Trip Report: Snow Leopard PPC

This week, I spent a few minutes burning an old Snow Leopard Developer’s Build to an extra USB Hard Drive.

It worked. My G5 booted up, and I was able to imagine for a bit what Snow Leopard might have been like if it had kept support even for Power Mac G5s. Overall, the system ran okay, keeping in mind that I booted it from an external USB Drive which is a slow way to go about things.

My graphics card, a GeForce 7800 GT, ran just great, even if there were some graphical glitches at work.

But here’s the rub – the mach_kernel used in the build was compiled in October of 2008. The final version of Leopard, 10.5.8, was released August 5, 2009 (per Wikipedia). Snow Leopard came pretty quickly after on August 28, 2009. And while Snow Leopard’s initial release still had a lot of PowerPC code baked in, I’m unaware of anyone getting that code to work on a PowerPC.

During my test, I ended up pulling the kernel and other frameworks from a Snow Leopard install DVD to make a modified Snow Leopard PPC drive. The G5, each time, would start to load but hang. No doubt, the issue is deeper than just getting Snow Leopard to recognize hardware – there are components that do not contain PPC code. Ultimately, it may just not be possible.

One glaring example – my G5 has 10GB of RAM but only 6GB shows up in the Developer’s Build of Snow Leopard. Weird, right?

I will continue to take a look at this, but my hope dimmed a bit today. Leopard 10.5.8 is more recent a release than these Snow Leopard builds. I think it’s always worth tinkering around, but I don’t believe this will open the door to any Snow Leopard-era software. Your mileage may vary, of course, so go follow along on the MacRumors thread.

Update: I queued this post up a couple of days ago, and in that time, we continue to tinker and work with the Snow Leopard development build. I admit I sound a little pessimistic in this post. Some of that is warranted, but other posters are much more positive about what we can achieve. Stay tuned for more updates.

— Nathan

Speedtest Your Internet Connection

On the positive side of things, despite the ongoing reopening of the Net Neutrality battle, my internet just got upgraded to near gigabit speeds. Of course, it’s probably temporary, since I’m not sure why I need that much raw throughput and most of my devices use wifi anyway. Still, it has led to me do some testing to see what speeds I am getting.

For example, on my 5ghz connection on my iPhone 7, Speedtest shows 76.35 Mbps down and 111.09 Mbps up. Not bad. This probably echoes what my AppleTV, iPad, and other devices get.

For my Dell connected via gigabit ethernet to the router, I cleared 600 Mbps up and 900 Mbps down. Very, very nice.

For my Mac Mini G4, also connected directly to the router but via a 10/100 Ethernet port, I only managed a measly (relatively) 80 Mbps up and 90 Mbps down. Is this also bottle-necked some by the CPU or older hardware in general? Perhaps.

For my Power Mac G5 which is connected via ethernet through an inexpensive TP-Link 500Mbps powerline adapter, I unfortunately had the worst performance so far – 43.99 Mbps and 34.52 Mbps. These powerline adapters are a decent alternative if you have flaky wifi and need something more robust, but they are a bit disappointing. At this point, I’m rethinking whether or not to use these powerline adapters at all and just hook a long cable from the router into my G5. We’ll see.

If you want to test your speed, unfortunately, you can’t use the classic flash version of the Speedtest site but it does redirect to a beta HTML5 version which TenFourFox handles well. Alternately, use the command line. You will need Python 2.4 or later, so I’m not sure if Tiger users are out of luck or not.

1. Install the python Speedtest script.

sudo easy_install speedtest-cli

2. Run it.

speedtest-cli

3. Share your results in the comments section below.

— Nathan

Interview with Cameron Kaiser

I happened to be in the Bay area just as Cameron (of TenFour Firefox fame) announced his presence at the Vintage Computer Festival West. Why not stop by and get a few minutes with a guy that is a hero to us PowerPC users?

Check the video below, which should be low enough in quality (360p) to be viewable on most of our machines. If you can’t view it, let me know and I will generate a downloadable version too.

If you can’t get Youtube to work, download a MP4 version by clicking here.

Thanks to Cameron for his work and taking a couple of minutes to chat. Cool stuff!

— Nathan

You Tell Me: How much have you/would you spend on your G5?

One of our awesome readers, Adam, sent me an intriguing question that I get frequently: how much should I spend on a Power Mac G5?

I’m curious to know what some of you think. For those of you with G5s, what has been your budget to maximize your G5 with upgrades and fixes? For those of you looking to purchase one, how much are you willing to spend? Is there a limit?

I feel pretty content with my Power Mac at the moment, and in fact, over the last few weeks, it hasn’t been in much use with work life and family life keeping me on my toes. Counting the SSD (which was the last and largest bit of money spent on it), I feel like I have likely maximized performance too. More RAM would just be tossing money in a dark pit.

But what about you? I’d love to see your comments below.

– Nathan