Classic Macsin the Intel Age

'Snow Leopard' and the Death of PowerPC Support

- 2008.06.23 -Tip Jar

It seems a new era of operating systems is on the way, focusing moreon stability and performance rather than adding new features.

Microsoft's upcoming Windows 7 (previously Vienna) is said toinclude only a few new features, primarily focusing on improvedstability and speed. Ubuntu 8.10 "Intrepid Ibex" is also said to focuson core stability and better performance.

At WWDC 2008, Apple announced and previewed Mac OS X v10.6 "SnowLeopard", which will, quite unsurprisingly, focus on higher stabilityand better performance. Apple has given the new feline its own section of Apple'swebsite, which doesn't feature any screenshots, but does give us asneak peek at the next version of OS X.

Judging from the CD given to developers, one of the requirements toinstall Snow Leopard is "an Intel processor". This is not good.

Power Mac G4First off,this kills a huge number of Macs. Even the most powerful 2006 Power Mac G5 Quad will beunsupported, along with the iMacG5 and Power Mac G4(Power Macs below 867 MHz have already been abandoned). AluminumPowerBooks will also dead, as well as iBook G4s.

Quite frankly, when you buy a Mac, you expect it to last and besupported for years to come. Should a Power Mac or iMac G5, whichshipped with Tiger, only be compatible with two versions of the MacOS?

If Snow Leopard is Intel only, will Rosetta be removed? Will SnowLeopard also put an end to PowerPC software?

I can see Apple removing G4 support entirely or limiting it to 1 GHzand faster machines, but G5 support must be maintained.

Apple still has the chance to include PowerPC support. Pleasedo!

If Apple does decide to kill off PowerPC support, what will happento PowerPC users? I'm sure almost all of you who are reading thisarticle have at least one PowerPC Mac. Will we have to keep usingoutdated versions of Mac OS X? Or should we instead turn toLinux?

The Linux Option

Yesterday I decided to have a look at what Linux offers PowerPCusers, should Snow Leopard be Intel only. I decided to give it a shoton my Dual 533 DigitalAudio.

First, I downloaded Ubuntu 8.04 "Hardy Heron". It wouldn't boot.

Next, I downloaded Ubuntu 7.04 "Feisty Fawn". It wouldn't boot.

Then, I downloaded Edubuntu 7.10 "Gutsy Gibbon". It wouldn'tboot!

Just before giving up entirely, I downloaded Xubuntu 7.04 "FeistyFawn". It booted and installed, overwriting Leopard.

Xubuntu was quite speedy on this Mac; however, Firefox took a littlewhile to open even with 1 GB of RAM, and it took a good 3 minutesto boot into the logon screen.

I do find Xubuntu Linux a very interesting alternative to the MacOS, but it will never be more than an alternative for me. I'm notsaying Apple should retain support for obsolete hardware; I'msaying it should retain support for discontinued models - likeG5s and perhaps late G4s. And if it will require 64-bit processingpower (as some rumors tell), it would even leave out the Core Solo Mac mini!

Microsoft Provides Longer Support

A Macintosh should run Macintosh software, just like a PC should runPC software and a Ford should have a Ford engine. Owners of 2-year-oldhardware shouldn't have to turn to free, open-source alternatives. Thatwould be like Microsoft cutting of Vista support the moment Windows 7is released.

Mac PlusMicrosoft still maintains extendedsupport for Windows 2000 - which is a 7-year-old operating system,while Apple apparently won't maintain OS support for a 2005 computerwhen Snow Leopard ships. Shouldn't Apple be better than Microsoft onthis point? The Mac Plus wassupported by the Mac OS for over 10 years!

Keeping Linux Around

That being said, Linux is a cool alternative, and I will in factleave Linux on one hard drive in my Digital Audio, while having Tigerand Mac OS 9.2.2 on another (there's not enough room for Leopard,Xubuntu, and Mac OS 9.2, so I went with Tiger instead).

I'm thinking of setting my Blue & White Power Mac G3)as a Linux only machine, something that could become a column here onLow End Mac.

I am typing this on an eMac;just one of the many machines that will apparently be left behind bySnow Leopard. I believe that PowerPC support must be maintained. LEM

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