The Low End Mac Mailbag

Leopard on Pismo, How Apple Thinks Different, a Universal Leopard Boot Drive, and More

Dan Knight - 2007.11.05

What If Apple Thought Like a PC Company?

From Edward Cornell:

A very interesting, well thought out, and amusing article in my opinion. Something I'm sad to say hasn't been seen at LEM by me recently. I grew up in the world of PowerPC processors, me being only 15. I believe the only 68k Mac I have ever used was (what I believe was) an Apple II (one of the later ones, a c/e). My memories are unclear of it since this was when I was only in the 1st grade. However, Intel Macs are still sort of odd to me, as I am still very pro-PPC.

Oh, and an interesting note, the 68K processor is still used as a high-end one in "computers". Why the word computers in quotes? The TI-92 series and the later TI Voyager series graphing calculators use them. These are defined by the College Board as "computers" because of their full QWERTY keyboards. From what I've heard, they're powerful calculators, as they have some basic PDA-like functions such as word processing. Amazing considering that this is the company that an employer of that very same company helped develop the Integrated Circuit way back in the '50s....

Edward,

Thanks for writing. I guess the piece was a bit of a counterpoint to the "Leopard seems to run on any Mac with a G4" discussion. The PC industry has stuck with the same old x86 processor family for 26 years now, and I'm sure you can still buy PCs with parallel printer ports and floppy drives (perhaps a BTO option). Apple hasn't been afraid of change - two changes in processor families, switching from SCSI to ATA for drive, replacing ADB and Mac serial ports with USB, developing FireWire, creating a whole new operating system, etc.

BTW, the Apple II was based on the 6502 CPU, not part of the later 680x0 series from Motorola.

Dan

Leopard on a Pismo!

From Vic Mabus:

Hi, Dan -

Out of curiosity, I tried booting my Leopard FW drive from my G4 550 640 MB Pismo. Remember that this 'book has 8 MB VRAM. It runs fine and stable, but not what you could call "snappy," but way more usable than my 6100/66 running 9.1 :-)

V Mabus

Vic,

Congratulations, you're the first to report back on Mac OS X 10.5 on a G4-upgraded Mac designed for the G3. I'm sure a lot of Pismo owners will be thrilled to know it's possible!

Dan

Leopard on an Upgraded Pismo

From Adem Rudin:

Hey, this is just a quick report, I'll do a more detailed report later.

I used FireWire Target Disk mode to install Leopard on a "Pismo" PowerBook G3, that has a 550 MHz G4 upgrade courtesy of Daystar. It also has 1024 MB of RAM and a Toshiba MK1032GAX, 100 GB 5400 RPM hard drive.

Leopard seems to be working like a charm! It appears to operate at the same level of almost-but-not-quite-snappy that Tiger worked at on this machine.

DVD player does not work; it claims that no video device could be found. Copying over the ATIRage128.kext and other associated files relating to the Rage 128 card from 10.4 did not fix things. I haven't tried VLC yet.

While the system uses both batteries, it does not recognize the left battery bay at all. Removing the right battery yields a "no battery installed" icon, although when unplugged from the wall, it keeps running. Odd. Third party apps, such as Slim Battery Monitor, recognize that there are two battery bays, but permanently show the left bay as "empty"

-Adem Rudin

Adem,

Congrats - you're the second to report success with a G4-upgraded Pismo. I'll be sure to note that DVD Player is not supported on Pismo.

Dan

Leopard on an 800 MHz G4 iMac

From Matthew Baker:

Hi Dan,

I have Leopard installed on the following: 15" iMac G4 800 MHz (stock) , 512 MB RAM, Nvidia GeForce 2 MX 32 MB (stock)

Installed Leopard using 1.25 GHz PowerBook G4 on to FireWire drive, booted from that. Front Row works like on my MacBook, DVD Player is fine, a little slow changing from full screen to a window. It worked okay, so I didn't test VLC. I wasn't able to test Time Machine.

The OS seems to run very similarly to Tiger, even slightly faster, despite the fact it's running off a FireWire drive.

As a side note, attempting to boot a Pismo PowerBook G3 (400 MHz, 384 MB RAM, upgraded 40 GB hard drive) off the same FireWire drive causes a kernel panic at the Apple logo screen before the pinwheel comes up.

~Matthew

Matthew,

Thanks for writing - a especially for reporting what happens when you try to run Leopard on a G3 Mac. We pretty much suspected that it really does require a G4 CPU. Glad to hear Leopard is running so well for you. Looking forward to making the migration myself someday - when I no longer need Classic Mode.

Dan

'Universal' Boot Disks Possible with Leopard

From Ed Hurtley:

I just installed Leopard to an external hard drive. The same hard drive happily boots both my eMac and my MacBook Pro. The catch? I had to install from the eMac.

When I tried to install to the external hard drive, either via USB or FireWire (it has both interfaces) on the MacBook Pro, it insisted I had to repartition the drive as GPT. When I ran the install on the eMac, it let me install it as APM. The resulting disk happily boots both computers. Sadly, it will not boot my B&W G3 with a G4 upgrade.

(And even trying to install Leopard on the B&W rendered the internal hard drive unbootable!)

Ed Hurtley

Ed,

Thanks for sharing your results. I know some have managed to create a "universal" Leopard boot disk on an Intel Mac, but that requires creating an APM partition and cloning the installation from a GPT partition. Your solution doesn't even require an Intel-based Mac.

I'll make a note of your unsuccessful attempt with the Blue & White.

Dan

Once I get the B&W back in running order, I'm going to try cloning from my 'universal' disk onto it. The trick appears to be the fact that OS X boot CDs (I've tried Jaguar, Panther, and Tiger) don't see the FireWire disk, since FireWire isn't supported at boot on a B&W the way it is on most later Macs. So I'll probably need to partition the B&W's internal hard drive and have one install of a supported version of OS X (Probably Tiger) on one partition, then clone Leopard onto the other from within the fully installed copy of Tiger.

Leopard on an 867 MHz 12" PowerBook G4

From Ed Hurtley:

While Leopard only took about 20 minutes to install on my MacBook Pro, it took over 2 hours on my 867 MHz 12" PowerBook G4 (both "rev a" products.) The MacBook Pro is a 'maxed out' 2.0 GHz Core Duo, 2 GB RAM, 7200 RPM hard drive. The PowerBook was a 'minimum spec' 867 MHz G4, upgraded to 640 MB RAM, stock 4200 RPM hard drive. I believe the 867 MHz 12" PowerBook G4 is the very slowest machine that is officially supported by Apple. (The much older 867 MHz "Quicksilver" Power Mac G4 came with a faster hard drive.)

I must say, the Finder in Leopard "feels snappier" on the G4 than Tiger did. QuickTime Player and Preview both launch so fast, I thought it was QuickLook until I realized that QuickLook launches even faster! The lack of USB 2.0 made setting up a USB hard drive as a Time Machine storage location insanely long. (I actually gave up 8 hours in, when it was only about 25% done, and set Time Machine to back up over the network instead.)

DVD Player works just fine, Front Row is a nice addition, although there is an about 5 second lag after hitting Cmd-Esc before the interface comes up. Photo Booth runs with a FireWire camcorder as input (previously used successfully for iChat AV in Tiger), but the lag is impossibly slow. (Maybe 5-10 seconds per frame) and recording video is laughably impossible. (Although I do appreciate the ability to record video on the MacBook Pro.)

With the low resolution of the PowerBook's display (1024 x 768), Spaces is a wonderful addition (I had used similar "virtual desktop" programs before, none were as well integrated as this.)

I don't get all of the eye candy (Time Machine's restore UI isn't animated, it's just a static background of stars), but it does feel generally faster than Tiger. The real test will be in two months, after my wife has used it at school a few hours a day, every day. (Most of the time, she uses the PowerBook, I use the MacBook Pro.)

Ed Hurtley

Ed,

Thanks for letting us know how slow an 867 MHz PowerBook can be. A shame Apple went with cheap 4200 rpm drives, as a good 5400 rpm drive makes a world of difference - and "PowerBook" was considered their pro line.

Dan

Update, the 867 MHz 12" PowerBook G4 was willing to do video (only two-way, not the fancy multi-way) over iChat in Tiger, it can no longer do video in iChat. It is also apparently too slow to do "Screen Sharing" (which is funny, I've used the built in "Remote Desktop" VNC sharing plenty). When I try to initiate a video chat from another computer, iChat says "xxx has invited you to a Video Chat, but your computer does not support video conferencing." Which is odd, since in Tiger, if the receiving computer didn't support video chat, it would default to a one-way video chat. This is in direct contrast to Apple's stated video chat requirements: http://docs.info.apple.com/article.html?artnum=306687 which state that "All Leopard-compatible Macs are supported" for 1- to-1 video conferencing.

In addition, screen sharing through iChat is not even available. It works through the Preference Pane activated, Finder-found method, though.

Ed,

Thanks for sharing your findings. I've only used video iChat once - a looooong time ago. I'll be sure to note for others that video iChat and screen sharing are not supported on this model.

Dan

Update update. The Connection Doctor in iChat claims that the reason for no video or screen sharing is "Slow Network". Which is odd, since it's on the same Gigabit 802.11n router to 8 Mb downstream 1.5 Mb upstream internet connection as my eMac and MacBook Pro. It won't even try either one over Bonjour. Obviously, multi-person video and Effects are "Insufficient CPU", but to claim "Slow Network" in my case is ridiculous.

And in a later email:

Well, I do have an update. There are many reports of this same problem on Apple's Discussion forums. It appears to be a "bug", not a planned thing. The fact that iChat blames "slow network" when the network is not an issue is obviously a problem. Downloading Ecamm's PowerBoost seems to fix the problem. (It still says "slow network", but it works anyway.)

Ed,

Thanks for sharing the workaround.

Dan

Leopard on a Digital Audio Power Mac

From Anthony Elliott:

Hey Dan,

I thought I'd send in my report on installing leopard on my DA Power Mac.

Specs:

  • 466 MHz G4
  • 1.12 GB of RAM
  • Stock ATI Rage Pro + PCI ATI Radeon 32 MB (ran everything below off of the PCI card)
  • two 120 GB Seagate hard drives (other drive holds the Tiger install I've been using since I got the unit)

I installed it via Target Disk Mode by hooking it up to my G4 Xserve. Had to do some swapping of the hard drive cable to get the Xserve to see the right drive in the DA. I did a clean install that took about 2 hrs. I did get an error on reboot for the Apple Pro Speakers that I have hooked up to the Power Mac. I had to disconnect them to get the system to start. Didn't try to plug them back in.

Overall the system runs, but obviously the graphical things like Cover Flow do run slow. I think this is mostly due to the lack of a video card that supports Core Animation. Even with this, the system is still usable for basic stuff. I only had about an hour or so to work with it before work so here are some bullet points of things I did notice.

  • QuickLook was able to show one of the stock PDF's fine, though it took 3-4 seconds to load.
  • Migration assistant was able to import one of my Tiger users with no problem.
  • When attempting to start Photobooth, I got a error message stating it couldn't start this program since it didn't have a required video card.
  • I was able to start Front Row but didn't have any media on the drive to test it with.
  • Safari, though slow to start, ran about the same speed as on the Tiger drive.
  • Dashboard ran at the same speed as on the Tiger drive.
  • Finder did run a bit slower then I would like, but everything works, including screen sharing.
  • Detected the original AirPort Card that was installed and seemed to work fine.
  • Menu bar is not transparent.

I still haven't decided if I'll stick with this or continue to run Tiger. I'm going to have to run it for awhile longer to see.

Anthony Elliott

Sent from my iPhone

Anthony,

Thanks for the report.

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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