Charles Moore's Mailbag

Pismos Back from the Brink for a While Longer

Charles Moore - 2012.06.27 - Tip Jar

Thanks to everyone who wrote with suggestions regarding the browser issue with my old, hot-rodded Pismo PowerBooks running OS X 10.4 Tiger (see End of the Road in Sight for OS X Tiger and My Pismo PowerBooks). Floodgap Software's Cameron Kaiser suggested trying a test build of TenFourFox 10.0.5, which I did, but no joy. I think his observations that Mozilla stopped supporting the older JavaScript compiler in version 10 may have pinpointed the problem - and that it's possible the bar is getting higher than the older CPUs in the Pismo can reach (I also suspect that the Pismo's puny graphics card is a major contributor to the issue) has likely pretty much nailed it.

Austin Leeds asked whether I'd tried Camino, and I hadn't lately, so I decided to download the latest build (2.1.2), which I was delighted to discover still supports OS X 10.4. It also provides pretty lively performance - at least relatively speaking. Consequently, I think it will be be the key to another reprieve from the eventual inevitable.

Try a TenFourFox Test Build

From Cameron Kaiser:

Hi Charles,

I'm trying to determine based on your recent column when the problems started to occur: Was it around the 8-9 timeframe, or within the current 10.x series?

By 10, Mozilla stopped supporting the older JavaScript compiler we used from 4.x through 9.x. Maintaining it would have been nearly impossible. In 10.0.6 I am going to be introducing a minor improvement to compiler latency, though I am unsure how much improvement that will be on your systems (it will, however, particularly benefit smaller scripts which have a proportionately higher compilation penalty). So if the problem occurred between in the 8.0 to 10.x timeframe, unfortunately I have no means of "going back." You could see if 10.0.6 helps you when it comes out in about three or four weeks.

On the other hand, if the slowdowns were within the 10.x series, then I wonder if something else is afoot. For the last several releases, that branch only gets security fixes. It might be worth moving to the unstable branch just to see if it's better there, but I wouldn't have any good explanation for you otherwise, other than the usual suggestions of a clean profile. I use TenFourFox personally on a 1 GHz iMac G4 and a 1.33 GHz iBook G4 as well as my desktop G5 Quad, and even though I am the chief ringleader, I am happy with how well my Power Macs still perform. However, it is certainly possible that the bar is getting higher than the older CPUs in the Pismo can manage, and Mozilla is evolving the browser at a considerably faster rate which doubtlessly magnifies the problem.

I continue to enjoy your columns.

Cameron Kaiser

PS: I should also mention that there is a test build of 10.0.5 you can try with that patch in it:

Hi Cameron,

Thanks for the interest and contact. It was around version 8 when the slowdown problem cropped up, although it subjectively seems worse with version 10.

The poor old Pismo has a 550 MHz G4 processor upgrade and 1 GB of RAM. The Rage Mobility 128 and 8 MB of VRAM may well be the worst bottleneck.

I've downloaded version 10.0.5. Maybe a bit livelier, but still awfully sluggish.


Pismos to Pasture

From Brian:

I was interested to see your article about putting the Pismos out to pasture. My brother has been on a Pismo until quite recently, although I'm helping him move to a newer machine - incidentally, a 2008 aluminum MacBook just like you have.

I see you don't mention Apple's own Safari in your discussion of Tiger browsers. Apple updated it until recently - 4.1.3, the latest for Tiger, was released in November 2010, a lot more recently than Navigator 9. Any quick thoughts?


Hi Brian,

I've never been much of a Safari fan, although I use it extensively on the iPad.

The OmniWeb version 5.11.1 that I'm using on the Pismo is WebKit based and I think on the same or a later version than Safari 4.1.3. It's probably the best of the bunch at this point.


Safari and Leopard WebKit

From John:

Hello Mr. Moore,

I have enjoyed your comments on Low End Mac for several years. I am emailing about "End of the Road in Sight for OS X Tiger and My Pismo PowerBooks."

I am still using Tiger on my WallStreet G3 (300 MHz) and my "new" 12" Aluminum 867 MHz. Just checking, I nearly quit Tiger, but the Flash 11 hack described in Low End Mac is very good and at least allows some activity on both machines. Probably will move to OS X 10.5 Leopard next tax season, but plan on Tiger for yet another summer.

I wonder if you saw the Lepoard WebKit build at

Since I do not own Leopard now, I cannot test it, but perhaps before popping the old Pismo in the closet you might try?


Hi John

Thanks for the comment, and glad you're still getting service from the old PowerBooks.

Unfortunately, the Pismo is not supported by Leopard. Hacked installs are possible, but not something I want to gert into on a work machine.


Publisher's note: I've been using the new Leopard WebKit on my dual 1 GHz Power Mac G4 for a couple weeks now. It works by forcing Safari to use its version of WebKit instead of Apple's, and while I can't say I've noticed any real difference (I've never been a big Safari user, but that has been changing in recent months, even on Tiger), but I haven't seen any issues with the WebKit update either. Worth a try if you're running Leopard on a PPC Mac. dk

What About Camino?

From Austin:

Have you tried Camino?

Hi Austin

Yes, TenFour Fox was faster. Maybe worth another look.

Later: Downloaded version 2.1.2. It seems to be a service life extending solution.



Pismos Have Passed Their Prime

From John Hatchett:

Sad to hear, Charles. In all honesty, I have not fired up my old Pismo in quite a while. Okay, just did. I'm running TenFourFox for a G3 processor, and it seems to be running over the Net okay. I guess I should use it a little more often. You're right, the time of this great old bird is gone.

We will never see it's like again.

Hi John,

Too true.


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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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