The Low End Mac Mailbag

Western Digital Drive Issues, iBook Questions, Mac Manuals, Kanga Feedback, the Longest Lived Mac, and More

Dan Knight - 2003.03.21 - Tip Jar

Western Digital Drive Tip

In response to Mac OS X and a Beige G3, Brian Futrell writes:

Vaughn Corden wondered:

Until I decided to add a Western Digital 80 GB 7200 RPM drive. I believe this is an ATA/100 drive, so my first question is can it replace my original Quantum Fireball ATA/66 drive? I haven't been able to get the darn thing to boot up, and after reading about your problems with Carbon Copy Cloner, which I used, that might be the reason.

A problem with Western Digital drives not mentioned is if they are the only drive on the IDE cable they must be set to Single, not Master. Setting it to Cable Select may also work, but I haven't tried it yet. As far as I know, WD is the only HD manufacturer to do this with their hard drives.

Thanks for the info. I'll put it in the next mailbag column.

More on Powerline Networking

After reading Wireless or Powerline Networking, Bhavesh Patel writes:

I jumped on the same free-after-rebate Fry's deal on the Gigafast Power Line Networking (Home Plug) ethernet bridges last week. I'm happy to report they work great. I'm using them to connect a Quadra 630 running OS 8.1 to the rest of my home network.

Both TCP/IP and AppleTalk work perfectly through these bridges as I can mount drives and browse without any issues on the Quadra. The Quadra obtains its IP address via DHCP from my wireless router.

The bridges require a PC to configure a security password on them, a step that takes 10 minutes. After that it is literally a plug & play device.

Now I hope those rebates really come through!

What a shame any type of hardware requires a PC (Windows, I have to assume) for configuration. I like the way most routers let you use a browser to configure them, so they don't care what kind of computers you use.

Great to hear the your network supports both TCP/IP and AppleTalk - that really simplifies things for both older Macs and older printers (such as LaserWriters).

Info on NuBus SCSI Cards Wanted

Andy Pyle writes to suggest:

I would like to see an article or tabulation on NuBus SCSI cards, what works in what, what are the best, and what the outputs are (50 or 68 pin).

I would also like to have available a table showing the capacity of the hard drive controllers on various models, or to have this available in the Profile for each machine.

You guys helped me get started on Macs and nobody appreciates you more than I do.

Thanks for the kind words and the suggestion. Something like that would be an invaluable resource, especially if it listed where drivers could be located and what versions of the Mac OS they worked with. We already do something similar with NuBus video cards.

But despite the breadth of content here at Low End Mac, we remain primarily a one-person operation. Although I don't write everything, I edit it all, design it all, write a fair bit, manage about 30 mailing lists, and am just generally swamped by what is essentially a full-time operation that I can only dedicate part of my time to due to the need to earn money. (It's not easy earning a living on the Web.)

Low End Mac has sometimes been labeled a "community" website, which is an intriguing concept. We're not a news site. We link to news and new content, but our primary focus is helping users get the most out of the Macs and Macintosh clones. As such, we have become the center of a community, which is further enhanced by our email lists.

If someone in the community would like to research and contribute this kind of information, or something else like it (PCI and AGP video cards, PCI SCSI cards, NuBus ethernet cards, etc.), I'd be happy to provide space for it, but I don't have the time to do this kind of research myself.

More on OS X and the Beige G3

Vaughn Corden writes in response to Mac OS X and a Beige G3:

I've since found many of the great lists on your Web site that you manage. What a great resource! I'm a little bit of a newbie to lists, and I see that I received a gentle nudge about list etiquette, which I will adhere to in the future.

In the end, my new drive installed just fine, but I went through a bit of hassle trying to do it with Carbon Copy Cloner. It just wouldn't work. I've since found out (from the G-List) that if I installed a basic copy of OS X on the new drive first, CCC should have copied over just fine.

I ended up purchasing a Sonnet Tempo ATA/133 card, and I just reinstalled Jaguar from scratch on an 8 gig partition. I see now with the System Profiler that it's showing up as a SCSI card, so I probably could have installed Jag without partitioning. Do you think that's right? When I next have a free day, with nothing better to do, I may go back and do it over without a partition.

Thanks again for being a great resource for us cowboys!

Yes, cards like the Sonnet Tempo and Acard Ahard fool the Mac into seeing your IDE drive as a SCSI drive, so there's no need to partition.

I've also heard that recent versions of Carbon Copy Cloner include an option to "bless" the system after you copy it, which will apparently solve the problem beige G3 owners have run into copying a working OS X install from one drive or partition to another.

I haven't tried it yet, but I have a reason to try is soon - my son erased the IBM DeskStar drive in our beige G3, but we have another copy on the Seagate Barracuda. One more project for the coming week.

More on Beige G3 Memory, ROM Revisions, Western Digital Hard Drives, and Mac OS X

Ron MacKinnon writes about his beige G3:

I have a beige G3 that wouldn't even use 8-chip 256 MB DIMMs, let alone call it a different size. That is, until I replaced the Rev. A ROM with a Rev. B version I got off eBay. Now, the 8-chip DIMM that wouldn't even be recognized works just fine as 256 megs of RAM. I was actually after the ability to install slave drives.

There appear to be lots of wrinkles in these darn computers. So, I don't know the fine details on the memory controller, but that ROM change fixed mine, so maybe it isn't the memory controller at all but the ROM version. Or maybe my computer is just weird.

As for OS X in the beige G3, I'm not surprised someone couldn't get OS X to work on a Western Digital drive. I tried and tried to get OS X installed and working on my G3 and never succeeded until I installed on the original Quantum drive. Then everything went fine.

I was trying to use a Western Digital 20 GB 7200 rpm drive (WD200BB). I partitioned it into 3 virtual drives of less than 8 gigs each. Then I booted from the CD and installed OS X. There were a few wrinkles in the process, but nothing real bad. After the install, though, I could never get it to boot from the WD drive. Nothing I tried would get that thing to run. I'd get the q-mark drive icon, I'd get kernel panics, I'd get all sorts of stuff. But no boot.

The bottom line is that I never got it to work until I installed OS X on the original 4 GB Quantum drive. It's been running fine since. I've tried to do this on two different occasions about a year apart, separated by the installation of the "B" ROM, the first time with 10.1 and most recently with Jaguar. It still doesn't work on the WD drive. But OS 9 installed and booted just fine on that WD drive, all versions thru 9.2.2.

Oh - one last thing (where've we heard that before?); yours is one of maybe four or five "don't miss" websites that I never fail to visit every day. Great work.

Wow, you've had some adventures. Thanks for the information on chip capacity and ROM revisions. I don't know if your findings are unique - or if others might read them and find the solution to their problem. I'm sure we'll get email from anyone it helps.

I don't know enough about IDE hard drives, let alone Western Digital specifically, to know why you might be having problems with a drive that works just fine with Mac OS 9. It's a long shot, but you might try XPostFacto, which I've heard solves installation problems on some beige G3s.

iBook Questions

Christopher J. Rebel writes:

My apologies if I'm emailing the wrong person to answer these - but maybe you could direct me to the proper email address for questions?

  1. I have an iBook SE, 466 MHz FireWire. Can the graphics card be replaced in this to enable Quartz Extreme? If so, which one?
  2. Apple states that the RAM con only be upgraded an additional 256 MB. Is it possible to go higher? What's the max?
  3. Finally, I have an old Performa 6200CD. Is there a way to upgrade the graphics capabilities on this to allow thousands of color at 640 x 480 or higher? An LC PDS card?

Thank you - my apologies for taking your time.

No, there is no graphics card in any laptop computer as far as I know. At least in the case of Apple's portables, the video is built into the motherboard, so there's no way to remove, replace, or upgrade it.

Apple is conservative in their specifications and only states that a computer will support as much memory as they have been able to test in it prior to shipment. Because of this, Apple's stated maximums never change even after there is clear-cut evidence that the clamshell iBooks are apparently all able to accept a 512 MB memory module, which would give you a total of 576 MB of RAM.

The old "Road Apple" 6200 has an LC PDS, so you could install a third-party video card. Not many video cards were made for the LC slot since all of the machines with an LC PDS already had onboard video. We have a short, incomplete list in our Guide to LC PDS Video Cards, which you may find helpful.

As for finding the cards, eBay is probably your best bet.

Quartz Extreme and PCI Video Cards

In response to Radeon 7000 with beige G3 and OS X, Adam Hope notes:

Although QE can be hacked to work on PCI Power Macs, it only provides a modest speed gain, of around 1-2% in some very limited areas, but performance actually decreases significantly in other areas up to 15%. Enabling QE on an unsupported machine also causes various graphical glitches throughout the OS. Unfortunately I don't have the actual figures in front of me, but this was discussed recently in the XLR8yourmac forums amongst others. Sometimes it just isn't worth trying to prove your Mac can do everything a newer one can!

That's exactly why I warn readers that they may not be happy with their results and noted that PCI Extreme! even comes with a utility to undo its modification. I don't think any damage can be done to the hardware by trying this, but I have heard that a lot of people why try the hack end up removing it.

Mac Service Manuals

A couple readers emailed copies of the Quadra 840av Service Manual. They and several others asked why I hadn't posted a link to these manuals in Finding Older Apple Manuals.

Well, there are several good reasons for it. The first is that the writer was asking about the Quadra 840av User Manual, not the Service Manual. I checked the usual sites; they all had the service manual available in PDF format, but none had the owner's manual.

The second is that Apple considers the service manuals proprietary information, which goes beyond simply being copyright protected. The service manuals - which are not hard to find on the Web - are intended only for Apple certified technicians. Their use by uncertified technicians or field users not familiar with Apple's terminology and procedures nor subscribed to Apple's service bulletins could lead to more trouble than it's worth. Instead of fixing a problem, an untrained user could cause more damage.

The third reason is that Apple cannot be held liable for any injury arising from the use of this material if it makes a good faith effort to restrict access to authorized service personnel. This keeps the lawyers happy.

The fourth reason I don't post links to Apple's manuals (or allow members of my email lists to do so) is that while I recognize that the clandestine availability of these is a great benefit to the Macintosh community, I also realize that Apple must take steps to keep this material from the public. By linking to these manuals or even linking to a page with links to these manuals, I increase the likelihood that the manuals will be moved, the links will break, and those who know and love old Macs will lose access to a wonderful resource.

Yes, I know where they are, and I can tell you how to find them (Google), but going any further than telling users that they should be able to find them would work to the detriment of the Macintosh community in the long run. As long as Apple has no reason to actively seek out the link sites, we all benefit from the benign neglect surrounding these helpful old service manuals.

Kanga Is Better Than I Thought

This past Monday I raised the question, Is the Original PowerBook G3 Too Limited Today? In it I suggested that Mac OS 8.1 and Microsoft Word 5.1 might be among the best to use on it. John Muenzberg responds:

I read your analysis of the original PowerBook G3 as a possible best buy, and I generally agree that for someone shopping for a used PowerBook, this is probably not the one to look for. But I think you are too conservative in suggesting OS 8.1 and MS Word 5.1. There is no reason this computer can not easily run OS 9.1 and Office 98, along with current web browsers also. Even the memory requirements for OS 9.1 are well within range of this PowerBook.

I bet it could run Office 2001, too. Most PPC 603 and 604 PowerBooks can run Office 98 without problems. Heck, I used Word 5.1 on a Color Classic for years. The fact that it can run OS 9.1 and Office 98 makes this machine very compatible with all recent programs and word processors and gives it more value. There is no reason to use a ten year old word processor when Office 98 came out at the same time the machine was sold.

I agree, for those shopping for a used PowerBook, the later G3 PowerBooks are better values. But the Kanga is more compatible with current software than you suggest.

Thanks for the great columns.

As far as I'm concerned, Microsoft Word has been all downhill since the 5.1a revision. Word 6 was a bloated nightmare with a horrendous interface, and following versions worked to retain Word as the most overpowered writing tool on the planet. Frankly, unless I need style sheets (and I haven't since I got out of desktop publishing), I use AppleWorks.

I don't care about file compatibility; I don't send files to anyone. I do have Word 5.1a and some newer version on my computer. I use them when someone submits a file in Word format and AppleWorks can't translate it. That's all I use them for.

I'm sure that OS 9.x is great on a Kanga for those who have the memory, but sites like ramseeker don't even track memory for this machine, so I suspect it's getting hard to come by. I don't even find it listed at Other World Computing, which usually has a great selection of upgrades for legacy Macs, so unless someone finds a Kanga with sufficient memory, adding more could be difficult.

Because Kanga only shipped with 32 MB, took expensive memory back then, and because the Mac OS had much lower hardware requirements in those days, I think most users would find OS 8.1 about all that's comfortable in a 32 MB system. With at least twice that, OS 9.1 would be fine. It's more a matter of memory than horsepower in this case.

Longest Lived Mac?

Zack wonders:

I have been reading Low End Mac for over a year now, and I hardly miss a day without visiting. I was wondering if the (now discontinued) Teardrop iMacs would be considered one "model" and therefore the longest lived Mac line ever.

No. The original Bondi blue design was first sold on August 15, 1998. This model had a 66 MHz system bus, tray-loading CD-ROM, and a cooling fan. The Revision D iMac was essentially the same machine with a faster CPU and better video circuitry. It was discontinued on October 5, 1999.

The Kihei series was launched on October 5, 1999 with 350 and 400 MHz models. For the entire run of this iMac series, which ended this past week, these models had a 100 MHz system bus, slot-loading drives (whether CD-ROM, DVD, CD-RW, or Combo), and no cooling fans. There was also a motherboard revision with the February 2001 line to accommodate the PowerPC 750CXe processor, a new version of the G3 that had an onboard level 2 cache.

If we ignore that motherboard revision, the Kihei version of the iMac was in production for 3 years and 5 months. With a product life of 4 years, 10 months, the Mac Plus still beats it - the original iMac only started shipping 4 years and 7 months ago.

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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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