The Low End Mac Mailbag

Comparing the G3 and G4, Internet Sharing with AirPort, Chipping a G3 All-in-One, and More

Dan Knight - 2003.04.30 - Tip Jar

Is a G4/500 or G3/900 Better?

Ryan Roomkey writes:

Wow, those 900/800 iBooks were released quietly; just read about 'em myself.

Just after, I sent an email to PowerLogix asking them if a 900 MHz 750fx would be released for the Pismo.

They said that this would happen shortly, so that's positive to know. Seein' as the "BlueChip G3 Pismo" has yet to even be released. It may very well debut with a 900 MHz PowerPC 750fx processor.

From what I've read, the 750fx is going to end at 1 GHz. As G4s (faster than 500 MHz) and IBM 970s sounding "out of the question" as a viable Pismo upgrade, I think that the 1 GHz PowerPC G3 will be the last possible CPU upgrade for the Pismo (UMA-1). From the benchmarks I have followed, even with AltiVec enhanced applications, a 900 MHz or 1 GHz PowerPC G3 sounds like more power than a 500 MHz 7410 G4 - it should run cooler, too!

Yeah, Apple was pretty quiet about the iBook speed bump.

Rumor is that IBM has been able to produce 1 GHz 750fx processors for some time (they have a product overview of their "1 GHz PowerPC Microprocessor" dated 2001.10.24), but there's been no market for them, since Apple wouldn't want the iBook to eclipse the PowerBook in clock speed. And by offloading a lot of the work AltiVec does to the video circuitry with Quartz Extreme, Apple has given the processor new life in OS X.

But whether a 1 GHz G3 will outperform a 500 MHz G4 depends on how well the task uses the velocity engine. Bare Feats tested three 700 MHz Macs - the iBook, eMac, and G4 iMac - and found that iTunes ripped their test tunes in 47-49 sec. on the G4s but took 66 sec. on the G3 iBook. If the G3 ran twice as fast, it wouldn't reduce that to 33 sec. because it has to read, rip, and write the file to the computer's hard drive.

Likewise, it you're into 3D gaming, at the iBook's native resolution of 1024 x 768, the G4 eMac and iMac had nearly 4x the frame rate in the Quake Arena test. Even a twice-as-fast G3 would at most double the frame rate.

In another set of benchmarks, a 500 MHz Pismo with a G4/500 upgrade rendered a title in iMovie almost twice as fast as the stock G3 processor. In this case, a 1 GHz G3 would probably match performance of the 500 MHz G4. On the iTunes test, the upgraded Pismo was also nearly twice as fast as the stock G3/500 CPU.

There are few easy answers. For some tasks a G3/900 will smoke a G4/500. For some tasks the G4/500 will trounce the G3/900. And for yet other tasks, performance will be close. Which is best for you depends on your needs - OS X vs. 9, video, 3D gaming, simple tasks such as email and word processing. Only you can decide which kind of upgrade makes the most sense in your situation.

Disk Tools Floppies

Jay Prince writes:

To begin, let me add my thanks for your site to those of countless others. The value and enjoyment I find here keep it at the top of my "Online Publications" folder in iCab's Hotlist.

The "Disk Tools Floppy" section in The Low End Mac Mailbag of 2003.04.24 got me to checking and ruminating. In short, both my OS 8.0 and OS 8.5 CDs have Disk Tools Image(s) folders at the root level (the plural, of course, being for OS 8.0/8.1, which contains two disk image files, one for 68k and one for PPC). Inside these folders are also DiskScripts to facilitate making floppies from the image files.

Ah ha! Just found it on Apple's Web site:

Downloaded and checked it - seems identical to the one on my OS 8.1 install CD and is fully functional. There is also a file "Disk_Tools_PPC_Info.txt" at:

Just found another one with OS 7.5.2, Disk First Aid 7.2.1, Drive Setup 1.0.2, and it includes Apple CD-ROM 5.1.1 in the Extensions folder of the System Folder:

These links, and a whole lot more (34 screenfuls at 1024 x 768 on a 17" monitor), are on this page (that Network Access Disk is there, too):

Enuf already! As usual, my intent to be brief did not pan out. Hope some of this helps.

All the best to you and yours, and all of your endeavors, and to the whole LEM community.

Thanks for the kind words - and the helpful links!

Internet Sharing with AirPort

On the topic of Internet Sharing in OS X, Jeffrey Harris writes:

I set up our home iMac DV 400 (OS X 10.2.5) to share its dial up connection over AirPort, then locked the settings panel.

Now it does not have to be manually shared on each dialup - I just turn on the iBook and power up the airport and voilà.

Thanks for sharing the tip. I'll post it in the Mailbag for the benefit of others.

An Even Simpler Google Site Search

After seeing my code in Small Dog, Searches, and the Low End, Peter da Silva shares his solution:

Adapted from my 404 page at

<INPUT TYPE=HIDDEN NAME=as_sitesearch value="">

No server side support needed at all. Those guys at Google think of everything.

Yeah, they really have done a spectacular job with their search engine - and then gone out of their way to make it easy for anyone to use it.

Thanks for the code.

OS X Network Detection

When I mentioned that the classic Mac OS could detect the presence of a network and select a set of extensions based on it using Extensions Manager, Peter da Silva writes that OS X has the potential to do the same thing:

If you're willing to do a little Unix hacking, if you look at the "rc" (run commands / restart commands) files in /etc, you can see that there's a common set of scripts that include a way to test if you've got networking set up at boot time and what network they've ended up on.

Modifying them to switch locations depending on what DHCP says shouldn't be too difficult. Most of the clues can be found on this page:

To get a script to run at startup, you need to set them up in

/Library/StartupItems/ or /System/Library/StartupItems/

see "man SystemStarter" for more information.

There's a lot more power in the BSD core of Mac OS X than Apple is making readily available to nonprogrammers. It would be nice if there was a very simple interface that would let the user specify things like, "If connected to work network, use network configuration Work. If connected to home network, use Home setup. If not on a network, use Dialup configuration."

We have the power, stability, and pretty interface, but Apple really needs to keep working on ease of use for the novice user. (Of course, this also provides a place for freeware and shareware authors to strut their stuff.)

Low End Mac and Wireless Networking

Responding to More on Wireless Options for Older PowerBooks, Benjamin Stafford writes:

Wonderful site! It is my first stop every time on the Web. I have used the site as a resource in building my own classroom computer lab. The count so far is 6 Internet ready Power Macs (7100 and 8100 series). The only thing holding me up is space!

Anyway, I wanted to add my 2 cents on PCI wireless cards. Belkin is shipping an 802.11g PCI card ( I have seen them at Staples). On Belkin's site they have refurb 802.11b cards real cheap. So the cards are out there. I read in Macworld that Belkin was going to provide drivers for the 802.11g cards by Feb. 2003. I emailed them, and the response was "you're outta luck!" So if someone can hack a Windows driver for the Belkin, we would be all set.

Those old Power Macs still have a fair bit of life in them. For real bargains, look into Power Mac 7200s when the 7100s and 8100s become scarce. They're no speed demons, but they're cheap, support up to 512 MB of memory, and have decent onboard video.

I just checked Belkin's site, and they are out of stock of their own PCI 802.11g card. Their site still says the PC Card version is not yet available, and that's what I'd need for my PowerBook. Since the card isn't yet available, I guess we're all out of luck at present.

Backing Up to SCSI

Peter da Silva also has some comments on backup:

I know SCSI is kind of old tech these days, but you can get pretty big SCSI drives for not too much money if you don't care how they look.

Or you probably have SCSI drives around the place that you could use.

Well, you can get a FireWire SCSI adapter for under $60:

That'll give you a drive that you can use from either FireWire or SCSI Macs.

Well, we've got lots and lots and lots of old 80, 200, and other sized SCSI hard drives up to about 700 MB around here, but none big enough to be practical for backup.

My current backup system needs a lot more storage than that. Right now I'm using a modestly priced (about $80 after rebate) 80 GB Western Digital 7200 RPM drive in a two-drive FireWire enclosure I bought from Computer Geeks for about $60.

My next project is to do an unsupported installation of OS X on my SuperMac J700 backup machine so I can set up two of these drives as a 160 MB RAID array, since Retrospect backups are limited to a single volume. Just need to make sure I have enough RAM and a big enough hard drive before I get started....

On the other hand, for those with older Macs that still use SCSI, there are some phenomenal deals out there - like the current link on dealmac for a refurbished 23 GB Seagate drive for US$9.95!

G3 or G4 Laptop?

Alexandre Doyen writes from Liège, Belgium:

I use a Targa/AMD 2000+ laptop with Windows XP, Protools (music software) (+ FireWire HD), and I can open an amazing number of plug-ins with this processor. More than 2 or 3 times more than with my old G4 400 MHz (tower Mac)!

I bought this because I didn't have the cash to buy a Mac laptop.

But I begin to regret it, because it was so much easier and stable on Mac anyway! But if I bought, for example a new iBook G3, would I have the same performance as my G4/400 Mac or the AMD 2000 PC ??

Is there a real difference between G3 and G4 laptops?

What would be the best?

I'm lost!

I know that feeling from any time I try to do anything on the Windows computers in the camera shop where I work part-time. I feel so lost, especially in Photoshop, where I know so many keyboard shortcuts - and they're different in Windows.

There are some real differences between G3 and G4 laptops. iBooks are much less costly and always have a 1024 x 768 display. G4 PowerBooks may have a 12" 1024 x 768 screen, 1280 x 854, or 1440 x 900. The 15" and 17" PowerBooks also have two memory slots, so you can install more memory than you can in the iBooks (or 12" PowerBook).

How a G3 compares with a G4 depends on what you're doing. A G3 at the same clock speed won't be any faster than a G4, but the G4 may not be much faster at some things - and a lot faster at other tasks. Compared to your G4/400 tower, I think you'd find an 800 MHz or 900 MHz iBook a very nice upgrade, since it has a fast CPU and supports Quartz Extreme.

Clocking the G3 All-in-One

Boltzero writes:

After following a couple of links on Clocking the Power Mac G3, I was successful in clocking my G3 All-in-One from its stock 233 MHz to 280 MHz. This is apparently the maximum setting for the G3 AIO; any setting higher prevented the system from booting. I completed the modification a couple of months ago and have not had any problems thus far; the system remains stable and reliable. Jumpers were placed on the 2, 4, 5, 6, 8, and 9 blocks to yield 280 MHz on the G3 All-in-One.

I didn't know 7 off, 8 on was a workable configuration (time to update the overclocking page yet again), but if you're running at 280 MHz, it must be the setting for a 70 MHz system bus. Congratulations on obtaining a 20% speed increase without spending a penny.

No USB Card Support in Mac OS 9.2?

Ben Gravely writes:

I have a G3/400 Beige computer with a USB card and Logitech optical mouse. Everything works fine in OS 9.1. Recently, I loaded OS 9.2.2 on the internal HD to see if it was more stable than 9.1.

Unfortulately, 9.2.2 doesn't see the USB card. The mouse is dead. I have tried everything in the upgrade drivers and SW category with no results.

Is there something I am missing?

Yes, you're missing the drivers for your third-party USB card. If you don't have them on a floppy or CD, you should be able to download them from the manufacturer's website. 

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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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