viva PowerPC

Operating on Power: Mac OS X - Appendix

There are two software projects, that make Mac OS X 10.4 and 10.5 more usable even in 2019, that I forgot in the main post about the OS.

The first is Leopard-WebKit which brings newer browser engine to your good old Safari. The last official version of Safari for Leopard is from 2011, last version of Leopard-WebKit is from June 2018 and quite a lot happened in the world of WWW, HTTP and HTML in that time period. It makes Safari almost as usable as TenFourFox. I'm personally a Firefox/TenFourFox/Gecko user, so I didn't think of it, but Cameron pointed it out in comments and was right.

The second is Sevan Janiyan's pkgsrc collection for Tiger (and Leopard). These will enable you to install about a ton of prebuilt open-source software packages, like compilers, scripting languages, terminal utilities etc. in more current versions than the original included in either Mac OS X itself or XCode. For power user an absolute must, I couldn't use my PowerMac G5 until 2018 without them. I omitted them from the original post because the server was not working at the time. Now it's up and running for your good.

Your comments: 10

[1] Anonymous (July 3, 2019 at 3:16 PM CEST)
A correction: The latest version of Leopard-Webkit is from June 2018, and it is 604.5.6_2.

Also, for zillions of packages, Macports (see to get started) has always done it for me. Great stuff. Was originally called Darwinports.

I can't resist adding a comment about the choice of Leopard vs. Tiger, because it seems to me from what I've read in various blogs that too many Mac PPC users are still hanging on to Tiger when they shouldn't be; Leopard is so much better and less annoying in many ways. As far as I know, there are only two good reasons for not upgrading. The well-known one is the availability of the Classic box in Tiger, for the extreme-retro crowd. The lesser-known one is that if you have an especially ancient Mac with a GPU that doesn't do Core Image or Quartz Extreme in firmware (see System Profiler), you should stick with Tiger until you have upgraded the GPU to one that does: Radeon 9600 or later, or Geforce 5200 or later.

(One bit of trivia for people who have merely glanced at Leopard and who then said "Ugh!" and stayed with Tiger: The Finder-window stripes can easily be switched off.)
[2] Logout (July 3, 2019 at 9:39 PM CEST)
Thanks for the correction, I'll change it in the post.

I mentioned reasons for sticking in Tiger in the previous post and I have to say that you don't have to have too ancient Mac to have better performance with Tiger than with Leopard. For example on all Mac Mini G4 with the exception for the very last 1.5 GHz model with 64 MB of video RAM there is no hardware support for Core Image and Leopard is sluggish. I know, I had it installed for long months and used daily - also mentioned in the previous post to the topic.

And also Macports - I think you have to build the packages, Sevan's collection is pre-built, which is quite good for any old-skool Mac, because the build of quite modern software is a bit too long. I think it's great that Sevan builds packages on his hardware, so we don't have to
[3] Anonymous (July 3, 2019 at 11:46 PM CEST)
Yes, good point about having to build the packages. For most things it's not a problem, but (for example) gcc and its libraries take many hours.

I should have defined my terms about "especially ancient Macs". I meant anything earlier than 2005: all PPC Macs are ancient now, but the pre-2005 ones are especially ancient. I love the final G5 generation (PCIe!) with a Quadro FX 4500, and I use it for everything. Lately I've also bought a few late-2005 Albooks (high-res/DLSD) to play with, which have the Radeon 9700. Everything runs Leopard. I also have a G4 MDD DP but no longer use it; it collects dust. I sympathize with (and admire the fortitude of!) anyone who uses a G4 Mini, or an iMac, for anything real. I prefer slots for all kinds of expansion; couldn't live without 'em. All of my Macs were bought used, for peanuts, and were then souped up at a somewhat higher cost. Whether the late-2005 G5s and Albooks are still available anywhere at this late date is another question, and possibly a problem.
[4] Anonymous (July 4, 2019 at 4:22 AM CEST)
As someone with several G4 and Intel Macs, I can corroborate that on both the G4s and Intels Tiger is faster from boot to shutdown and everything in between. Leopard has a lot of nice features but is demonstrably slower than Tiger on all of my machines.

I've heard many G5 users swear by Leopard but I've never owned a G5 to do my own comparisons so I'll have to take their word for it...
[5] ClassicHasClass (July 4, 2019 at 5:09 AM CEST)
Tiger forever. Besides Classic, I also don't like the UI direction Apple started going with 10.5, and there are some apps that just simply don't work in 10.5.
[6] Logout (July 4, 2019 at 9:44 AM CEST)
I'm no die-hard Tiger fan and I don't think any of my posts indicate that. In fact I had Leopard on my PowerMac G5 since the day I bought it second-hand (2009) until the very last day of its service as my primary machine (2018). I just always switched the dock to flat 2D look, removed all the Intel code from universal binaries and was quite happy. But that was about the only machine I ever had, which worked with Leopard better than with Tiger. As I don't consider any post-1999 PowerPC Mac ancient, I have several machines with Tiger - just because they perform better. The very last 12" PowerBook with the crappy nVidia FX5200 has with Leopard the temperature of boiling water (I saw once 105°C on the graphics in iStatPro), because CoreImage support in the FX5200 is horrible. I witnessed the 1st gen iMac G5 with Leopard trying to jump the icon in Dock like it was its last thing to do before death. Bot machines had no problems with Tiger, because there is almost no code depending on CoreImage (except the water circles on dashboard everything is Quartz Extreme), so Tiger it was.
[7] Anonymous (July 4, 2019 at 12:48 PM CEST)
Thanks for that tip about the 12-inch Albook. I have stayed away from it (A1104, final 12-inch) mainly because it's all but impossible to find new 3rd-party batteries for it, but I also don't like the 1.25-gig memory limit and the lack of FW800 and Cardbus. Until you mentioned it, I hadn't known about the Geforce 5200 being inferior.

One thing I have done in my customized 10.5.8 installation is to disable icon bouncing in the dock, zooming effects, and some other fluff. Otherwise, yes, that stuff does eat cycles for no reason.
[8] Anonymous (July 4, 2019 at 10:41 PM CEST)
Just for fun, I looked through my directories and made a list (incomplete) of some software products that were significantly improved for Leopard ... improved to the point where I'm bothered by the differences if I boot Tiger and use that for a while, slumming.

One biggie is that I often use Leopard-Webkit in addition to Tenfourfox, and once in a while Roccat. (I keep the Webkit configuration "zeroed out" except for bookmarks, to use for things that require scripting, cookies, LSOs, local databases, etc. and for which I don't want to bother to temporarily change all those settings in Tenfourfox and its extensions. Afterward, I zero it all out again.) Roccat (see the web site), currently maintained as a UB (imagine that!) for Leopard and later, has similar uses for me. Not all of the web sites that I need to use work OK in Tenfourfox, no matter what User-Agent spoofing I try. I wouldn't like to use only Tiger and not have either Leopard-Webkit or Roccat. (Sorry, Cameron!) Tenfourkit is abandonware, sad to say. Anyroad, here's my list.

Apple components: Finder (many annoying bugs fixed and a few new ones introduced), Preview, Terminal, Quicktime including QT Player, the Network prefpane; also the various iLife and iWork apps for those who use them.

3rd-party, significant in my opinion: Leopard-Webkit, Roccat, VLC (2.0.10 versus 0.9.10).

3rd-party, not as important to me: various Adobe apps, Graphic Converter, Skim (an alternative to Preview), iTerm2, Default Folder X, File Buddy, File Juicer (extracts things from PDFs), NZB Drop, SABnzbd+, Font Explorer, OSX FUSE instead of MacFUSE.

Not important, because previous versions are better: Mailsmith (2.1.5 preferred), Toast (9.0.4 preferred).

Not important, period: various Unsanity haxies (crash, crash).
[9] Logout (July 5, 2019 at 9:31 AM CEST)
Thanks for the list. I still think this is a vain discussion as I stated in the first post about OS X, everyone has their reasons for the particular version of OS X and both versions are quite old from the point of view of 2019 and I'm not telling anyone which version to run. But at least I learned about Roccat which I never heard of as I'm Gecko-based-browsers user since 1999 and I rarely used even the original Safari when it was still a current modern browser. But now I'm going to give it a try and I'm certainly adding it to the list of apps on the planned wiki, which will be online in few weeks.
[10] Anonymous (July 5, 2019 at 12:47 PM CEST)
About various people's various reasons for using what they use: Yes, of course. Mostly, my point was that it's not all about performance; it's not simply "Tiger is more efficient and therefore always better." For instance, I'm glad to have three web-browser options rather than one, even though I use Tenfourfox 95% of the time.

About this being 2019: Yeah, ain't that bizarre? Retrocomputing, I mean using this stuff day to day, can be rather strange sometimes. Surreal. Another of my obsessive-compulsively compiled lists that you probably don't want to see because there's no point is of all the annoying bugs I could think of in the 10.4.x Finder. :-0 (Bug reports that are fifteen years old? How quaint!)

Leave a comment

Please enclose every link in your comment in a pair of square brackets, ie. []. Thank you.

Your comment
Type in digits from the string on the right *5*7*3*6*9*