The Low End Mac Mailbag

G4 iMac 'Not Half Anything', LEM Design Comments, and More on Macs Not Supported by Leopard

Dan Knight - 2007.10.22

The Leopard Letters

Flat Panel iMac Not Half Anything

From a reader who wishes to remain anonymous:

Dear Mr. Knight,

How I've loathed the reviews for the past 5 years as they were called half-basketball, half a globe, "half a volleyball" on The Future of G4 iMacs in the Age of Leopard, half a sphere, half a snowball, and half arsed (I won't say the defamity on the web!). It is half nothing. The better euphemisms term for the body of an iMac

15-inch iMac G4G4 is a dome or a hemisphere. Neither conjure up the idea that it was a half arsed machine, and give a more complete feal. If you teach people to appreciate the architecture of a dome, or a hemisphere on a globe as a whole unit, you suddenly begin to appreciate the architecture of the machine. To add to that, the unit had a circular logic board, and no, it was not a half-full moon either.

Let the iMac G4 rest in piece [sic] as a machine whose name more fittingly describes what it is, and not half what it is not.

Thank you.



Aesthetics are a personal matter, and from the first time I saw a photo of it until now, I have considered the G4 iMacs the oddest looking computers in history. I know Steve Jobs has a thing about simple geometric forms - witness the NeXT Cube, the Power Mac Cube, and the hemispheric base of the G4 iMac.

Form has to follow function. If we lived in a world ruled by Jobs' Euclidean leanings, our houses would be cubes and our cars might be glass hemispheres on a flat slab. You get some pretty weird designs when function follows form - another example being the Mac mini, which was compromised in a number of ways to meet Job's requirements of a 6.5" square footprint and a 2" maximum height.

BTW, hemisphere literally means a half sphere.


That Gorgeous Font

From John M:


The 'Book ReviewWhat is that gorgeous font for the title "The 'Book Review"? I must have it!

Best Regards,


It's called Santa Fe, and I believe it's available from both Letraset and ITC.

What's Going On with Low End Mac?


What's happening at the Lowend?

Low End Mac logoHate the new logo and what's this about the 7200 and 7500 introducing a new case? This is the same case as the IIvx and IIvi or the Peforma 600 three years earlier....

In fact this must have been on of Apple's best case designs - it survived into the Beige G3 desktop model!

rgds - Tim in London
still with an old black 5400 and now having got as modern as an AV G4


previous Low End Mac logoResponse to our new design has been generally positive, although it's divided about 50/50 over the logo. It's an old logo that a reader submitted back in 1997/98, and after fiddling around with the various fonts on my Mac, I decided to resurrect it. I think it has a friendly, playful, somewhat organic quality to it that was missing with the old logo.

As for the case used for the Power Mac 7200-7600 and beige G3 desktop, it is similar to but different from the case used for the Mac IIvi/vx, Performa 600, Centris/Quadra 600, and Power Mac 7100. The older case measures 6.0" x 13.0" x 16.5" and the front is curved in only one plane. The newer case is 6.15" x 14.4" x 16.9" and the front is curved in two planes. The newer case was an improvement in all respects.


LC III Won't Work with PC Display

From Ben Crawford:


Griffin Mac PNP adapterI'm really stuck. I have an LC III series Mac, and the 12" monitor died a couple of months ago. I have since bought an adaptor to run a 14" PC monitor which is capable of displaying resolutions ranging from 640 x 480 through 1024 x 768. When using the DIP switches on the adaptor, I can get the monitor to run at 640 x 480. This is fine, except the desktop overruns the viewable screen area. Even more bizarre is the fact that the usual black line all around the screens edge remains. I can see that the screen has not physically run out of viewable area, yet the computer refuses to make full use of the available area. I've tried clearing PRAM and rebuilding the desktop. This helped a little, but the problem is far from sorted. When I check the monitor properties in the control panel, I can only select 640 x 480. I'm assuming the DIP switches are controlling how the computer "sees" this monitor. I contacted Griffin about this, telling them my monitor model number, computer, and O/S and they got back saying that their adaptors would not work with this combination and that I should look for a DB-25 adaptor. Can this be right. More importantly, has anybody succeeded it using a Mac LC III with a PC monitor. If they have, please tell me!

LC III series running Mac OS 7.1. The monitor is a EMC CA6525DL (I think this is a generic monitor, in my case it is branded as a Smile monitor).



Yes, the LC series computers are generally compatible with older PC monitors, but a lot has changed in the last decade and a half in the world of monitors. The old VGA displays the LC supported are ancient history, and most modern monitors are multiple scan devices.

I'm guessing that your monitor isn't compatible with the LC's video timing. Assuming your monitor is a multiple scan model, I suggest you try setting switches 3, 4, 6, and 8 on and see if you can access the LC III's 624 x 832 video mode. That runs at a higher frequency, so it may produce a better result. (Try 3, 6, and 8 on if it doesn't work.)


The Leopard Letters

Well, Technically We Don't Know for Sure Yet...

From Dan Palka:

According to the official Mac OS X Tiger requirements (see, Tiger "requires" FireWire, but my copy of Mac OS X Tiger on CD boots, installs, and has been running on my unmodified 350 MHz iMac G3, which has no FireWire, without any hacks, for over a year.

So we can't actually say for sure yet that Leopard won't install on something with 67 fewer megahertz, or with 367 fewer megahertz, or what other anomalies Leopard will throw at us. We'll all know in about a week.

Dan Palka


Right you are. We're hoping dual processor Power Macs below 867 MHz will be supported, but we won't know for sure until Leopard actually ships.


Apple Is Right in Locking out Older, Slower Macs

From Rudi Riet:

Dan -

I find all of the hubbub over Apple "abandoning perfectly good Macs" to be a bit absurd: it's a sound business decision, both from a monetary and support standpoint.

Apple is a multifaceted technology manufacturer: they manufacture both the operating system and the hardware on which said OS runs. Thus, they count on sales of both hardware and software to make ends meet (and, in turn, fund the development of newer hardware and software). When people complain that Mac OS X 10.5 won't run on Macs built in the waning days of Mac OS 9.2 (e.g. the Pismo and G3 iMacs), it seems like sour grapes to me: you've held off on hardware purchases for machines for 5 or more years, so perhaps it's time to upgrade if you want the spoils of a new OS.

Apple has put a lot of programming hours (which cost a lot of money, if you're familiar with the pay scales of talented programmers) into Mac OS X, and Leopard is no exception to this: it's full of new features and power that no other user-friendly OS can claim to embrace. And Apple's engineers and programmers have designed these features around a hardware platform that is current (and sometimes cutting-edge), yet still straddles two markedly different processor architectures. It's no small feat, and I think that most Mac users should be grateful that the PowerPC is still on their OS road map.

And from a support angle, having Apple support products that have been EOL for many years is not good for long-term stability. Yes, it may earn a touch of customer loyalty, but it also puts them in a jam: supporting products that are often very close to operational failure (expendable parts like power supplies, RAM, CRTs, LCD backlights, et al) can raise expectations. Sure, the products are well out of warranty, but people might expect more. By not supporting the old Macs, Apple isn't artificially propping up people's hopes that their older Mac is still on Apple's radar screen.

Fortunately, a lot of people are buying new Macs: witness the upswing in sales over the past couple of years. And virtually all of these Macs are running on Intel chipsets. This move has been a win-win for Apple, as it allows the switchers to migrate from Windows in a more-or-less seamless, painless way. Apple can also witness the "gateway drug" successes of the iPod and iPhone, which have brought still more users into the Mac OS realm.

And as long as new Macs are being developed and are selling, Apple will continue to move on, dropping legacy support as it goes to keep things efficient within the Cupertino campus, their retail stores, and their support system. Progress has its costs, and sometimes the question needs to be asked: is it worth it to upgrade an older system, or is it more economical to buy new?

In terms of Leopard, I think that Apple is being generous in including the G4 family in its list of supported platforms. It's also being generous in listing 512 MB of RAM as the minimum.

I can't wait to see the outcry when Mac OS X 10.6 finally drops all PowerPC support - something I think will happen with all post-10.5 versions of the Mac OS.

In terms of full disclosure: I have two older G4 Macs (a TiBook and a 15" iMac) that just fit within the minimum upgrade specs (both have 1 GHz processors). And yes, both will be upgraded to Leopard in due time.

Rudi Riet


It's not a sound business decision to alienate your loyal customers, and Apple has alienated more of them with the Leopard system requirements than with any operating system upgrade in its history - all of the 350-900 MHz G3 systems (iMacs, iBooks, and Blue & White Power Macs), the first three generations of Power Macs and parts of the fourth- and fifth-generation, half of the titanium PowerBooks, several G4 iMac and eMac models, and the 12" 800 MHz iBook G4.

We can understand cutting of the G3, as the AltiVec processing power of the G4 is crucial to a good user experience. We can't understand the arbitrariness of the 867 MHz requirement. Why is an 867 MHz PowerBook G4 supported, but not the 800 MHz iBook G4? Why is an 867 MHz Power Mac G4 supported, but not a newer 800 MHz one?

We don't fault Apple for recommending a minimum hardware specification; what we object to is their hard wiring that into the installer and thus preventing the end user from deciding whether they would be happy running Mac OS X 10.5 on an 800 MHz iBook G4 or a dual 533 MHz Power Mac G4.

We understand that Apple is a multifaceted company, but if its only goal was selling new hardware, it would have dropped support for all PowerPC Macs. Thus we have to believe that Apple's goal is broader than that. Its goal is to make a profit by supporting a happy, growing user community - and they're not going to accomplish that by "pulling a Vista" and selling an operating system (no matter how incredible) that obsoletes so much 4-6 year old hardware.

As for the future, it really depends on how long Apple takes developing Mac OS X 10.6. If it comes out in two years, I would be shocked to see it drop all PowerPC support. If it takes four years, it wouldn't be an outrageous decision. Let's see how long Leopard is current before worrying about the next version of OS X.


Mac OS X 10.5 'Leopard' and the Digital Audio Power Mac

From Chris de Bruin:

I just wanted to add my thanks to all the commentary regarding Leopard and older Macs. As the new owner of a Power Mac G4 Digital Audio Dual 533, I would be happy to see if someone does update XPostFacto for 10.5 - but if they don't, 10.4 will run this box as a backup workstation/file server for a long time to come. Even with updating the video to a Radeon 9600 for Core Image support, this box cost me less than $200 and can run just about anything you'd care to throw at it.

Keep up the excellent work on your site, I know I use it regularly as a resource for getting the most out of my Macs.

-Chris de Bruin


Thanks for writing. If you have access to a PowerPC supported by Leopard, it should be possible to install it on your Digital Audio Power Mac either using FireWire Target Disk Mode or by temporarily transplanting your hard drive to the supported computer. We'll know a lot more about that in a week.


60 Mac Models Left Behind: Not Ridiculous

From Richard Brauer:

Hi there,

"Ridiculous"? "Outrage" (in italics, no less)? You don't think you might be laying it on a little thick?

The models you mentioned are, in any reasonable view, old. The B&W G3 shipped almost 9 years ago! The Cube? 7 years old. The most recent model of Power Mac unsupported by Leopard is from 2002. Most, if not all of these products, have been listed as "vintage" by Apple. They don't support that hardware any more - is it really all that surprising that they're not going to support them on their newest software?

From the perspective of any computer manufacturer, if you haven't bought a new computer in the last 5 years, you're not a regular customer. The average upgrade cycle for the Mac is in the region of 3 to 3.5 years. I myself am on the 4 to 4.5 year plan. But then I'm cheap.

My refurbed iBook G4/800 is going to be unsupported. I don't find that ridiculous or outrageous. It's old. It runs just fine under Panther, and it does everything I need it to do. It's no longer a primary production machine, but it suits its current purpose just fine.

In addition, I have a strong suspicion that XPostFacto or something similar will be available to work around Apple's particulars. If you need to get Leopard working on your Cube, you probably will be able to. But I have difficulty accepting it as "ridiculous" or an "outrage" that if you call Apple up for help in trying to install Leopard on the Cube, they'll tell you it's not their problem.

My problem with the article is simple: your language is extreme. And provocative without reason. It may be disappointing to LEM enthusiasts that Apple does not support vintage or obsolete (their terms) hardware, but it has been this way for some time. It's difficult for me to understand how long-standing policy can be termed "ridiculous" or "outrageous."

BTW, I'll make you a prediction: the next iteration of the Mac OS (10.6 or whatever it's called) will be all Intel. And then XPostFacto will have a lot more difficulty helping us run the new OS. You mentioned that G4 prices will plummet. My prediction should bring G5 prices down a whole lot.

Just a bit of feedback. Thanks for the listen,
Rich Brauer


Thanks for writing. I have to agree with Ted Hodges that it is "ridiculous" and "outrageous" for Apple to drop support for all 1999-2002 iMacs, all 2001-2003 G3 iBooks, all 1999-2001 (and some 2002) G4 Power Macs, most 2001-2002 G4 PowerBooks, and all 2002 eMacs, all models that were fully supported under Mac OS X 10.4 "Tiger".

During the 2-1/2 years between the release of Mac OS X 10.4 and 10.5, it just doesn't make sense that they'd have to drop all support for 4 years worth of iMacs (G3 and G4 models) and 3+ years worth of G4 Power Macs.

We believe that Apple's 867 MHz G4 requirement is arbitrary and unnecessary. We don't object to Apple setting suggested guidelines for decent performance; we do object to Apple creating an installer that takes the decision of whether to run Leopard on older, unsupported hardware out of the user's hands.


Power Mac G4/800 Dual May Not Be Left Behind

From Justin D. Morgan:


I am not sure that the Dual 800 MHz PowerMac G4 has been left behind. Take a look at this page on Apple's web site: http://

iChat 10.5 audio conferencing requirements

Here's what I see based on the Leopard iChat system requirements:

  • To initiate a 10-person audio conference, a dual 800 MHz G4 is listed as one of the minimum processors.
  • To participate in a 4-way video conference at "Good" or "Better" resolution, a dual 800 MHz G4 is again listed as one of the minimum processors.
  • To receive Side-by-Side iChat Theater, a dual 800 MHz G4 is listed as one of the minimum processors.

iChat 10.5 video conferencing requirements

So unless Apple has made a mistake, it looks like the dual 800 MHz PowerMac G4 will meet the minimum system requirements for Leopard.

Justin D. Morgan


Thanks for writing. Interestingly, that article was posted on October 9, a week before Apple announced the official system requirements for Leopard. It does let us know that Apple has been running Leopard successfully on systems that don't meet the stated hardware requirements, and perhaps Apple will provide more details on dual-processor support as the release day approaches.


60 Macs Left Behind by Leopard

From Peter Hillman:

I enjoyed reading your article about Leopard's system requirements. However, it is not uncommon for 5-year-old Macs to be left behind on new System releases. This practice dates back to the System 7 days. Certain 680x0 Macs were left out when Mac OS 7.6 was released. Mac OS 8.0 dropped support for 68030 and earlier Macs. The 68040-based Macs required System 7 and had an end of life with Mac OS 8.1. So the Centris, Quadras, and LCs with 68040 CPUs released in 1993 or later, received their last System update in Jan 1998 when Mac OS 8.1 was released. Mac OS 8.5, which was not much different than Mac OS 8.1, required a PowerPC processor, dropping support for all 68040 Macs. Power Macs based on the 601, 603, and 604 CPUs required either System 7.1.2 (later 7.5), and ended with Mac OS 9.1 Mac OS 9.2 only ran on Macs with a G3 or higher CPU.

Since the Beige G3 was the last Mac based on hardware-ROM and still had legacy ports, it is not surprising that Panther, released in late 2003, dropped support for the Beige, since all Macs since 1998 were based on New World ROM. The system software contains less bloated code when it doesn't have to support old Macs.

That was the problem with the classic Mac OS. It still contained outdated 680x0 code when it only ran on PowerPC-based Macs. There is nothing wrong with Leopard dropping support for Macs that were released in 2002. I have the last Titanium PowerBook G4 (867 MHz, Nov 2002), which meets the specs for Leopard. Even before Leopard was announced, I have been thinking about upgrading. It is still a fine Mac, and I probably would not really need Leopard's features on it anyway. However, I will give it a try and see how it does. It runs Tiger just fine.

I also have an iMac G5 iSight 2.1 GHz that was released in October 2005. It shipped with Tiger. It should run Leopard just fine.

The rumor mill believes that Mac OS X 10.6 will be Intel-only, dropping support of all PowerPC Macs. This seems accurate, as it will probably take Apple two years to develop and release 10.6. So in 2009, we should see an Intel-only OS X 10.6. My iMac G5 will only have support to run two versions of OS X, compared to other Mac models that can run Jaguar, Panther, Tiger, and Leopard. But I am not upset about it. In two years, I will probably have already switched to an Intel Mac. So should Apple continue to support 5-year-old PowerPC based Macs with 10.6? Seems unlikely.

So based on the past history of Macs and the number of Mac OS versions supported by each model, Leopard's requirements don't seem that ridiculous.

Peter Hillman


Part of the problem here is talking about the age of computers, not their processing power. A dual 500 MHz Power Mac G4 from 2000 has more raw processing power than an 867 MHz Mac (such as the 2001 Quicksilver or 2003 12" PowerBook G4). Yet Apple's system requirements for Leopard don't seem to take dual processor Power Macs - whether running at 450 MHz or 800 MHz - into consideration. They simply draw a line in the sand at 867 MHz.

My educated guess is that 400-550 MHz single processor G4 Macs will run Leopard quite slowly, and that 667-800 MHz single and 450-800 MHz dual G4s will run it decently. But it appears that Apple's installer locks all of them out, whether that's a 2000 dual 450-500 MHz G4 Power Mac, a 2002 dual 800 MHz Quicksilver, or a 12" 800 MHz iBook G4.

Big BrotherIt looks like Apple is playing Big Brother here rather, not what we'd expect from the "Think Different" company that has so often gone out of its way to support hardware over five years old.


About Leopard and the Macs Not Supported

From Carl Hult:


I've been reading the articles about the Macs left behind when the latest cat joins the family, and I just want to say that even though it's sad to see so many Macs not supported, I'm still optimistic because it means that Apple wants an OS as fresh as it could be.

Also, people have been lamenting the fact that Macs were left behind before, but where are they now? I remember back in 1998 or something like that, when Mac OS 8.5 was announced. Apple killed off support for non-PowerPC Macs back then. The response from some of the Mac users were very like the response of today. But that debate died very soon.

BTW, the required computers for Leopard can be compared to other limits back in 1998 for example. We have 3 GHz computers today and the limit is 867 MHz. That is a healthy margin even if you have a computer from 2003 or 2004. In 1998 the shift was about leaving a whole chip family (68K) behind. This time it's about cutting one chip family (G4) in half, leaving the "weeds" behind.

I know it's kind of far fetched to compare it to 1998 but the jump in requirements back then was bigger then, at least in my opinion. It's not a brain transplant this time, as it was in 1998. That transplant will come either with 10.6 or 10.7.

Carl Hult


Thanks for writing. There are a lot of different ways of looking at this issue, but what it boils down to for a lot of us it that there is no reason the underlying operating system should have such high hardware requirements. The problem is the eye candy.

For all the grief Microsoft has deservedly received over Vista, they got one thing right: a user interface that makes less hardware demands on less capable hardware.

Put another way, we've been very happy with the user experience in Tiger, so we know the hardware supported by Tiger is capable of producing a more than acceptable user experience - and all of a sudden we're being told that not only 350 MHz G3 or 700 MHz G4, but even dual 800 MHz Power Macs are unable to provide an adequate user experience.

The real problem isn't not being able to run Leopard, which will probably bog down older Macs to a considerable extent, but being unable to run new software on Tiger as the years go by and developers stop providing browsers and whatever else we need to keep up with standards.


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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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