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PowerPC Macs most definitely still have game

Deutsch: Apple G4 400 Mhz

Deutsch: Apple G4 400 Mhz (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We PowerPC Mac users can take glee at a lot of things in this day and age of mobile, on-the-go, modern computing. We all have need for desktop computers. I don’t know anyone who can type a story or blog post of substance on their tablet or phone. Sure, you can hook up a keyboard to your iPad or your iPhone but if you’re going to go to that length you might as well save your notes to the cloud and pull down that kind of work for completion on your trusty desktop Mac.

Leopard WebKit developer Tobias Netzel has done it again with the recent release of yet another version of this wonderful web browser for PowerPC Mac users running Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard. Having the ability to update system security certificates to OS X 10.9 Mavericks levels and enable advanced features such as full screen HTML 5 video playback support on places like YouTube keeps me smiling as a PowerPC Mac user.

The computer I’m typing this on isn’t even supposed to run Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard, but it does via the old XPostFacto hack. It was so many years ago that I made the move from 10.4 Tiger to 10.5 Leopard, I’ve taken for granted what great work it was to have been done in the first place.

The Leopard install on the G4 Sawtooth with an original 400 MHz team of horses under its hood has seen a couple of processor upgrades. First up was a brand spanking new 1 GHz Sonnet processor upgrade that accommodated the original Leopard install. That did the job for me for quite some time. Almost a couple of years ago I purchased a 1.8 GHz Sonnet refurb and continued running Leopard (with nary a hiccup) with speeds comparable to my 1.86 GHz HP Intel Core2Duo running Windows 8.1. How can it be that PowerPC Mac hardware has been created so sublimely it has scalability that even its original designers could not have foreseen? It’s truly one of the longest running Apple accomplishments.

I read on Facebook today how someone’s Macbook Pro was about to give up the ghost at the ripe old age of  seven–that’s right, 7! The Mac I’m writing this on, the indomitable Sawtooth of yore and legend is now 15 years old. You were once again reading correctly–15 years old. Talk about Return On Investment (ROI). I bought this computer for a song on eBay and upgraded it over the years as my budget and garage sale-ing permitted.

When I hear people exclaim that seven years is ancient for a computer, albeit a laptop, I cringe. Why should a laptop be considered vintage at this point? If it works, it works. But we’ve been brainwashed into thinking that three years is more typical of the life for either a laptop or a desktop computer. This has always been something that even the average consumer (with perhaps the help of a techy friend when needed) has known as untrue. I fully understand what it means to lower one’s expectations, but I have never adhered to this school of thought when it comes to technology.

The rule of thumb for me and my ilk is that if it serves our purposes then by all means continue using “outdated” technology.

English: 1000 MHz Motorola PowerPC 4755 on the...

English: 1000 MHz Motorola PowerPC 4755 on the CPU riser card of an Apple Power Mac G4. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m able to utilize WordPress’ posting machinations. That is, I’m able to create posts while in WordPress on Leopard WebKit. How is it that someone with unsupported, 15-year-old hardware can avail themselves of all possible WordPress widgets in addition to content rich plugins like Zemanta when creating blog posts?

The answer to this and everything else regarding why I still utilize a computer older than most of your children for my livelihood is that it just works–and with minimal effort and maintenance to keep it going.

Between Leopard WebKit and TenFourFox we PowerPC Mac users can always do what the modern web calls for. That is all anyone can ask of their computers.

Sure, mobile is the present and the future. But as long as we have ten fingers and eyesight that fails increasingly as we age, larger monitors and desktop computers with preferred keyboards and mice won’t go out of style. We also have beloved developers like Tobias Netzel to thank for helping us keep the OS X Leopard embers burning indefinitely.

4 replies »

  1. I’m a Power Mac user (I have the Dual 1.42GHz G4, 2GB RAM), and I can say this machine is almost as old as I am. I’m 18 at the time of writing, and this machine is now 13. I could have been using this machine since I was five, and be using it today with little issue. I’m impressed by the quality of the PowerPC architecture, and I wish Apple continued supporting it today. Imagine where PowerPC could be, had the PowerPC alliance not fallen apart.

  2. I’ve still got a blue and white G3 from 1999 that’s running a G4/450mhz upgrade with 1GB of ram and OS 10.4.11. It’s still working like the day I bought it. These G3, G4, and G5 machines are workhorses. They might now be as fast as new macs but they have proven to me they last.

  3. I commend you for this article of yours! While I have set aside my Macintosh computer collecting to focus on colleges and career interests, I still use PPC Macs to this day. I actually had used it as my main platform up until 2012 (got a used Intel MacBook Pro); but that didn’t stop me from using my iMac G5. In fact, I used the iMac G5 way more after some time, as it was killing me to use a laptop as a desktop. After getting deep into collecting, I once again became interesting in the PPC communities that I had discovered, so I joined them. I got some fun insight and found out which browsers are best, etc. So far, TFF is the most up-to-date and stable, but you can’t beat the speed of Leopard Webkit. Honestly, TFF is extremely heavy and, for that reason, a bit annoying to use.

    In all, PPC machines have been kept well-alive (albeit let-downs here and there with devs stopping support… like the Dropbox people). Yes, the 2006 Intel version of my iMac G5 is faster in every way and quieter (and looks almost identical), there are still unique PPC machines out there. I would only advise enthusiasts to deal with ’em, though, because novice users have different expectations / don’t know what it means to have a PPC Mac. It’s well worth-it to get an early Intel Mac over a later PPC Mac, as they are just so much better in performance – minus the QC PMG5s.

    Anyway, I’m not sure that I can take my beloved iMac G5 to college, but it will – at least – be here when I visit home. While my main machine is now a 2009 Mac Pro, I could have easily stayed on PPC full-time!

    (BTW, if you want to drastically speed your PPC Mac up, try out more RAM and an SSD. I maxed out the RAM in my iMac G5 and also added in an SSD. If you use your PPC machine daily, you’re going to want to get the most out of it!)

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