Mac Daniel's Advice

To Err is Human, to Correct Divine: Feedback on Manuel Mejia Jr's Four Old Macs

Manuel Mejia Jr - 2002.02.25

Low End Mac has some loyal readers in the far-off Aloha State. This feedback to my "Tools of the Trade" article was so informative that I had the email post fully reprinted for the LEM readership.

From: TC
Subject: Four Old Macs article

Mr. Manuel Mejia Jr,

I enjoyed your article on being a productive user of old Macs, nothing inspires like people who actually practice what they preach <g>. I did want to let you know of two errors that I saw. First, System 7.0.1* does support graphical browsers. MacWeb 1.00A3.2, 1.1.1E, and 2.0 support GIFs, as does NCSA Mosaic 1.0.3, maybe the LC can handle Mosaic 3.0 as well. More "modern" browsers include Netscape 1.12, 2.02 and versions of Internet Explorer (3.0 or earlier, I think). Just be sure that you have added the Thread Manager and the Drag and Drop Manager, since they are required to use iCab as well.

System 7.0.1w/thread manager can be found here:

Apple's Drag and Drop Manager is available on their FTP site:

  • Mac_Drag_and_Drop_1.1.sea.bin
  • Mac_Drag_and_Drop_1.1.txt

Of course, it might be easier to go with a cut down version of System 7.5 instead. Gamba's website has the article on how to trim down System 7.5 and 7.5.3 down to almost System 7.1 size if you wanted to run earlier versions of AOL's Instant Messenger; however, I do not remember if the requirements were a 68020 or 68030 processor to run AOL's IM software, but it might be worth a try. Use Fetch or Anarchie and grab an older version from AOL's FTP site. AOL's IM software requires at least System 7.1 - which really irritated me seeing how 7.0.1 is free and 7.1 is not - until I found the Gamba article on shrinking System 7.5 to a smaller size. Still, you stated in your article that you use a shell account, so why not just use System 6.0.8 to save space and get the speed boost? You could even use BBEdit Lite 3.5.1 to edit HTML under System 6; of course, then you wouldn't be able to use those graphical web browsers.

I tested MacWeb, Mosaic, Netscape 1.12 and 2.02 on "Huny" (my SE/30) booted from a System 7.0.1* System setup, and they work fine, albeit with pictures all in black in white. Netscape 2.02 works better than 1.12 in dealing with most websites. I suggest allocating at least 4.75 MB of RAM to it and at least 5 MB of hard drive space for the cache. Just be sure to leave images turned off for faster browsing and click on just the images of the pictures that you really want to see. Of course, you could just use Wannabe for the fastest browsing and download the pictures and use Jade, JPEGView, GIFconverter, etc. to look at the pics. The only drawback is that you do not have the hard drive space for a graphical browser.

This is very useful information to the LEM WWW crowd.MMJR

The second error is stating that ZTerm 0.9 doesn't work under System 7.6.1, because I use it on a PB Duo 280 running System 7.6.1 with no problems. It might be because you're running a 68k version on a PowerPC. Download the PPC version and see if you still have problems.

Latest PPC version of ZTerm (currently 1.1b6) can be found here:

I stand corrected on this matter. MMJR

A 1 GB hard drive (just be sure to specify 1 inch or 1/3 height SCSI 50 pin drive) can be had for under $20 here:

And the performance boost from a bigger faster hard drive is fantastic.

Speaking of performance boost, here's an excerpt from Darek's Dirty Little Secrets webpage:

The Mac OS Disk Cache - Use It!

©2002 Emulators, Inc.
Reprinted by permission.

One of the first things I check when I'm using someone else's Mac and sitting through painfully slow boot times and product launch times is the Disk Cache setting in the Memory control panel. Much like old 16-bit versions of Windows 3.x, the Mac OS, even the latest Mac OS 9, uses a static fixed size disk cache. Unfortunately, the default value is set to either 32K or 96K (depending on the machine), which is woefully inadequate. It amazes me how many Macintosh users don't ever bother to change that default setting!

If you read the Windows disk cache topic above, you'll know that too much disk cache is a bad thing. So is too little. On a typical hard disk with hundreds of folders and thousands of files, it takes far more than 32K or 96K to cache the basic file structure information. Every time you display a disk directory, every time you launch an application or open a document, this information has to be scanned.

I've found that a bare minimum setting for the Disk Cache should be at least 256K. This is suitable for low memory Macs, such as 4 megabyte Mac Classic machines or 8 megabyte Macintosh II class machines. This larger cache setting doesn't eat up too much system memory, but allows for much faster boot times. Because every system extension, every control panel, every single file that needs to be loaded during boot will cause the Mac OS to scan through the disk directory structure.

On larger machines, a setting of 512K or 1024K is adequate. Above this size, as on Windows, it's a case of diminishing returns.

So to set your Disk Cache, boot up Mac OS (any version up to 9.x), go to the Control Panels, run the Memory control panel, and set the Disk Cache size. Then close the control panel and restart the Macintosh.

I never thought much about disk cache until I read this. I have since altered my disk cache settings to 384k and noted speed improvements on my old Macs. MMJR

I hope all of this helps. Once again, I really enjoyed your article and hope that more people share their stories about using "Trailing Edge Technology" for productive work. TC

The "Trailing Edge of Technology" is a very nice term and motto for LEM. Aloha MMJR

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