The Low End Mac Mailbag

Better Classic Emulation, Leopard on Any G3?, CardBus and Compact Flash, and More

Dan Knight - 2007.12.18

Classic Mac Emulation, Works to Excel Conversion

From Tom:


Thanks for your site. I was in Cupertino in early 80s as Apple launched this frenzy. Apple a few iterations ago seems to have given up on its core who stood by them all those years, and Classic is another example.

Is anybody going to create a stable Classic emulator for Leopard? I would be willing to buy (and am sure many others would, especially in the graphics world)?

I have some old Mac MS Works 3.0/4.0 spreadsheet files that I desperately need to convert/import to Excel with what Works called cell 'notes' attached. I can't seem to find any way to do this, could you help or point me in the right direction?

Thanks very much!



I agree, someone should come up with a good Classic emulator for Intel Macs that works like Classic Mode did up through Tiger. I've had good luck with Mini vMac and SheepShaver, although I've never tried Basilisk II, but all get good marks as Mac emulators.

You might look into MacLink Plus for converting your Works files to Excel format. The program supports both formats, but I have no idea if it can bring everything over, such as your notes.


Leopard on Any G3?

From Greg Aldrich:

Hi Dan,

Now that we know Leopard can run on unsupported G4's as low as 700 MHz, is there any chance it could run on a maxed-out G3, say a 900 MHz iBook with 640 MB of RAM?

I'm really curious if any one has tried this and what the result was....



The bad news is that Leopard requires a G4 or later CPU. The installer refuses to run if it doesn't detect a supported CPU, and the few people who have tried installing Leopard on a supported Mac and them moving the drive to a G3 Mac report that it won't boot.

If you want Leopard, time to replace your 900 MHz iBook with a notebook that has a G4.


CardBus 32 Compact Flash Adapters

From Leigh Morgan:

Oh, Dan. Thank you so much. I hunted all over for specs and couldn't find even part of what you just summarized. Even knowing the theoreticals vs. real-world is much more info than I had.

From what I did find, apparently CardBus in theory is faster than FW 400 - 800 too? - but who knows if that's actually true in practice? So many ports are slowed down in Macs. It's aggravating the way Apple does that.

I have a flash adapter around here somewhere, but I think it may be PCMCIA card standard and not CardBus (how can one tell?). I got it for film use with my Nikon Coolpix 990 way back when. In those days Lexar was just starting to educate people about why 8x CF was better (and Nikon was nearly alone using fast write circuitry in prosumer digicams to take advantage of faster CF media).

Never could understand why people didn't use the card slot more on laptops. Then again, I always liked expansion slots - we Newton users were early adopters!

Thanks again for your reply. I really appreciate your help.

Happy holidays!



Yeah, it's hard to find some of this information, and CardBus is theoretically faster than FireWire 400 (66 MB/sec. vs. 50), while FireWire 800 is faster yet. That said, even the fastest CF cards today are slower than FireWire 400's maximum speed.

My CF adapters are ancient, so probably PC Card/PCMCIA. Since my PowerBook G4 died over a year ago, I haven't had any reason to really look into CardBus. I've found CardBus 32 cards from Delkin for US$40, and it specifies that it includes UDMA support, so it should be a good candidate for running a PowerBook from Compact Flash. Lexar apparently made one but has discontinued it, and I've seen reference to one from Viking, but can't find more details. (If you Google for cardbus compact flash adapter, about 2/3 of the entries seem to mention Delkin!)

Let us know when you've got the system up and running. :-)


CardBus Flash and iTunes Rentals

From John Muir:

Hi Dan,

Just been reading the Low End Mac RSS feed and have two things to contribute.

First: Leigh Morgan's question about Running OS X from Flash Memory with a CardBus Adapter. Unfortunately I think the reason there's so little written about it is because it's impossible. I may be wrong, but I don't think OS X can be booted from CardBus, but that you're limited to the internal drive (IDE or SATA), FireWire, and optical discs. I could try cloning an OS X install onto a spare flash card and seeing if I can get my brother's 15" AluBook to boot from it though. I'll tell you the result.

Incidentally, after about a year of use, my 12" PowerBook on Compact Flash experiment came to an end when the card pretty much came to an end. I had tried repartitioning the 8 GB card in different ways to move the strain around, but I eventually ran out of options and took the PowerBook apart to put in a spare old hard drive, from which it is now running Leopard fine. I have the drive set to power down after 60 seconds (using the Unix command "pmset"), but I did prefer it on flash. Perhaps I'll get hold of a FireWire thumb drive - or better yet a real flash hard drive - sometime, but their availability is still poor compared to near ubiquitous flash cards.

Secondly: Ed Eubanks Junior's wish list for 2008 includes mention of a video rental plan for the iTunes Store. He may be interested in a well written piece at Roughly Drafted as to how this could be done in an Apple-like way, How Apple Could Deliver Workable iTunes Rentals.



Thanks for writing. It's entirely possible that Macs can't boot into OS X from a PC Card or CardBus device, although that's unexpected, as older PowerBooks can boot into the classic Mac OS that way. I think the CardBus hardware interface is sufficiently low level and comparable to PCI for it to work without needing to load any drivers, but there are things about OS X that make it unbootable from a USB drive with pre-Intel Macs, so you never know.

Your Compact Flash card failure does point to the importance of backing up your drive. Flash memory is very robust, but cheaper cards tend to support a lot less rewrites than better, more costly ones.

I'll forward your thoughts to Leigh and Ed.


Even Older Versions of BBEdit Lite

From Don Warrington:

Older versions than the one you mention in a recent piece on Low End Mac can be found at

You have a great site. God bless and have a great Christmas.

Don C. Warrington


Thanks for writing - and for some great downloads on your website.

A blessed Christmas to you and yours.


Other Oddball Mac Video Connections

From Chris Kilner:

Other "vintage" Mac video quirks include:

  • the HDI-45 video connections used by early Power Macs and the Apple AudioVision monitors that used this connection
  • the Apple Studio Displays with the Apple Display Connection (ADC) cable


The definition of "vintage Macs" varies a bit. At Low End Mac, we try to apply it to only 680x0-based Macs, and I think we're going to standardize on "classic Macs" for Macs that can run the "classic" Mac OS, whether 680x0 or PowerPC.

Regardless, Apple has made a couple of really dumb moves in the video department. While Apple's old color connection predates VGA and is thus excusable, HDI-45 and ADC deliberately broke with industry standards to combine video, audio, and keyboard/mouse support in a single proprietary connector. Those AudioVision monitors are essentially useless without a Power Mac 6100, 7100, or 8100, and ADC monitors can only be attached to modern Mac with an expensive adapter.

We posted an article about ADC last week (already #3 behind Wikipedia and and hope to cover HDI-45 soon.


Getting System 7 on a PowerBook with No Install Disks

From Kevin Heaton:

We are a Mac family. I recently discovered my first Mac laptop in the attic. It is a PowerBook 180c. It turns on, but I only get the icon with a disk and question mark. I don't have any floppy disks to get it going. Do you know where I can get some type of start up disks for it?

I think a system 6 or 7 would work. I have a 4-year-old that is wanting to play on it, and we have some educational software we can reload.



The good news is that Apple offers free downloads of System 7.5.3 plus the 7.5.5 updater, which would probably be ideal for your PowerBook 180c (it requires 7.1 or later). Problem is, the installer is available as 19 parts of a self-mounting Disk Copy image, and you have to be running System 7.1 or later to mount these images. That's the catch 22.

You'll need either a Disk Tools floppy or Apple's Network Access Disk 7.5. Assuming you have a more modern Mac with a floppy drive, you can download the file and make a boot floppy for your PowerBook.


Then you'll need some way to get the System 7.5.3 files where you can use them. Unless you have an external CD-ROM drive or SCSI hard drive plus the appropriate HDI-30 adapter, you'll need to network your PowerBook to an older Mac that supports LocalTalk using either an ImageWriter II cable or a couple PhoneNet adapters and the appropriate phone wire. Turn on file sharing on this Mac, connect, and copy the files to your 'Book's hard drive.

If you don't have an older Mac, your other option is to find a LocalTalk-to-ethernet adapter, but they're few and far between.


Problem Faking Out the Leopard Installer with Open Firmware

From Joe Holland:


Bottom line: didn't work and locked-up my Mac to the point that it would not start up at all, just the Apple logo and the spinning ball forever.

After start up into Open Firmware commands, first time I entered:

For dual CPUs, use the following five lines:

dev /cpus/PowerPC,G4@0
d# 867000000 encode-int " clock-frequency" property
dev /cpus/PowerPC,G4@1
d# 867000000 encode-int " clock-frequency" property
boot cd:,\\:tbxi

Mac booted back to my normal start up drive and mounted the Leopard install disk. After start up into Open Firmware commands second time, I entered:

For dual CPUs, use the following five lines:

dev /cpus/PowerPC,G4@0
d# 867000000 encode-int " clock-frequency" property
dev /cpus/PowerPC,G4@1
d# 867000000 encode-int " clock-frequency" property

Mac returned to normal start up drive and mounted Leopard install disk. This is not what I expected (thought I would be in the Leopard installer), but what the heck, I doubled-clicked the install icon, restart, on the Leopard disk thinking, "this will just undo everything, and I'll be back to my normal start up drive." However, the Mac locked up, as I said in the opening statement. Tried 5 or 6 time to start up with no success uttering words that I usually reserve for the golf course (your name may have been mentioned a couple of times). I did get back to Open Firmware commands and entered the first set of commands with no success. I began to think that I had killed the machine for good, but resetting the PRAM got me back to normal.

A response would be nice.

Joe Holland

Mac Specs.: G4, dual 800 MHz, 1.25 GB SDRAM, 75 GB HD, bought the first of 2000, I think.


Thanks for your note. You're the first to report problems using this method. I'm adding information on resetting the PRAM to that article.


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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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