The Low End Mac Mailbag

Classic Booting Restored to iMac, Beige G3 Upgrades, Macs in Heaven, and More

Dan Knight - 2003.02.11 - Tip Jar

Classic Mac OS Boot Problem on OS X iMac Solved

As a follow-up to our earlier correspondence, Tim Galvin writes:

Update: OS 9 loading. I was unable to boot [my iMac] from the OS 9.1 install CD (using the C key during startup). This was after installing OS X. So I repartitioned (and erased OS X) and tried again to no avail. So I reloaded OS X into the first partition again and was about to give up.

Then I got a wild idea. I copied the OS 9 contents from the install CD to the second partition. Then, by booting from my OS 8.6 CD (which presented no problem using the "C" key during startup), I was able perform a "clean install" of OS 9 (it would not do a normal install) from the second partition into the first partition.

I assumed I killed OS X by this action, so I reinstalled OS X. However, it gave me some options to save my previous settings just prior to reloading OS X. I then reloaded OS X into the first partition. I upgraded OS 9 to 9.2.2 and OS X to 10.2.3 and am now happily running both OS X and OS 9 in classic.

Strange route but good results.

Always good to hear of a success, no matter how convoluted that pathway that led to it. Jerry Pournelle used to frequently comment in his Byte magazine columns that troubleshooting worked best by the persistent application of logic. It seems to have worked for you.

Upgrading a Beige G3

Looking for upgrade advice, Marek writes:

I have a question: I recently purchased G4 DP 1 GHz through USC - nice educational deal (and it's great), but I also have G3/333 beige running OS 8.1 (from 1998). It was my workstation. Now that I have the G4 to do the music (and only music!), the G3 I am using for the Internet and Microsoft Word and so on....

G3 has three PCI (only); one is taken by [Ultra-Wide SCSI controller for my] 9 GB drive!, second: sound card, and the third one by my graphic card (I love to have two monitors). Now this is my plan: I would like to replace my hard drive with something like 40 GB. It would free my PCI [slot], which I could use to install one with 2 FireWire/2 USB (is this card okay, or should I have only FireWire or only USB on a single PCI card?).

Now, I would like to run 9.2.2 (I love it on my G4). can it be done on G3? Do I need to upgrade my processor?

Changing the HD, installing a PCI card and OS 9.2 wouldn't be costly - let's say $50 + $100 + $100 for about $250 (I could be wrong [never good on math]). I could have practically new computer! I highly value your opinion! For me it could be upgraded within my budget; I could run all my 9.2 applications on G3 and have my G4 committed to OS X upgrades now, to have more PCI slots available can I upgrade a graphic card?

As you see, there is many options to consider I am dying to find out what is your opinion It could help me out great deal!

Thanks a lot.

First things first. Your beige G3 has a terribly slow IDE bus for the hard drive - 16.7 MB/sec - which is going to be a real bottleneck when you replace your SCSI drive with an IDE drive. Most drives you'll find today are 2-3 times faster than the bus on the beige G3, so if you really want to use them to their potential, you'll want to consider a card that supports Ultra66.

There goes the slot you would free by pulling the 9 GB SCSI drive and controller.

I've had really good luck with the Acard Ahard Ultra66 controller, which is inexpensively available from Other World Computing and other vendors (US$55 today at OWC). I'm using one in our beige G3 and really appreciate the improvement.

Of course, that doesn't give you the empty slot you want for a FireWire/USB card. I can see the importance of a better video card, but if you don't need the sound card (if you're using the new G4 for all your sound work), you could have video, Ultra66, and FW/USB cards in your beige G3.

Another alternative is the Tempo Trio from Sonnet. This card supports up to four IDE hard drives (right up through the Ultra133 specification) and provides two FireWire and two USB ports. At US$180, it's not cheap, but it can give you both good drive performance and extra ports while using only a single slot.

You should have no problems at all running Mac OS 9.2 on the beige G3, but another factor is the value of these vintage computers. I've seen them sell for as little as US$200 on the used market (slower one than yours) and also seen blue & white G3s selling for as little as US$300. The b&w G3 already has a faster IDE bus, has a faster system bus, includes both USB and FireWire, and has even more room for internal hard drives than the beige G3 desktop.

You might want to consider investing $300-400 in a b&w G3/350 or faster, moving your files and PCI cards over, and selling your old beige G3 to a student. It could have a lower net cost than upgrading your older computer.

Radeon 7000, a Beige G3, and OS X

Francis Gibson writes:

Love your site! I want to put an ATI Radeon 7000 in my recently upgraded Beige G3, but I want to use it with OS X. Is this configuration now support?

I have read in the past that this card did not support OS X on the Beige G3 and that ATI claimed that Apple needed to fix the problem, but that was back with 10.1. Has the Jaguar fixed this issue to your knowledge?

To my knowledge, no. ATI recently updated their website and packaging for the Radeon 7000 to reflect that it requires a blue & white G3 or later with Mac OS X. The card works fine with the classic Mac OS on older hardware, but boots into a black screen on the beige G3 and earlier models when used with OS X.

Your best bet may be the ATI Radeon Mac Edition. According to benchmark results published on Bare Feats, the older card outperforms the 7000 on some tests. This card typically closes at US$85-90 on eBay these days.

Latest OS for PPC Upgraded Centris

Oskar Bruil wonders:

I have a Mac Centris 650 with a PPC upgrade running at 50 MHz (twice the bus - the PPC CPU is actually a 66 MHz one). My question is now that I have a PPC upgrade, what is the maximum Mac OS version that I can run on it. I know the newest version you can run without a PPC upgrade is 8.1. Also, it says on your site that you need a "fat" system for this computer, what is a "fat" system?

A "fat" system is one that contains the code required to boot both a 680x0 CPU and a PowerPC CPU. Without a fat system, you would never be able to run your old Centris as a 68040 machine.

I have heard reports of people running Mac OS 8.5-8.6 on PPC upgraded Quadras, but I've never worked with such a setup myself. For more help on this, consider joining Quadlist (our email list for Centris and Quadra owners) and asking for advice from those who have attempted it.

Macs in Heaven?

After reading my comments in Why Apple Can User IBM's PowerPC 970, Matt Olson couldn't resist asking:

It's more promising than any vaporware G5 from Motorola, which seems destined to ship three week's after Christ's return.

Does this mean that we will have Apple laptops and/or desktops in heaven? Thanks for a laugh-out-loud funny line. Oh, and as a Baptist pastor I hope Jesus comes back soon. It would be neat, however, if everyone there was issued an Apple, but ultimately I'll just be glad I'm there.

I've seen the editorial cartoon where people going to heaven are issued Macs and those going to hell get Windows PCs. We've also shared the story Bill Gates Goes to Heaven on our website, but we can't find any evidence - biblical or otherwise - that there will be computers in heaven, or any reason we would want them.

24-bit Macs?

After reading Why Apple Can User IBM's PowerPC 970, F.C. Kuechmann notes:

In your 970 article [which I agree with] you say "Or the way Motorola moved from the 24-bit 68000 to the 32-bit 68020 and later." While the original 68k only had 24 external address pins, the program counter was, like the other registers, 32 bits. The upper 8 bits of address were generally unused, but they could be accessed by xfering to a data register and writing out as data, e.g. to a latch.

Things were so much simpler in the 8-bit era, where chips has one size. With the 8088, 68000, and later processors, there are different register sizes, data buses, and so forth. I was specifically thinking of the 24-bit addressing of the 68000, which limited RAM to 16 MB. Writing 24-bit specific code was the reason some older Macs had problems when the Mac started using 32-bit addressing in System 7. For more on that subject, see 32-bit Addressing on Older Macs.

More on the PowerPC 970

In response to Why Apple Can User IBM's PowerPC 970, Tony Wight writes:

The other fellow is talking cobblers. Have a look at this pdf from IBM: <http://www-3.ibm.com/chips/techlib/techlib.nsf/techdocs/A1387A29AC1C2A E 087256C5200611780/$file/PPC970_MPF2002.pdf> (restricted access).

About half way through, it explicitly states: "Native 32-bit mode: High word of all effective addresses are cleared. 32-bit PPC application code supported."

It was cited by <http://www-3.ibm.com/chips/techlib/techlib.nsf/techdocs/A1387A29AC1C2 AE087256C5200611780> Product Presentation - PowerPC 970: First in a new family of 64-bit high performance PowerPC processors.

Have a look at this in InfoWorld <http://www.infoworld.com/article/03/02/04/HNibmroad_1.html>. Their take is that the Power5 is the real deal for desktop computers, and that the PowerPC 970 is really just for laptops.

Frankly, until Apple gets something like these, OS X is going remain a slug race.

best wishes,
Tony Wight.

P.S. BTW a key difference between MoTo and IBM is that Big Blue's chip production yields are consistently some 10-15x higher than MoTo's.

Thanks for the additional information. After porting to the PPC 970, imagine the power if Apple ported OS X Server to the Power5....

Apple and the PowerPC 970

Romeo writes:

The bus on the PowerPC 970 was designed by Apple itself. It is termed the Apple IO bus, or AIO for short. Thus Apple shouldn't have problems implementing it in future Apple motherboards. Apple and Motorola had serious disagreements on the G5 about the chip's system bus. Motorola wanted it's Rapid IO bus, while Apple wanted it's AIO bus on the G5. This contributed to the end of the G5 project. Apple helped design the 970, thus there shouldn't be doubt that it will turn up in new Power Macs.

I'd heard rumors that the G5 had been put so far on the back burner that we might never see it. This whole Apple-IBM-Motorola consortium sure has devolved from a mutually beneficial partnership.

Older Macs and Digital Photography

After reading Digital Photography and the 68K Mac, where we recommended a Power Mac to obtain USB support, Ed Nilges notes:

Your article was very helpful, and the best advice was to buy a new PPC Mac. However, there does appear to be a viable way of working with digital cameras on any Mac with a SCSI port.

Even on a modern computer, a direct USB connection to the camera is not my preferred way of transferring pictures. I prefer to swap a CompactFlash or SmartMedia flash card into one of the very cheap readers available, which are USB, but, if I'm on the road, I use an even cheaper adapter to plug directly into the PC Card slot.

I started looking around for a cheap SCSI PC Card reader, and I found I wasn't even the first one to think of this: http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=3401059688&category=11157

Yet another cute, dedicated use for that spare Color Classic or Mac II (impress 'em with 1987's cutting-edge monitor spanning technology).

Yeah, I have to agree that it's easier to use a flash memory reader than connect the camera to the computer.

I've been looking for a cheap way to put a Compact Flash card on a Mac Plus for completely quiet computing (assuming it can be used as a bootable drive). I hadn't run across the Minolta CD-10 SCSI PCMCIA Card Drive before, but Steve's Digicams speaks very highly of it. They seem to be rare on the used market and sell for $100-150 on close-out when you can find them.

Steve's also notes that this is the same unit as the Microtech DPA-P, which still sells for $199.

Readers should be aware that the CD-10 doesn't accept Compact Flash, Smart Media, or other types of flash memory directly. The CD-10 accepts a PC Card or PCMCIA card that accepts the flash memory card, so users will also have to invest in such an adapter.

With Power Mac 5400s selling for under $50 and USB cards for $30, it may generally be less costly to buy a whole computer than a SCSI-to-PCMCIA adapter plus a PCMCIA-to-flash-memory adapter.

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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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