Charles Moore's Mailbag

Maximum Drive Size in Older Macs, 12-in PowerBook 'the New Pismo', Best Browser for Archiving, and More

Charles Moore - 2007.03.21 - Tip Jar

Maximum Hard Drive Size for Older Macs

From Alfred:

I have been reading your columns at Low End Mac for the last couple of years - and all I can say is that I enjoyed & benefited from.

I recently acquired a Color Classic & a Power Mac 9600. The Color Classic was moved to 7.6, but the hard disk is 80 MB only. Do you know what is the biggest capacity that 7.6 can see and use without partitioning? Also do you know if it's full size, what "kind" of SCSI?

The Power Mac 9600 is under 9.1, has 128 MB RAM, a disk around 4 GB (partitioned). I plan on increasing the memory & as above any additional details about the disk will be helpful.

Thanks in advance.


Hi Alfred,

I'm not sure what any drive capacity limit that OS 7.6 can address might be. The biggest 3.5" SCSI drives I see advertised these days are 18 GB. We Love Macs have a nice selection.

Do you have something against partitioning? I've partitioned the drives on every Mac I've ever owned, including the little 20 MB drive of my old Mac Plus.


Editor's note: Every Mac using a version of the Mac OS supports 2 GB partitions, and Macs running System 7.5 and later support 4 GB partitions. Later Macs with PCI architecture and System 7.5.2 or later support partitions to 2 TB - larger than any PC hard drive you can buy today.

For maximum compatibility, it makes sense to keep your partitions under 2 GB on the Color Classic, since that is the largest size supported by System 7.1, the minimum version of the Mac OS this computer supports. dk

12" PowerBook G4 'the New Pismo'?

From Tom Gabriel:


Interesting article in the 'Book Review! As a Pismo owner who regards ownership of said laptop (er, notebook) much like owning a great original Mini Cooper, I don't see the comparison - rather like comparing an excellent modern car (say, a new Mini) to its one-of-a-kind ancestor.

The Pismo is upgradeable in a lot of ways that will see it through some more years as a viable machine for those of us who need less than bleeding-edge speed and capabilities, and most of these can be accomplished by nonprofessionals with a little care. I have been led to believe that the 12" G4 doesn't have that capacity, but maybe I'm wrong.

A great machine - but is it the "new Pismo"?

What are your thoughts?

God Bless,
Tom Gabriel

Hi Tom,

I think in the sense that the 12" PowerBook will remain in demand and in use long after the usual service life envelope for notebook computers is a valid point. The selling price of refurbished 12" PowerBooks (more than some MacBooks) is a case in point. The same dynamic was true of the PowerBook 2400c when Apple dropped it and didn't replace it with another subnotebook immediately.

If the rumored Macintel subnotebook (possibly with flash memory) materializes, it will alter the dynamic.

The 12" PowerBook shares with the Pismo better then average reliability, and it is processor upgradable with Daystar's faster G4 upgrade products. What it doesn't have is the Pismo's wonder expandability - no PC Card slot; no removable device expansion bay - so I doubt that it will have the staying power of the Pismo.

As for automotive Minis, I drove the original ones and worked on them a lot. I even one time participated in building a full-race Mini Cooper (the 998 CC Cooper; not the 1,275 cc Cooper S) for circuit racing. I was a consummate British car fan and owned nearly 30 various Austins, Morrises, MGs, and Rileys over the years.

The original Mini was a blast to drive, but the current, BMW-built new Mini is a vastly better car.


WiFi Cards for PowerBook G3

From Alex Kickham:

Hi Charles,

I have a PowerBook G3. I was just reading your post on WiFi Card for OS X PowerBooks with PC Card Slots, and you recommend the Netgear WG511T PCMCIA Card. Are there versions that don't stick out the side of the computer? I am currently weighing up the options between the AirPort card (fits neatly into computer - no protruding parts) or the card mentioned above (a lot faster, etc.).

Please help

Alex K

Hi Alex,

I've never run across a CardBus WiFi adapter that didn't have a protruding antenna. An AirPort card is probably your best solution if the protrusion is problematical for you.


Problem Typing in Cocoa Apps

From Mark Bakken:

Dear Charles,

I am looking for an answer to a problem that I am experiencing using Mac OS X 10.3.9 with all updates applied that I find essential. (Nonessential include iTunes, iCal, iPod, and QuickTime.)

I am having trouble typing in any Cocoa app. I get double spaces and hyphenation all the time. I cannot use or Text Edit. is a nice app, and I wish I could use it correctly. At this time I need to type a note in another application and copy and paste to use it.

I tested this repeatedly over the past few months. I don't have this same problem with Carbon apps or Classic apps.

Maybe one of your readers has experienced the same symptoms and have a solution.

Mark Bakken

Hi Mark,

That is an interesting problem. I've not seen any other reports of similar behavior. Since all is well in Carbon/Classic programs, we have to assume it is some sort of bug or incompatibility with Cocoa support.

Something to try is to create a new, clean user account and boot into it. Try typing in Text Edit or Mail and see if the problem persists. If it doesn't, that would indicate that the issue is cause by some sort of conflict or corruption in your main account. If it does, that would point to something in the operating system. A clean system reinstall might be in order.


Video Problems with B&W Power Mac

From Jack Curry:

I recently "adopted" a B&W PowerMac G3 in the hopes of turning it into some kind of on-the-cheap Apple TV solution. It came with an upgraded processor (400 MHz overclocked to 500 via jumper settings), 256 MB of PC100 RAM, a 16 MB Rage 128 video card (which was quickly replaced with a Radeon 7000 Mac Edition with 64 MB of VRAM), and an 18 GB hard drive. The IDE controller is not of the 402 flavor.

It came initially loaded with [Mac OS X] 10.2.8, which I upgraded to the latest build of Tiger (which is a story in and of itself - long story short, Target Disk Mode didn't work, so I had to take out the entire drive and hook it up to an external IDE FireWire enclosure on my Power Mac G5 and install from there). Everything runs smooth; sometimes if more than one thing is running, things can get choppy, but overall it's been a good system.

Until I try to run video. Oh boy, is this an issue. Dropped frames, 100% processor usage (with less than 50% RAM usage, which I find odd), audio comes through just fine, but the frames on the video are killing me. This blow essentially shattered my hopes of making this a media hub which I could hook up to the TV and pipe through shared content via iTunes. To boot, every once and a while if I have both the TV and a monitor hooked up simultaneously, I get kernel panics. I installed the latest ATI drivers and the most up-to-date (August 2005) ROM, so now I'm thinking that Tiger may be the culprit for the panics (I haven't had time to check the panic logs, so this is just a guess as everything ran okay under Jaguar).

Essentially, I'm looking for ideas, as I'm fresh out of them. How to make the system more optimized to possibly run the video content I've been wanting to run from the outset, and, if that isn't possible, how else could I put this system to work? With so much time invested, it'd be a shame to just relegate this capable system to the closet.

Any and all ideas are welcome.


Hi Jack,

I'm surprised that the video performance is so poor given that you have 64 MB of VRAM, but the RADEON 7000 is getting pretty long in the tooth.

Tiger does put a greater strain on system resources than older versions of OS X, but it runs decently on my 700 MHz G3 iBook with a RADEON 7500 and just 16 MB of VRAM, and decently well on my Pismo with a 550 MHz G4 and a RAGE 128 Mobility GPU and 8 MB of VRAM.

However, I'm not doing anything with video on either machine. Come to think of it, using a TV tuner with my 1.33 GHz PowerBook G4 with a RADEON 9200 and 64 MB of VRAM bogs it down significantly.


Installing Tiger via NetBoot?

From Michael Ackerman:


Can't DVD-challenged B&W G3s install Tiger with a net boot? Find a buddy with a DVD-equipped Mac, mount the volume, boot, and do the install over ethernet. Am I missing something?

Mike Ackerman

Hi Mike,

I'm not sure. There does seem to be an issue with Tiger installs on B&Ws (see letter above).


The Best Browser for Archiving Pages

From DFS:

Unfortunately, because they are obsolete in many ways, Safari and Internet Explorer are the best for saving a Web page, as it results in a single file. I do this all the time to save web research. IE still has the best Web page save options.



Yes, the Explorer page save is very good. iCab also has an excellent page save function, although - like IE - it has fallen behind the pack in performance.


The following letters are follow-up to those published in Pismo Spotlight Woes Solved with Simple Fix.

10.4.9 Update Improves iBook Performance

From Robert Crane:

Mr. Moore:

I have updated the iBook G3 to 10.4.9 a couple days ago, and things have been very smooth, including a great improvement in the wake from sleep mode that I run it. Perhaps they fixed the Spotlight problem, too.


Hi Robert,

I'm looking forward to installing 10.4.9, probably the ultimate Tiger build.

However, I prefer to use the Combo updater even for incremental updates, and 165 MB is beyond reason for downloading over a 26.4 kbps dialup connection.

A kind benefactor has burned the updater to a disk, and I await its arrival in the mail.

The Spotlight "problem" turned out to be that somehow all of my hard drive partitions had been added to the Spotlight Privacy exclusion list (see Pismo Spotlight Woes Solved with Simple Fix). Simple "fix" once I got clued in to what the issue was.


From Robert Crane


Yikes! Dialup! I have not had that since 2000. My current is Verizon 768k/256k. Last night I finally got around to downloading the Java, iTunes, and QuickTime updates. System after reboot was very smooth, and after laptop was woken from sleep it took only about 60 seconds to go from completely dead to fully up. Controls were active within 30 seconds. I can say that 10.4.8 took a lot longer than that always.

I suspect that 10.4.9 will be the last for this G3 system. There is a rumor that 10.5.0 will leave the G3 behind, as the G4 math processor can handle the fancier graphics but the G3 math processor cannot. But that was true for Tiger anyway. The system update optimizes for the processor and detunes certain options. I am more than satisfied on the usability of the system and plan on keeping the laptop for several more years, as I am going to get its hard drive upgraded and more RAM installed by a service, after I acquire a newer system. Probably iMac 17".

Back to work


Hi Robert,

I agree that 10.4.9 is probably the end of the road for G3 processors. I will be interested to see if Leopard will install on my G4-upgraded PowerBook Pismo - but I'm in no rush, having just gotten around to (re)installing Tiger.


Re: Pismo Spotlight and Find Woes

From Robert Emslie:

Hi Charles,

Well, it figured, didn't it? Real happy to have solved your quirk.

Actually, I don't at all recall having put my hard drive in the Spotlight privacy tab. Maybe some freak incident with the Spotlight prefs (preferences can be weird like that) or maybe some OnyX cleanup procedure flipped the switch. I really don't know.

FYI, I do a lot of OS X troubleshooting and out-of-warranty laptop repairs, so I try least expensive and simple first, "expensivest" and most complicated last. Works wonders.


Hi Robert,

Some glitch must have added the three partitions on my hard drive to the Spotlight Privacy list. It's not something I can imagine myself doing, even in a bad lapse of absent-mindedness.

Anyway, thanks again for the solution.


Spotlight and Privacy

From Christoph Trusch there a keyboard shortcut for adding the partitions to the Privacy pane which you might have accidentally hit? This just came to my mind when the Bluetooth panel popped up unexpectedly while I wanted to create a new folder in the Finder.

At least now you know what the problem was.


Hi Christoph,

Not that I'm aware of. It seems unlikely that all three hard drive partitions could have been added to the Privacy list that way - and simultaneously - although stuff happens.

Yes, I'm delighted to have Spotlight and Find working again, and OS X 10.4.8 is running very nicely on the Pismo.


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Charles Moore has been a freelance journalist since 1987 and began writing for Mac websites in May 1998. His The Road Warrior column was a regular feature on MacOpinion, he is news editor at and a columnist at If you find his articles helpful, please consider making a donation to his tip jar.

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