The Low End Mac Mailbag

Leopard on G4 Power Macs, Quicksilver and Big Drives, and Pros and Cons of Schools Leasing Computers

Dan Knight - 2007.10.10

'Leopard' on G4s

From Trevor

Hello

I saw your recent write-up about OS X 10.5 not being able to install on machines with less than a G4/867 MHz.

Y'all quoted:

"What the OS X installer does isn't check how fast your processor is running; it looks at the model number of your Mac and compares it to a list of 'bad' machines that are officially rated as too slow. So if you've got an upgraded CPU and your box is actually fast enough, well, it won't work....

Well, okay, this makes sense say for the non-CPU upgradeable G4 iMacs and PowerBooks, but this seems illogical for the G4 desktops. After all, the Quicksilver first came out with 700 MHz, 867 MHz, or dual 800 MHz CPUs. The motherboard is exactly the same, and I can swap CPU cards around easily in that model. But if I have a 700 MHz CPU in that machine, the OS X Leopard installer will stop again, why? If it isn't checking the CPU speeds, then it is checking the model. And several Quicksilver models of both generations are supported at one CPU speed but not the other? So if I have a Quicksilver originally at 700 MHz and have it upgraded with a NewerTech 7448 at 1.8 GHz, it won't work. But if I have a Quicksilver originally at 867 MHz and have it upgraded with the same NewerTech 1.8 GHz CPU, it will work?

I suppose the only formal answer will be known after the release of Leopard later this month. I have a Quicksilver 700 MHz upgraded machine as described with the NewerTech CPU plus a Gigabit dual 500 MHz original machine upgraded with a Giga Designs 1.4 GHz CPU. Both run Tiger beautifully with maxed out RAM, a SATA PCI card, and SATA drives. Both have great video cards - Nvidia 6200's at 256 MB VRAM. I run these in a work environment and will be very frustrated if I can't upgrade to Leopard just because the 'original' CPU speed was not 867 MHz.

Thanks for the continued reporting on this. I have been a daily reader of LEM since y'all first appeared on the scene years ago.

Warmly,
Trevor

Trevor,

Thanks for your loyalty. If you've been following our ongoing Old Macs in the Age of Leopard series, you know our feelings about locking out old hardware. We're against it.

I don't know where Liam Proven gets his information about the Leopard installer, but anyone who has selected About This Mac under the Apple menu knows that OS X knows exactly what CPU(s) your Mac has installed. Digging deeper, every revision has a machine model number, such as "PowerMac3,6" for my dual 1 GHz Power Mac G4 Mirror Drive Door. Between knowing your machine model and CPU speed, Apple has access to everything they need to determine which Macs will and won't be locked out by the Leopard installer.

What will the installer do if it finds a 1.8 GHz upgrade on a Sawtooth G4? What will it do if it finds a 533 MHz dual processor Digital Audio G4? After all, two 533 MHz G4s have more raw processing power than a single 867 MHz G4. And what about a Blue & White G3 with a 1 GHz G4 upgrade? The short answer is, nobody outside of Apple knows until Leopard goes Golden Master, which we can hope has already happened.

We know of people contentedly running Tiger on PCI Power Macs and clones with G3 and G4 upgrade cards, thanks to XPostFacto. And we're confident that no matter how clever Apple is about locking the installer, someone somewhere is going to hack it and allow for unsupported installation on older Macs.

Our guess is that Apple will release Leopard on the 23rd or 30th, that the first hacked installs on Windows PCs will take place within two weeks, and that someone will be running it on unsupported PowerPC hardware within a month.

Dan

Quicksilver Power Macs

From Melvin AhChing:

Dear Dan,

As usual a great article on Leopard and Quicksilver Macs. Now I remembered why I bought the 733 MHz model - the next one up was nearly $800 higher. Ouch.

I love my G4 733 MHz Quicksilver (CD-RW only), and from the time I bought it brand new in 2001, it still is my main Macintosh. I haven't made the move to an Intel Mac because I always hope Apple will come out with a consumer grade tower model similar to those sub-$2,000 G4s that they used to have.

That all being said, I was pretty much left behind during the upgrade to Tiger, as I never bought the release after finding out the retail package was DVD only and that we had to pay extra to exchange the DVDs for CDs . . . humbug.

So today I happily do all of my computing with Mac OS X 10.3.9. Everything more or less works the way I need it to run. I get iTunes, sync my iPods, do all of my writing, graphics, and desktop publishing work, and even do some limited audio & video editing.

The thing that will probably push me to either find a way to get Tiger on my Mac or buy a new Mac altogether is if and when I decide to spring for one of those new iPod touches. It seems that all of the new iPods require Tiger and are not backwards compatible to Panther.

As for Leopard, I think I'll get a new Mac before moving on to that.

mel

Mel,

Thanks for writing. Tiger was a great value for me. I bought the five-user family pack and installed it on both of my eMacs and my PowerBook G4. I now have it on my dual 1 GHz Power Mac G4 as well, and I've been using it for a lot more than two years already. As this appears to be the last version to support Classic Mode, I'll probably stick with it for some time.

After Leopard releases, you should be able to pick up Tiger (on CD) for a lot less.

Dan

Yes, I forgot Tiger is the last of the species that support Classic Mode. I use OS 9 about 1% of the time on my G4s, but it is still good to have Classic Mode there when you need it.

I'll be keeping my eyes open for Tiger CDs being dumped. Thanx!

mel

Mel,

I have Classic Mode running 99% of the time, so that's an important factor for me. I can report that SheepShaver is a very nice emulator. Unfortunately it emulates running Mac OS 7.5.2 through 9.0.4 within its own window, so it's not nearly as nice as Classic Mode is in OS X. Still, it does give you a way to run those old apps on an Intel-based Mac.

Dan

Original Quicksilver Supports Bigger than 128 GB Drives

From Morgan Reed:

...or at least mine does. I've got a Dual Proc. 800 G4. Using the internal bus, I have a 200 gig and a 300 gig ATA drive attached, along with an updated DVD-R and the factory Zip drive.

Happy to share any log or other machine info it it would help.

Sincerely,
Morgan Reed

Morgan,

Thanks for writing. According to Apple, which isn't always the last word on what will work, only June 2002 and later Macs have the appropriate BootROM to work with drives over 128 GB in size. (See Macintosh: Using 128 GB or Larger ATA Hard Drives.) It's already reported that Quicksilver 2002 Power Macs support large volumes. Yours is the first report I've heard about them working on Quicksilver 2001. I'll be sure to note it.

Dan

Differences Between 2.0 GHz Dual Processor G5 Power Macs

Hi Dan -

I don't know where to turn, maybe you can either help or point me in the right direction. I am about to upgrade from my G4 Quicksilver to a G5 (I'm a photographer and the combination of Photoshop and Lightroom is too much for the QS. What is the difference between a dual 2.0 model M9032LL/A and a dual 2.0 model 9747LL/A? I can't seem to find it anywhere.

Thanks for anything you can do.

Jay Reiter

Jay,

The M9032 is the top end first generation Power Mac G5, while the M9747 is the entry level third generation model. Both have dual 2.0 GHz G5 CPUs and a 1.0 GHz memory bus. The biggest hardware difference between the two is that the first and second gen 2.0 GHz G5 Power Macs have PCI-X expansion slots, but the entry-level G5 Power Macs (including the M9747) used PCI expansion slots, which are not nearly as fast.

Both shipped with Radeon 9600 graphics. First gen G5s came with 4x SuperDrives, second gen with 8x, third gen with 16x, and fourth gen added dual layer support, so you get a much faster SuperDrive.

Unless you want to run something older than OS X 10.4, there's no difference in terms of supported operating systems, and all of them officially support up to 8 GB of RAM. The M9032 had a base RAM configuration of 512 MB, while the entry-level started out at 256 MB.

Dan

Pros and Cons of Schools Leasing Computers

From Alan Zisman:

I was unclear whether Björn Steiner's comment implied that schools should be using 'common business mechanics' and hence leasing computers or not.

Leasing computers may make financial sense in a situation where:

  1. There is stable funding that persists year after year for technology costs
  2. Computer hardware is only useful within an organization for a relatively short period of time-- three years is often the length of time for a business computer lease.

Neither are true for the schools which I am familiar with . . . here (Vancouver, BC, Canada), school technology funding comes in large part from donations from parent organizations, student fundraising, etc. Two years ago, the students at the elementary school where I teach held a walkathon, raising enough money to upgrade the hardware in the computer lab. These sorts of funding come in spurts and aren't a good basis to pay for ongoing costs like an annual lease.

Moreover, I would hate to have to turn in computers at the end of the lease period. (I know there is often an option to buy the computers outright at the end of the lease). My school has computers in a computer lab, in the library, and in the classrooms - both for teacher use and student use.

Typically, the newest computers go to the computer lab, where they get the most use. As computers get replaced in the lab, they go to the library, and then to the classrooms. Currently, we have 1.8 and 2 GHz systems in the lab, and 400-600 MHz systems in the library and classrooms; the oldest were purchased in 2000, making them now seven years old. As computers become surplus to our school's needs, we offer them to other local schools, so we don't have storerooms full of older computers!

We use computers for 7-10 years, and after that, they often get several more years of life at other schools. A 3-year lease wouldn't give us the same flexibility. It would be nice if all the computers in my school and other locals schools were no more than 3 years old - but funding for that isn't in the cards, I'm afraid. So until that changes, we will continue to squeeze as much use out of our computers as we can!

Alan Zisman
computer teacher
Chief Maquinna Elementary School
Vancouver, BC, Canada

Alan,

Your raise some excellent points, and it's great to hear that 7-year-old computers aren't being put in storage but are instead finding new homes.

Dan

Leasing Computers Makes Sense for Schools

From Eric Bylenga:

In response to Björn's comments, I'd like to point out that not all schools are buying computers outright. As a school district, we've found that leasing our machines provides a very good mechanism for a timely upgrade. Once our lease is expired, we simply renew it again with new machines and move the existing computers to other locations that need them. I think the biggest hurdle in a school district is getting the administration to understand that technology is more than a one time expense every few decades.

Eric Bylenga
IT Coordinator
Island Catholic Schools

Eric,

Thanks for sharing the way your school district does things. Am I right in assuming that you buy the old computers at the end of the least? If so, at what point are computers retired or sold?

Dan

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Dan Knight has been publishing Low End Mac since April 1997. Mailbag columns come from email responses to his Mac Musings, Mac Daniel, Online Tech Journal, and other columns on the site.

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