Charles Moore's Mailbag

Best Video Card for a G3 Power Mac, Upgrading vs. Buying a Newer Mac, Many OS 9 Fans, and More

Charles Moore - 2007.06.04 - Tip Jar

Best Video Card for a Blue & White G3

From Ed Hurtley after reading Upgrading a Blue & White G3 for OS X:

In your exchange, you state:

Hi Allan,

A Radeon 9200 should certainly be up to the job. My 700 MHz G3 iBook has a Radeon 7500 and does support Quartz Extreme in OS X 10.4.

The Radeon 9200 you reference above seems to have 128 MB of VRAM, which should be ample.

Good luck.


Yes, the Radeons are the best (and only) reasonably modern video card available for OS X, but because it will be on the PCI bus, Quartz Extreme is out of the question. Yes, there are hacks to force it to work, but in my experimentation it provides zero performance improvement in any circumstance.

Hi Ed,

Thanks for the information. Quartz Extreme is supported on my iBook which has a RADEON 7500 and 16 MB of VRAM - surely the minimum specification. At least applications which specify QE support seem to work.


Editor's note: Moore's November 2002 iBook has AGP video. dk

Questioning the Value of Upgrading a G3

From Marion Delahan:

I am surprised that you recommended upgrading Allan's G3 at all. The number and cost of the upgrades he would need would more than cover the cost of a higher spec used Mac. A used mini would be good, but they tend to command higher prices than seems to me warranted and seem to be in short supply in any case, but a G4 say at 733 [MHz] would come in about $200. Most come with a 10.3 OS and have a sufficient memory. The hard drive tends to be about 40 Gig, but though that is smallish, it is fine for an installation (with another 40 in reserve, as he says he has).

Since he is reasonably happy with his G3, he really only needs the higher spec for his Web browsing. He could maintain his other computer for all other purposes (especially as he is primarily a 9.2 user) and use the G4 only for browsing, but I think he would find the G4 would be better for most of what he uses than his G3, and that he would get rid of it, pulling the drive (small as it is, it would certainly fit into the G4 case).

Marion Delahan

Hi Marion,

The best value for the money is usually the newer machine.

There are certainly many philosophies on upgrading older hardware. I'm a notebook guy, and my first recommendation to anyone who queries me about upgrading say a Lombard or Pismo is to consider a used or refurbished iBook, MacBook, or PowerBook and compare the bottom-line cost vs. performance gain realized. The best value for the money is usually the newer machine.

That said, I'm personally a fan of Pismo PowerBooks, have a lot of accessories and some spare batteries, and I just love the machine. I've been more than satisfied with my 550 MHz G4 processor upgrade in the Pismo.

For someone who has a well-appointed G3 machine, a processor upgrade is something to consider.


Don't Upgrade, Buy a G4 Instead

From Roger Harris:

Hi Charles,

Allan Turnipseed asked about upgrades on a B&W for graphics. The B&W will require too much investment and still be a dog for even simple graphics work. Allen can buy a Digital Audio G4 that will come with a AGP graphics card, 133 [MHz] front side bus, and a faster processor for what just the processor upgrade would cost for the B&W. Have him sign onto the LEM swaplist, were low-end DAs are common for $150 or less. Avoid models older than the DA G4s.

Also, Photoshop Elements is only for RGB work, and he will need CMYK for print work, so he needs the full Photoshop. He can shop for an older version to save money, but he will also need OS X versions of Illustrator and InDesign or Quark. It is too hard to get OS X versions of Quark used.

Roger Harris

Hi Roger,

Thanks for the input. I've forwarded it to Allan.


OS 9 Users Still 'Very Much Around'

From Carl MacDonald:


I had written you awhile back wondering how many people are still using OS 9 [see Software Development for Mac OS 9]. I just wanted to share a completely unscientific bit of information with you along those lines. Since you posted my earlier email on the subject to your website, for the month of May my own products download stats are 70% Windows and 30% Mac. What was surprising is breaking it down it turns out 70% Windows, 18% OS X, and 12% OS 9.

Just wanted to share. OS 9 users would appear to still be very much around.

Carl MacDonald (aka Scotsman)
MadWolf Software

Hi Carl,

Thanks for the report. I'm somewhat tickled that so many folks are still using Classic.

If only there was a decently up-to-date browser.


I Still Love Mac OS 9

From Max Magliaro:

Comment on your The State of Mac OS 9 Compatibility, Upgrades, Resources, and Hacks in 2007 column from April 2, 2007.

Count me in as one of those people still using and loving OS 9. I have a G4 OS X machine, which I absolutely love.

But I also still keep an old beige G3 (mondo upgraded with a 300 MHz G3 overclocked to 333, a USB card, 384 MB RAM, an 80 gig hard drive) running OS 9.2.2. And a WallStreet PowerBook upgraded with Wegener Media's 400 MHz G3 and 192 MB RAM, and a 4 GB (got it cheap!) hard drive from its original 2 GB.

The OS 9 machines are darn stable and darn useful. The beige box has my flatbed scanner, my Nikon Coolpix slide film scanner, and lots of useful apps like Adobe's Photodeluxe - all things I'd have to give up if I dumped it and put in an OS X machine. So no way.

I just bought a 500 MHz G3 ZIF for the beige.

You are right - my only lament is the lack of browser support. I use Mozilla 1.3.1. It seems pretty good, and I can't remember the last time I tried to surf a page that it didn't work on. But then, I loathe and avoid most script/popup/media-blitz-laden websites.

I have long since given up on iCab. It is just so dog slow on basic sites like eBay that it's unusable.

Thanks for listening,

Hi Max,

Yup, OS 9 is still a treat. Feels like turbo-boost on the Pismo after running OS X.

We use Netscape 7 for browsing in Classic, and sadly you're correct, iCab has faded from relevance due to its poky performance.


From Max Magliaro

You mean Netscape 7.01, right? Is this really better than Mozilla 1.3.1? I would think they are almost identical since the code bases were so closely shared back in those days. Am I wrong?

- Max

Hi Max,

Yes, I the 7.01 version of Netscape is the one we're using. I think 7.02 was the last Netscape that supported Classic, and I should get around to downloading it one of these days.

There's a download link for 7.0.2 here:

You're right that it shares the browser engine and a lot of its feature set with Mozilla 1.3.1, but for some reason I find the Netscape variant a smoother performer and like its interface appearance better. However, for those who prefer the Mozilla look, it should be pretty much a wash performance-wise.


iCab Stalled and Sluggish

From Douglas Russell:

Dear Mr. Moore,

Thank you for your Ramblings article on Low End Mac. I currently use the old Netscape 7.01 for email (importing through IMAP and sending through SMTP with the Mail and Newsgroups feature) and browsing.

I had not heard of iCab until I read your article. Is there someplace where you have reviewed it?

I would like to phase out of Netscape if I can forward my email from AIM through iCab.

Doug Russell

Hi Doug,

I was a big iCab fan in the late '90s and early '00s, but in 2007 I would counsel that you stick with Netscape 7.01 (or upgrade to 7.02), which, IMHO, is the best of the mediocre choices available for browsing in Classic (some folks favor Mozilla 1.3).

iCab development seemed to stall about four years ago, and it's really sluggish these days. Browsers are on of the most compelling reasons for upgrading to OS X.


Dear Charles,

Thank you for writing back. I downloaded iCab, and I have to agree. Netscape 7.0 still seems the way to go. After I finish the book I am writing, I think I will probably upgrade OS and other software.

All the best,

Hi Doug,

If you don't already have it, you could give Netscape 7.0.2 a shot:


Dear Charles,

Most kind and appreciated. No, I was running 7.0.1.

Which install do you recommend: Recommended Install, Full Install, or Custom Install?

They also suggest doing the install cleanly to a new directory.


Hi Doug,

Depends on how much of the application you want to use. Personally, with Netscape, Mozilla, or SeaMonkey, I just use the browser (Navigator) module. I don't recall what the exact options are for a custom install with Netscape 7, but if you check that mode it will probably give you a choice of whether to install some items or not. Of course, if disk space is not an issue, you could just go ahead and install the whole thing.

I wouldn't sweat the new directory bit. I just run the installer.


Obtaining OS 9

From Bruce Blakely


Dear Charles,

In the April update of the article The State of Mac OS 9 Compatibility, Upgrades, Resources, and Hacks in 2007, you said, regarding "Where to buy OS 9":

"...going the conventional route of paying $129.95 for OS X plus the $19.95 surcharge to obtain OS 9.2.2 from Apple."

I looked into this last year when I bought 10.4. I could not find anything in the box or on Apple's website about buying 9.2.2 for $19.95. Didn't see anything in my older 10.3 box either.

Do you have a link for this, or any additional information?

Bruce Blakely

Hi Bruce,

That reference should not have been included in the updated version of the article, as it is obsolete information. To the best of my knowledge, Apple no longer sells OS 9 CDs of any sort.

Sorry for the miscue.


Editor's note: The article has since been edited to remove the outdated information. dk

Installing OS X on a G3 iBook Using FireWire Disk Mode

From Wendell Kimbrough:

Hello Charles,

We don't know each other, but I just saw your article about installing OS X on computers without DVD drives from September 06, and given your expertise on these issues, I thought you might be able and willing to answer a question of mine. If you don't have time, that's fine, but if you do, it would be tremendously helpful to me.

I have an old iBook G3 with a broken internal hard drive. I am trying to figure out if I can get an external bus-powered FireWire hard drive and install OS X onto it and then use that to boot the machine. My iBook has a DVD drive.

One possible hang-up, the copy of OS X I have is 10.3 for the eMac. I purchased it from a Mac seller on eBay, who said it would work with my G3. I have not, however, been able to boot from that DVD successfully on the iBook, so I am unsure if I will be able to install with it.

I also own a recent iMac with an Intel processor. I am curious to see if I can put the 10.3 eMac disk in my iMac, connect an external FireWire drive, and install 10.3 to it. Then, I would want to be able to attach that HD to my iBook and boot from it. Is this possible?

I'd rather not spend the $150 on an external HD if it's not going to work, so I'm just curious if you have any advice.

Thanks for taking the time to read this.

Best Wishes,
Wendell Kimbrough

Hi Wendell,

You can certainly boot the iBook from an external FireWire hard drive if the latter has a bootable system installed on it. I have OS X 10.3.9 installed on my external FireWire drive, and it boots my G3 iBook, my PowerBook Pismo, and my PowerBook G4 just fine. I think that install was from the iBook, but I can't recall for sure.

Install disks that ship with a particular Mac model are not likely to work with another model Mac, but I'm quite confident (albeit not 100 percent) that if you use your eMac system restore disk to install OS X 10.3 from an eMac that has a DVD drive, it should boot the iBook once installed. However, the eMac disk probably won't work from the iMac any better than it does with the iBook.


Using Linux for Troubleshooting a Mac

From Walter J. Ferstl:

Hello Charles,

Regarding Tiago Bugarin's letter in your 2007.03.27 Miscellaneous Ramblings column:

Tiago mentioned that he had used Xubuntu Linux and/or Slackintosh [Linux] successfully for troubleshooting an iBook G4.

Unfortunately, the PowerPC versions of Ubuntu/Kubuntu/Xubuntu are no longer "officially" supported by Canonical, Ltd. (beginning from February, 2007).

All the PPC versions of the Ubuntu varieties have changed status to "community supported" projects and in course of this, the directories where one can download recent versions have changed.

Please note that Xubuntu 7.04 is still called a "beta".

Obviously, the community in charge now for the PPC 'buntus is getting along very well - no real lagging behind the officially supported x86 versions.

And as a remark to Slackintosh as a troubleshooting tool for PPC Macs: Anyone who is comfortable with running Linux from the command line might be also interested in Finnix, a non-GUI-distribution aimed at administrators etc.

Finnix is based on Debian GNU/Linux (currently on "Etch") and is available as a PPC Live CD as well as an x86 one.

Thanks again for your great work.

Best regards,

Hi Walter,

Thanks for the info and observations.


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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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