Charles Moore's Mailbag

OS X More Efficient than Linux, Snow Leopard and PowerPC Macs, and Eudora Woes

Charles Moore - 2008.12.03 -Tip Jar

Mac OS X vs. Linux

From Jeffrey in response to Apple Could Buy Dell, and Linux IsNo Threat to Mac OS X:


It is my impression that there are two approaches to the ultraportable computer: those who emphasize high capability that's highlyportable, and those who emphasize a highly portable cordless companionto their desktop Mac. The difference, as I see it, is that the firstcamp is more interested in having enough processing power and I/O portsfor it to be a responsive desktop replacement. The second campemphasizes long battery life in a highly portable package and iscontent with reduced capabilities when away from the desk. Appleclearly favors the "highly capable" approach. But some netbooks favorthe later approach.

I think Mac OS X is a great operating system for such systems, evenwith Via C7 and Intel Atom processors. Why? Because the Mac OS Xis more efficient and less demanding than any of its peers. Forexample, a popular operating system for portables is Novell's SuSELinux Enterprise Desktop (SLED). It is offered as an OS alternative toWindows by manufacturers such as Lenovo, HP, and others. On a recentvintage laptop, I'm sure it provides an excellent alternative. On myQuicksilver with two800 MHz G4s, I have three OS installed on three separate hard drives:Leopard, Jaguar, and openSUSE ver 11.0 with the Gnome Desktop. Leopardboots from my 15K RPM drive in 1:15 from the chime. Jaguar boots from a7200 RPM drive in 1:05 from the chime. openSUSE boots from a 7200 RPMdrive in 2:10 from the chime.

For the most part, responsiveness with openSUSE is noticeably lessthan when running Leopard on the same machine, and that is with Gnomeconfigured to run without any of the optional 3D effects. There are afew pleasant surprises running openSUSE. For example, OpenOffice.orglaunches in half the time on openSUSE than NeoOffice launches underLeopard. But for most other tasks, Leopard is the more responsive ofthe two.

Immediately after first launch, Leopard is using slightly morememory than openSUSE, but if one uses both to browse, write, and dospreadsheets for a while, then the reverse becomes true: Leopard hasmuch more memory free than openSUSE.

openSUSE provides strong evidence that Linux is ready for primetime, but my experience with it would not cause me to choose it overMac OS X, even on slower and resource constrained hardware. MacOS X has convinced me that it is very efficient at what itdoes. Hence, I would agree that netbooks are crying for Mac OS X. . . even those with ultra-low power processors and longbattery life.

Although openSUSE and I will soon be parting ways, I plan tocontinue my Linux adventures with Yellow Dog Linux 6.1 when it becomesavailable for download in Dec 2008.


Hi Jeffrey,

I agree with your analysis of the dichotomy ofsubnotebook user priorities, except for that netbooks typically comewith a lot more I/O support than smaller Mac notebooks do these days,notwithstanding that the Macs offer a lot better processor performance,full sized keyboards, and larger displays.

The old 12" PowerBookhit a sweet spot synthesis of capability, connectivity, upgradability,and size that made it a viable desktop replacement for users who couldlive with the smallish display. No Apple laptop today satisfactorilyreplaces it, although the Unibody MacBook comes closest,but then there's the egregious absence of FireWire.

Thanks for the report on Open SuSE. I installed a moreprimitive version of SuSE on my old WallStreet back on the cusp ofY2K, then replaced it with YDL, but I never used either much. The MacOS Finder was so far superior in those days to anything Gnome or KDEhad available. Nice to hear that desktop Linux is becoming moresophisticated and refined.


Snow Leopard and PowerPC Macs

From Alexander:


First, after reading articles on LEM for over two years now, I stillget enjoy every article (except the rumors, which always seem to betrue most of the time!).

Second, it would be an outrage for Apple to drop PowerPC Macs inLeopard. My great uncle still uses PowerPC Macs, only recently addingan Intel Mac to his collection. I still use PowerPC Macs at home - mymom's G3 iMac recently died,and I've just about permanently lent her my Sawtooth G4. Notsurprisingly, after a graphics card upgrade (to a Radeon Mac Edition)and some new RAM, the thing runs like a blast under Tiger, with onlysome minor stuttering under heavy iPhoto usage.

But what concerns me is that Apple is saying that Snow Leopard"dramatically reduces the footprint of Mac OS X, making it evenmore efficient for users, and giving them back valuable hard drivespace for their music and photos." If it is true that Snow Leopard willrun a little bit faster than Leopard currently does (and I can'tpersonally tell, because I'm still using Tiger at home), then Applereally should cut G4 and G5 users slack. I guess we did learn that theG3's days were numbered for Leopard support, especially since most G3Macs had no support for Quartz Extreme and no support for Core Imagewhatsoever, but I still wish even those machines received Leopardsupport. But thankfully, eMacs arenow at a better price point,so that is a bit of comfort to me.

More confusing is that Apple is saying "With Snow Leopard, the nextmajor version of the world's most advanced operating system, MacOS X changes more than its spots, it changes focus." Could thisfocus be on simply making OS X run smoother? I 100% agree withSimon Royal's article [Will Snow Leopard Support SomePowerPC Macs?].

I recently purchased a G4 FW800 machine on eBay for $160, and I am enamored in the machine, and plan to put asmall bit of cash to make it better. (If only I can figure out why itlikes to freeze at random times while importing CDs in iTunes!)

But I do say that if Apple does plan to drop all PowerPC support,they better be prepared to deal with how to deal with a) angrycustomers who bought a PowerPC Mac late in '05 only to find that theycannot upgrade to the latest Mac OS, b) how Apple plans to explain tonsof eMacs in educational settings from 2004 and 2005 and even 2006 withnew machines, and c) how Apple plans to replace those machines forthose who dearly rely on those older Macs.

But this wouldn't be the first time in history that this happened:in 1998 or so when Apple released 8.5, they dropped support for the 680x0 machinesentirely. Would Apple be doing something similar about 10 yearslater?

I guess I can say I love my Mac more than I love the people who makethe decision of which machines get to run OS X.

Best wishes,

Hi Alexander,

Your great uncle is ahead of me. I still haven't addedan Intel Mac to my fleet, although the Black Friday sale last week hadme thinking hard about a Unibody MacBook. However, in the end I didn'tpull the trigger. I 'm not prepared to give up FireWire and Target DiskMode, and I've become spoiled a bit by the 17" display on this G4 PowerBook. I'mthinking now that I may try to hold out until Unibody MacBook Proshit the Apple Certified Refurbished Channel at a respectably discountedprice and hopefully loaded up with Snow Leopard.

As for OS X 10.6, I'm skeptical that there will bePowerPC support. The betas don't have it, and it's hard to imagine thatthey would launch a PowerPC version without putting it through the betacycle. My LEM colleague Andrew Fishkin agrees with you, though, sowe'll have to see.

I too like my Macs more than I like the company thatmakes them.


Eudora Woes

From Serafina:


I hope you can help me sort out my email dilemma.

I recently was forced to replace my G4 PowerBase because the screenframe broke. So now I have a MacBook that it looks like I'm going to bevery happy with. But one thing I'm not happy with is my emailsituation. I'm not a computer expert, but I've been using Eudora sincearound when it came out (switched from Elm and Pine) and am very happywith it, as I do a lot of emailing and have a large archive with many,many well organized mailboxes and several filters to help me manageeverything.

But with this new operating system, I started having problems - notbeing able to get mail most of the time for my primary account (I haveaccounts with 3 different providers), though I can still send messagesfor that account and can send and receive mail for my other accounts.Every now and then (I can't figure out why) it does work, but most ofthe time it gets hung up, and there's no error message associated withit. I tried turning off all the sounds in the settings, but there'sstill one sound that happens when I unsuccessfully try to send amessage. I don't know if that matters

At this point I'm experimenting with different email clients tryingto see which will work for me. So I did a bit of Googling and found acouple of your 'Ramblings' on the subject, and since you seemed to havea similar appreciation for Eudora, I was interested in youropinion.

I was excited to try the Odysseus beta, but it seems to beunavailable to download right now. Though it's listed in versiontracker as recently as Nov. 19, so I must have just missed it. Is therea way to get a copy of that to try out?

And I am finding the new Eudora 8 from Mozilla just as troublesomeas the 6.2.4 has now become, with difficulty getting mail. And now itkeeps crashing when I try to launch it.

And I'm not that happy with Apple Mail in terms of filter/rules,searching, and no labels. Also, I had 5 personalities set up in Eudora,and I'm having trouble getting that to work in Apple Mail.

I need a solution I can use today while I wait on possible bettersolutions in the future. I was thinking of toughing it out with Mailfor a few months, but I feel the lack of good filtering.

So I was wondering if you could offer any advice? It would be muchappreciated.


Hi Serafina,

Yes, Eudora Classic is not a happy camper in OS X 10.5Leopard, although the problems you're having with downloading mail andcrashing in Eudora 8 make me wonder if you are not also experiencingsome ISP compatibility issues.

I just tried the link to download the latest beta ofOdysseus, and it seems to be working. Go here, scroll to the bottom ofthe page, and use the Mac OS X Intel download link.

I'll be interested to hear how you find it works foryou.


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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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