End of the Road in Sight for OS X Tiger and Pismo PowerBooks

2012 – The proverbial bell is tolling louder for Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger and PowerPC Macs.

Pismo PowerBook19 months ago I was delighted to discover that the TenFourFox hack of post-version 3.6 Firefox had given my two old Pismo PowerBooks (with upgraded memory, hard drives, and G4 CPUs) a new lease on life as production machines – no longer frontline road warriors, to be sure, but still very useful as utility computers.

However, that appears to be coming to an end. With the past two or three builds of TenFourFox, these old PowerBooks are running slower and slower, to the point of near-unusability, with many minutes of spinning beachball constipation. I’ve even resorted to ancient Netscape Navigator 9, which is a speedster by comparison. Unfortunately, it is also woefully out-of-date security-wise, lacks a bunch of features I’ve become accustomed to in TenFourFox and other more recent browsers, and has stability problems in the bargain. Not a satisfactory solution by any means.

I suppose I really can’t complain. The Pismos are 12 years old, and OS X Tiger, introduced in April 2005, is soon to be four revisions out of date. It’s actually quite remarkable that the party has lasted this long. Thanks are due to software developers like Trans-Tex Software’s Tom Bender, who’s kept my Tex-Edit Plus word cruncher standby current supporting a Tiger version, and special appreciation to the Dropbox folks for continuing to include Tiger support with their cloud service software upgrades.

Update: Dropbox dropped support for OS X 10.4 Tiger and 10.5 Leopard in May 2015.

On the other hand, Tiger support stopped at version 3.1 for Bare Bones Software’s TextWrangler (it’s now at 4.1 in Snow Leopard and Lion), another important tool in my production suite, although version 3.1 remains available for download – along with version 3.5.3, the last to work with OS X 10.5 Leopard – on the Bare Bones site.

It isn’t that I have any particular sentimental attachment to OS X 10.4. It’s a good operating system and rock solid on the Pismos, but I would happily run Leopard if it supported the Pismo. I’m aware that hacked installs are possible, but not without a degree of kludginess that I would find unacceptable on a work tool.

I’ll continue working around the increasing angularities for a while yet, but browser support is really key. Not-too-ancient versions of Opera and OmniPage help, but they aren’t really the answer that TenFourFox had been until recently.

Late 2008 Aluminum MacBookHowever, when I finally do upgrade my anchor Mac (something I’ve been able to/obliged to push back thanks to purchasing an iPad 2), my current number-one Late 2008 Aluminum Unibody MacBook will get demoted to the role currently being filled by the Pismos, and the old black ‘Books will finally be put out to pasture. I’m doubtful that the computer universe will see the likes of 12 year laptops again.

Keywords: #osxtiger #pismopowerbook

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