Charles Moore's Mailbag

OS X on a G3, FireWire Disk Mode Missing in Action, Panther on a Power Mac, and More

Charles Moore - 2007.07.16 - Tip Jar

How Well Does OS X Run on a G3?

From Kiran:

Hi Charles,

I like the articles on a lot, and I read yours about installing Mac OS X on an iBook G3.

And that made me wonder about the following: How well does Mac OS X 10.4.x run on an G3 system actually?

Because . . . I want to buy my mom a Power Mac G4 466 MHz for everyday use, and I don't have a clue about how Mac OS X runs on older systems. I only have experience with faster Macs; I own a Mac Pro, you see ;).

Well, I hope you can shed some light on the matter.


Hi Kiran,

Surprisingly well, actually, although these evaluations are relative. I'm currently running OS 10.4.9 on a 500 MHz G3 PowerBook and a 700 MHz G3 iBook, with 512 MB and 640 MB of RAM respectively, and find the performance satisfactory with both, although not quite up to the level of my 550 MHz and 1.33 GHz G4 PowerBooks.

Of course, your Mac Pro will blow any of my machines into the weeds, but if your mom is not a power user, she should find a 466 MHz Power Mac entirely satisfactory for email, word processing, Web surfing, and so forth.


Hi Charles,

Thanks for the info.

I see a lot of people putting their older Macs up for sale, so I hope I run into a bargain. Hopefully the 466 or 533.

With the knowledge that older Macs will run Mac OS X, I am assured buying an older Mac.


FireWire Target Disk Mode Missing in Action

From Everard Castenada:

Hi there, a quick question.

I've done lots of research about installing Tiger on 'DVD-challenged' Macs and seems I'm still in a bit of a merry-go-round. I'm trying to install Tiger on a G4 350 PCi [Power Mac] currently running 10.2x, but it won't go into target disk mode. I'm starting to find out that other people are encountering that too, and it has something to do with this particular G4 model . . . the first to run the G4 processor. I don't think it was mentioned in the article you wrote.

Anyway, any help would be great. At this point, I'm just thinking of installing a cheap internal DVD drive to just get around it all. Help! Thanks so much for your time.

Hi Everard,

I have a foggy recollection that there is an issue with some older FireWire-equipped desktop Macs and Target Disk Mode. I'm not aware of any workaround hack, although that doesn't mean there isn't one.

Is the problem you're encountering that your computer won't boot into Target Disk Mode, won't recognize a connected Mac that is booted into Target Disk Mode, or both?

Installing an internal DVD drive sounds to me like a sensible way to go, especially if you're planning to use the machine for some time yet.


Editor's note: Two Power Macs with built-in FireWire do not support booting from a FireWire drive and also do not support Target Disk Mode. These are the Blue & White G3 and the G4 with PCI graphics. dk

Putting Panther on a Power Mac G3

From "a curious person":

Hi, I came across your forum, and I just wanted to ask what you thought about this: I bought a Power Mac G3 from eBay by this woman, and the system had been wiped out. It came in good condition with the keyboard and mouse, no monitor. I asked her about the software, and she said I needed to install a Mac OS 8, 9, or 10 CD, then I can update to the OS X.

What do you think I should do? My cousin has a Panther [Mac OS X 10.3] CD and will be sending it soon, but I really don't want to use more money on the Mac OS CD. I'm trying to save enough money for a monitor, and they are very expensive these days . . . so what do you think I should do?

Hi curious person,

Well, I appreciate your tight budget situation, but your computer isn't much good without an operating system.

You didn't say which model G3 you have, but my choice of system for older G3s would be OS 9.1 or 9.2.2, or Panther, although OS X 10.4.9 is running nicely on my 500 MHz G3 PowerBook.

Your cousin's Panther CD should work [on a Blue & White G3] if it's a generic install CD. If it's a System Restore CD for another model Mac, it probably will not work.

Once you get a basic system installed, you should download the appropriate updaters to bring it up to the most recent supported version (e.g.: 10.3.9 for Panther).

BetaMacs has OS 9 CDs for $29.99, although the photo on their site is of a PowerBook System Restore CD, which might not work on your machine.

Installers for discontinued systems are where you find them.


Editor's note: Panther cannot be installed on a beige G3 without using XPostFacto, although OS X 10.2.x is supported. To run OS X on a beige G3, the hard drive or first partition must be no more 7.45 GB in size, and OS X must be installed on the first partition. dk

Glossy Screens Are Sharper

From John StJohn:

I work with high end CAD and BIM programs on my MacBook Pro, and resolution is very important. Glossy screens provide a sharp, clear resolution that matte screens can't match. If resolution is not all that important to you and you work outside sometimes, by all means get a matte screen, but to suggest that there is no logical, good reason to go with a glossy screen is ignorant as in the writer doesn't know what he's talking about.

Hi John,

Thanks for the comment.

I think it's great that Apple gives customers the option of either glossy or matte on the MacBook Pro.

As you contend, neither type is "right" or "wrong"; it just depends on your work environment, needs, and taste.


Where to Find Netscape 7 for the Classic Mac OS

From Charles Kirkland:

Dear Charles:

I find Netscape 7.0 available here: <>

It's reasonable for everyday use, and it is not near as buggy as Internet Explorer is.

Charles Kirkland

Hi Charles,

That squares with my assessment.

Thanks for the comment.


An OS X Replacement for MacDraw

From Steven Hunter in response to Irreplacable MacDraw Pro:

We had a user with many years worth of CAD drawings done in Claris Draw. When we wanted to move him to OS X, we wanted to find a replacement OS X program that could output to PDF.

We ended up buying a license for EasyDraw. The user was happy and we were able to import all his MacDraw and Claris Draw files quickly and easily.

Hi Stephen,

Thank you for the tip and link. I expect it will be helpful to other users making the transition to OS X.


Another MacDraw Replacement for OS X Users

From Michael Bearpark:

Dear Charles,

For Stephen Lubliner: The OS X-native Intaglio (demo available) imports ClarisDraw files successfully and claims to do the same for MacDraw Pro.

Finally - the bridge between QuickDraw/PICT and Quartz/PDF, partly designed to emulate the look and feel of non-Postscript-based Classic Mac drawing programs.

Highly recommended now: as a replacement, and in its own right, particularly for quick edits of PDF graphics directly.

(Yes, I bought it)


Hi Mike,

Thank you for the report and link.


Re: iBook G4 Power Problems

From Ian Anderson folowing up on iBook G4 Power Problems:

Hi Charles,

In a true act of Murphy's Law, the power adapter decided to break off right after ordering my power board. No matter, eBay to the rescue again, and I found a MacAlly adapter for $35 w/ shipping.

I just received both parts today. For the power board, it took half an hour to replace, going slow with the iFixit Guide at hand. I fired it up, plugged in the new AC adapter, and all is good again. For this particular part, it wasn't difficult; the only pieces that needed removal were the battery and the bottom plastic. Oh, and about 10 screws.

As soon as I put the iBook back together and tested it, I looked for the damage spot. Lo and behold, a burned solder joint near the connector. Ironically, it was right next to the "TEST OK" sticker. Attached is the pic. The blackened joint is the one I'm talking about.

Well, I guess that's it. For now at least.

Thanks for your time,
Ian Anderson

Hi Ian,

Thank you for the follow-up report and the graphic detail.

Glad your iBook is serviceable again.


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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 and a columnist at If you find his articles helpful, please consider making a donation to his tip jar.

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