Charles Moore's Mailbag

Lion Breaks Older Installers, Apple Charging for Xcode, Desktop Lifecycle in Business, and More

Charles Moore - 2011.03.31 - Tip Jar

No Rosetta in Lion Breaks Installers That Depend on PPC Code

From Demetrios:

Hi Charles,

I emailed you some time ago with regards to browsers.

I was wondering if you knew of the status of Rosetta on Lion? There is much speculation and bad logic flying around.

I have tried to add some comments in some of the discussion forums, but something went wrong in some (e.g. AppleInsider) when I tried to register with them.

My concerns regards what has not been considered by many.

Your pages seem to do well on Google searches, and you might discuss the matter on one of your pages.

If you are interested, here are my concerns (hopefully without too many typos!):

What most users should want in 10.7 Lion is support for PPC apps which require Rosetta. There is a failure by many to understand what an absence of Rosetta means. If you run Word for Mac 2008, which is Universal Binary, and was only superseded in 2010, you won't be able to install it on Lion. Why? Because Word 2008 uses PPC code in its installer. So you'll have to buy another version of Word. If you run Adobe's Creative Suite 2 (CS2), and have the upgrade CD to the current CS 5, then you won't be able to install CS2 on to your new computer which runs 10.7, to then be able to install the update to CS5 if it does not have Rosetta. Why? Because updater CDs only work if they can find a legitimate copy of an earlier suite. If you can't install CS2, which is PPC, then the updater won't find an earlier version to update.

Conversely, if you own Macromedia's Studio 8, you can currently upgrade to Adobe's CS5. But again, Macromedia Studio 8 is PPC, so if you've bought the upgrade to CS 5 - or 4 - you won't be able to install it on OS Lion without Rosetta, because you won't be able to install Macromedia Studio 8; if you own Photoshop Elements 4 - as I do - it too can be upgraded to CS 5. However, as it is PPC, I would not be able to install it onto a new machine running Lion if it does not have Rosetta, so an upgrade to CS5 won't work, as the installer won't find any product to allow its installation. So if you've bought an upgrade to CS 3, 4, or 5, all of which are Universal or Intel, to upgrade your earlier PPC version, you won't be able to install any of them on Lion because you won't be able to install the earlier PPC program required for the installer to work.

There are many programs which cannot be updated, like ImageReady and GoLive, which last appeared in CS2.

A rather fanatical group of users use Macromedia's (now Adobe's) FreeHand (which Adobe replaced with Illustrator). This will not work on your Mac without Rosetta (it currently works on Snow Leopard with a file fix downloadable off Adobe's site, and works perfectly on Windows). (The FreeHand fan group exists as FreeFreeHand.)

If Apple does not include Rosetta, then obviously Windows becomes a viable prospect. Weigh up the costs: A new Adobe Creative Suite costs more than buying a new Windows machine + the cost of buying an older version of the Creative Suite which will run on the PC, but won't run on your Mac. Or you can do what I have been doing, run Windows through Parallels, and slowly buy Windows versions of programs. Windows supports users of older programs (e.g. in the Win XP mode in Win 7 Ultimate); Apple screws the customers who have purchased Apple computers along with the programs to run on them.

Apple newbies think that it would be okay to jettison Rosetta. Yet many of the people who now run some PPC apps initially bought them for their Intel machines not too long ago when PPC versions were the only versions of the programs they needed that were available. Without accommodating users with older programs, Apple merely confirms that it intends on capturing market share off Windows without caring to look after the customers it already has. Eventually the newbies who only surf the Net simply to make Facebook updates will get stung too.

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Hi Demetrios,

I share your dismay at Rosetta being dropped as a feature from Mac OS X 10.7 Lion. However, I think that just as with the termination of Mac OS X Classic Mode in Leopard [Editor's note: Classic Mode was never available at all for Intel-based Macs], the decision will not be reversed. Those of us who prefer and/or depend on residual PowerPC applications are going to have to find Intel Mac native alternatives - or just keep on keeping on in OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard.

The Wikipedia entry covering OS X Lion, notes the following:

Dropped features:

  • Front Row
  • A Java Runtime Environment (JRE) is no longer installed by default, but can be installed on demand.
  • Adobe Flash Player is no longer installed by default and must be installed manually.
  • Rosetta, software which makes possible the execution of PowerPC software on x86 hardware, is no longer available.
  • Samba, software used since Mac OS X 10.2 for capability with Windows file sharing, has been removed and replaced with Apple's own tools for Windows file sharing and network directory services.*

AppleInsider notes: "Apple has already restricted Mac App Store titles to Intel code, leaving PowerPC support abandoned along with Motorola 68000 code."

I still miss OS X Classic Mode and continue to run it on my old Pismo PowerBooks, which are booting Mac OS 10.4 Tiger. I expect I will miss Rosetta even more profoundly, but it appears that whether we like it or not (and I have definitely mixed feelings), the future of the Mac platform is going to be increasingly integrated with the iOS app universe, so if we want to keep using Macs, we're going to have to grin and bear it.


Publisher's note: If you migrate everything from your old Mac to your new one using Migration Assistant or keep a bootable backup of your hard drive before upgrading to OS X Lion, you should have no problem getting back the versions of software that depend on PPC installers. You are backing up, aren't you?

If not, you should be, and Time Machine is only a partial (albeit very helpful) solution. You should keep a bootable backup available, which you can create with SuperDuper, which I've been using at LEM headquarters since 2004, or Carbon Copy Cloner 3. Your bootable backup drive should have at least as much capacity as your boot drive or partition, and the general recommendation for Time Machine is a drive at least twice as large as all the drives on your Mac. If you buy a large enough drive, you can create two partitions - one to clone your boot drive and the other for Time Machine. dk

* Apple is removing Samba because the Samba team has moved to the GPLv3 license, which is problematic for commercial distribution.

Apple Now Charging for Xcode

From Guilherme:

Hello Charles,

I've been an occasional reader of LEM, but it's the first time I write to any of the LEM staff.

Like a significant amount of LEM readers (and writers), my first impression of the Mac App Store was skeptical, and to be fair, I've never downloaded anything there, even if it's free.

However, I just noticed something awful when I tried to download Xcode 4 using my free Apple Developer account: It was only available to paying iOS/Mac developers or via the App Store. Then, much to my dismay, I went to the App Store and found out that Apple is now charging $4.99 for it.

To me, one of the greatest boons to recent iOS and Mac popularity was the fact that anyone with a Mac could freely download and tinker with Apple's "official" development tools. That's how I learned Carbon and Objective-C and made some hobby personal projects, and I guess that's how many ingenious developers got their feet wet with iOS programming and made the platform a rampant success.

The $4.99 fee might not seem much, given how great and useful the tools are, but it's one more big step in the "walled garden" direction. And my guess is that it's gonna be one more severe blow to open source development, as the business model Apple is trying to push is clearly incompatible with it.

And also, while many people might come with the argument that Microsoft charges "over a thousand dollars" for its Visual Studio development suite (which isn't exactly true, because Microsoft gives really big discounts for high-volume purchasing), it offers the Visual Studio Express versions for free, which have a limited set of tools, but are pretty capable of producing full-fledged Windows applications, including commercial ones.

Sorry about my rant, but it seems to me that it is a too important issue to be overlooked. And also sorry in advance for any eventual grammar/spelling mistakes, as I'm from Brazil, and English is not my first language.

Keep up the good job,

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Hello Guilherme,

Your English is excellent. Much better than my (nonexistent) Portuguese.

I agree with your observations. While there remain some free (often partially crippled) versions of Mac software available on the Mac App Store, and I appreciate that it has been a tremendous boon to some software developers, the whole concept rubs me the wrong way, and I haven't been in any rush to take advantage of it. I will continue to acquire software from the home sites of third-party developers if they continue to offer it there. (In many instances they don't.)

This is just another example of the brickwork surrounding Apple's walled garden being built higher and higher, and we're going to have to accommodate ourselves to the new reality or switch to another platform. Windows still does not appeal to me, although it is now a "freer" (in some respects) environment in terms of software than the Mac. Irony. Linux desktop is another alternative for those of us more philosophically sympathetic to the open source concept. Then there is Google's online-only Chrome OS cloud terminal revolution about to be sprung by fall at the latest.


Desktop Lifecycle in the Corporation

From Robert,

Dear Mr. Moore:

In a large organization, on a department basis, it may make a lot of sense to do periodic whole-system replacements of desktop systems. On the other hand, if the organization's most mission-critical desktop tasks are all mediated by a networked database or vendor-provided database, most of the "heavy lifting" is on the server side. Software compatibility issues aside, the desktops are then just thick clients. My computers at work this century have included a Pentium II and a Pentium III - and that's about it.

I'll note here this approach does require a commitment to thrift on the part of the Information Technology staff and a willingness to invest in hardware on the infrastructure side (routers, switches, cabling, servers, and so on). It's also fortunate if the organization has one or two departments that do, in fact, need relatively frequent system replacements across the board, as that gives you a rich selection of hand-me-down and spare systems and components.

The "trickle them down and use them until they break" approach does have a couple of downsides. One is the bugbear of software compatibility, which for most desktop system users is really a case of file format readability. The other downside is that systems that are two or three generations behind their successors might have peripheral or even network compatibility issues. For example, my emergency backup laptop system is a Brother GeoBook. The incoming/outgoing ports available are a serial port, a 33.6 kbps modem, and a parallel port for printers. In addition there's a 3.5" 1.44 MB floppy disk slot. If I generated a nice big Word 5.0 compatible document on this system, it'd be interesting trying to get the information from the floppy into a flash drive. Come to think of it, even most of my local library's free use computers don't have floppy drives anymore.


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Hi Robert,

Thank you for the commentary from a perspective not so frequently heard from on Low End Mac.

Interesting that you should mention the floppy drive. As you know, floppies have been pretty much absent from the conversation in the Mac orbit for more than 10 years now. I actually have several still-working Macs with floppy drives, but I can't recall the last time I actually accessed a floppy.

I would guess that I could access the contents of a floppy on my old Umax S900 Mac clone tower, which has a floppy drive, and then transfer it using the Finder as an intermediary to a flash drive using the PCI USB adapter in one of the S900's expansion slots. The old tower also has a FireWire PCI card.

My daughter also has an old S900 that she uses as a server. It has a 350 MHz G3 processor installed (mine has a 200 MHz PowerPC 604e CPU).

It occurs to me, that corporate IT departments might find the forthcoming Google Chrome OS, which is essentially a terminal support system, appealing.


Pismo Resurrection

From Alex:

Hi there,

Was just reading your recent comment on Low End Mac about a dead Pismo.

Mine died completely a few years ago, and after trying a few other things I traced the problem to a faulty power supply board (the one under the trackpad). I bought a secondhand replacement, pulled the old one out, and found it to have a burnt-out chip on it.

Worth knowing about things like this. I've never been able to revive a sick Mac by resetting the PRAM or anything normal like that.

Great site. Keep it up!


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Hi Alex,

Glad you were able to revive your Pismo. I also have a dead Pismo with what I deduce is a fried power supply board. It could still be revived, but I've subsequently cannibalized it for its display and video inverter board to repair another of my Pismos.


Web Browsers for Tiger and PowerPC

From Dean:

Hi Charles,

I've been reading your recent columns about web browsers dropping support for PowerPC Macs for the last couple of months. I downloaded TenFourFox, which you mentioned awhile ago, and have been using it for a couple of months now. I installed it on my Pismo (G4 upgraded, 1 GB memory) and on my Quicksilver desktop. I have found it very stable with few issues. So it seems to be a good alternative with the continued dropping of PowerPC support. The irritating part is if you look at Firefox 4's system requirements, they still support Windows 2000, but Mac OS X 10.5 PowerPC isn't supported. Interesting.


P.S. The Quicksilver has been tweaked a bit. Dual 1.8 GHz G4 processors, two 7200 RPM Western Digital 500 GB SATA hard drives via serial controller PCI card. Two 80 GB Western Digital 7200 RPM ATA/133 hard drives. Two Pioneer DVR-116D dual-layer DVD drives (one external). ATI Radeon 9800 video card. Interesting in that this Mac was built in late 2001, was upgraded over the years as I had parts, and is still running 10 years later. Like the Pismos, very versatile.

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Hi Dean,

Yes, the Quicksilver is sort of the desktop tower counterpart of the Pismo (or perhaps vice versa) in terms of versatility and upgradability.

Thank you for the report on TenFourFox. I must get around to giving it another try. Actually, this past week or so I've reverted to Netscape Navigator 9, which still works very nicely on the Pismo under OS X 10.4, and especially is faster and less sluggish in interface response than the current versions of SeaMonkey and Camino.

Incidentally, the Camino team has announced that it's approaching the end of the road for upgrading and continued development of that browser using the Gecko rendering engine after the version of Gecko used in Firefox 3.6 - Gecko 1.9.2. The Camino team is reportedly mulling the prospect of switching Camino to Apple's WebKit rendering engine, but the intensive amount of work it would take to execute the port would probably make it prohibitive, in which case another OS X 10.4 compatible browser bites the dust. Actually, even if had not decided to terminate Gecko embedding, Gecko 1.9.2 is the end of the line for Tiger anyway, since the later Gecko versions (i.e.: the ones used in Firefox 4) only support OS X 10.5 and up. I presume that this news will also pertain to the future of SeaMonkey development.

In the same vein, I'm pessimistic about Apple continuing to support and update Safari 4 for Tiger after Lion is released, so that means that other browsers using the WebKit rendering engine will be obliged to drop Tiger support for future releases. It's quite possible that the current Safari 4.1.3 will be the definitive supported browser for Tiger, analogous to OS X 10.4.11 being the ultimate supported operating system version. That will leave us Tiger holdouts with the choice of using legacy software, dependent on hacks like TenFourFox, or resorting to a hacked install of OS X 10.5 Leopard. Your Quicksilver could probably handle Leopard quite nicely, but I'm highly skeptical that it would run decently on my gizmos with their puny RAGE Mobility 128 GPUs and 8 MB of VRAM.


Publisher's note: I'm with Dean and Charles on the use of vintage Macs, vintage operating systems, and vintage apps. I've had a dual 1 GHz Mirror Drive Door Power Mac G4 for about six years now, and it remains in daily use running OS X 10.4 Tiger with Classic Mode and good old Claris Home Page 3, the only pre-OS X app that I use. This is the machine I use to write, edit, and upload content, along with some help from TextSoap 4 (two versions behind), TextWrangler 2.3 (3.5.3 is current), and KompoZer 0.7.10 (0.8 has been in beta for 1-1/2 years).

Until two days ago, my other production machine was a dual 1.6 GHz (upgraded) Digital Audio Power Mac G4 running OS X 10.5 Leopard. Why two Macs? Because NetNewsWire, a great news reader that I've been using for years, dropped sync support for the last Tiger-compatible version. This has also been my email, iPhoto, and iTunes machine. I use Teleport (freeware) to control both of these Macs and my server from the same keyboard and mouse - much easier than switching input devices, with the plus that Teleport also syncs the clipboard, making it easy to move text (articles, URLs, etc.) from one Mac to the other.

I'm just about finished migrating to an Intel Mac mini. I'll be detailing that switch Real Soon Now. Teleport is kind of flaky, but everything else seems to be working well in OS X 10.6.7 Snow Leopard. dk

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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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