Intel US15W “Poulsbo” Ultra Mobile chipset, SSDs and SATA TRIM

I have bad news. A lot of (very slow) netbooks with Intels US15W chipset—also known under its codename “Poulsbo”–use a PATA-to-SATA bridge chip, simply because of the fact that the chipset doesn’t feature SATA at all. So what netbook vendors did back in ~2008 was to add this bridge chip in order to get an Atom-based notebook at a low price with a back then already standard SATA interface. Apparently SSDs were not the standard back then: they used standard HDDs with either SATA I (1.5 GBit/s) or SATA II (3 GBit/s).

Since the Intel Atom of this generation, Z5xx mostly, isn’t really a fast processor anyway, it really makes not much of a difference if the ATA (IDE) i.e. “parallel ATA” or SATA i.e. “serial ATA” interface is used. Speed will always be limited by the processor, making the Atom Z500 series a bad choice for a real SATA-based system. BUT 2.5 inch disk drives from 2008 were mostly SATA, so they kind of had to add the PATA/SATA bridge to get it. In this view–and only in this view!–it makes perfectly sense to even think about adding such a PATA-to-SATA bridge chip.

The problem

Actually there wouldn’t be a problem, and with SATA HDDs there is none. Specifically, the problem is the PATA-to-SATA bridge chip they used. It doesn’t know about SATA TRIM. Which, by itself, is not a problem either, BUT for unknown reasons it doesn’t correctly relay the TRIM command, thus TRIM is never sent to and never received by the SATA SSD, therefor TRIM doesn’t work.

“Not so bad,” one might think. “Then I use an SSD with a good garbage collection mechanism and I’m okay.” Right? Wrong!

How the operating system handles SATA TRIM…

Every operating system I know of will check the ATA interface and the HDD/SSD for its supported features i.e. capabilities. Windows supports SATA TRIM since version 7 (2009). Therefor Windows up to Vista simply ignores the TRIM feature, even if it is supported by the SSD: it doesn’t check for it, doesn’t use it and will simply ignore it. Not even third party programs are able to use TRIM on Windows prior to Windows 7, which is normal, because every program that wants to send TRIM relys on kernel functions which were not yet implemented before Windows 7. On Linux and Mac OS X it is the same. Linux supports TRIM since Kernel version 2.6.33 (February 2010), Mac OS X since version 10.6.6 (special MacBook Pro version, February 2011) and 10.6.8 (June 2011), but only for selected Apple SSD hardware (which can be hacked to work with any SSD).

But if the operating system does have support for the TRIM command, it will ask the HDD on the ATA or SATA bus about its capabilities (features). A SATA SSD (or ATA SSD) will report that it supports TRIM through the standard ATA protocol. So far the used PATA-to-SATA bridge chip does everything right. So the SSD reports to Linux, Mac OS X, Windows and any other operating system and tool that it has TRIM capability.

Windows (and FreeBSD/NetBSD/OpenBSD, Linux, Mac OS X and any other OS with TRIM support) will then try to use this reported feature. And here the problem with this particular configuration starts, because as soon as Windows tries to use TRIM, this command will not “get through” the PATA-to-SATA bridge chip. One way to deal with this may be to simply ignore it, but apparently Windows does not do that… and hangs. My guess is that it somehow checks for a successful TRIM command, which fails, and any further disk input/output is therefor impossible from this point on. (Which is why the installer does not really crash: the mouse cursor is moving normally, only without any further disk i/o nothing can be done, not even to cancel the installation.)

Linux continues to work. This may be either because it doesn’t check for a successful TRIM command or because the US15W chipset may already be blacklisted. I did not do research any further, because quite frankly I don’t care that much. It is only important to notice that dispite the reported TRIM feature and all the trim functions enabled in Linux, trim still does not happen on the SSD. But the system will not hang, only you will not know about the non-working TRIM.


So, since now we know about the WHY? we can start asking about the HOW? to get around it. The logical answer: disable TRIM support on Windows. The other possiblity would be to make the SSD not report that it has TRIM capability. But this would mean to modify the firmware of the SSD, something only a very very very qualified hacker could do or the manufacturer of the SSD, both very unlikely…

So there we go: disable TRIM on Windows 7 and newer. How would we do that? The solution is not trivial, but can be accomplished with a bit of know-how.

First, you need the following things prepared:

  • Means for partitioning and formating an NTFS volume on a TRIM-disabled SSD.
  • Means to change the windows registry in order to disable TRIM.

For the first one there are a couple of possibilities, all of which come down to using either an operating system that doesn’t support TRIM or one that at least doesn’t crash when partitioning and formating the target drive and partition. I would like to point out two:

  • Partition the HDD/SDD and format the target NTFS partition using Linux: parted or fdisk and mkntfs (from NTFS-3G)
  • Use Windows installation media (USB pen drive or DVD) of a Windows prior to Windows 7 to partition the drive and format the partition. Ideal: Windows Vista.

This is necessary because Windows 7, 8, 8.1 and 10 installation media will stall when formating any partition with NTFS, because it will try to TRIM the whole partition. Windows Vista on the other hand will not use TRIM at all, therefor the creation of an NTFS partition will be successful and it will not hang.

For the second task we need a Windows live system, such as Windows PE. It will, of course, also work to remove the SSD from the netbook, connect it to another PC running Windows and to import the registry hive there. If this is not an option or too complicated (when performing an upgrade this has to be done twice!) the live media is the better solution.

  • BartPE, at this time the only Windows live environment I know of.
  • Theoretically any Windows PE or Windows RE system that includes/supports running the Registry Editor regedit.exe works.

There are other Windows live solutions around, but BartPE seems the most easy to create and is available free of charge.

To create a BartPE live boot media (either USB or DVD) you need a copy of Windows, preferrably the one you try to alter the Windows Registry with, so I would suggest a Windows 7 version of BartPE. I did my modification with a Windows 8.1 version of BartPE and it worked, and I assume that a Windows Vista version will also work, nevertheless it seems logical to use the same version. Note that Windows Enterprise Edition is available free of charge for download and can be tested for 90 days for free, so you will have no problem to get a Windows version for the use with BartPE.

So, if you don’t have a bootable live Windows like BartPE yet, there will be a lot of downloading to do:

  • Download a Windows ISO image. If you register with Microsoft, Windows 10 Enterprise is free.
  • Use WinBuilder to create a bootable Windows PE live media, either a USB pen drive or a DVD.

Once you have done all that, start with a normal installation of Windows 7 or newer. Select the already prepared NTFS partition as installation target but do not format that partition! The Windows installation routine will copy all necessary files from the installation media to the NTFS partition and also copy and configure the boot loader and prepare the next installation steps after restarting the computer from the HDD or SSD. Luckily no TRIM is needed to write files.

When the Windows 7, 8/8.1 and 10 installation program reports that it has finished copying all files it will display a count-down in order to restart the computer automatically. You can start the reboot, but do NOT start the freshly installed Windows from the SSD!

Instead, do one of the following: 1) turn the PC off when the display gets dark, i.e. the reboot is in progress and the BIOS resets and initializes all the integrated devices. When you turn the computer back on again later, make sure to boot from the prepared Windows PE live media. 2) during the reboot, select the prepared Windows PE live media to boot from right away.

Selecting the live media as boot device requires you to know exactly what type of BIOS (or UEFI) your computer has. Some BIOS/UEFI implementations use the Escape key for a “BBS POPUP” i.e. the boot selection menu. Others expect the F5 key. Some want the F8, F9, F10, F11 or F12 key pressed during BIOS initialization. And so on. You really have to look into it. Try it first, so you already know how to boot from the live media when you need it after the first part of the Windows installation.

Disable TRIM in the Windows Registry

This is a step-by-step guide to disable the TRIM command for Windows. BTW, I was surprised to find that this is actually a registry key, and only that. If I would have had to guess, I would have guessed it must be a boot loader parameter. But it isn’t… (it appears that boot parameters have been discontinued by Microsoft…)

You have just started from the prepared BartPE (or any other Windows PE based live media). Nor run regedit.exe. In the registry editor select HKLM i.e. HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE. From the “File” menu select “Import Hive…” and load C:\Windows\System32\Config\SYSTEM. When asked for a name, give it a temporary name that you can easily identify, like “TEMP”. (Note: when you upgrade an existing Windows you have to do this on the C:\$Windows.~bt folder before, reboot, continue with the installation and on the next reboot load the registry hive again with the C:\Windows folder!)

Now, all you have to do is find all “ControlsetXXX” keys in the hive and change the Control\Filesystem\DisableDeleteNotification from 0 to 1. So, if you chose “TEMP” as name, the registry path will be HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\TEMP\ControlSet001\Control\Filesystem. In this path you will find the DWORD entry “DisableDeleteNotification”. Double-click it and change the value from 0 to 1. Check if there are other control sets, like HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\TEMP\ControlSet002, and change it there too.

Now, selet HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\TEMP, go the the menu and unload the hive („File“ menu, „Unload Hive…“ while „TEMP“ is selected in the registry tree).

Reboot and continue with the installation, i.e. your BIOS boot selection will be the internal SSD. Windows 7, 8, 8.1 and 10 will now no longer use TRIM and therefor it will no longer stall.

Note: when you upgrade from a previous version of Windows, you need to do the registry change twice: once for the registry have in a directory called $Windows.~bt after rebooting for the first time, and a second time in the Windows directory when rebooting the second time. This is due to the way the Windows installer is built. It will have to move the previous Windows installation from C:\Windows away, which cannot be done when the installation program is run from that very Windows installation. It will use an intermediate installation step, which is in the $Windows.~bt directory. When the actual installation is performed after the first reboot, the old Windows installation will normally be moved to C:\Windows.old and the new one will be placed in C:\Windows, where the registry change is necessary once more.


Windows 10 on Sony Vaio VGN-N21E/W

This Sony Vaio is very old. It has a 32-Bit-only Intel Core Duo T2250 @ 1.73 GHz and only 1 GB of main memory. The original Windows Vista was slow too, so I thought I might as well try Windows 10 as part of the Windows Insider program, thus this is Windows 10 Pro.

Installation and performance

Installation takes ages. But everything takes ages on this laptop. Performance simply isn’t something to expect from this kind of out-dated hardware. The upgrade to 1511 took at least two hours to finish.

Working with the laptop on Windows 10 doesn’t feel any slower than on Windows Vista though. So I think that Windows 10 x32 is a good alternative to Vista x32 on this hardware, but quite honestly I wouldn’t buy Windows 10 in order to replace the existing operating system. Alternatives like verious Linux distributions should do the job as well and are free of charge.

Missing drivers

In general Windows 10 hardware support is good on this hardware. Since the T2250 processor doesn’t support the 64-Bit extension you’re left with no choice but to take the x32 (32-Bit) edition of Windows anyhow.

After installation, only two devices lack drivers.

  1. unknown LPC device ACPI\SNY5001
  2. unknown PCI device PCI\VEN_104C&DEV_803B&SUBSYS_8212104D

You cannot get any drivers for these devices directly from Sony for this model, the VGN-N21E, because Sony dropped support years ago and – as it is common in the Windows world – driver situation is a mess.

So, for the first device I found a driver for another Sony Vaio, the VPC115FM, for Windows 7 x64. This will not install as Windows 10 blocks installation after it has started, but you can copy the temporary created folder which contains the required driver. First download the driver from here:

Getting the required driver works like this:

  1. When you try installing this on Windows 10, at some point Windows will stop installation because it thinks the driver is not compatible. You can acknowledge that message.
  2. Then the Sony driver installation package will show an error message telling you where you can find the temporary folder. In my case this was C:\Users\user\AppData\Local\Temp\GLFF261.
  3. Open Explorer and navigate to that folder. You will have to type the path in directly since the AppData directory is normally hidden.
  4. Copy the whole folder to another location, like the desktop or your downloads or documents or whatever.
  5. Now, since you’ve got the needed files, close the error message from the Sony driver installation. This may or may not delete the temporary folder, which was the reason to copy it before closing the installer.

Now we’ve got the driver. You may have noticed that I am using Windows 10 x32 and the driver is for Windows 7 x64. Yes, but in that folder we find a driver for Windows 7 x64 and x32. Since the driver model did not change for this device from Windows 7 to 10 it also works in Windows 10. To install it, open the Device Manager and choose to update the driver, pointing it to the folder we copied in step 4. Done.

Now the second device: a PCI device. The hardware IDs can be used to find the device using your favorite internet search engine. The IDs are: vendor 104C, device 803B, subsystem 8212 104D. Some operating systems, like Linux, write this like this: 104C:803B, subsystem 104D:8212.

Using the internet I found that this is a Texas Instruments Multi Card Reader. Which one remained unclear though. So I did find a Sony driver called “Texas Instruments PCIxx12 Integrated FlashMedia Controller”, but somehow this did not work.

Using the same technique to extract the actual driver one can see that the driver has the filename “ti21sony.sys”. So it can be that it actually is for TI PCIxx21 devices only, not PCIxx12 devices. But it is also possible that this driver is 64-Bit-only.

This did not work out, thus I had to search further… and soon found a driver that worked:

Even though this driver is from HP, it worked on my Sony Vaio VGN-N21E. The driver is for x32 and x64 Windows, it is dated 1 April 2009 (no joke!) and it supports “TI-PCI xx12/x515/xx21“ card readers.

After the installtion worked, the naming becomes clearer: it seems to be the subsystem ID. The one in the Vaio VGN-N21E is (104D) 8212. So this will likely be a “TI-PCI xx12” (8212) card reader.

UPDATE: After the Anniversary Update of Windows 10, now version 1607 (2nd of August 2016), the driver for the SD card reader no longer worked. Luckily I found another one here:


Now there are no more unknown devices on this Windows 10 Pro x32 installation. At least for the Sony Firmware Extension Parser this seems to be the only effect, since it doesn’t seem to do anything without additional software.

The Media Card Reader driver on the other hand allows the use of the integrated SD card and MemoryStick slots.

Good luck!

I hope that this will help others in their journey to acquire working drivers for their Windows installation on older hardware, as the techniques shown may also work for other devices on other laptops and PCs… with other Windows versions…

Mac mini G4 SATA HDD/SSD upgrade

One of the problems of the original Mac mini (2005, G4 PowerPC processor) is that it still uses 2.5 inch parallel ATA (PATA) drives. That is very unfortunate, especially since the Mac mini G4 came with drives of 40 to 80 GB capacity, which is not much compared to todays standards (2015).
But, once you decide to upgrade, you face the current market situation, where IDE 44-pin 2.5 inch HDDs are much more expensive than regular 2.5 inch SATA HDDs or even 2.5 inch SATA SSDs!

The strategy, in theory…

So, a solution is to use an adapter to convert from 44-pin IDE to SATA. The problem: the Mac mini G4 doesn’t provide much space for additional adapters. Such an adapter would therefore have to be very small in dimensions. Another problem could be the height of the adapter and the resulting displacement of the 2.5 inch HDD or SSD. A show stopper would be if the adapter doesn’t fit in at all, because its connector is placed as such that the adapter is displaced in relation to the HDD/SSD, making it impossible to fit them both at the same time.

So I though that it might be a possible solution to install the SATA HDD/SSD turned by 180° with the connector towards the speaker in front. But how then connect the SATA connector of the HDD/SSD with the 44-pin IDE connector on the other side? The solution could have been quite simple: use a 44-pin ATA/IDE cable. A 2.5 inch drive is about 10cm long, so the cable would have to be a little longer. 15cm would do. So that is what I ordered.

  1. IDE 2.5 inch (44-pin) to SATA adapter, smallest possible size
  2. IDE/ATA 44-pin cable, around 15cm but at least 2cm
  3. 44-pin IDE/ATA gender switcher

And then I found that it still doesn’t fit!

The only real solution…

…will void the warranty of your SATA SSD.

I tried at least two different IDE/SATA adapters, which were presumably as small as they can be, with and without using an additional cable. With the 2.5 inch ATA cable (44-pin) it is even worse. Thinking about it, this was to be expected. But even with the smallest IDE/SATA adapter the place is too scarce for a standard size 2.5 inch HDD/SSD.

The only real solution was to get the SSD out of its 2.5 inch case. This voids the warranty of the SSD. Most SSDs however are very small on the inside, half of the size of the case, or even more than half, could be empty. Some very large capacity SSDs use more space inside the SSD case.

It worked!

The solution to put a fast SSD into a Mac mini G4 is to remove it from its case and use the IDE/SATA adapter:

  1. IDE 2.5 inch (44-pin) to SATA adapter
  2. any 2.5 inch SATA SSD, but remove the circuit board holding the flash chips from the case

Again be warned that this will void the warranty of the SSD!


You have to be extremely careful to get the right adapter! Most adapters are for the other way around: to connect an existing IDE drive to a SATA connector on the mainboard. But we want it exact opposite, because the mainboard of the Mac Mini G4 still has a IDE interface and we want to connect a modern SATA drive to it!

One way to distinguish one from the other is to check if the SATA connector is male or female. Since the connector on the HDD/SDD is with the pins visible: if the adapter card has the same, it’s most likely the wrong adapter. This is the time to take a close look at Serial ATA (SATA)

The IDE connector for the cable would have had to be male, not female. Since the cable is female, it would not have fit if the IDE connector on the adapter was also female! Parallel ATA (PATA) aka ATA aka IDE (the connectors on 3.5 inch cables look almost the same, so take them as a reference)…

This is what I got in particular:

  1. XRP 2.5″ 7+15P SATA SSD HDD Hard Drive to 2.5″ 44P IDE Compact Adapter Converter Horizontal Type 


Whatever I am running on this/my Mac mini G4 1.5 GHz (Late 2005)—be it Mac OS X 10.2.8 (unsupported, runs with issues), 10.3.9 (only the original model, but once installed it also runs on the Late 2005 models), 10.4.11 or 10.5.8—the real culprit for not getting off the ground is the processor and the memory. The G4 7457 with its 1.5 GHz is actually a fast G4 model, but with only one core (some high end Power Macs used dual processors) and its bus with only 167 MHz is simply too slow to shift data around. Also the memory cannot be expanded beyond 1 GB, which is a pity. While the graphics card is very sufficient for Mac OS X 10.3 “Panther” and quite usable under Mac OS X 10.4 “Tiger”, when using Mac OS X 10.5 “Leopard” the Radeon 9200 AGP 4x additionally slows down the whole experience, as it doesn’t fully support Core Image.

With the SSD programs start tangibly faster and disk access in general feels quicker, still it is apparent that the whole system doesn’t provide a greater performance due to its real limiting components: 1) the processor and bus speeds and 2) the maximum supported memory and 3) the graphics card.

In general you can feel that the Mac mini G4 is actually using laptop technology (as opposed to the experience you get when using a Power Mac G4 Cube, which internally is a real desktop computer).

In the end, even with the limited gain in speed, using the IDE/SATA adapter plus SSD (removed from its case) is still the best HDD upgrade solution for a Mac mini G4, because it is nowerdays cheaper than a 2.5 inch IDE HDD. And if you now think that using the adapter and an even cheaper SATA HDD would do as well, then you forgot about the limited space inside the Mac mini! Only the SSD can easily be removed from its case in order to fit. (I’ll just assume that a 1.8 inch SATA HDD will be as expensive as a 2.5 inch SSD… anyway, the SSD circuit board is so light in weight that no screws are required, which may not be true for a 1.8 inch HDD…)

I know that such an SSD upgrade has already been performed before, but this is my (extended) story of my little adventure, trying it myself. Maybe this story is of use for someone else too.

Mac OS X 10.2 Jaguar update list

Mac OS X 10.2 was released by Apple in 2002. Ten years later, in the summer of 2012, Apple discontinued Software Update for Mac OS X 10.3 and earlier. (Panther users got less than 9 years…) Users of Mac OS X 10.2 are therefor on their own when they want to re-install Jaguar on a supported (by Mac OS X) yet by Apple discontinued (hence unsupported) PowerPC-based Mac.
According Apple the required updates will still be available for download on Apples Support site, but to find which updates are applicable is hard work.

For the very few who may want to re-install Mac OS X 10.2.8 Jaguar on a Power Mac (or inside PearPC, which was slow on PCs back in 2004) I wrote down the list of updates an original Mac OS X 10.2 release was receiving using Software Update back in 2011.

Mac OS X 10.2 updates

This list of updates is in the order it was presented in Software Update on a Power Mac G4 Quicksilver (original model, 2001). Apple’s software update chart doesn’t include all of them; other Mac models may include additional (model specific) updates:

  1. 10.2.8 Update Combo (2003-10-01)
  2. QuickTime 6.3 (2003-05-28)
  3. Safari 1.0 (2003-06-18)
  4. iCal 1.5.5 (2004-12-03)
  5. Bluetooth Software 1.3.3 (2003-11-10)
  6. Java Update 1.4.1 Update 1 (2003-11-14)
  7. QuickTime 6.5.3 (2005-10-11)
  8. Safari 1.0.3 Update (2004-08-02)
  9. Mac OS X 10.2.8 Security Update 2004-04-24 (2004-04-20)
  10. Mac OS X 10.2.8 Security Update 2004-06-07
  11. Mac OS X 10.2.8 Security Update 2004-09-16
  12. Mac OS X 10.2.8 Security Update 2004-09-30
  13. Mac OS X 10.2.8 Security Update 2005-001
  14. QuickTime 6.4 Update for Java 2.0
  15. Safari Security Update 2003-12-05
  16. iPod Driver (for iTunes) 3.1 (2005-01-06)
  17. iPod Updater 2006-01-10
  18. iPod Updater 2006-06-28
  19. iSync 1.5
  20. iSync Security Update 2005-004

Depending on the specific Mac model these updates may also be applicable:

  • 10.2.8 (G5) Update (2003-10-03)
  • NVidia FCode flasher 1.1 (2004-03-15)
  • Graphics Driver Update 1.0 (2004-02-09)

Additionally I found these updates, which were not included by Software Update:

  • Bluetooth Update 1.3.4 (2004-02-17)
  • Apple Remote Desktop (ARD) Client Update 1.2.4 (2003-12-16)
  • CHUD Tools 3.5.2 (2004-06-22)
  • iTunes 6.0.5 (2006-06-29)

Since this list is for a Power Mac G4 Quicksilver (which has an nVidia graphics card installed), ATI specific updates will be missing.

I did not link the specified updates to the respective download site, because Apple, as it has done in the past, changes link addresses from time to time and sadly Apple does not provide permalinks. Since now you have a list what to look for you should be able to find all of these updates at Apple Support by using the search function.

Mac OS X Server

Someone at Green Building Concepts made a similar list for Mac OS X 10.2 Server.

Continued use of Mac OS X 10.2.8 Jaguar

Well, to be honest, most PowerPC applications require Mac OS X 10.4 or higher. I highly recommend using Mac OS X 10.4.11 Tiger on every Power Macintosh that supports it. It may be possible to get Tiger installed on officially unsupported Macs using XPostFacto.

However, some useful applications do run on Mac OS X 10.2.8:

  • possibly bundled iLife
  • possibly bundled AppleWorks 6.2.9
  • Adobe Reader 7.1.4
  • BootCD 0.5.4
  • Carbon Copy Cloner 2.3 (2003-10-22)
  • Cinebench 8.1 (2003-02-27)
  • Disc Burner 1.15
  • Little Snitch 1.2.4 (2007-01-12) free license
  • Microsoft Office:mac 2004 11.6.6
  • Microsoft Remote Desktop Connection Client 1.0.3 (2004-10-12)
  • Microsoft Virtual PC 7.0.3 (not on a G5)
  • OnyX 1.3.1 (2006-05-17)
  • Opera 8.54 (2007-03-29)
  • Opera 9.64 (2009-03-02) officially requires Mac OS X 10.3, but it also runs on Jaguar
  • StuffIt Expander 8.0.2
  • Video LAN Client (VLC) Media Player 0.8.4a (2005-12-12)
  • Xfolders 0.5.1 (2003-09-02)
  • Zippist 1.2 (2004-09-26)

Security warning! These applications contain unfixed security holes! Opening files of unknown origin (like off the internet) is dangerous and represents a security hazard!

A lot of good applications require at least Mac OS X 10.3.9 Panther, most updated versions require at least Mac OS X 10.4.11 Tiger, some even Mac OS X 10.5.8 Leopard. Still, Mac OS X 10.2.8 Jaguar is good enough for Microsoft Office:mac 2004, which is a very good office application, while at the same time it feels like a voyage through time. The usual PowerPC Mac applications are missing. Older versions of these applications are often either carbonized Mac OS 8/9 applications or they are outdated and contain severe security related bugs, like internet browsers such as Camino, PDF viewers/editors like Adobe Acrobat and even office suites like Microsoft Office (the last security fix for Office:mac 2004 is from December 2011).

Hardware compatibility

The latest Macs that officially run Jaguar (latest models require at least 10.2.7) are:

  • Power Mac G5: only original (2003) with special 10.2.7 installation media
  • Power Mac G4: all models including the Cube
  • iMac: up to 2003 model (without USB 2.0)
  • eMac: up to 2003 model (without USB 2.0)
  • PowerBook: up to 2003 model (PowerBook5,3 and PowerBook 6,2)
  • iBook G3: all models (but none of the iBook G4 models)
  • Power Mac G3: all models
  • Power Macintosh G3: all models

Unofficial support when restoring a backup of 10.2.8:

  • Mac mini G4: runs, but no video acceleration, no audio, no WiFi – lack of driver?
  • most likely all PowerBooks
  • possibly all iBook G4s, maybe with some functions not working (e.g. audio)


Dear Computer Makers: be visionary, unleash the power of Linux

I’ve just read this article by Jim Mendenhall. Yes, a Linux pre-installation would be a good thing. But I just cannot agree with his choice of Linux distribution: Ubuntu.

Linux for the masses

Ubuntu is said to be the Linux for beginners. But it really is awful. A lot of Linux newbies don’t like Linux because of Ubuntu. Show them Gnome 2 or KDE 4 and they may stay, show them Unity and the run away!

Ubuntu has to go its own way. Mir instead of Wayland, Unity instead of Gnome or KDE. Upstart instead of systemd. Yes, upstart was there first, I know; and they will eventually make the switch to systemd, which probably was greatly inspired by upstart. In this regard: thank you Ubuntu! But Mir and Unity really wasn’t necessary on the desktop!

Linux is all about choice!

There is no Linux but all of them! Linux users like to choose which distribution they want to use. They like to choose which desktop to use.

They like to choose on the hardware side as well: it’s not always low-end they want. Sometimes they’d like to get a high-end computer, but there is none specifically for Linux!

If you know that, pre-installation suddenly doesn’t make that much sense anymore. The only thing a vendor can do is to actively help letting the user make choices of his own and to eagerly help with Linux support. This means: a clean and working BIOS or UEFI implementation, which is commited clearly to supporting Linux from the firmware side, and not the other way around. (And there is nothing wrong with supporting Windows as well!)

The hardware and the firmware of a Linux computer

So what does this mean? It means that the firmware (like the BIOS or UEFI) has to be suitable for Linux so that Linux must not use workarounds, so called “quirks” which in their quantity bloat the kernel already. A firmware designed for Linux – that’s real Linux support.

Another support could be to provide firmware blobs for embedded devices inside a special firmware area for the Linux kernel to grab and use. This situation is less a long-term target than it is here-and-now necessity.
The Linux kernel would have to be patched so that support for such a – please: standardised! – “firmware blob interface” would be present, but then this could be used for all Linux firmware implementations from various computer vendors.

The long-term goal is to use hardware that does not require blobs at all. This is the hardest part, as it requires vendors to stand up for open devices. If, for example, a WiFi chip is used, then the computer vendor has to get the WiFi chip vendor to help develop an open source Linux driver that does not require a firmware blob at all. Open specifications would be one way to do this, but most chip vendors say they cannot release this information due to intellectual property and due to their industrial secrets they want to keep. It’s a dilemma.
Even more so, the CPU itself has firmware blob issues, like the Librem Laptop project found out the hard way.

So there are two ways to go:

  1. either try to go fully open source,
  2. or make the best of it and help as much as you can.

Trying to be fully open source

As of 2014, I see lots of small hacking & development devices fully open sourced, and only one laptop-to-be:

  1. the Novena is a low-end laptop-to-be
  2. lots of Rasperry-Pi-like open source hardware
  3. the AMD Gizmo is also intended for developers

Making the best of the firmware blob situation

Most Linux-pre-loaded laptops are basically “designed for Windows” machines that come with Ubuntu:

  1. Dell, HP, ASUS, to name just a few vendors selling lower-end linux laptops and netbooks
  2. the Librem 15 is an exception, as it tries to be higher-end, but it is still a laptop-to-be…

The only problem with how it is now is that support ends with the pre-installed linux. Maybe a driver support site lets you download some linux drivers, but often they will not work well on other distros. And these vendors don’t let the Linux community provide help. And: where are the high-end Linux computers?!?

A new über-firmware approach?

I have an idea. It actually isn’t new, but it transforms the idea of choice towards operating systems.

First, you all know, or have at least heard of, that Microsoft was sued in Europe and finally forced to provide a choice of which internet browser to use on Windows – and this freedom of choice had to be presented highly visible to the user: the Browser Choice.

So, how would you like to get an “operating system choice”? The idea is as follows:

  1. Use an open firmware, like coreboot (wiki)
  2. Include a module (payload) that is some kind of Mini OS
    • read-only
    • Internet access
    • choice of operating system
    • partition management (like gparted)
    • include a special service partition (noexec!), where
      • you can download drivers and manuals to
      • and save configuartion backup on
  3. This Mini OS could let you chooce which OS you would like to use, including commercial operating systems – yes, even Microsoft Windows.

Even more, this firmware should be able to provide a safe pre-initialization environment that prevents malware from being loaded from hard disk drives or other sources, to provide a safe environment for firmware updates.

  1. TWO firmware chips:
    1. read-only firmware ROM chip on a socket: a factory-default hence safe firmware and Mini OS
    2. a flashable – updateable – firmware flash chip with updated firmware blobs (microcode, AGESA update, blobs for various chips), an updated coreboot firmware and an updated Mini OS
  2. the flashable i.e. second firmware chip should be jumper-securable to read-only setting as well. This should cover for malware infection prevention.
  3. each and every embedded chip must be read-only as well, making it only possible to modify by the firmware provided updated
    1. this too provides durable malware protection, as no malware is then able to hide deep in the system – if such a system gets infected, all that is needed it to reset the firmware completely using the factory-default image from the first read-only firmware ROM chip
    2. since both firmware chips riside on a socket, they can even be updated in terms of storage capacity and, for the ROM chip, in firmware version


I know this idea is kind of idialistic. But hey, all innovations started with some kind of far-fetched vision, right?

In my opinion, an open source computer can only start by using an open source firmware of some kind.

And a Linux computer can only be about choice. Because Linux is about choice. That said, only the program that runs before the actual Linux distribution can provide such a choice to the user. That would be the firmware then: an über-firmware, that asks the user which distribution – which operating system – (s)he wants to install and use. And it should provide means to assist with this installation, like by conveniently providing the required drivers and firmware blobs.


Even more far-fetched: such an über-firmware could also act as a hypervisor for multi-boot installations. Just imagine: in the firmware you decide which resources an operating system gets, the firmware provides the virtualized environment for the OS and then allows you to boot that operating system. As a hypervisor it would theoretically also be possible to stop that OS, save its state, switch to an other OS, or even let the OS continue to run in the background and finish its job while the user works with one the other OSes.

A Linux vision

As long as Linux computers try to copy pre-installations as we see them from Microsoft Windows they lack a unique Linux vision. There is no Linux way nor a real open source way perceptible.

Linux users deserve better. They deserve better computers than low-end models with pre-installed Ubuntu.

Linux vendors ought to do better. They should work with the open source community, build on already existing software technologies (like coreboot) and envision how to enhance the Linux experience for every user: even if the user installs and uses only one distro. It is worth the effort, since other Linux users will discover the potential, they will help to develop and enhance the implementations, they will help build a community around it. They will spent hours providing drivers/firmware for their favorite distro, help other users in forums, write wiki pages, translate documentations, contribute code – they will even build KVM and Docker images if you let them!

Dear computer makers! Be visionary! And trust in the community – work with them!

Unleash the power of Linux: the freedom of choice!

5 KDE-Funktionen, die ich auf einem Desktop vermissen würde

5 Dinge, die ich auf meinem Desktopbetriebssystem nicht mehr missen möchte – und die ich auf dem K Desktop Environment (KDE) sofort gerne genutzt habe!

1. Markierter Text Kopieren&Einfügen mit Mittelklick

Durch das Markieren von Text wird eine Art zweite Zwischenablage befüllt, deren Inhalt sich mit dem Mittelklick auf das Mausrad (Maustaste 3) einfügen lässt. Benutzt man zuvor bei einer Markierung die normale Kopieren&Einfügen-Funktion mit Strg+C, dann hat man anschließend zwei Einfüge-Vorgänge „frei“, ohne auf das vorige Fenster zurück zu müssen.

Ich liebe das. Außerdem ist für einfaches Copy&Paste kein Ctrl+C mehr nötig, weil ein Markieren + Mittelklick reicht. Viel schneller, viel einfacher.

Leider führt das auch oft dazu, dass ich unter Windows einen zweiten Versuch brauche, weil der Mittelklick in ein leeres Textfeld nicht den zuvor markierten Text einfügt, sondern entweder keine Funktion, oder aber eine andere Funktion auslöst. Ärgerlich.

2. Klipper

Klipper erweitert die Zwischenablage ins unendliche. Damit kann man zuvor zuvor zuvor zuvor markierten Text nochmals einfügen. Klipper funktioniert sowohl mit Strg+C als auch mit einfachem Markieren von Text (der oben schon erwähnten Funktion).

Sicherheitswarnung: alles, was mit der Maus markiert wird, landet auch in Klipper. Wenn du wissen willst, was ich so mache auf meinem Computer, sieh mal in der Zwischenablage nach…
Lösung des Problems: ab und an mal die Zwischenablage löschen. Das kann man auch automatisch mit jedem Neustart machen lassen („Inhalt der Zwischenablage beim Verlassen speichern“ deaktivieren).

3. Eingabefukus folgt Mauszeiger

Fast am meisten vermisse ich unter Windows und OS X, dass meine Eingabe nicht dort landet, wo sich der Mauszeiger gerade befindet. Der Grund: oft stelle ich ein anderes Fenster über jenes, auf dem die Eingabe erfolgen soll. So kann ich beispielsweise ein Bildfenster (z.B. Paint unter Windows) öffnen, und auf dem dahinter liegenden Textfenster (z.B. Notepad unter Windows) einen Text eintippen, den ich eben von jenem Bild abschreiben will. Liegt der Mauszeiger nun über dem Textfenster, so landen die Tastatureingaben auch auf jenem Fenster, während das Bildfenster jedoch im Vordergrund bleibt (und daher nicht vom Textfenster überdeckt wird).

Ebenso verhällt es sich mit dem Mausrad:

4. Mausradfokus folgt Mauszeiger

Wenn ich das Mausrad zum Scrollen verwende, dann doch wohl dort, wo sich der Mauszeiger gerade befindet. Unter Windows geht mir das dermaßen auf den Geist, dass man jedesmal zuerst Klicken muss, bis das Mausrad etwas bewegt. Vorallem im Explorer, wo man einmal auf der Verzeichnisbaumseite, dann aber auf der Detailansicht der Verzeichnisinhaltsseite scrollen möchte, nervt das sehr und hält auf.

5. Kürzel für Suchanfragen im Browser

Im Konqueror kann man zumindest seit KDE 3 einstellen, dass ein „gg:“ gefolgt von einem Suchbegriff eine Google-Suche auslöst. Diverse Suchdienste lassen sich hinzufügen.

Als Beispiel: „gb:“ habe ich mir als Gentoo Bugs eingerichtet. Suche ich nun einen bestimmten Fehlerbericht im Gentoo-Bugtracker, so reicht ein „gb:segfault konqueror“ und schon erscheint die entsprechende Seite.

Unter Windows finde ich mich manchmal bei dem Versuch wieder, beispielsweise „gg:Urlaubstipps Spanien“ eingeben zu wollen, was natürlich nicht zur Google-Suche nach Spanien-Urlaubstipps führt, sondern zu der Fehlermeldung, das „Protokoll gg:“ wäre „nicht bekannt.“


Diese 5 Funktionen sind unter KDE auf Linux Standard, müssen aber teilweise manuell konfiguriert werden. Das war bei KDE 2 bereits so, mit Klipper ist das seit KDE 3 so und auf KDE 4 funktionieren diese Funktionen natürlich ebenfalls. Nur unter KDE 1 waren die meisten dieser Funktionen noch nicht implementiert.

KDE gibt es auch für Windows. Das nennt sich KDE Windows Initiative und lässt sich mit dem Installer sehr einfach auch unter Windows installieren. Ob jedoch all diese Funktionionen auch unter Windows implementiert sind, weiß ich nicht, denn einige davon scheinen mir eher X11-spezifisch zu sein.

Es war auch einmal angedacht, KDE auf OS X zu portieren. Stattdessen gibt es derzeit nur die Möglichkeit, einzelne KDE-Anwendung nativ unter OS X zu nutzen.

6. Dock

Das Einzige, das offensichtlich aus der Mac-Welt stammt, ist das Dock.  Dabei handelt es sich um eine Kombination aus Programmstarter und Taskleiste/Fensterleiste. Das heißt, Programme, die noch nicht gestartet sind, können einfach über das Symbol gestartet werden (Programmstarter). Wenn diese jedoch bereits laufen und ein oder mehrere Fenster offen sind, so übernimmt dasselbe Symbol die Funktion eines Eintrags in einer Taskleiste bzw. Fensterleiste.

Seit KDE 4 gibt es Versuche, ein Dock, wie es von Mac OS X her bekannt ist, funktionell auch unter KDE zu implementieren. Mit KDE 4.8 wurde die „Symbol-Fensterleiste“ hinzugefügt und muss manuell aktiviert werden (als Plasma-Widget auf der Kontrollleiste). Auf Englisch heißt dieses Widget übrigens “Icon-Only Task Manager” und hieß vorher Icon Tasks.

Die Symbol-Fensterleiste funktioniert ganz gut, wenn auch nicht perfekt. Jedenfalls ist sie das einzige, was noch optimiert gehört – ansonsten ist KDE unter Linux wirklich das für meinen Geschmack beste Desktopsystem auf dem Planeten! Und wenn ich Desktop sage, dann meine ich auch Desktop: ich arbeite mit Tastatur und Maus vor einem Monitor. Auf Laptops mit Touchpad (die meist ohne mittlerer Maustaste daherkommen) bzw. ohne Maus sind einige der Funktionen nicht so gut nutzbar.

Und von Touchscreens rede ich erst gar nicht…

Bauvorschlag für eine Steam-Box

Was eine SteamBox ist, weiß hoffentlich jeder. Auf meiner Wohnzimmer-SteamBox soll Windows und/oder Linux laufen. Der Bauvorschlag basiert auf dem c’t-Artikel „Dampfmaschine“ aus c’t Heft 7/2013. Mehr dazu auf der Projektseite c’t Steam Box: Spielkonsole selbst bauen.


Damit sollte alles laufen. Zusammenbauen und loslegen.


Das Gehäuse ist das alternative Gehäuse aus dem c’t-Bauvorschlag. Es gefällt mir einfach besser als die erste Wahl des originalen Vorschlags. Nachteil: das Netzteil ist nicht debei.

Das Netzteil im c’t-Bauvorschlag ist ein be quiet! Pure Power L7, aktuell ist anscheinend das Pure Power L8.

Das Mainboard aus dem Bauvorschlag gibt es nicht mehr – zumindest nicht in Österreich. Darum ebenfalls eines von MSI, aber mit A88X-Chipsatz statt mit A75-Chipsatz. Kann hoffentlich nur besser werden. (Fingers crossed!)

Die CPU wurde von der c’t als Steam-CPU empfohlen.


Ich habe ein Windows 7 Home Premium, das ich damit verwenden werde. Der einzige Grund dafür ist, dass ich auf Steam ein paar Spiele habe, die leider noch nicht unter Linux laufen. Allerdings werde ich eine Dual-Boot-Installation mit Debian testing einrichten.

Der Plan ist, Steam im Big-Picture-Modus automatisch mit dem Betriebssystem zu starten.


Dieser Bauvorschlag ist derzeit noch ein Projekt. Die Finanzmittel stehen noch nicht zur Verfügung😦