The Low End Mac Mailbag

Which Macs for 10.5?, Mac Minitower Thoughts, Success with FireWire Disk Mode OS X Installs, and More

Dan Knight - 2006.08.03

Mac OS X 10.5: Which Macs Should Make the Cut?

After reading Mac OS X 10.5 'Leopard': Which Macs Should Make the Cut?, Ken Watanabe comments:


I agree with you. But there is one other reason why Apple may define "artificial" hardware cutoffs: to "encourage" users to upgrade their hardware to new Mac systems. Apple is still a computer hardware company. I suspect that was the reason for the Firewire requirement to install Tiger.

...there is no technical reason why Tiger cannot run on those older systems.

As you state, there is no technical reason why Tiger cannot run on those older systems. I have an old first gen iMac (with a 466 MHz G4 upgrade). Tiger would not install on it. However, as a test, I installed Tiger on its hard drive by temporarily connecting it to my wife's Power Mac G5 via a Firewire enclosure. Mounting that drive back into the iMac, it started up and ran just fine. I did not notice any obvious performance difference between 10.4 and 10.3. The iMac is back on 10.3.9, mainly because I like using an officially supported config (and I didn't have a license to use the G5's Tiger on another Mac). 10.3.9 is a very solid release of Mac OS X.

Fortunately, with the exceptional numbers being reported today (market share numbers in particular), I think Apple will be less inclined to put up fake barriers to the Leopard upgrade. If some users (like me) are content to keep using their old Macs "passed their prime," why not at least encourage them to fork over $129 for the latest OS. I predict that the hardware (cutoff) requirements will be the same for Leopard (as Tiger).

- Ken Watanabe

What you say makes sense, Ken. The more people who can run Leopard, the more copies Apple will sell, the larger the installed base for new apps. In short, everybody wins.

Support for Apple's New OS X

JR Zeigler says:

Hello Dan,

I am sure my Pismo will not be supported . . . they may keep the G3's with built in 900 MHz but will say no upgrade card units are offically supported by Apple.

While my 20 inch G5 iMac will be fully supported, Apple will lose my sale . . . because I prefer my computers to be on the same version of operating system (if they are using OS X).

My older 5400 Power Mac stayed at OS 8.1

But, Steve Jobs is smart or at least savy . . . he needs to get us to upgrade away from computers that still use OS 9 software . . . so that in a few years the iapplications, quicktime, and the itunes store will all require OS X 10.5 or higher to work.

Well, I guest I will be a hold out at least for a few more years.

Currently, I only have OS 9.2.2 on my Pismo and my imac G5 runs OS X 10.3.9

Take care,

JR, Apple has never officially supported any third-party CPU upgrades, but G3 and G4 upgrades tend to be completely transparent to the operating system. If Apple continues to support Pismo, the presence of a G4 or a faster G3 should make no difference at all to getting it installed and running.

Like you, I prefer to keep all of my OS X Macs at the same OS version, and I'm glad they all support Tiger nicely.


eSATA, FireWire 800, and Dedicated Graphics

In response to The Case for a Macintel Minitower, Tom Babb writes:

If they would put SATA out & FW 800 into the Intel mini and gave it a dedicated graphics card we would be in business.....

Tom Babb

I can't imagine Apple putting FireWire 800 on an entry-level Mac, but an external SATA port would be brilliant. As for dedicated graphics, I have a feeling Apple isn't going to do that on entry-level models in the future.


The Case for a Macintel Minitower

Mel writes:

I totally agree that Apple should come out with a midline mini-tower for us mortals who are not considered high-end power user.

I have a Quicksilver G4 Power Mac that I have been using as my primary machine since I bought it brand new in August of 2001. When I bought the G4, I knew I would take advantage of the expansion opportunities. I have added the following:

  • 2nd internal hard drive: This is really nice, because the main drive runs OS 9.2 and the 2nd is OS X. Both are partioned into smaller segments for different document types.
  • SCSI PCI card: Bought this at the same time as the Mac, since I had and still have older SCSI devices that I use.
  • Upgraded RAM: Twice I upgraded the RAM from the standard 128 MB to the present 1.128 GB. (2 additional 512 MB modules)
  • USB 2.0 PCI card: This was the most recent hardware upgrade. Very nice to have USB 2.0, since it allows me to load my iPod shuffle and digital photo files faster than the built-in USB 1.1.

An Intel Macintosh minitower would be a blessing, because it would allow me to piecemeal a better computer together over time as need arises. For sure I would love to have a 2nd hard drive bay, and it is there (if it is possible) where I would do an install of Windows or other PC type operating system while keeping the primary drive for nothing but OS X.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences, Mel. I'd pretty much forgotten that I put a USB 2.0 card in my Power Mac G4/1 GHz dual, which also came with Apple's SCSI card when I bought it used. Having room for a second hard drive and whatever new may come along (such as USB 2.0, SATA, tuner cards, etc.) just lets us keep our Macs longer.


Macintel Minitower

Bill Doty writes:

Hi Dan,

You're right on target with your specs for the mini tower. I would suggest 4 USB 2.0 ports and conventional audio ports. No Intel video. I want video on a board.

I've got the box figured.

How about a G4 Quicksilver tower at 4/5 scale? (I figure it would be about the same size as an 8600.) Organize the inside the same as the G4. Nobody has ever made an easier to upgrade box. The design will be contemporary for years.

Bill Doty

I like your suggestion, Bill. Putting the motherboard on a hinged door was a brilliant idea when the blue & white G3 came out in 1999, and it could be perfect for a smaller tower today.


AIFF and Metadata

Alan Zisman writes:

I think I know what the problem is . . . AIFF files don't include so-called metadata - song name, artist, album, etc, within the actual file the way MP3 files do . . . while a user's iTunes library may list the AIFF file with that information, when it's converted to an MP3 file, the data is lost.

Instead, an MP3 file with all that information empty is created, and listed at the very end of the iTunes library - with no information in the various fields.

If the user scrolls to the bottom of their iTunes library, he or she will probably find a bunch of songs with unknown information . . . listen to each to figure out what it is, and manually enter the proper information.

- AZ

Thanks for the info, Alan. I'll pass it along to Jim Brunswick.

The Post-Classic Web Page Editor Paradox

Peter Tyler writes:


I sympathize with having to leave Claris Home Page behind when moving to an Intel Mac. Even though I haven't done a lot of editing, I found the software immensely useful when I was learning a little HTML and Web page scripting a few months back.

The idea I've been bouncing around lately goes like this - find an Open Source Web page editor that everyone likes, then port it to OS X and customize it to look/feel/behave like Claris Home Page.

If I were only a C programmer, I'd dive into this. Maybe some other enterprising soul will want to mull it over.

- Pete

P.S. For some hardy folks, an older copy of the Windows version loaded into XP/Boot Camp might be a consolation.

Thanks for your thoughts, Pete.

Apple has an unfortunate habit of letting great software fall by the wayside: Hypercard, Claris Emailer, Claris Home Page, and AppleWorks among them. Like iTunes and iPhoto, they were just very easy to pick up and use - the complete opposite of most Microsoft apps.

Nvu has a good start on offering much of what Home Page does, but it's not very Mac-like, and it's pretty slow (even on my dual 1 GHz G4) and a bit buggy. On the plus side, it supports modern Web standards and works with Cascading Style Sheets. It's part of my HTML arsenal, but not my primary tool.

Nvu is open source. If someone wanted to work on making it more Mac-like, less buggy, and perhaps a fair bit faster (use Apple's WebCore instead of Mozilla's Gecko), I'd happily give it a try.


Frequent Lithium Battery Replacement

Mary Stratton writes:


I have a Power Mac G4/500. It has lived with us for about 5 years and was not happy its first year. During that time, the hard drive, logic board, and CD-ROM went down and had to be replaced. (What's left - the LED light? Good old extended warranty!) I think ours was built at 4:45 on a Friday afternoon after they came in from a break in the parking lot!

For the last year and a 1/2, we've had to replace the "long life" lithium battery every 4 months or so. These batteries were purchased at a battery store where their charge was verified. What would cause this, outside of demonic possession?

Any thoughts or ideas short of a hammer or an excorsim would be appreciated.

Thank you.

Sincerely Stumped,
Mary Stratton

Mary, I've never heard of batteries draining that quickly. Are they all from the same production batch? If it's not a bad batch of batteries, I suspect a short somewhere on the logic board. It's not uncommon for these batteries to least 3-5 years.


Booting WallStreet from Compact Flash

Bill Becker writes:

Hi Dan:

Can I really boot my Powerbook Wall Street G3 233 mhz from a CF or SD card?

Your article of 2002.11.14 says that it's possible.

Should I just get any PCMCIA adapter, plus a CF or SD card, and start trying?

Can you confirm which cards, adapters, and, otherwise, solutions, have really worked on a Wall Street? I'm looking to use OS 9. Can you recommend the best and fastest card/adapter combination?

Bill Becker

Bill, I don't own a WallStreet, so I haven't been able to try it. I have done it dozens of times on my PowerBook 1400s, and I see no reason that you wouldn't be able to do so on a WallStreet.


Problem with 2.5" Drive in External Case

John Skadberg writes:

My iBook 800 died. When trying to start up, the drive spins, I get a monotone tone and then a second or so of flashing sleep light and nothing. Tried to boot from CD - same thing. I need to put the drive in an external case to transfer data to newer g4 PowerBook.

I purchased a 2.5" USB case online and moved the drive from my iBook. The drive was spinning up in 'puter, but in the external case hooked to a newer G4 powerbook the light comes on but the drive doesn't spin.

I read the MacDaniels article of 2005.02.07 on "How do I move everything from the old hard drive." Does he have a recomendation for a 2.5" USB/FireWire case?

Thanks, John

John, the problem is that USB doesn't provide as much power as FireWire, so some 2.5" drives simply won't spin up. Your options are an external power supply for your current enclosure or going to an enclosure with FireWire.


FireWire Disk Mode OS X Installs

Oh please, don't identify me. Thanks for that!

I know others are concerned with Target Disk Mode installations. My experience reflects yours, or perhaps goes a bit further.

I wanted to see what Tiger would look like on my Pismo. So I thought I'd just install from the disk that came with my iMac G5/2.1 GHz. Of course the installer identified the Pismo as unsupported by that disk. So I rebooted the Pismo in Target Disk Mode, plugged it into the iMac, reformatted the laptop's hard drive, and installed Tiger. I did a custom install, leaving out foreign languages and any applications with requirements higher than G3/500.

The Pismo boots perfectly. The Buffalo Wireless card is seen as AirPort Extreme. Everything works. The Pismo is much quicker than it was with OS X 10.1, and it boots quicker as well.

Machine specs:

processor speed - 500 MHz
memory - 512 megs
hard drive - 60 gig, 7200 rpm

Higher Screen Resolution in Clamshell iBook?

Dear Mr. Knight,

I'm currently using a 466 MHz clamshell iBook. It's upgraded to 576 MB RAM and 40 GB hard drive (5400 rpm), which means it runs OS 9 really fast and handles Tiger pretty well. So far so good. But the low screen (800 x 600) resolution is often annoying.

Is there any way to increase the resolution? I'm hoping for a firmware hack, changing hard drive was work enough. I've searched Google, but I only get tips on making G4 iBooks display an extended desktop.

I might just get a non-working 12" G3 iBook that has a working 1024 x 768 display and try a transplant. They even have the same video card so it might just work.

Any ideas?

Best regards,
Per Grenerfors

Thanks for writing. The only way to increase the iBook's resolution would be with a new screen' the standard display is fixed at 800 x 600.

I haven't heard of anyone modifying a clamshell iBook with a 1024 x 768 display. As you note, the case can be a really troublesome one to work with. I'd lean toward just picking up a 12" dual USB iBook instead of trying to upgrade the old clamshell model.

If you do manage to get it working with a higher resolution screen, let me know.



Alvin writes:

Hi, I remembered that time [back when I was going through separation and divorce - ed] the site seemed not right. I knew there were personal problems, but it's much clearer as I click back on the links that answered them. I remember my own crosses due to lack of trust and faith in the God who willed them and wonder what the future ones would be. My pride thought that I can do it by myself, and looking back, it looks like I've nothing to do with its resolve. After the storm is the calm of the ocean. It just makes us stronger for the next cross, which we promptly pray avoids us; that we'd rather do for Him many times more good than face the test of another kind of cross.

It is assumed that everybody has the fruits of the hurt that can never be forgotten. A hurt is a kind of thing that defines a better man, should he choose to understand its value. Mother Angelica of EWTN network mentioned that these have values. It doesn't mean that we forget to be ourselves, our smiles, activities and take away other people's chance to be themselves around us.

It is but natural, although I haven't married that one true love of a lifetime yet - married for keeps with the understanding of when the emotional side is gone, it would then become the love based on action - the love of agape. It is also true that to forgive is to forget, and its always too late to truly forgive someone when they are not there any longer. Life is too short to not forgive those who've offended us. We, of course, have offended others too and should pray that they forgive us, so that come time why we do all these things and for Whom, we ourselves would be forgiven.

I feel the one emotion that's always there for somone who really loves someone and have bore the gift of children through this love, is the feeling of . . . hope. Hopeful for that surprise that we desire would come very soon when we least expect, a gift of healed relationships that will be even be more embedded deeper into the foundation. It is sometimes by sacrifices (be it food or pleasurable things, rosary (for us Catholics), deep prayers that says Your Will Be Done not mine and the unceasing inquiry of what will is it you want me to do next? To free ourselves from ourselves and begin each moment with unquestioning Faith. Nothing happens if it is not His will even with our best efforts. Our prayers are with you and the tests that will come.

God bless,

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Alvin.

Yes, it was a tough time for me. Looking back, I came to see that I had let my marriage define who I was. Without that relationship, I didn't know who I was. In some ways, I had allowed my wife to become my god.

I survived those hard times, learning to stop controlling my life and place it in God's hands. Now I know who I am, and I can build healthy relationships. I do hope to find the love of a lifetime, and this time it won't displace God, who should be at the center of my life.

One of the best things to come from my trials is the empathy I have for others. In many ways, I feel like I have been born a second time.

Dan Knight
Redeemed and remade

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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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