Unsupported Leopard Reports: Sawtooth, Mystic, Digital Audio, Quicksilver, and TiBook Success
Dan Knight - 2007.10.31
- Installing Leopard from an Intel Mac
- Video Card Options for AGP Power Macs
- Guide to Mac AGP Video Cards
- Leopard Runs Well on a Digital Audio G4
- Leopard on a 500 MHz Dual Processor Mac
- Leopard on the PowerBook G4/400
From Eric Holtam:
I can confirm that you can use an Intel Mac to install Leopard on a pre-867 MHz G4. I have a dual 800 Quicksilver that I installed the Leo GM on. Things you need:
- FireWire cable
- Bootable PPC system
- 1 extra physical hard drive with an empty partition on the existing PPC boot drive or 2 extra hard drives in PPC system (internal or external)
Boot the PPC machine into FireWire Target Disk mode and connect it to the Intel Mac. Boot the Intel off the Leopard DVD. When you get to the installer, you'll notice that the drives of the PPC machine aren't available. You need to launch Disk Utility from the menu and format one of the two drives using GUID for the Intel machine. That is the drive you will install Leopard onto.
Once the install is done, reboot the PPC machine into the previous bootable system. Once logged in, launch Disk Utility and format the other drive/partition as HFS+. Then use the Restore function of Disk Utility to clone the Leopard install from the GUID drive to HFS+ drive. Change the startup disk to the newly cloned drive, and you've got Leopard on the PPC machine. You can remove the GUID formatted drive when complete.
Whod'a thunk it - you can clone a Leopard install without using Carbon Copy Cloner or SuperDuper! And you can create a PowerPC bootable drive using an Intel Mac, something I hadn't even hoped for.
Thank you, Apple!
BTW, how well does Leopard work on your Quicksilver? Faster than Tiger? Is the graphics card up to the task?
Yeah, its kinda crazy what you have to go thru to do it, but it's still possible. I thought for sure that since the installer didn't work that there would be some sort of road block in the actual OS as well. Guess not!
I have 1.5 GB of RAM in the machine, and it runs about the same as Tiger. No significant improvements overall. My video card is the same stock card that came with the machine. I didn't have any Quartz Extreme functionality in Tiger with it either. The transparencies and Core Animations still function though. For instance with Remote Desktop 3.2, the fade into controlling a remote machine is smooth. There are some slowdowns here and there with some of the eye candy stuff, but I try and avoid that anyway.
iPhoto seems to have taken a step backward in speed. It takes a looooong time to load/manage my library of 11,000+ photos. But as an everyday machine, it's fully functional. It's so frustrating that there's no technological reason to limit the specs of Leopard. Earlier builds of Leo had a minimum requirement of 800 MHz. The last few builds they decided to up that with no explanation. At least there is a workaround for us LEM-ers.
Thanks for the follow-up, Eric.
From Ryan Hanson:
Here was my question:
I am looking for a video card to go into my G4 Sawtooth with Core Image support so I can load Leopard on it. However, I don't want to fool around with scotch-taping the board or anything like I saw in the instructions that came with the Mac ATI Radeon 7500 64 MB AGP Video Card DVI G4/G5 7000 that I bought from you guys a couple of weeks ago. Is there a card that I can buy that will work without modification and run Leopard with all the graphic bells and whistles on my G4 Sawtooth?
And here was the answer:
We have three video cards that will work with your Sawtooth and support Core Image; all three of them require tape in a 4x AGP G4, as they are 8x AGP cards, but all of our cards come pre-taped; the good news is that tape is not required in a Sawtooth, as it is a 2x AGP machine, so if you bought any of these three cards for your Sawtooth, you could either just leave the tape in place, or remove the tape and clean any adhesive off the connectors with a bit of rubbing alcohol.
Here are the three video cards:
- GeForce 6200 256 MB AGP - low power consumption, completely silent, runs cool, no auxiliary power connection needed
- Radeon 9700 Pro 128 MB AGP - uses a bit more power and produces more heat than the 6200, but quite a bump in speed/power, requires auxiliary power connection
- Radeon 9800 Pro 128 MB AGP - fastest card for the Sawtooth; uses more power and runs warmer than the 9700; requires auxiliary power connection
I guess I should note there is always some risk when you start mucking around with your computers and doing upgrades like this. Do this at your own risk!
Thanks for the info. I did a little research on Bare Feats, and they report no performance difference between the 9800 Pro ($109) and 9700 Pro ($149), so that can save Mac owners a few bucks. I haven't seen any head-to-head comparisons with the GeForce 6200 ($99), but online users claim the Radeons are much faster, making the 9700 Pro the best value for adding full Core Image support to an older Mac.
Your guide to Mac-compatible AGP video cards is a good idea but someone has already done it.
They list AGP-compatible video cards from ATI and Nvidia for G4s and G5s.
Yes, The Mac Elite does a wonderful job in this area, and they are definitely the leading resource on flashing Windows video cards for use in the Mac, but their profiles are geared to flashed versions of these video cards, not Mac Edition video cards.
As we slowly build our own guide to AGP video cards for Power Macs, we'll be sure to link to the excellent resources on The Mac Elite website.
From Paul C. Harvey:
My main desktop Mac is a Digital Audio G4 (originally 733 MHz) upgraded to a 1.42 GHz Sonnet G4 with 1.5 GB of RAM. I have upgraded this computer just about as much as I can, but because it has performed flawlessly for so long I will not part with it until it dies (or can afford a new Intel Mac Pro). I have multiple external FireWire 800 drives attached to this machine. Also I have an iBook G4 1.2 GHz.
Leopard would not install on the desktop, but everything went well with the iBook. I cloned that using Target Disk Mode to one of my FireWire partitions. I then booted into Tiger on the desktop and cloned Leopard to my main boot disk, a 500 GB SATA drive running off a PCI card. Rebooted and the Digital Audio continues on!
Other than some minor problems, it performs better than Tiger. Once Spotlight finished its indexing, the computer is more responsive and just seems snappier. The Finder is particularly speedy compared to Tiger. I know this is anecdotal, but I trust my perceptions with this computer.
One oddity is that About this Mac believes I am running a 0 GHz Power PC, although System Profiler shows it correctly.
All in all, I am very pleased so far.
Paul C. Harvey
Thanks for sharing your findings. It's great to read so many reports of Leopard running well on unsupported hardware, even if you need a supported Mac to get it there. It's especially nice to hear that users feel it is more responsive than Tiger, which is pretty responsive itself.
Do you still have the original Nvidia GeForce2 MX video card in your Digital Audio Power Mac?
No it's the ATI Radeon 9800 Pro 256 MB Mac Edition. I have had it about a year, and it has been fine for this computer. Certainly has been surpassed by the latest greatest cards of today, but still respectable.
Thanks for the update! Nice to have a video card with Core Image support. :-)
From Brian Deuel:
ComputerLand on 28th Street! I used to ride my bike up there to play around with the Apple IIs and buy ribbons for my Atari 800's printer! You might remember me; I had some pretty wild spiked up hair (this was the heavy metal 80s, after all)! I'm still here in Grand Rapids, living not far from that old strip mall!
Anyway, having read the article about modifying the Leopard install DVD and checking out the forum post at on Mac Rumors, I decided to give it a try on my DP 500 MHz Mystic. And I am proud to say, I've succeeded! I followed the entire post to the T, except that, rather than burning the image to a DL-DVD, I restored the image to a spare 20 gig drive I had laying around. I connected another spare 20 gig drive as the master drive, booted my Leopard DVD, set the spare drive as the startup drive, and rebooted. The install went off without a hitch, and Leopard actually runs pretty decently on this old workhorse, if a tad slower than Tiger. Now if only my flashed GeForce 6200 would allow it to boot so I could see how she really runs with Core Image/Core Video hardware-enabled (stuck with an old GeForce2). I'm going to play around for a while before I decide whether to install Leopard on my main drive.
A photo of the About The Mac can be found online.
I love Low End Mac and have been reading it since 2002, when I got my first Mac (a B&W 450). Keep up the great work!
Thanks for writing. I only worked at the 28th Street location for about six months in late 1982 - and later at the Broadmoor location until about 6 months before the store closed its doors. I remember going in to drool over the Apple II+, pick up BYTE, Creative Computing, and Computer! magazines, and dreaming of the day I could afford a computer. (My first one was a Commodore VIC-20.)
Congratulations on hacking the installer and getting Leopard running on your dual 500 MHz G4. I've got a dual 450 I'd like to try it on once I acquire a copy of 10.5. You're the first one to report that Leopard feels a bit slower than Tiger. I wonder if that could be because it's still doing its Spotlight index.
Best of luck with the GeForce 6200.
Ahh . . . late '82 was probably too late for me then. I used to love those magazines too, especially Byte! It seemed to be the only magazine that had anything with TRS-80 Model III stuff (our high school had those in their computer lab).
Leopard just feels "not as snappy" with certain things, such as the new Dock and some of the effects. I get weird video glitches (i.e., my screen "freaks out" momentarily) when I have a Finder window open and have the view set to Cover Flow and I minimize a window to the Dock, but that could be due to the GeForce2 with 32 megs RAM I had to default to for now. In fact, I used the same card in this machine for a long time, and even Tiger felt like it was dragging a bit until I installed the 6200 I flashed a few months ago. So I'm wondering if it's just the card itself that's dragging things down.
Spotlight indexing only took 10 minutes on this machine, but then again, the test drives I have installed are both 20 gigs.
It doesn't appear that I have the same sleep issues that others have reported having. The beast awoke from her nap just fine :)
I'm going to dig in and put Leopard through the ringer over the next few days. I'll report back my findings.
Good luck with your install.
Followed by another email some time later:
The Mac Elite comes through again!!
Turns out that at first boot with the later GeForce series of video cards, there can be a wait of up to two minutes for the desktop to appear, all the while the spinning dashes stop. Then Leopard springs to life. Seems I was a bit impatient :)
Everything is much more snappy with the 6200. Cover Flow, Stacks, DVD Player, etc., all run fine, and seemingly (so far) faster than Tiger. A couple more days of playing around, and I'll probably install it as my main OS.
Take care - Brian
Good news indeed!
I successfully installed Leopard on a PowerBook G4 400 MHz machine via FireWire Disk Mode. Of course there are no video drivers for the ATI Rage 128 graphics card used in the PowerBook G4. I tried using an ATI Rage 128 kext file from Jaguar 10.2 and installing it in the /System/ Library/Extensions folder in Leopard under root by dragging it over top the extensions folder, but an error came up saying it was improperly installed. I did refresh the kext file via root and restarted the computer, but the same error message came up saying the kext file cannot be used as it was improperly installed.
Anybody want to try and take a crack at this? It would really help put some juice back in these older G4 PowerBooks, because there is no video card support to speak of Leopard. With some video support, it will be just fine, because the G4 chip rocks in Leopard. Right now videos are completely choppy.
Thanks for writing. You're the first to report success using FireWire Disk Mode to install Leopard on an unsupported Mac. We'd suspected it would work; thanks for the confirmation.
As for support for the ancient Rage 128 graphics processor, don't expect anything from Apple. However, it's possible the user community may come through on this one. I'll post your letter in the Mailbag; maybe someone will see it and point us to a driver.
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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