The Low End Mac Mailbag

Downloading Mac Software on a PC, Upgrading a Power Mac 7100, Performa 6200 Upgrade, and More

Dan Knight - 2003.05.07 - Tip Jar

Using a PC to Download Mac Software

Keith Oliver has some questions:

I have a couple of interesting questions about the Mac. I have always been into PCs, however a friend just gave me an Quadra 605 (System 7.1). I kind of like this system.

Can I download software on my PC to be used on the Quadra 605? Would I need some sort of conversion software?

There is a bunch of freeware and shareware on the Net, which I want to download with my PC, and then transfer the software to the Quadra 605 for use. Can this be done? How would I go about this? And what software titles would you recommend for this Mac system.

It's possible, but it isn't easy. If your Quadra has PC Exchange (I'm think that came with System 7.1), it can mount 720 KB and 1.44 MB PC floppies. Beyond that, things get unpredictable.

Mac software has something called a resource fork, and Windows doesn't, so if you uncompress the files on your PC, you might end up with unusable files. The best bet would be to copy the stuffed (usually ending with .sit, .sea, .bin, or .hqx) files to a floppy, put that in the Quadra, and have it do the unstuffing.

I would suggest upgrading to System 7.5.3, which is free from Apple. It's a more polished, more feature laden version of the Mac OS that runs about as efficiently as 7.1 does.

Without more specifics, it's hard to make many recommendations. If your PC has ethernet, I'd definitely suggest finding an ethernet card for your Quadra. This will make it easy to move files bigger than a floppy and may also let you share your PCs Internet connection with the Mac. Then get the iCab browser, which is the only modern browser still being developed for vintage Macs like your Q605.

For more advice, join Quadlist, which is where a lot of other Quadra users hang out and share their knowledge.

Upgrading a Power Mac 7100

Eric writes:

I'm upgrading my 7100/66, and I'm running OS 9. I have 48 MB of RAM, and I just bought a 4.3 gig SCSI HD. I'm thinking about getting a NewerTech card but don't know whether or not it's worth the money.

This is my first Mac, and I'd like this to run pretty smoothly. I'm going to max out RAM and possibly upgrade the CD-ROM, but I was wondering which video card and upgrade card to get.

I heard that on the upgrade cards, you don't get the true power of a G3. If you can enlighten me on what to do, I'd appreciate it.

Congratulations on your first low-end Mac. The 7100 is nine years old, and it really shows. Fortunately upgrading an older Mac can be pretty economical.

I'd start with the video card. The Radius Thunder IV GX and Thunder GT are two of the top rated NuBus video cards - especially for Power Macs. But good luck finding them; they're rare on eBay, and none of the used Mac dealers I checked listed them. I've only seen on on our Swap List lately, and that's part of a 7100/80 system already upgraded to 136 MB RAM - and the whole thing selling for just $25 plus shipping. It'd be worth that for the Thunder 24 GT alone.

Considering the age and current value of the 7100, I'd recommend against spending more than $100 for a G3 upgrade. And considering that you're now using a 66 MHz PowerPC 601 processor, even a slower G3 is going to give you a whole lot more power. TechnoWarehouse is currently showing a "nearly new" 210 MHz G3 for the 7100 and 8100 at US$49.

You will get true G3 power, since you'll have a true G3 processor. However, it won't be the same power you'd get in a Power Mac G3, since the newer model has a faster system bus, faster drive bus, accepts far faster CPU upgrades and video cards, and is a three year newer design.

It all boils down to economics. If you can get the memory, video card, and processor upgrade cheap, it's worth doing. If everything is going to set you back $150-200, look into the used Power Mac G3 market.

And the CD-ROM is the last thing I'd worry about, unless you actually run programs from the drive. Yes, 2x is slow, but how often are you using it? (If you use it a lot, check out the 12x SCSI Apple drive from OWC for $24.95.)

Update: iBook, Jaguar, and More

Ken. Cavaliere-Klick writes:

Just as a follow up on my last few notes about getting an iBook and Jaguar and my feelings on the whole thing. My Bondi iMac is back (new analog board) and running fine on 9.2.2 as it always has. My iBook is on its way back to Apple for an apparent hard drive failure, and who knows what else, after 3 weeks of reasonable desktop use. Not good. The upside is I don't have to lug a 40 plus pound computer to the shop; the downside is this is my first new Apple computer ever (the Bondi is used). There is much chatter on the iBook forum about bad hard drives in iBooks. I am not a happy puppy. Grrrr.

On a different note, I did have the chance to set up a new Windows XP laptop this weekend. My cousin desperately needed a new computer and, unfortunately, this was the way to go for the dopiest reason: AppleWorks 6 does not have a Microsoft Works converter. AW5 did; 6 does not. Kind of hard to switch when you can't read existing files. Apple best realize fast that many people use Works and get that converter in place muy rapido.

XP was an eye opener, a vision of a dumbed down OS and the answer to "what were they thinking?" It works well, I'll give it that, but the default "theme" is obnoxious and cartoony, especially with a blue desktop. Very helpful have blue windows on a blue desktop. Price-wise, my iBook and the Compaq are the same. Feature wise, the Compaq wins hands down with a 15" screen and a CD-RW/DVD. However, Windows is not an option for me so, the comparison is pointless. We'll see about build quality.

Glad to hear that your Bondi is back in service, but I share your disappointment about the iBook. Keep in mind that Apple doesn't make hard drives. Like all of the PC companies (well, almost all of them), they buy drives from various manufacturers and have to depend on the manufacturer to build them right. Too high a failure rate usually means Apple switches suppliers - and the manufacturer eats the cost of a lot of warranty repairs or drive replacements.

As for AppleWorks, recent updates have added more converters, which might solve your problem. You can get the latest update (6.2.7 for OS X, 6.2.5 for the classic Mac OS) from Apple's servers. On the Mac side, ClarisWorks effectively killed of Microsoft Works. It's a shame Apple has never been terribly successful at marketing it (and AppleWorks) on the Windows side, since it's a much better program than MS Works.

More on OS X Backup

Continuing our conversation from More on External SCSI Backup, Peter da Silva writes:

I've been using Retrospect to back up networked Macs since the System 7.1 era. I have no idea what ditto, hfspax, or rsync are, but none of them sound like Mac applications.

No, they're Unix applications extended to support Mac OS shares. They run in the command line universe, or from scripts, or cron.

I'm facing the same situation here, and I was hoping you could elucidate for me what exactly I'm missing that's worth several hundred dollars all told to give me a Mac Universal Backup environment.

Retrospect is able to fully back up and restore Mac volumes for both Mac OS X and the classic Mac OS.

Including Unix file permissions? That's been an ongoing problem for me: Finder doesn't maintain Unix file permissions and links, which is why you can't just drag-and-drop an OS X system folder into a new partition and get a bootable system. Does Retrospect handle that?

I have no idea about "native support for tape drives in Darwin." If it's there, I can't imagine that Apple would have deliberately disabled, but of such comments are conspiracy theories built.

I have the source code to Darwin and the manual pages. I have a copy of Rhapsody DR1. It's there in the open source version; it's there in the version that Apple supposedly started with; it's not there in the shipped Mac OS X.

The BSD subsystem tools don't need Cocoa-compatible drivers to work, so it's not a matter of vendors not shipping drivers.

But it's really a moot point, since I need software that can back up both OS X and classic Mac OS machines.

And you already have the software. But I need software that can back up OS X and, um, call them classic Unix machines, and for me (and really, for anyone else who isn't already using Retrospect and who is reasonably confident with command lines and text files) Retrospect doesn't look so hot.

I haven't ever had to use Retrospect to restore an OS X volume, but my understanding is that it can restore a fully bootable system.

I know that Retrospect has developed quite a following even on the Windows side, but I have no idea what kind of support they might have for Unix. The folks at Dantz probably figure that Unix geeks know what tools are available with the OS and have the savvy to use them.

I'm a Mac user. I've used the Terminal once. I have no desire to fiddle around inside the OS unless there's a tool that makes it easy. I gave up on command line control of computers when I sold my DOS 3.3 PC about six months after acquiring my first Mac. I prefer the ease of letting the computer do all of the hard work in the background so I can concentrate on doing my own work. Retrospect lets me handle backup that way.

Re: Aqua overhead

Continuing our conversation from The Impact of Aqua, Peter da Silva writes:

I must admit I had the same reaction - turn off all the eye candy and speed things up - and decided that it needed the eye candy after all if you can't fine-tune it.

And translucent terminal windows are great for letting me monitor long running background stuff like downloads without taking any display real estate from my all-important command lines. :)

Then again, if ever there was an Interface Nazi, it's Steve Jobs. He did his best to kill alternate appearances in the classic Mac OS and now seems to be caught between the original Aqua appearance and the newer brushed metal look as the OS X interface. I doubt Jobs will ever let the user choose on or the other, let alone pick from a range of alternatives.

I can't say that his GUI ideas are bad, but they're too "one size fits all," and one size rarely does. He also needs to pay some attention to disabled users, or even movement restricted/challenged ones: I suffer from RSI, so I have to ration my mouse work, and Windows keyboard bindings, at least before Windows 95 and Office 97 messed them up, were so much better than the Mac's.

He had some unique user interface ideas in NeXTstep as well. He seemed to want to make it as visually different from Mac OS as possible without admitting that Microsoft might have a good idea, so for example program menus were always vertical columns (like the whole thing was hanging off the "file" menu on a Mac) and then either left it free-floating or glued it off the left end of the program's title bar.

Here's the GNUstep clone of NeXT's mail app. Can you tell which window any of those messages belong to?

You can see where some of the features of Aqua come from, at least. And maybe why he's pushing that Metal stuff.

I like the Aqua look and feel, I never did get into Kaleidoscope, but it sure would be nice if Apple made it easy for the end user to have a bit more control over the computer for nonconformists....

You can have any color you want as long as it's Jellybean. :)

That NeXT screen capture looks more like BeOS than any other OS I've tried. Nothing else seems quite as sensible as Apple's menu bar at the top of the screen.

OS X does need to be more tweakable by the average user. I find transparency very distracting, but you find it useful. I absolutely hate column view, but there are times when I have no choice but to put up with it. Windows and files on the desktop show up in different places for no apparent reason.

In short, a lot of very practical, user friendly parts of the classic Mac OS got broken when Jobs brought NeXTstep to the Mac. Apple did so much right in the old OS. It's a shame that third party developers have to work to give us back a legacy that OS X took away. (A least Apple has listened and brought back some features that were conspicuously absent in the beta, 10.0, and 10.1.)

One size does not fit all, and Apple was always the first company to recognize that the tool has to fit the user, not vice versa. Specifically, the non-Jobs Apple broke with the closed box paradigm of the first four Macs to give us expansion slots, color displays, function keys, and a lot of other capabilities that Jobs' original information appliance lacked.

I sometimes wonder if the real reason for Apple's continually declining market share is that while Windows users may find OS X a treat, longtime Mac users are postponing new hardware purchases so they can stick with the sprightly OS they know and love. If Apple gives them the ease of use of the old Mac OS, maybe they'll eventually migrate, but OS X is as much an obstacle to migration as a reason to migrate for those who know the classic Mac OS.

Performa 6200 Unlisted Upgrade

Drew Beckett writes:

I'd like to add that I've been using a Power Macintosh 6500/250 logic board in my Performa 6200CD's case for the past 5 years or so. It provides a huge speed boost versus the original 6200/75 board and adds PCI. Here's the current loadout:

Performa 6500

  • PowerPC 603e @ 250 MHz / 50 MHz bus
  • 128MB (2x 64 MB) 168-pin 5v EDO DIMMs
  • Maxtor 5400 RPM 2.5 GB IDE hard disk
  • Sony 4x SCSI CD-ROM
  • Farallon 10Base-T Comm Slot-II ethernet
  • Mac OS 8.6.1

I also have an Apple TV/Video system coming in the mail I bought new off of eBay for < $20. I'm planning some other future upgrades which involve a CD-RW, a bigger hard disk, a Sonnet Crescendo L2, and OS 9.2.2. 6400zone has some excellent information on getting it to install.

On a side note, you wouldn't happen to know what sort of 64 MB and 128 MB SIMMs work in the Quadra 605? I've only ever been able to find one 128 MB SIMM, and it gives my Quadra death chimes.

Additionally, does the latest Apple Nvidia driver support PCI video cards (e.g., PNY GeForce FX 5200 PCI)? Thanks!

I wasn't aware that the Performa 6400 and Power Mac 6500 motherboards could be used in the 6200 case. I know that the 6360 motherboard can, but that also involves swapping out the power supply. Were you able to use the original power supply?

As noted on the Q605 page, it works "with single-banked 64 MB SIMMs, but it does not work with double-banked 64 MB RAM SIMMs." This is because of the way the memory controller works, and there is apparently no way to get the controller to work with regular 128 MB modules (MIcroMac claims their 128 MB Big SIMM works in the Q605; if anyone can verify this, please email me).

We had a good article about this in our Online Tech Journal, but the author insisted that we remove all of his articles from Low End Mac. This information seems to be the same as that now posted on the pickle's low-end Mac FAQ under Can I use 64 MB (or larger) SIMMs in my Mac?

As for Nvidia drivers, you'll have to contact Apple or Nvidia.

What's the Plural of 'Virus'?

After seeing the term virii in I Use Macs and PCs, Andrew Main writes:

Your correspondent writes, "Macs have fewer virusses (virii?)..." See: "What's the Plural of 'Virus'?"

Well, I guess it depends on how anal you want to be. ;-)

When it comes to viruses in the traditional use of the word (as in the SARS virus), the correct plural is viruses - but why does that have to apply to computer viruses? According to a good number of online sources, virii is the proper plural when the topic is a computer virus:

Virus Studies 101, Epinions, 2000.03.25. Vvirii (the actual plural of virus, viruses is not the correct plural)
Virus, Infoarchy, 2003.04.10. "Virii" is the plural of "Virus"
Protect yourself: Basic security measures for your computer, Peter Schmitz, 2000 Trainers, 2002.07.02. Virii is the plural of Virus.

Even Harvard University says that "viruses" is not the only acceptable plural: "You may, from time to time, see the plural form of the word 'virus' written as 'virii' rather than 'viruses.' Either is acceptable."

In short, it's usage that defines the language, not the rules of inflection or declention of an ancient tongue. Although I prefer viruses as the obvious plural of virus, virii is not only commonly used in discussions of malicious computer code, but also in the medical world to refer to traditional viruses.

As Humpty Dumpty said to Alice, it's all a matter of who should be boss - you or the word. Or as English teachers would state it, are the rules descriptive (telling us how the language is used) or prescriptive (telling us how the language should be used)?

I come down firmly on the side of usage and description, and English has never consistently followed the rules of any ancient language when it comes to creating plurals.

New eMacs

And in our last email of the day, Peter Wagner sent this yesterday:

They quietly updated the emac line this morning. They now offer 4 models to non-students ranging from 800 MHz to 1 GHz. Theoretically, they refurbs will take a nose dive shortly. (And the Apple Store does offer price protection on their refurb store.)

I got home from work at about 7:30 last night, sat down at the computer, and that was my first exposure to the new eMacs. I've already written a column looking at their value compared with close-out and refurb prices of the 2002 eMacs.

The more I think through my options, the more I'm coming to like the idea of the eMac, if not its looks. If I were to buy a blue & white G3/300, 17" display, and RAM, I could have a slower, less capable computer for $450 that would make me long for my TiBook, which would remain my primary computer.

Or I can buy an eMac, which includes a 17" display, add RAM, and have a system that's significantly faster than my 400 MHz TiBook. In talking this over with my son Brian, who hopes to buy an iBook before starting college in the fall, I concluded that were I to make such a purchase, my TiBook would become my secondary computer. There would be no reason to go back to it after I have the screen backlight repaired. As a backup and field computer, I could go a lot longer before needing to replace it.

The challenge is picking the right eMac. AirPort Extreme isn't an issue for a desktop machine. For the occasional cable modem outage, a modem would be a real plus, as would the ability to burn CDs, so the choice comes down to a refurbished 700 MHz Combo drive eMac ($749 at the Apple Store today) and a new $999 1 GHz Combo drive eMac.

Both can still be booted into OS 9, which I need to do rarely. Both offer a lot more power than my 400 MHz PowerBook, both in terms of CPU speed and Quartz Extreme. Both can be upgraded with a 512 MB module for under $75. Neither would be a bad choice.

My AppleCare runs through the end of January, so I'm in no hurry to decide. And if I wait long enough, we'll start seeing refurbished 2003 Combo drive eMacs, which might be the best choice of all.

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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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