Charles Moore's Mailbag

Solid State Drive Experiences, OS 9 Browsers, Tiger Install Problems, and More

Charles Moore - 2008.03.03 -Tip Jar

Solid State Drives in Notebooks

From Matt:

Hi there Charles,

I'm a regular reader of LEM and thought you (and the readers!) mightbe interested in my take on Solid State Drives. I've just posted anupdate on my site about it which I intend to follow up with some morein depth info later, but basically I've been using SSDs in one form oranother, be it CF cards or modern SSDs, for a few years now in bothdesktops and laptops, primarily for reasons of noise, so as you canimagine I have a slightly different perspective on them!

I've been quietly giggling to myself reading about all the peoplewho have their undies in a knot over having to squeeze on to a 64 GBdrive when I've been comfortable coping with 2 or 4 GB drives,when I swapped to using a 16 GB SSD in my PowerBook I found itpositively roomy!

Anyway, more random ramblings about it on my site, feel free to postany extract or the whole thing if you like, but I'd be interested inchatting to other longtime (and new) users of SSDs to see how they'regetting on!

Matt Atkinson

Hi Matt,

Thanks for the note and link. Feeling distinctlycramped these days on my 80 GB drive, I congratulate you on your beingable to operate on such low-capacity media. What version of the Mac OSare you using?


Thanks for replying Charles,

Believe it or not, I'm actually using Leopard on the PowerBook. Abasic Leopard install without all the extra language translations andunneeded printer drivers only comes out at about 4 GB.

I run Microsoft Office 2004 (not a fan of 2008 yet) and PhotoshopCS3 and LightRoom. With a few other choice programs for mail and Weband software to run my GPRS/3G card, it leaves me with about 4 GBfree on the 16 GB drive. I tend to disable Spotlight as well, whichspeeds the machine up a bit (it's only a 1 GHz G4), and it savesabout 500 MB of space if you don't have the index file.

I only use my PowerBook as a mobile machine, I don't keep my wholelife on it and find a couple of 4 GB CF cards and a 8 GB USBkey gives me plenty of storage for whatever I'm working on when I'm outand about.

I did have a MacBook for a while, and although it was quicker, Iprefer the silence and solidity of my PowerBook - and the lack of aCardBus slot really bothered me, I couldn't use my 3G card when I wasaway from wireless and had to use a USB adaptor to use my CF cardsinstead of the CardBus adaptor I use on the PB.

It all depends on your needs, I suppose. I'm very strict about whatI have on my laptop, and with a bit of housekeeping and good synchabits with your desktop, it's surprising how little you need. I stilluse my Windows laptop sometimes, as its a 11inch ultra portable that iscurrently running XP and Office on a 2 GB CF card in an adaptor inthe HD bay.

Happy computing


Hi Matt,

Leopard on a 16 GB drive. Whoda' thunk it?;-)

Not an option for me, as I do keep, if not my wholelife, at least my Mac computing history going back 16 years, on mylaptop, although I'm getting along satisfactorily with an 80 GB drivethese days.

Interesting that you would go back to a G4 PowerBookafter living the Macintel life for a while. Until recently I hadn'tfelt any compelling reason to switch up from my 1.33 GHz PowerBook G4,but there is now software that I want to use (notably MacSpeech'sIntel-only Dictate) that requires Macintel, so I'm back in the systemupgrade hunt.


OS 9 Browsers

From Mathias Wittau:

Dear Charles Moore!

Today I read your column at Low End Mac about Mac OS 9 in the year07. "The State of MacOS 9 Compatibility". You are right, with your analysis, that the"browser-problem" is one of the biggest of us Mac OS 9 users. I formyself won't ever switch to X!

First I'll ask why nobody is talking of Netscape 7.02? Ifor myself find it much more stable than Mozilla WaMCom 1.3.1 Netscapeis in many cases much more compatible with modern web pages for examplewith the new phpBB release than Mozilla or IE. And it's really fasterthan iCab! And Netscape is the latest browser with localized versionsin German, French, and Japanese.

The other Interesting thing is that some people think it's possibleto port Firefox back to Mac OS 9 like Carl MacDonald (aka Scotsman) atLow End Mac, with whom I had contact and who believes that he could doit - if he had enough time left. Maybe we should start an initiative toshow our interest, or at least an donation-pot for the porting ofFirefox.

My last point is that Apple seemed to force Opera stopping thedevelopment of their browser for OS 9 like it's said at theirsite. Thanks to Apple - the company which offers new software besideOS X for Windows 98 but not for Mac OS 9 (like QuickTime).

greetings from Austria


Hi Mat,

I agree with you about Netscape 7.02, which is in myopinion the best available solution in a Web browser for OS 9, muchbetter than the WaMCom version of Mozilla.

My wife just finally switched up from our old WallStreet PowerBook runningOS 9.2.2 to a G3 iBook running Tiger a couple ofmonths ago because she needed to use an OS X only program for training,but she had been quite happily using Netscape 7.02 for browsing upuntil then. It worked just great with Gmail, for example/


FireWire Target Disk Mode Tiger InstallProblems

From Phillip:


I attempted to install 10.4 from my iMac/Intel to my 700 MHz eMacwith no success . . . when I got to the install portion theeMac had a exclamation "!" mark noting OS X can not be installedon this drive.

Any suggestions....??

thx Phil

Hi Phil,

A couple of thoughts.

First, are you using a generic OS X 10.4 install disk,or is it a System Restore disk from a different model machine? Appleputs software blocks in Software Restore disks to limit them to usewith the model they ship with.

That is a common problem people encounter. An SystemRestore disk for an Intel Mac definitely will not work with a Power PCMac.

For current sources and prices on generic installerdisks, see Low EndMac's Best Online Mac OS X 'Tiger' Deals.

If you do have a generic install disk, try mountingthe iMac as an external disk from the eMac using FireWire Target Diskmode, and using its DVD drive to mount the installer disk.


Tiger Install Woes

From Meg:

I am tearing my hair out. Read your article on installing Tiger inTarget Disk Mode and have read numerous other "hints" etc. on doingthis.

I have an iMac 17" G41.25 MHz, 149 gig hard drive (90 gigs available), 256 memory, and adefunct SuperDrive. It has Panther installed currently, and I wouldlike to install Tiger so I can run my Turbo Tax program.

I have an external DVD reader/writer attached to the iMac 17". Hadit connected with a USB cable and had tried to boot from theinstallation disk - didn't work. Read somewhere maybe a FireWire cablewould work so changed that. Put my Tiger disk in it, came up on thedesktop. Went into the installer from the external drive and got akernel attack. Repeatably. On to Plan B.

Plan B: Have a 15" Aluminum PowerBook with Leopard installed,so put the Tiger disk in the PowerBook and the iMac in target diskmode. Tried to boot off the Tiger disk and kernel attack.

Plan C: So then put the PowerBook in Target mode with theTiger disk in its drive. The Tiger disk showed up on the iMac. Doubleclicked Tiger disk and kernel attack.

Plan D: Dragged the iMac 17" into my living room where theiMac 24" resides which runs on Tiger. Put my trusty little Tigerinstall disk in it and the iMac 17" in target mode and went at itagain. Thought I was really making progress this time. Actually got tothe point in the installer I could see both computers, however therewas an exclamation point over the iMac 17". When I double clicked on itthe message was "You cannot install Mac OS on this volume. Mac OScannot start up from this volume."

Out of Plans: I will add I used Apples' Disk Utility torepair permissions and verify the hard drive on the iMac 17" Were noproblems.

Can you tell me, am I making some stupid mistake here. Could theinstallation disk be bad? It has been used before on my PowerBook. I'mpretty sure I got the family pack, since I knew I'd be doing the iMac17" at some point.

Please help.


Hi Meg,

I have to say I'm stumped by the problem you'rehaving. It sounds like you're using a proper Tiger install disk ratherthan the very common problems people run into attempting to installfrom a software restore disk that shipped with another model Mac.Family Pack or not, the generic Tiger install disk should work.

PowerPC Macs can't boot from USB drives, but can fromFireWire external drives, so you're on the right track there. With abootable external drive available, that's the method I would recommendover using Target Disk Mode.

However, kernel panics are often associated withperipheral connections, and maybe your iMac doesn't like somethingabout your external drive.

Other things you might try would be to download thePanther version of OnyX andrun the full slate of permissions repair, maintenance scripts, cachedumps, and system optimization, and try again.

OnyX is free. Make sure you get the right version, asthere are separate ones for Panther, Tiger, Leopard.

Next step might be to run the OS X 10.3.9 Comboupdater (free download from Apple's support site) on the Panthermachine to see if that cheers things up, or even a clean system installof Panther from the iMac's software restore CD.

It is remotely possible, I suppose, that there is someissue with the Tiger install Disk, but I'm doubtful.


Odysseus May Best Replace Eudora

From hr:

I think Odysseus may hold morepromise as a replacement for Eudora.

Anyway, I'm still waiting.


Hi hr,

I agree, and me too waiting. I hope Odysseus willeventually materialize. In the meantime, I'm hanging in with Eudora6.2.4.


Partial Install of MS Office 2008?

From William:


I teach school. I don't know who to ask about this, so I thought ofyou.

Our school is switching from a mix of Macs and PCs to all"Rent-a-Clones". (Win XP) AppleWorks 6 files go to RTF, and all else toWord. I've been using Office 2004 for Mac at school. I need Word andPowerPoint, but not the other stuff in MS Office for Home and Students2008.

I have a new MacBook Pro on order.

Is it possible to just load the two programs I want and not the onesI don't need? Just buying the two I need would cost a lot more thanbuying the set.


Hi Bill,

My ignorance of MS Office programs is fairlyencyclopedic, since I don't use them, but the Office Home & Studentversion, which includes Office Excel 2007, Office PowerPoint 2007,Office Word 2007, sells for a suggested retail price of $149.95.Freestanding Word alone sells for $229, so in context, that's not a baddeal.

Apple iWork is a bit more than half that, and supportsWord and PowerPoint documents.

Some folks swear by NeoOffice and OpenOffice, bothfree.


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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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