Charles Moore's Mailbag

Mac OS 9.1 vs. 9.2, PCI Modem for Macs, Rebuilding the Desktop, and More on OS X and Beige G3s

Charles Moore - 2003.05.27 - Tip Jar

Kanga G3 and OS 9.2.2

From Anthony Allen

Can I upgrade my G3 Kanga to 9.2.2, or is 9.1 the highest. I am new to Macs so I don't know much about them.

Hi Anthony,

You can with the help of an installer hack called OS 9 Helper, although unless you have a compelling reason to use 9.2.2 I would suggest sticking with OS 9.1.

Potential reasons for installing 9.2.x are:

  1. Compatibility with ATI's latest drivers . ATI dropped support for OpenGL versions lower than 1.2.2. (9.1 has 1.2.1)
  2. You can't run DVD Studio Pro 1.5 or 1.2.1 without 9.2.2.
  3. You can't run Final Cut Pro 3 without 9.2.2.
  4. Full compatibility with iPod .
  5. MacSpeech's iListen dictation software is not supported by OS 9.1.

If none of those apply to you, it's not worth the trouble. I have both OS 9.1 and OS 9.2.2 installed on my PowerBook, and I boot into OS 9.1 by preference.

OS 9 Helper is available as a free download with no support. There is a support forum available for a $10 fee.

You can download OS 9 Helper from Other World Computing or OS 9 Forever.

Charles

USR PCI modem for Mac

From Brandon Starkey

Hello again, Charles.

Figured this link might be of some use

Supports Linux, Mac OS, and many flavors of Windows. Leave it to USR not to have such interesting information on their website. Not to mention the price is lower. :)

Best regards,
Brandon

Thanks Brandon.

Charles

Suggestions for beige G3s and OS X

From Tom Wyrick

In response to the person having difficulties getting OS X going on a processor-upgraded Power Mac, I have some suggestions:

1. Make sure you remove the existing L2 cache memory stick! When you use a G3 or G4 upgrade board, they have their own onboard L2 cache. Sometimes it causes slight timing problems (and instability) to keep the original L2 cache stick on the beige G3 motherboard after you upgrade with an accelerator board.

2. Make sure your RAM is not interleaved! I had a Power Mac 7600 I upgraded with a G3 500 MHz CPU, and it kept crashing during my OS X installs or failing shortly thereafter. It turned out the interleaved memory sticks (supposed to make the machine run 10-15% faster) were the culprit. By rearranging them in the sockets so they weren't interleaved anymore, all the problems disappeared. I guess the motherboard just can't quite handle the extra speed boost when the CPU itself is upgraded. (As I recall, on Mac boards with 8 DIMM slots, they usually label them as banks A1 through A4, and B1 through B4. To interleave 2 sticks, you put one in A1 and the second in B1. For the next 2, they'd go in A2 and B2, etc. etc.) This means you can't avoid interleaving at least 1 set of DIMMs if you're filling more than 1 bank. Therefore, it's best to buy something like 4 64 MB or 4 128 MB DIMMs and put them in the A1 through A4 slots, leaving the B slots empty. Don't fill all 8 slots with lower capacity DIMMs to achieve your desired total RAM amount!

3. Almost every time I've had a Mac (beige G3 especially) that experienced random disk write/read failures (garbled directories after saving files, etc.) and the hard drive itself was fine, it turned out to be cabling issues. In particular, beige G3 owners tend to install faster EIDE cards like the Sonnet Tempo, and these require new Ultra EIDE ribbon cables. These are very length-sensitive! I tried one of the expensive round EIDE Ultra ATA133 cables, and at a length of over 20", it was too long. I replaced it with the shortest EIDE cable I could find that would reach and all my disk corruption problems vanished.

Thanks for the helpful tips, Tom.

Charles

A few questions

From Scott Atkinson

Charles,

Having decided my trusty 7200 is a bit long in the tooth even for me, I'm eagerly awaiting the arrival of a 9600.

A few questions for you/your readers, if I could:

  • Best OS? There is some split about whether any pre-G3 machine should run 9.x. My choice is either 8.6 or 9.1.
  • If I put in a G3/G4 upgrade, is it likely to affect the stability of my OrangeMicro PC card? I have one Windows-only app I have to run all day, every day, so OrangePC is mandatory for me.
  • What's the minimum low end machine for Final Cut Pro 2? Most folks I know who are serious about FCP run it on G4s, but it was certified for use on B & W G3s, and I'm wondering - is it insane to think about running FCP 2 on an upgraded 9600?

Best,

Scott Atkinson

Hi Scott,

OS 8.6 or 9.1 should run great on a 9600. OS 9.1 works nicely on my 200 MHz Umax S900, which is a close cousin motherboard wise to your 9600.

The upgrade/Orange Micro card question is an imponderable without actually trying it out. Perhaps our readers can help.

I have no personal experience with any version of Final Cut Pro, but I would anticipate that it would work fine with a G3 or G4 upgrade on your 9600, provided you add sufficient RAM. FCP 3 requires OS 9.2.2, but I expect that FCP 2 would work with OS 9.1.

Charles

OS X Beige G3 Problems (Not)

From: M. R. Schaferkotter

In your article Upgraded Beige G3 Problems, More on OS X on the Beige G3, OS 9.2 on Pre-G3 Macs, and More of 2003.05.19 there are various remarks about difficulties with OS X and Beige G3.

There seems to be an implication that the Beige G3 was an unsupported OS X machine. I don't think that implication is correct.

Secondly, there was an implication that only a restricted amount of memory could be in the Beige G3 to get the OS X to install. If that remark is merely an observation about the particular writer's machine, then okay, however I can say that I upgraded four Beige G3 Rev. A to full memory 768 and installed 40 GB HD before upgrading to OS X.

I further put in G4 ZIF 400 MHz processors.

I've experienced no difficulties, and I don't think that a one of them has crashed in almost 18 months of rather constant use.

I've been blessed, as I have read a number of trying testimonials.

Now I'm using the machines in a simple fashion, as part of an OS X cluster (see AppleSeed cluster at UCLA or DaugerResearch.com for more info).

m. r.

Hi m.r.

The beige G3 is certainly an officially supported machine for OS X, but then so was my WallStreet PowerBook, and I couldn't get OS X to install on it. Many other WallStreet owners have installed OS X successfully. There seems to be a big idiosyncrasy factor with these Old World ROM machines and OS X.

Glad your experiences have been, as you say, "blessed."

Charles

More on Using OS X (incl. Jaguar) on a Beige

From George Mogiljansky

Hello,

I was able to install Jaguar on a Beige with an external SCSI HDD but with some problems: Certain files in the CFM folder were not in the image form, but as plain docs. I was able to copy from a correctly installed Jaguar system folder sitting in an internal IDE HDD.

The Read Me for the 10.2.6 update mentioned better compatibility with SCSI. I was hoping to create a SCSI chain using either the slower external connector or the faster inner socket. The problem is probably with the Agfa scanner (not supported for OS X by Agfa). This is a cross-platform (Win/Mac) SCSI device, and I suspect I will have to take it apart to check for parity (or something else I know little about). The one successful chain I had so far was the same SCSI HDD and an old Pinnacle CD-RW (last on the chain).

George (Montreal)
Beige DT rev. 1, upgraded to 400 MHz/768 RAM, 10.2.6 (dual boot; IDE and external SCSI)

Hi George,

Thanks for the report.

Charles

Mac OS X on Beige G3

From Stuart Bell

Dear Charles,

One further tip for would-be Mac OS X on beige G3 users: My system kept freezing while sleeping through installations of X from 10.1.5 to 10.2.5. Now, 10.2.6 seems totally to have cured the 'freezing sleep' problem, and my beige G3 is wonderfully stable.

best wishes,
Stuart

Glad 10.2.6 is working well for you, Stuart.

Charles

RE: Fragile Power Mac 8600

From Kevin Weise

Mr. Moore,

On these older Power Macs, you should add one more trick to your arsenal: Rebuild the desktop.

I have a coworker whose spouse works for a local school system. They had a Power Mac 8600 running Mac OS 8.6 which would crash every time they put a floppy in the drive. They came to me for advice, and I couldn't help. They later informed me that they rebuilt the desktop (for no apparent reason, other than perhaps desperation for something to try at startup) and the problem went away. When I think about it, my wife's beige PowerMac G3 used to experience similar problems with Mac OS 8.1 & 8.6, and rebuilding the desktop as part of a maintenance regimen did seem to help a lot. Users take the Desktop for granted, but in classic Mac OS, it can still acquire a fair amount of garbage in it, especially if you create & move/remove lots or files on the desktop. Rebuilding it every month or so is a good idea.

Kevin J. Weise

Hi Kevin,

I agree. My favorite way of rebuilding the Classic Mac OS Desktop is with Micromat's free TechTool Lite utility.

Charles


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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, he is news editor at Applelinks.com and a columnist at MacPrices.net. If you find his articles helpful, please consider making a donation to his tip jar.

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