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Stainless lends innovation to PowerPC Macs too

The Aqua GUI in Mac OS X Leopard. Among the ch...

The Aqua GUI in Mac OS X Leopard. Among the changes are a gradient window style and a new Dock and menubar. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The best browser for the PowerPC platform that practically no one’s ever heard of remains Stainless.

My post on OS X Leopard users being left behind by Intuit generated quite a bit of interest on this modest blog.

It would seem there are still a lot of Mac users out there trying to wring every last bit of horsepower they can out of their venerable machines.

PowerPC users are able to remain relevant and have a voice, so long as modern browsers like Stainless are being released for both the Intel and PowerPC platforms.

Although Stainless cannot make up for the dismal performance of not being able to have the latest Flash player on PowerPC, the pros far outweigh the cons for using this nice piece of browsing software. It also demonstrates software for PowerPC is still being developed, albeit in declining volumes, and in this slick, relatively new browser, the killer feature that is parallel sessions shows that as far as PowerPC software development is concerned, where there is a will there is most definitely still a way.

Stainless is an OS X browser first and foremost. It does not make the distinction in respect to PowerPC or Intel platforms functionality-wise: it works on both. People clinging to their PowerPC Macs and recently burned by Intuit with the inability to run this year’s client version of TurboTax, are taking heart with Stainless. On my tricked out, Sawtooth G4 tower, Stainless is nimble, stable and has parallel sessions: only the greatest feature that no other browser has—past or present (or future? Nah, surely Chrome and Firefox developers will come up with something similar, won’t they?).

PowerPC G4e

PowerPC G4e (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Stainless’ parallel sessions feature has been around for a while, but after messing with it some for the first time, myself, I find it very killer, not to mention convenient and enjoyable, too. For the uninitiated (and in a nutshell), here’s how it works:

Let’s say you have a couple of email accounts in Yahoo or Hotmail or Gmail or whatever…

Open a tab and log in to the first account.  Then open another tab and log into the same service with another account user ID and password. You now don’t have to open another browser entirely in order to be logged in to the same site using different credentials. It’s simple, elegant and wonderfully efficient–like Mac applications used to be.

Perhaps it mostly has to do with PowerPC software development getting hardly any love these days. We have not had much to cheer about since being stranded at OS X Leopard 10.5.8. Perhaps it is just the fact that Stainless is pretty darn good at all it does.

Nevertheless, Leopard was (and still is) a great operating system. In my view, Windows XP is probably the greatest OS ever. It is still being supported, software like this year’s TurboTax works on it and users of XP, if their systems are adequately locked down, protected against the likes of malware, viruses and rootkits, can still enjoy the latest Flash player for YouTube and other streaming media.

Apple’s rapid OS development cycles subsequently make their operating systems obsolete and unsupported well before their time. This has left most Apple users with having to upgrade (now purchase) their machines on a much more frequent schedule. It is good for Apple but bad for many users like those still on the PowerPC platform, whose machines do all they need them to do except run simple tax software like this year’s TurboTax.

At the end of the day, PowerPC Mac owners can use a browser like Stainless to do their taxes via TurboTax online, in lieu of being squeezed out of the client/downloadable version by Intuit developers.

More importantly, features like Stainless’ parallel sessions can for me, stave off the complete irrelevancy of PowerPC Macs on the web entirely. I pressed this post on a PowerPC Mac with Stainless web browser. Much like a 15-year old Volkswagen B5 Passat with a 1.8T engine, it was fast enough and felt plenty good driving, too.

3 replies »

  1. Stainless is a fine little browser, which is actually no longer under active development, though the developer has kindly released its source code, so maybe someone will pick it back up. But it falls way short of Leopardwebkit. Leopardwebkit is developed by Tobias Netzel, a very talented PowerPC mac programmer in Germany. It gives you the same modern webkit engine that inside Intel Safari and even Chrome in the last available Safari for PowerPC on your system. A version exists for Tiger as well, tenfourkit.

    http://code.google.com/p/leopard-webkit/

    A couple of tips:

    When you download Leopardwebkit you’ll see a Safari icon (with the webkit gold ring around it), and shell command line options to install it system wide. Currently the command line options are a tad buggy, so I’d recommend just dragging the webkit application to your applications folder and launching it. DO NOT uninstall Safari, it needs Safari there to act as its window wrapper. What you have launched will look very much like Safari (cause it is), but you should notice a quite spectacular increase in speed, scripts that bog down regular old Safari now run with ease.

    The second tip I’d suggest is also installing ClicktoFlash AND ClicktoPlugin.

    http://hoyois.github.com/safariextensions/clicktoplugin/

    These are Safari extensions that at once block flash, and then allow you to launch the video hidden underneath the flash wrapper in either a HTML 5 player or Quicktime. On my ibook G4 Quicktime works far better. You will need to make sure the version of ClicktoFlash is presenting itself as the most current flash,11.5 otherwise sites will balk and say you need to upgrade. This can be done by editing the info.plist of ClicktoFlash after its installed to make sure its the current version. A kind soul on the Macrumors forum, B-G, has already done this and you can search the PowerPC forum for his post and download the corrected info.plist . This allows for high quality playback of youtube and many, many other webvideo sites, including vimeo and BBC news on older PowerPC macs. Don’t expect miracles, you will likely need a dual G4 or G5 to play high definition video, but Apple really optimized Quicktime for h.264. I use Quicktime 7.6.4 as the newer versions (7.7 is the last available for PowerPC) were slower and buggier by comparison.

    • Thanks for pointing out Stainless is no longer under actual development. That makes me a little sad, but that said, I sure hope someone picks up the baton and takes it along further. The uniqueness of the parallel sessions feature has not worn off for me, so I am continuing to enjoy the browser.

      I had tried Leopardwebkit previously and although it wasn’t bad, I felt Stainless was an improvement. Today I incorporated your suggestions regarding ClicktoFlash and ClicktoPlugin plug-ins. This pseudo-Safari browser is noticeably snappier with these two plug-ins active. And, looking at YouTube videos via an HTML 5 player or Quicktime is certainly an improvement over regular Flash for PowerPC in Safari 5.0.6. I had previously taken care of fooling websites into thinking I’m running the latest Flash player. Like you say, though, I wasn’t expecting miracles, but all things considered, it is a noticeable improvement in Safari.

      Regular Flash on this G4 Tower with an 1.8Ghz Sonnet processor upgrade plays better in Camino 2.1.2 as well as Stainless, with the hacked version of Flash player I’m using–the last good release of Flash for PowerPC but websites like Facebook and YouTube still permit Flash to run as they think I’m running a more recent version.

      For everything else “un-Flash” I will keep playing with Leopardwebkit. There are still the annoying, occasional stalls with Leopardwebkit, as there were with regular Safari. But, I like that the sites Leopardwebkit handles without choking/stalling are in greater abundance than not. I haven’t tried downgrading to Quicktime 7.6.4, either. I’m running 7.7 and Quicktime does render YouTube videos a bit choppily in Leopardwebkit with ClicktoFlash and ClicktoPlugin plug-ins. That said, it IS an improvement and I’m delighted to have this new option of a usable browser in Leopard 10.5.8 on this machine.

      I very much appreciate your insightful comments, Dr. D–goes to show the PowerPC community has many advocates for its use, and years after Apple abandoned us, too. I found B-G and the Macrumors forums you brought to my and my readers’ attention–fascinating three page thread, that although may be a bit technical and geeky for some, is certainly a worthwhile read if only to learn of the optimizing effects that both he and Tobias Netzel have been able to bring to the table for Leopardwebkit and QuickTime.

      Thank you again for your great comments, Dr. D. They are extremely educational, and it always makes my day when someone can eloquently articulate how we can continue to keep our beloved, older PowerPC machines viable into the foreseeable future.

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