourFox had been until recently.
However, when I finally do upgrade my anchor Mac (something I've been able to/obliged to push back thanks to purchasing an iPad 2), my current number-one Late 2008 Aluminum Unibody MacBook will get demoted to the role currently being filled by the Pismos, and the old black 'Books will finally be put out to pasture. I'm doubtful that the computer universe will see the likes of 12 year laptops again.
Charles Moore has been a freelance journalist since 1987 and began writing for Mac websites in May 1998. His The Road Warrior column was a regular feature on MacOpinion, and he is a news editor and columnist at Applelinks.com. If you find his articles helpful, please consider making a donation to his tip jar.
Other articles by Charles W. Moore
- Apple's Great Hebrew Support, AirPort Express Silently Upgraded, Pismo G4, and More, Charles Moore's Mailbag, 2012.12.03. Also a WindowShade replacement approved by Apple, upgrding a 15" MacBook Pro, and three 13" MacBooks.
- Is There a Cure for a Smelly Mac?, Miscellaneous Ramblings, 2012.07.30. For those suffering from Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, gases let of by a new computer can be no end of trouble.
- Optimizing PowerBook G4 Performance, TenFourFox May Run Faster with NoScript, and More, Charles Moore's Mailbag, 2012.07.18. Also pros and cons of Linux on G3 PowerBooks and iPhoto 11 no longer updating in Snow Leopard.
- More in the 'Book Value index.
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