The Low End Mac Mailbag

Panther Faster than Jaguar, Unstable Browsers, Best Low Cost Mac for Video Work, and More

Dan Knight - 2008.03.04 - Tip Jar

Panther a Lot Faster than Jaguar on G3s

From Charles W. Moore:

Hi Dan,

Regarding David Lee's query: I can vouch for the fact that Panther [Mac OS X 10.3] is a lot faster on a G3 Pismo than Jaguar [10.2] was, and in fact the Panther release was the tipping point for me in switching to OS X for production work. Jaguar had been just too sluggish to put up with.

Incidentally, I find the late builds of Tiger just as lively on my Pismos (observed using both 500 MHz G3 and 550 MHz G4 processors) as Panther.



Thanks for the hands-on feedback.


All Browsers Unstable on My 12" PowerBook

From David Sehnal:

Hello Dan,

I am a happy Mac user and a great fun of Low End Mac for years already. Recently I bought a used PB 12'' 1,5 GHz Combo, made a clean installation of Tiger from the original disk. Everything runs very nicely, but all web browsers appear to be extremely unstable, they tend to close down after few minutes of browsing, chatting is virtually impossible. I tried out Safari, Firefox, Opera, Camino, iCab, SeaMonkey, and Mozilla without having noticed any difference. With Target Disk Mode I tried to boot from my very stable PB 15'', but the problem did not disappear. Do you have any suggestion on this matter? What are the possible reasons, and what could help? Downgrade to Panther? Since I'm using Classic, too, I am not willing to install Leopard.

BTW, earlier I noticed similar but not to this extent severe unstability of Safari, but its higher versions did not suffer from it, nor did the other browsers.

Thank you very much,

with best wishes
David Sehnal
Czech Republic


I've been using Tiger for years and never run into problems like this on eMacs, G3 and G4 Power Macs, or G3 iMacs. Have you run all of the updates to Mac OS X 10.4? If not, that could be part of the problem.

I've also heard that dialup connections can sometimes be troublesome and result in weird behavior, but I have no experience in that area.

The only other thing I can think of is that perhaps the version of Tiger installed on your PowerBook doesn't fully support it. This could happen if the install disc was made for a different model.


Power Mac G5 Best Choice for Video Work?

From Hadi:

Hi Dan

I'm a fan of Low End Mac from Malaysia. I first stumbled upon the site when I was doing a research on which particular Mac to buy as my first Mac back in 2006. Yeah, I'm a recent switcher. Anyway, I settled for the 12" PowerBook G4, and it has been really much fun to use and carry around as well as still having somewhat of a punch in power.

Anyway, I'm studying video editing, and I find that my PowerBook is becoming quite restrictive for me. The screen is fine, since I plug in my Samsung LCD monitor for most of the time. It is the processing power that this sweet machine is lacking.

I'm planning to upgrade to a desktop, since I need expandability. Looking at my life realistically, a Mac Pro is a distant dream, so I went looking for a used Power Mac G5. Bear in mind that the Mac community here in my country isn't very large, and most G5 owners are still keeping their machines. The only one I found was the 1.6 GHz Power Mac G5, the first G5s back in 2003 for roughly US$900.

Now my question is, do you think the G5 is a good upgrade path for me? How much difference would a 1.6 GHz G5 make compare to my PowerBook's 1.5 GHz G4? Would the 64-bit support in Leopard make much of a difference? On top of that, the G5 sports PCI slots instead of PCI-Express, which would be quite an issue in the long run. What do you think? Go or no go.

Anyway, I really admire your work in conserving old Macs. My university just upgraded the lab to the new iMacs. Sadly, the old Power Mac G4s and G3s are gathering dust in the store room. Many people tried to buy those Macs, but they don't seem to allow it. I wonder why. Personally I own an iMac DV SE 400 MHz at a computer parts shop selling for US$90. I kind of toasted the analog board by putting it flat on the table and had to fork out another US$90 for the board on eBay. The Apple Store here was asking for 10x that amount. Pff..

Hope this email sail safe through your spam filter. Haha. Hope to hear from you soon. Take care.



I'm happy to hear we helped you become a Mac user, and I understand your frustration working with video. The sad truth is, a 1.6 GHz G5 isn't that much more powerful than what you already have. Based on the numbers posted by Primate Labs, you're only going to trim about 20% from processing time. That's an awful lot of money to spend for so little benefit.

This may sound a bit silly at first, but I've recommended it before: The 2.0 GHz Core 2 Duo Mac mini has well over three times the processing power of your 1.5 GHz PowerBook. It would make a much better machine for working with video, and it should include Leopard and new copies of iMovie and iDVD. (According to Primate Labs, it has about 3x the power of my dual 1 GHz Power Mac G4 as well, and it's also sluggish for video work.)

Max out memory to 3 GB and add a big, fast external FireWire hard drive, and you'll have a very nice video production machine that points to the Intel future rather than the PowerPC past.


Hi Dan

Thanks for the prompt reply! Wow, yeah, a Mac mini does sound a bit weird but the stats sure does show a lot. The thing that kept me wondering is what effect would the lack of a dedicated video card have. I'm not really sure if Final Cut Pro would run on a hardware with an integrated graphics chip.



Ah, you hadn't mentioned Final Cut Pro before. Yes, that's going to be a problem, as Apple clearly states that "Final Cut Studio is not compatible with integrated Intel graphics processors." In that case, look at a used or refurbished 17" or 20" Core 2-based iMac. You have some nice options between $800 and $1,100 these days.

Too bad Apple doesn't make something between the $600-800 Mac mini and the $2,200 and up Mac Pro that doesn't include a built-in display.


Tiger on Tray-loading iMacs

From Dave Garboczi:

Dear Dan Knight,

I enjoyed Bringing G3 iMacs and Other G3 Macs into the Tiger Age.

I have two tray loaders that I put Tiger on by installing Tiger on a FireWire/USB external disk mounted on a PowerBook G4. I used the retail DVD and did all updates. Then I copied the new system into the G3 through the USB port with Disk Utility. Takes 1-2 hours to transfer but works fine. During this, I have the G3 booted from the Panther retail CD.

This way I get around the DVD and the FireWire "requirements". I have 512 MB memory in each.

I put 128 GB disks in both and partitioned them at 7.5 GB and 100 GB.

I want /Users to be on the big partition, so I put a Unix link in the small partition and point it to the big partition. Something like this:

ln -s /Users /BigPartition/Users

The problem is that when I fix disk permissions on the small partition, the user permissions on the big partition become wrong, and Safari can't write its bookmark file, etc., etc.

I'd like to get the right procedure for making the link or of fixing permissions. Maybe a guru can address this?

best wishes,
Dave Garboczi


I've never tried this, as I prefer to keep all the users on the boot partition, but there are some good online resources about this:

I hope they'll provide the info you need.


Can You Upgrade Firmware without a Bootable Classic Hard Drive?

From Jody Outlaw:

Do you have any suggestion? Tiger on a default, and partitions formatted for classic. When I boot from my OS 9 CD I need to do a firmware install, but I don't have a bootable classic partition to boot from.



You can't do a firmware update by booting from a CD. Firmware updates can only be run from writable partitions, such as a hard drive.

If your drive's partitions are formatted for Classic, all you have to do is install the Classic Mac OS to one of those partitions and select it as your Startup Disk in System Preferences. (Or hold down the Option key during startup. Your Mac will then ask which drive you wish to boot from.)

This may not always work, however. Some of the newer G4 Power Macs need files that only exist on the Software Restore discs that came with them - a problem I've run into with my own Power Mac G4.


Mac LC 575 Won't Boot

From Cindy:

Picked up a free Mac LC 575. Owner said it works fine and has lots of games on it.

Got it home, hooked up and started it, happy face came on . . . but then it goes off, and I get the flashing "?" Tried all problem solvers I could find - but still no luck. Charged it overnight - still nothing but the happy face then the "?"

Any ideas???

PS have no start up CD or disk with it. Have printer and have printer disks, but not for that printer?


The flashing question mark means one thing: Your Mac doesn't have a bootable system installed. That could mean there's no internal hard drive, the hard drive has been wiped clean, or the system has been damaged or removed.

Unless you have access to another Mac with a floppy drive, you're in a tough spot. You can go to our Best Classic Mac OS Prices, look on the LEM Swap List, and check on eBay for System 7.5 through 8.1 on CD. Any of these will work on your LC 575.

If you have access to another Mac with a floppy drive and the ability to burn DVDs, you can go to our Classic Mac OS Downloads and Updates page. Download System 7.5.3 and the 7.5.5 update, all of which are free, and burn them to a CD-R disc. Also make a Disk Tools floppy, which you'll use to boot your LC 575 while the CD with the installers is in the CD-ROM drive.

This should world, but sometimes older Macs can't read burned CDs, in which case you're back to having to find a bootable system CD.


Running a PowerBook from Compact Flash


I liked your articles on using CF in older PowerBooks. I have a 4 GB SanDisk Ultra II in my 1400c's PC Card slot at the moment running OS 8.5. I also have 2 Addonics HD CF adapters (dual) upon which one of them will be transplanted inside the 1400c with a CF Card. I ordered the Addonics because, as mentioned in your article, using one increases the speed of the CF Card versus its performance in the 16-bit PC Card Slot.

Now I am stepping it up a bit and buying a SanDisk 8 GB Extreme IV CF Card. It has UDMA with Enhanced Super-Parallel Processing with up to 40 Mb/sec sequential read and write speed. I believe the Ultra II is rated at 9 Mb/sec for sequential write and 10 Mb/sec for sequential read. The Ultra II does not, however, have ESP or UDMA, so combining its slower read/write speed with the lack of these performance enhancing technologies, there should be some significant real world performance differences both seen and felt with the new Extreme IV card in the PowerBook.

Now, I have a mint WallStreet I am going to use, and it has a 60 GB HD inside that I am going to keep in there, but I want to us CF when I can via the PC Card slot. However, I am wondering, shouldn't even just the Ultra II perform better in the WallStreet's PC Card slot than the 1400c's because it is CardBus compliant at 32-bit? From the limited info I have read on this, the WallStreet's PC Card slot should allow the Ultra II or Extreme to operate at their full capacities. Here is what I found on Amazon:

CardBus is a 32-bit bus-mastering architecture that operates at PCI local-bus speeds of up to 33 MHz, yielding a peak bandwidth of 132 MB/sec. Unlike 16-bit PC Cards, which operate at slower ISA bus speeds of 8 MHz using an ISA-like asynchronous protocol, CardBus provides a fast 32-bit multiplexed address/data path...

By utilizing internal bus speeds, CardBus can operate at speeds six times faster than a 16-bit PC Card and five times faster than a 100 Mbps PC Card. In addition, CardBus PC cards operate at 3.3 Volts, saving power and conserving your PC's battery life.

Also, what about an SSD hard drive in the WallStreet?



You're right, CardBus has much higher bandwidth than the older PCMCIA/PC Card specification, so you should see excellent performance on the WallStreet. Also, there's no reason you shouldn't be able to us an SSD flash drive in any notebook computer that takes a 2.5" IDE hard drive.


Titanium PowerBook Won't Boot Using PC Card Device

From Jeffrey T Kafer:


I was recently reading an article [Flash Memory Improves PowerBook], circa Nov. 2002, about booting PowerBooks from CF in a PCMCIA adapter. The article notes that this should work in numerous G3 and "all" G4 PowerBooks.

Well, I am here to report that I have been unable to boot from anything in my PC Card adapter on my 867 MHz TiBook. I've tried installing Mac OS X to a microdrive, installing OS 9.2 to both a microdrive and a CF card. I can choose them as the startup disk in the control panel, but I can only boot from my internal. I even tried holding down the option key, but in every case the PCMCIA card does not appear as an option to boot from.

It could be that I am not doing something quite right, but I am beginning to suspect that later PowerBook G4s do not support booting from CF or microdrives in the CardBus slot. Do you know of any information to contrary? If it is possible, I would certainly appreciate some guidance from one who has successfully navigated this road before.



I know that my 400 MHz PowerBook G4 could boot from CF in a PC Card adapter, but it's possible that Apple made some hardware change that prevents this in later TiBooks. Have you tried using a different brand of CF adapter or one that uses the newer, faster CardBus protocol?


G4 Quicksilver and Big Hard Drives

From Meghan:


My name is Meghan, and I have a very beloved Quicksilver G4 (733 MHz). I recently did some upgrades and installed RAM (almost maxed out at 1.12 GB), moved the internal hard drives around, and successfully added a new Seagate 320 GB hard drive. I can see the room above 137 GB! I used a SIIG PCI card purchased at Other World Computers to do so, and it loaded without much problem.

I read Low End Mac every now and then and wanted to let you know that it is possible to have big hard drives on a Quicksilver 733. My next test is to try to load up Leopard (to match my new MacBook Pro). I know it's possible by tricking the installer; I want to try. Leopard is very smooth. If it doesn't work, I may consider upgrading my processor.

Thanks for all you do!



Thanks for writing. The problem with big hard drives in older Macs is that the built-in UltraATA hard drive bus can't recognize drives larger than 128 GB. Workarounds include special drivers, putting the big drive in an external FireWire enclosure, or buying a third-party UltraATA card that supports big drives - which is what you did.

We've had lots of good feedback on Leopard running on older G4 Macs, and if you can't trick the installer into running on your Quicksilver, there's always Target Disk Mode: connect your Power Mac to the MacBook Pro with a FireWire cable, boot the Power Mac while holding down the "T" key (think "Target"), and run the installer from the MacBook Pro.


March 2, 1987: The First Expandable Macs, Mac II and SE

From Robert MacLeay:

Hi Dan!

I'm writing about Sunday's article on the first expandable Macs.

A note about color on these Macs. I had an early SE, and it supported 3-bit color (i.e., 8 total colors). Of course, with a 1-bit screen it could not display them, but colors could be assigned to text and objects, and when printed on an ImageWriter with a color ribbon, the colors were there.

Also, I purchased a new Mac II in 1988, just before it was replaced with the IIx. My II came with only 1 MB of RAM. I could have bought a second MB for another $1,200 (some things never change; Apple is still overcharging for RAM), but none was available, and I refused to buy it without a delivery commitment. I still remember the thrill of upgrading from a 512 x 384 monochrome screen to a huge 640 x 480 color screen!

- Robert MacLeay


Thanks for mentioning the 8-color/3-bit color support in the Macintosh SE. I'd almost forgotten about it, but there was even a SCSI video adapter available that let you display it on an external color monitor.

My first Mac was a Plus, and in my job at ComputerLand of Grand Rapids, I had an SE/30 on my desk. I also remember the thrill of moving to a 640 x 480 color display when I bought my first color Mac, a Centris 610 in 1993. It's also remarkable how much real work we managed to get done with a 512 x 342 1-bit display.


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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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