The Low End Mac Mailbag

Pismo Slow Running OS X from Compact Flash, Leopard DVD Player on G4 Pismo, and More Linux Tips

Dan Knight - 2008.06.25 - Tip Jar

Pismo Running from Compact Flash Slow in OS X

From Carl Saltarelli:

Greetings, Dan,

I got very excited about the prospect of a quiet Pismo. I now have my Pismo running on a dual CF adapter and two 133x 32 GB CF cards.

I am running OS X 10.4 on it, and it boots and runs. You would think that it would fly along, but it just drags, much slower than before with the factory hard drive.

Do you have any suggestions?

I could have missed something obvious, I know!

Carl Saltarelli


I don't have any experience running OS X from Compact Flash, but a 133x card should provide speed comparable to an older laptop hard drive. Did you reformat the CF Card as HFS+ before installing OS X? That's the only thing that comes to mind.



I believe so, it has been too long ago to swear to it. I just checked the CF cards with "Get Info", and they show the format to be "Mac OS Extended (Journaled)".

I have the first device partitioned into two sections, one for OS X, one for OS 9.

As a matter of fact, however, I have not yet booted it in OS 9, and will do that to see how it runs, and I will let you know.

I have two 512 MB RAM chips in the Pismo, so that the memory is maxed out.

Are there any system tuning tips that can be tried?

Thanks for your follow-up.



It sounds like you're doing everything right. I'm stumped.



I just booted up in OS 9, and it starts and runs faster than OS X. In 9, however, it only sees the primary CF, not the secondary. And since the secondary CF holds my data, that is not a good compromise.

I will keep experimenting and searching for a solution.



Did you format both CF cards with Mac OS 9 drivers? That could be the problem.


Leopard DVD Player Hacked to Work in G4 Pismo

From Jon Riecken:

Hello, have/haven't been covered, but,

After tossing and turning, I was in search for a way to enable the Apple DVD Player on Mac OS X Leopard, with smooth playback on a PowerBook Pismo G4 550 MHz/1 GB RAM/100 GB 7200 ATA HD/8X DVD-RW DL/Airport/etc.

I copied, the files, from a 10.4.11 Tiger Install,

  • ATIRage128.kext
  • ATIRage128DVDDriver.bundle
  • ATIRage128GA.plugin
  • ATIRage128GLDriver.bundle
  • ATIRagePro.kext

and then transplanted them on an extra IDE hard drive, in /System/Library/Extensions on Mac OS X Leopard 10.5.1. I then performed, via terminal:

sudo chown -Rh root:wheel ATIRage*
sudo chmod -R a+rX,u+w,go-w ATIRage*

then restarted. Upon inserting DVD media, Apple DVD Player launches automatically, and I am now able to natively watch DVDs with Apple DVD Player in Leopard!

My next quest is to find a way to enable support for both batteries, and expansion bay.

Jon Riecken


Congratulations on getting DVD Player working on your Pismo. We'll post this in the Mailbag so others can do the same.


Xubuntu 8.04 for PowerPC

From John Carlson:


Continuing the discussion from today's Mailbag, I found Xubuntu 8.04 (;O=A) which probably will work. It appears to be a developer page, with "daily builds," but the "hardy-alternate-powerpc.iso" has a last modification date of 4/21, which is about the time the current version of Ubuntu shipped. (8.04 is also called "Hardy Heron", which explains why the name has "Hardy" and also why it may be hard finding it with a "8.04" search.)

As others have pointed out, Ubuntu no longer officially supports the PowerPC chip. Further, Xubuntu isn't really official Ubuntu. I'm not sure what the politics are, but Ubuntu (the plain Ubuntu, with GNOME) is "official". Everything else is, to some degree, a lower-level project. Combine these two issues, and you have a nightmare for the person wanting Xubuntu for his or her old iMac.

Timothy Sipples has some good things to say. However, there are a couple of points that I think are worth mentioning.

First, while Linux may allow one to undo problems, such as ones caused by updates, sometimes it takes advanced knowledge to do so. A big problem hits a user who replaced Windows with Ubuntu, and he or she may well end up just reinstalling. Then, sometimes, reinstalling may be the best, fastest, most time efficient way of fixing a problem.

Then, Live CDs do provide a fully functioning system. But I frankly have hated many of these. Frequently, they are too slow to be usable - at least on the sort of hardware I use. About the only advantage I really see to live Ubuntu disks is that if it starts up, it shows that that version of Ubuntu will run. But a disk that just installs is faster. The only exception to my dislike of Live CDs are distros designed to be Live CD based, like Puppy Linux. Puppy is amazingly fast, and it can run on a level of hardware that would make Ubuntu say: "Forget it!"



Thanks for the link. I'm downloading the Xubuntu PPC 8.04 installer CD image as I write this. I do like the fact that Live CDs let me preview Linux and see that it works on my computer. I'm sure I'll give "Hardy Heron" a try within the coming week.


Update: The Xubuntu 8.04 CD image is not bootable, so I'm back to trying to get 7.x installed and running.

Miscellaneous Linux Tips

From Larry Stotler:

YaST stands for Yet another Setup Tool.

Here's a link for the network install image for openSUSE v11.0:

It's a CD. Once you boot, you have to specify an install repository for it. Here's one:

Using that should give you an install. I don't have any New World Macs working at the moment, so I can't test it to make sure it all works. That may help you out.

How much RAM is in the iMac 400? I would say that 512 would be perfect for 11.0. I'm running it with 384 MB on my ThinkPad and my WallStreet.

I would select the KDE v3 install. There are some things about the basic install that I would change, which means you need to do a detailed software selection.


  • AppArmour - Novell's security program - Not neccessary
  • Beagle - An indexing program like Google Desktop - can be a real system hog
  • openoffice - Install KOffice instead
  • Compiz Fusion - New Composite Window Manager - would make it more OS X like, but needs a heavier Video card than the iMac has.

You can find all of these by using the Search function. Look for it under Filter. It should say Patterns under it by default.

Installation will be slow due to the Internet connection speed.

I'm working on trying to create a CD based install - maybe 1-2 CDs - with a good selection of stripped down programs that don't need a lot of resources. I've tried to get the openSUSE devs to offer CD media, but everyone just comes back with work arounds (like the one above). They don't seem to understand that people who may want to try Linux are just gonna go the other way when a work around is talked about . . . oh well.

Good luck.


Thanks for the tips. I've been trying to go from Xubuntu 6.x to 7.x, but the installer keeps hanging when partitioning the hard drive. Maybe this is the right time to dig out one of those pulled 80 GB 7200 rpm drives and replace the small (10 GB), slow (4200 rpm) drive in the iMac.

This iMac does have 512 MB of RAM, and I was quite impressed with the look of Xubuntu 7.x compared with 6.x. The user interface just looked smoother and more Mac-like. Anyhow, I've just booted into Mac OS X 10.3, used Disk Utility to format the 10 GB drive as a single Unix partition, and am rebooting from the Xubuntu 7.x installer as I type this. I'll let that run while I work and try to find time later to swap out the hard drive.

Once that's done, I'll give openSUSE 11 a try. Thanks for the links and advice.


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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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