Archiv der Kategorie: Apple

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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!

Parts

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 

Impact

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.

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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)

Enjoy!

Installing Mac OS X 10.4 “Tiger” without the use of XPostFacto on an iBook G3 Clamshell without FireWire

I just got an original iBook G3/300 (sometimes also referred to as “Clamshell”) from a friend and I have to say that I do like it very much. The hardware performance is essentially the same as I am used to from my Power Mac G3/350 Blue & White.

My friend, who had used it for several years and replaced it a few years ago with an Intel-based MacBook, had its main memory maxed-out so it features 544 MB memory: 32 MB internal + 512 MB from the expansion slot. He also managed to replace the original hard disk drive with a 120 GB drive, so I don’t have to worry about disk space limitation. He also replaced the original CD drive with a DVD drive, as I understand it out of necessity, because the original CD drive broke. He gave it to me with a fresh installation of Mac OS X 10.3 “Panther”.

I wanted to get Mac OS X 10.4 “Tiger” on it, but due to the lack of FireWire the PowerBook2,1 is not supported by Tiger. For the same reason, installing Tiger using target disk mode is not an option. Lukily with the upgraded DVD drive I can use the installation media directly. So I looked for a solution and found that XPostFacto would let me install Tiger. I gave it some thought and went along with my own Open Firmware hack, which is really easy to accomplish. Since it was easy to install Tiger on my Power Mac G3 B&W I thought that it must be possible to install it without third-party stuff on the Clamshell as well. I also found out that the 2000-models of the Clamshell feature FireWire and can happily install and run Tiger. The only difference between the original ’99 models and the 2000 models is more internal memory (64 MB instead of 32 MB), a DVD drive instead of a CD drive and FireWire-400 for the later ones.

My Tiger DVD is the one labeled as “CPU Drop In DVD”. After booting it I am greeted with an alert: „Your computer is not compatible with Mac OS X 10.4.”

I rebooted and went into Open Firmware (holding Command + Option (Alt) + O + F at the chime until seeing the Open Firmware prompt). I decided to alter the model to report PowerMac1,1, same as my Power Mac. That made the bootup stall. So I went with PowerBook2,2, which is the 2000-model of this iBook.

In order to do what I did, type in the following at the Open Firmware prompt:

  • dev /
  • .properties
    you will see a list of properties displayed, two of them are “model” and “compatible” – both have to be changed
  • “ PowerBook2,2″ encode-string “ model“ property
    this will set “model” to  “PowerBook2,2”
  • “ PowerBook2,2″ encode-string “ MacRISC“ encode-string encode+ “ MacRISC2″ encode-string encode+ “ Power Macintosh“ encode-string encode+ “ compatible“ property
    this will set “compatible” to “PowerBook2,2↵MacRISC↵MacRISC2↵Power Macintosh”

The hard part really is to get the commands down correctly. Very important is to have each string starting with a white space after the double-quotes. So “ PowerBook2,2″ is correct, but „PowerBook2,2“ would be incorrect and result in an error. Also, it may be hard to understand the structure of Open Firmware commands. It is based on FORTH, a programming language, where the actual command what to do with a value follows that value. (Like calculating with a HP-28.) So “ PowerBook2,2″ is the string, and encode-string is what to do with it. Thereafter follows another string: “ model“, followed by what to do with it: property. So we set the string “PowerBook2,2” to be the new value of porperty “model”.

The same goes for the property “compatible”, but the strings have to be connected with encode+ – which again follows the second/third/… string. It is easier to understand if the whole command is logically devided:

  1. “ PowerBook2,2″ encode-string
  2. “ MacRISC“ encode-string encode+
  3. “ MacRISC2″ encode-string encode+
  4. “ Power Macintosh“ encode-string encode+
  5. “ compatible“ property

The encode+ command connects the second/thind/… string with the preceeding string. And the last part puts it all into the “compatible” property.

My Clamshell has a german keyboard. If you also have a non-US-keyboard you may need to search for the keys to press to get what you need. On the german keyboard this is as follows:

  •  (double quotation mark): Shift + ä
  • + (plus): Shift + ` (between ß/? and Backspace)
  • (minus): ß
  • : (colon): Shift + ö
  • \ (backslash): (next to the right Shift)

After changing the two Open Firmware strings is finished (it took me not more than 5 minutes) all that is left is to boot from the CD/DVD. Do this by typing the following at the Open Firmware command prompt:

  • boot cd:,\\:tbxi

This will boot from the CD/DVD drive – and search for the one file that is blessed, that’s what the \\:tbxi is for. Otherwise you would have to specify the exact location and filename of the first stage bootloader, which will most likely differ for every installation and installation media.

On the Clamshell I would always prefer this method over hacking a Tiger-DVD because making a DVD for this one-time purpose really isn’t necessary. Also, if you don’t have such a DVD already or if, for whatever reason, you cannot find it right now but have the original Tiger-DVD at hand, the Open Firmware method is faster. The prerequisite and also the only limitation of the Open Firmware method is that you will most likely need a DVD drive in your Clamshell because the original Tiger installation media is a DVD – at least I’ve never heard of a installation CD for Tiger.

You might wander if this Open Firmware settings are saved which would make them permanent. The quick answer: no. On the next boot all altered strings will be lost. Therefor the Open Firmware method is safe since all changes are volatile and will not survive a reboot.

Anyway, this all worked very well and I was able to get Tiger installed properly. Once it is on one of the volumes on the hard disk, you can boot from there. What I did was to restore a backup copy of Tiger I had made from my Power Mac G5, so I didn’t have to make the updates to 10.4.11 and all that stuff again.

Overall I am very happy with my new Clamshell. Compared to my Power Mac G3 B&W the Clamshell has only 50 MHz less processor speed and supports almost only half the memory, but I don’t feel it being very much behind its bigger desktop brother and I like working with it a lot. The only issue is the display which only features a resolution of 800 by 600 pixels and hence prevents some iLife ’05 applications and Adobes’ Creative Suite 2 to run. Also, the newest version of iTunes for Tiger, 9.2.1, will not run because it requires (or checks for the presence of) a G4 or G5 processor. The latest working iTunes on the G3 is 9.1.1, although Apple recommends iTunes 8.2.1 for G3 systems.

All in all I can only recommend to use older computers, especially if they are as though and such great pieces of engineering art as this Clamshell!
Keep them running and use them!

Apple Mac: best case/worst case operating system support in the scope of sustainability

The following are just some thoughts on customer viability, both in the economical and ecological sense. In this case, viability for a computer user is equal to ecological sustainability, provided the user really uses the PC. A computer is worth the purchase when it continues to be of use as long as it is of use to the user. It is understood that certain new developments whet the appetite and as a possible consequence require either more hardware performance (more power!) or a completely different hardware connector, which itself may only be present on or may require newer hardware. Since you as a customer will then no longer have a use for your older computer, you will have to replace it. But until this happens, the computer shoudn’t be loosing usability due to economical reasons, like planned obsolescence.

One example I like to point out is iTunes. Newer versions of it in turn require newer version of Mac OS. This fact alone isn’t a great deal of annoyance by itself, but you require a new version of iTunes if you also happen to buy a newer iPod, iPad or iPhone. While I understand that some functions like videos may actually require a faster computer to run iTunes, it also locks out people who just want to backup their data from their iPad/iPod/iPhone devices. For that you wouldn’t really require a modern Core i-based Mac—actually, an over a decade old 350 MHz G3-based Mac will be sufficient to syncronize contacts and calendar data.

On usability: yes, watching videos in HD quality on a ’99 Power Macintosh G3 with a 350 MHz processor, 512 MB memory and an OpenGL 1.2 (Direct3D 6) graphics card with only 16 MB of VRAM will not work at all. In fact, watching YouTube videos of any resolution won’t work, because rich applications (Web 2.0) in general are too resource heavy and don’t run properly. But checking e-mails and writing texts will continue to work. And especially if you’ve also invested hard cash for a lot of software for this computer that you still like to use and have use for, it is viable to keep that computer as long as you can. That is, if you really continue to actively use it. And that is also how it should be!

In the years 2000 to 2010 the computer market experienced, what I call: “the decade of Windows XP”. PC people were getting used to having an operating system for a longer time period. And Apple made it possible for a lot of computer users to upgrade to their newest operating system. It has to be considered though that releases were not as frequently pushed as they are today.

So, here is something I would like to make the reader of my blog (you!) aware of:

Best case

Someone who bought an Apple Power Macintosh G3 “Blue and White” desktop computer in 1999 got it with Mac OS 8.51 pre-installed. They were then able to upgrade to (aside from the free Mac OS 8.6 update):

  1. Mac OS 9.0/9.1/9.2 (USD 99)
  2. Mac OS X 10.0 (USD 129)
  3. Mac OS X 10.1 (USD 19.95 if you had purchased 10.0, otherwise USD 129)
  4. Mac OS X 10.2 (USD 129)
  5. Mac OS X 10.3 (USD 129)
  6. Mac OS X 10.4 (USD 129)

Their purchase was supported by Apple directly through their operating system from 1999 to 2005. The last of the supported Apple operating systems, Mac OS X 10.4, was current until 2007. It continued to receive bug fixes until 2009.

In summary this computer was supported by Apple software for a decade. All you had to do was buy the software (the OS).

Worst case

Someone who bought an Apple Power Mac G5 Dual-Core in 2005 got it with Mac OS X 10.4 pre-installed. They could then upgrade to:

  1. Mac OS X 10.5 (PowerPC) (USD 129)

Now, someone who thought “hey, Apple is going Intel!” and bought an Apple Mac Mini in 2006 got it with Mac OS X 10.4/Intel pre-installed. They could then upgrade it to:

  1. Mac OS X 10.5 (Intel) (USD 129)

So all in all their purchase was supported by Apple directly through the operating system from 2005/2006 to 2007. Mac OS X 10.5 was the current Apple operating system until 2009. It continued to receive bug fixes until 2011.

Summary

Last supported OS available so many years after purchase:

  • Power Macintosh G3 “Blue and White”: 6 years
  • Power Mac G5 “Late 2005”: 2 years
  • Mac Mini “Late 2006”: 1 year

Fully supported through current operating system:

  • Power Macintosh G3 “Blue and White”: 8 years
  • Power Mac G5 “Late 2005”: 4 years
  • Mac Mini “Late 2006”: 3 years

Extended bug fix support for the operating system and most of its software:

  • Power Macintosh G3 “Blue and White”: 10 years
  • Power Mac G5 “Late 2005”: 6 years
  • Mac Mini “Late 2006”: 5 years

The Power Macintosh G3 “Blue and White”, ranging from USD 1599 up to USD 2999, had double the time being supported compared to the fist Intel Mac Mini Core Solo/Core Duo, ranging from USD 599 up to USD 799. Customers of the Power Mac G5 “Late 2005” model, ranging from USD 1999 up to USD 3299, had only one year longer than the first Intel Mac Mini.

Continued use

How older hardware can still be of further use? The main problem seems to be the software. If someone used Linux on an Apple computer back in 1999, they could still use it today without real limitations other than the hardware and performance limits. Newest Linux kernels and open source software tend to run happily on once supported hardware. But if someone used Mac OS, they have to accept that the company behind it is in the position to dictate how long it’s going to be supported. And they have the means to execute this position. (No new iTunes for Mac OS X 10.4 means no iPad 2 and newer on a Mac that cannot upgrade to a newer Mac OS version.) That doesn’t mean that programs and products that are working right now suddenly stopped working. Using hardware devices and software versions of the time when it was supported is normally equally only restricted by the hardware and performance limits. But you just cannot count on it that newer devices will work with older operating system versions. Therefore you will have to check first and maybe stand back from buying the newest and the fanciest stuff.

No one said that sustainability was easy…