The Low End Mac Mailbag

The G4 Power Mac That Won't Run Leopard, More OS X 10.5 Success Stories, and Pismo Tips

Dan Knight - 2007.11.08

We've received our first field report of a G4 Power Mac that simply will not run Mac OS X 10.5. As far as we can tell, its owner is doing everything right, and we're leading off today's Mailbag with his story. If any of you have succeeded in running Leopard on a dual 533 MHz Digital Audio Power Mac, be sure to let us know. dk - Tip Jar

Dual 533 GHz Digital Audio Power Mac Refuses to Boot Leopard

From Larry Martin:

Dan

Hi. My name is Larry Martin. I have a G4 1.33 GHz fully stock 60HD iBook which has 1.25 GB of SDRAM. I installed Leopard onto an external hard drive via FireWire and then selected that same external hard drive as the start up drive for the iBook. No problems. The G4 1.33 GHz iBook boots up Leopard from the ext. hard drive. Once again, no problems.

However, I was unable to get my G4 Dual 533 GHz Digital Audio Power Mac to work w/Leopard. So far, I have tried the following methods to correct the problems w/no success:

  • Attempted to boot up the Dual 533 Power Mac from the same ext. hard drive w/Leopard on it via FireWire. No go. After the standard blue screen and the large Apple icon screen w/the ever spinning status icon down below it, I got an error msg. telling me to turn off the computer.
  • Then I installed the same hard drive that was in the external hard drive enclosure in the Dual 533 Power Mac itself. I disconnected the Tiger hard drive and connected the IDE cable and power cable to the Leopard hard drive. Same results, same error msg. and instruction, "Press the pwr. button until your computer turns off."
  • Then finally, I installed Leopard onto the stock internal, original hard drive that is in the Dual 533 Power Mac via FireWire from the iBook. (Note: The O/S that I was using on the iBook at the time, was Tiger, not Leopard.) I now realize that may have had something to do with it. After, I installed Leopard on that stock hard drive in the Dual 533 GHz Power Mac, I got the same error msg, when I attempted to book it up.

(Note: Each time I installed Leopard using the methods described above, I got the "Congratulation, You have Successfully installed Leopard" Screen. However, when I attempted to boot up Leopard on the Dual 533 Power Mac, it failed.)

Finally, so far I have not installed Leopard on the stock, internal 60 GB hard drive of the G4 1.33 GHz iBook. Maybe, after I do install Leopard on the stock, internal hard drive on my iBook, if I reinstall Leopard again (using the FireWire method) onto the Dual 533 Power Mac, it may actually boot up Leopard successfully, finally.

Larry Martin

Larry,

I hear your frustration, and thanks for sharing your story. I've heard so many success stories that I'm surprised by your problems - you seem to be doing everything right.

Looking over the reports I've received thus far, I have reports of success with single processor Digital Audio Power Macs, dual processor Mystic Power Macs, and dual processor 800 MHz Quicksilver Power Macs - but none yet on the 533 MHz dual. I do have reports of single processor Digital Audio models running Leopard. It's possible Leopard won't work with the dual 533. I'll keep posting reports on successes and failures.

Dan

I Have a Digital Audio with Leopard Installed

From Frank McHugh:

Hello Dan

My name if Frank McHugh, I have a Digital Audio with Leopard installed. My machine is a Digital Audio.

It has 768 MB RAM installed. It's got the stock G4 7410 533 MHz CPU in it. The video card is a Nvidia GeForce 2 MX AGP.

The installation method I used was modding the mpkg file in the installer. I used the DA itself to run and install Leopard.

I have two hard drives - the master is 120 GB , and the second is a slave 40 GB. I installed Leopard to the slave 40 GB drive.

So far everything works (except for repairing permissions using Disk Utility). I can't use Time Machine, 'cause I don't have a external hard drive to use as a backup (I didn't want to use my other internal drive to do it). Front Row works like a charm, Spaces also works great. the Dock is kind of sluggish when trying to add an app to the Dock. DVD Player also works. VLC also plays well but has a few known issues with it.

My friend has a DA that has been upgraded with a dual 7455 1.4 GHz CPU upgrade and a Radeon 9800 Pro, and he didn't need to mod the installer. The Leopard installer booted and ran without a hitch.

When I was modding the OSinstall.mpkg, I saw that none of the AGP G4s had their machine IDs blocked. The only thing that was blocking them (the ones slower then 867 MHz) was the CPU speed block. This is all that is needed to be removed or edited below the machine's CPU speed (I set mine to 300 MHz), and my install booted without a hitch.

I have not run Xbench or Geekbench yet to see the difference between Leopard and Tiger. I do have results for my DA in Tiger, but none for Leopard. In a few areas it does seem slower then Tiger, Safari seems a bit faster, and Flash works a lot better. PDFs also don't bog the system down when scrolling.

Frank,

Thanks for sharing your experience. It looks like Leopard's installer only cares that you have at least a G4, at least an 867 MHz CPU, and at least 512 MB of RAM. It seems to run without a hitch on any Mac meeting those requirements, which is great for those with CPU upgrades on Macs that would otherwise be unsupported.

I'll add your report to our long list of successful "unsupported" installations.

Dan

Hello again,

It wasn't too long after I emailed you about my Digital Audio running Leopard: I initially reported a go with the DVD player, not so now. It did play all but two of my DVDs; DVD Player in leopard reported these 2 DVDs as having damaged areas, so it skipped to the DVD menu, and that is as far as I got, 'cause if I tried to do anything with the DVD it gave me a system error.

I tried these 2 DVDs in VLC and in Front Row; both played them with no issue at all. So there are a few issues with the DVD Player in Leopard

Thanks
Frank

Frank,

Thanks for the update. I have several DVD players at home (my first DVD+R recorder, a later DVD-R/VHS combo deck, a small/cheap Magnavox player, and the one my wife used before we married), and regular commercial DVDs that have problems on one may work just fine on another. It's frustrating - and far more likely to happen with rented or secondhand discs.

My guess is that VLC and Front Row are more tolerant in handling less than perfect media than DVD Player.

Dan

Digital Audio G4 with Leopard

From Pascal Harris:

Dan,

I thought that you might be interested to hear my experiences with Leopard on a G4 Digital Audio. My DA is a little light on RAM (only 768 MB at the moment), but fairly big on processor (dual 1.6 GHz Sonnet), graphics (Nvidia GeForce 6200 with 256 MB RAM), and hard disk (500 GB Maxtor connected to a Sonnet SATA controller and partitioned to 300 GB (ish) for Leopard and 120 GB (ish) for Tiger). It runs Leopard fine and fast and overall seems snappier than it did running Tiger. I have no problems with my Pro Speakers and, to be honest, if I had had problems booting I'd have suspected the graphics card, not the speakers. Obviously, on these older Mac's, anything can flake out!

One point of order though - booting takes an age. Tiger boots very rapidly (under a minute), but Leopard takes five minutes, over four minutes of which are stuck on the grey pinwheel screen and, for one minute, the pinwheel doesn't move - the Mac looks like it's crashed.

Kudos to the guy who booted Pismo though. I'm impressed. Sure, it had a G4 upgrade - but I'm amazed that Apple hadn't removed the old Rage drivers.

Regards,
Pascal

Pascal,

Thanks for your report. Weird that it would take so long to boot Leopard. I wonder if that could be due to the SATA card....

Dan

Leopard on a Dual 500 MHz Power Mac

From Eric:

Hi Dan,

On 10.5 in my Dual G4 500 MHz Mystic/Gigabit ethernet, years ago I upgraded the AGP video card to an Nvidia GeForce 4 MX, which does work on all the features you mentioned - DVD, Front Row, and Time Machine.

Quartz Extreme is the minimum that needs to be supported by the graphics card, I believe, and 32 MB VRAM minimum.

Only thing not working is video on iChat 4 - saying my system is not supported, but I heard that PowerBoost fixes this.

Of course my SATA controller and drive upgrade helps w/10.5 too....

-Eric

Leopard on 867 MHz PowerBook Comparable to Tiger

From Jack Curry:

(Richard writes)

I have a question about Leopard performance and graphics chips. I can't seem to find any information searching Google. Basically I have a 12" PowerBook G4 867 MHz. It meets all the requirements for Leopard except one. It has the GeForce 4 420 Go chipset. I've read that this is the one before the earliest supported by Core Animation. How badly will this affect performance in Leopard? Would I be better off just sticking with Tiger?

(Dan responds)

At this point I haven't heard from anyone running Leopard on a 12" 867 MHz PowerBook G4, but I have heard from people with 700 MHz eMacs, which have the older GeForce 2 graphics chip. They report being happy with performance and consider it an overall improvement over Tiger.

Considering that people with 400 MHz G4 Power Macs and stock video are content with Leopard on their hardware, I think you'll find it a good overall experience on your newer, faster PowerBook.

(My response)

Dan,

Regarding Richard's letter to you, I recently installed Leopard on my 12" PowerBook G4 867 MHz and have found it to be about the same in terms of performance as Tiger. Obviously, some of the eye candy, just as it was in Tiger, is absent, such as the ripple effect in Dashboard, some of the Dock effects are a bit choppy, and, interestingly enough, I suppose due to lack of Core Animation support, the menu bar is opaque (which is actually a plus in my book). QuickTime videos, or the ones I've bothered to run, offer decent playback, which I was surprised with. Overall the experience is good, but is it a must that you upgrade? No - performance is on par with Tiger, but if you like some of the newer features and can find a good deal (such as Amazon's offering) on Leopard, then it might be worthwhile to upgrade.

-Jack

Jack,

Thanks for sharing your experience. The original 12" PowerBook G4 was a decent enough machine, but the 1 GHz model released 8 months later has better graphics and twice as much onboard RAM, as well as officially supporting 1 GB of RAM.

It's no surprise that people are holding on to these precious jewels.

Dan

Dan,

I actually did have a 12" 1 GHz 'Book way back (which got replaced with a 2.33 GHz MacBook Pro about 12 months back), and I'd have loved to see how that little guy would have fared under Leopard. Awesome little machines, those ones.

The 867 MHz I currently have (which is actually maxed at 1.12 GB of RAM) was actually a recent eBay acquisition which is currently undergoing an LCD replacement (anyone who's disassembled a 12" PowerBook can feel my pain right about now), and I'm actually considering upgrading the hard drive to a 5400 RPM drive while I'm in there to see how that might affect performance. I'll report back if that's what I end up doing.

Oh, forgot to mention - Front Row on this machine performs pretty well. I had it streaming video from another Mac on my network, and the video playback was okay, but you could tell that there was a lot of downsampling. So perhaps the system looks at the video card in relation to the incoming video and samples it accordingly to get the smoothest playback possible? Just a thought.

-Jack

867 MHz the Right Balance for Leopard

From John Muir:

Hi Dan,

I just think that the Leopard balance is right. It runs very nicely on the modern systems I've tried, including this Mac mini you catch me on: more or less the most junior of all the Intels. The fact the G3 was dropped was essentially inevitable sooner or later, as SIMD (vector processing) really has caught on inside Apple, as it has elsewhere. As for the 867 MHz number: It is a bit arbitrary. Good to know it's a fairly easy task to run Leopard on a dual G4 below that speed, although it would be nicer if the obvious examples (dual 800 MHz especially) didn't need any sneaky measures!

The underlying argument is whether Leopard should stride forward or hedge its bets. Apple clearly went with the former while bringing on a reasonably diverse selection of hardware for the ride. Core Animation and so many other frameworks and technologies which lie under the hood in 10.5 are due to change the Mac experience yet again, so we might as well embrace them. Personally, I expect Leopard to surpass Tiger and Panther in the scale of ultimate change; yet alone a certain Windows release which is dogged by its own lack of ambition courtesy of a drawn out development fiasco.

Two million sales on the opening weekend. Sounds to me like they got it right!

Most important of all though is this: Tiger is a great OS to fall back on. I have no qualms about running a mixed network between it and Leopard. And it is after all where most of us have been living Mac-wise for two and a half years. Unlike a certain XP it also happens to be a comfortable, able and secure OS. I doubt its applications support will dry up for a long time to come.

John

Complete List of Leopard Compatible Macs

From RK:

Hello Dan Knight and all at LEM:

Have you published a complete listing of Apple approved Leopard compatible computers?

Thank you, -Rk

RK,

Not even Apple has published an exhaustive list of every model that is officially supported in Leopard. Instead, they have published specific system requirements before you can run the installer: at least 512 MB of RAM, an 867 MHz or faster G4 or later CPU, and 9 GB of storage space.

Because memory and hard drives can be upgraded and because G4 Power Macs can use faster CPUs, the installer will run on Macs that would not be able to do so in their original state. While all G5 Macs and Intel Mac can run Leopard, upgrades or the lack thereof make a big difference with G4 Macs.

That's why Apple does something simpler than publish a complete listing of supported Macs: It simply lists minimum hardware requirements.

Dan

Making Leopard Work Better on a Pismo

From Lukas:

Hello,

I wanted to follow up on Adem Rudin's interesting report regarding Leopard on an upgraded Pismo.

Adem writes that DVD Player does not work even when using Tiger's ATIRage128.kext. Adem, have you tried copying ATIRage128DVDDriver.bundle from Tiger as well?

DVD playback with VLC has always been choppy on the Pismo, even on Panther and Tiger. However, DVD playback with DVD Player is generally smooth on the Pismo, presumably because DVD Player offloads some of the MPEG decoding to the ATI Rage 128 chip. But to do this, it needs the driver bundle named above.

Several other people have reported that Leopard's DVD Player does not work on their old hardware, reporting that no video device was found. These people should try to copy the specific DVD Driver they need from a Tiger installation. Here is a list of the drivers included with Tiger:

  • ATIRadeon8500DVDDriver.bundle
  • ATIRadeon9700DVDDriver.bundle
  • ATIRadeonDVDDriver.bundle
  • ATIRage128DVDDriver.bundle
  • AppleAltiVecDVDDriver.bundle

It may be necessary to run "kextcache" as root and/or reboot after copying the driver to /System/Library/Extensions/ . If Leopard's DVD Player still refuses to work, you can try to use Tiger's DVD Player. If that doesn't work either, you can try to copy the other GPU-related kernel extensions as well from a Tiger installation. E.g., for the ATI Rage 128, the following kernel extensions are included with Tiger:

  • ATIRage128.kext
  • ATIRage128DVDDriver.bundle
  • ATIRage128GLDriver.bundle
  • ATIRage128GA.plugin

Adem has reported that Leopard is confused by the removable DVD drive. It might be possible to resolve this by copying some or all of the following kernel extensions from a Tiger distribution:

  • AppleMediaBay.kext
  • AppleKeyLargo.kext
  • IOKeyLargo.kext
  • KeyLargoATA.kext

As for Leopard getting confused by the dual batteries, Adem could try to copy some or all of these kernel extensions from a Tiger distribution:

  • ApplePMU.kext
  • AppleCore99PE.kext
  • AppleCore99NVRAM.kext

Apple has probably just removed support for dual batteries from the PMU kernel extension, so the kernel extension gets confused by the information it receives from the Pismo's PMU. This would explain why the Pismo keeps running even when disconnecting it from the wall socket: The PMU switches to the battery as it should, but the kernel doesn't learn about it because the kernel extension can't talk to the PMU. (The PMU is the Power Management Unit, a little coprocessor located below the trackpad which is responsible for switching between the Pismo's different power sources.)

I have a Pismo myself by the way. Looking forward to reading more reports like this!

Thank you and best regards,
Lukas

Lukas,

Thanks for your tips. I've emailed them to Adem.

Dan

The Dual 933 MHz Digital Audio That Wasn't

From Jerome:

That's what I was afraid of. I did a search also on G4 11.3 and came up with a 533. I tried to tell the guy I purchased it from on eBay that he might want to do a little research before he listed another one. He got mad at me. Personally I do not think he was dishonest; he just read what was listed in About This Mac.

I am just kicking myself, because I was looking for a dual 1 GHz Quicksilver which I had researched, missed my chance to buy it, saw he had this one, and bought it. Live and learn.

Now with the upgrades I am going to have to do I could have got a new mini, which I did not want to do until forced to. I am not a big Intel fan. I wish they would have went with AMD.

I appreciate the help, I am planning on running Leopard on this machine after the upgrades, OWC Mercury Extreme G4 1.467, Nvidia GeForce 6200 256m, 18x SuperDrive. I will let you know how it does.

One last question and I will leave you alone: I think I have an ATA 66 hard drive; will I see much of a performance boost with a PCI card Serial ATA or Ultra ATA 133? At this point if its not much of a performance boost I would prefer to save the money.

Thanks again,
Jerome

Jerome,

I hate to be the bearer of more bad news, but I just received a report from someone who has the same machine, seems to be doing everything right, and can't get it to boot into Leopard. If it's not a fluke, it's the first G4 Mac we've run across that won't run Leopard. We have had success reported with single CPU Digital Audio models, so it's quite possible that it will run Leopard with the CPU upgrade.

If you have an ATA 66 hard drive, it's not going to benefit from being on a faster bus. The lone report I've seen of a SATA card in a Digital Audio running Leopard notes that it runs quickly, but booting the system takes about 4 minutes longer than in Tiger - maybe hardware issues. I'd suggest sticking with the internal drive bus until we know more about that slowdown.

Looking forward to your report once it's all upgraded.

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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