May 15, 2015
MacTubes is now officially dead.
After not needing an update for over 2 years, Google once again changed their API, and MacTubes is broken again, and it looks like for good this time. The developer has announced that they have abandoned the project. So MacTubes is now officially abandonware. You can grab the source code here and try to bring it back to life yourself, but it will be no easy task; even for a seasoned developer.
Your alternatives now are really just two - two good ones anyway. Using HTML5 on the site to view videos, which can be done in 90% of all browsers, as only older ones or text-only options are excluded. My personal preference is to use PPC Media Center. Dan the Luddite has posted about this software here and also here on his blog.
PPC MC Update: Nov. 5, 2015
There is now a 5.5 release, which is also PowerPC only instead of universal, of PPC Media Center. You can download it here.
Published on Saturday, December 22, 2012
Today I was looking through Keychain, and was reminded of the DigiNotar certificate simply through memory, because it hasn't lived on any of my macs since late 2011. It's one of those things I set and literally forget in this case. Luckily for the sake of a screenshot, I have an older drive I keep with a stock Leopard install for just these occasions.
In 2011 Apple announced that they were no longer going to update Leopard at all on PowerPC or Intel. Then around spring 2012, they ended up releasing a security update for Leopard that fixed the DigiNotar issue. This update was Intel only unfortunately. Truly pathetic. Thanks Apple.
The good news is that disabling or deleting this vulnerable certificate is very easy. For the ultimate level of security when it comes to certificates like this, you should use a browser with a private browsing function, along with script blocking. Those things combined together would give you a browsing environment nearly as secure as current OS X, and even save you a bunch of CPU cycles.
Along with DigiNotar, you should make it a habit to look through your certificates every so often, and delete or mark as "Never Trust" to disable any expired items that might exist.
How to disable DigiNotar or any other certificate:
1. Open "Keychain Access" from the Utilities folder in Applications.
2. Select "System Roots" in the top left. It may take a moment to show them all.
3. Navigate to the "DigiNotar Root" certificate. Double click to disable or select and delete.
4. If you're choosing not to delete and have double clicked it simply expand the "Trust" settings.
5. Set the top option named "When using this certificate" to "Never Trust" which will automatically set all the trust functions the same way. Use the screenshot below for reference.
I will be sure to update you in the future when other certificates or anything else becomes vulnerable. These days I am paying more and more attention to Leopard security, because it is at a point now where it will only become less secure as the months and years go by. There are far too many people that are either in denial or ignorant to this fact.
Published on Monday, December 03, 2012
I am currently working on plans for a few of my own ideas for upcoming Linux content, but would also like to hear some of the reader ideas. Like the OS X content and your ideas post last month, I am always open to content ideas the readers would like covered.
What Linux related things do you guys need the most help with? What type of content would you like more of?
This will also be a good way to gauge what the new to Linux people are having the most issues with. There also needs to be content for the more advanced users, so I want to hear about ideas for those as well. It's not that I have any problems with thinking up new things to write, but rather that I also want to write content the regular readers want to see.
Let the ideas flow.
Published on Saturday, November 24, 2012
Luakit is a very lightweight Webkit based browser for Linux. I was told about this a while ago by dr. dave, who is a regular reader here, and who's comments are always very helpful and interesting. Thanks again, Dave.
Description of it from the Luakit site:
"Luakit is a highly configurable, browser framework based on the Webkit web content engine and the GTK+ toolkit. It is very fast, extensible by Lua and licensed under the GNU GPL v3 license. It is primarily targeted at power users, developers and any people with too much time on their hands who want to have fine-grained control over their web browsers behaviour and interface."
For the last couple weeks I have been playing with it, and I am extremely impressed by the speed and simplicity of it. There is virtually no overhead at all. My G4 500MHz Stormtrooper runs it at a clip that would satisfy even the most impatient of people. With 4 tabs open right now it is using 37MB RAM. It launches in approx. 1.5 seconds on an old PATA HD, and most sites load in 2-5 seconds. This blog loads in about 2 seconds.
To load a page, run "luakit url"
Control + T loads a new tab
The rest is all up to you via config files. Here is a list of the config files available for editing:
rc.lua-- is the main config file which dictates which and in what order different parts of the browser are loaded.
binds.lua-- defines every action the browser takes when you press a button or combination of buttons (even mouse buttons, direction key, etc) and the browser commands (I.e.
theme.lua-- change fonts and colours used by the interface widgets.
window.lua-- is responsible for building the luakit browser window and defining several helper methods (I.e.
webview.lua-- is a wrapper around the webview widget object and is responsible for watching webview signals (I.e. "key-press", "load-status", "resource-request-starting", etc). This file also provides several window methods which operate on the current webview tab (I.e.
modes.lua-- manages the modal aspect of the browser and the actions that occur when switching modes.
globals.lua-- change global options like scroll/zoom step, default window size, useragent, search engines, etc.
Who should use it
For those that prefer pointing and clicking everything they do, this may not be the one for you. People that don't like using run commands to load pages will certainly be turned off.
For those that are comfortable computing like this, or at least want to learn to be, this is an extremely flexible screamer of a browser. The performance is blinding fast for the G4 500MHz it's running on. A faster system could only do better.
How to install
Fire up the "Root Terminal" in Debian or MintPPC and type:
apt-get install luakit
Published on Tuesday, November 20, 2012
If you’re like me, then you prefer the games from the PowerPC era. Not simply because they were coded for the architecture, but rather that this was the best era in Mac and PC gaming in my opinion. The reason I feel this way is that the games from this era are more raw and simple, with a lot less fluff. Many modern games focus mainly on graphic realism and lack the quality experience that older ones had.
In my experiences, I would say that the CPU plays a more important role in Mac gaming compared to the wintel world. I say that because in my direct experiences with many games it’s the CPU that makes the most difference. An example of this was some testing I did a couple years back. I tested a Sawtooth with a G4 1.0 GHz 7455 and Radeon 9800 Pro 128 MB vs. another Sawtooth with a G4 1.8 GHz 7448 and a Radeon 7500 32MB. The 1.8 GHz system beat the snot out of the 1.0 GHz in every single way. Although the 9800 in the slower system is a far better GPU, the difference is negated by a CPU that is clocked 80% faster. Obviously the 9800 is better suited for the 1.8 GHz, which is where it lives now, but those tests were to prove a point at the time. This was all during a debate where others had claimed that the GPU was far more important for Mac gaming, but it's actually 2D where the GPU plays more of a role on a Mac vs. Wintel machines. The GPU is still important in gaming, make no mistake; I'm just saying that the CPU is more of a factor in Mac gaming vs. Wintel.
It makes sense to break up games by system requirements, so people can try the ones within the ability of the hardware they have. Although these games are all harder to find these days, they are pretty much all still available if you look hard enough in the right places. I will list all the options I can think of but will really only comment on the ones I have direct experience with. I didn’t really start gaming on Macs until a good year or more into the G3 era around early 98. Because of this, I cannot really comment on the earliest games for the 601-604 CPU’s.
Most of these games have reviews on Inside Mac Games dot com. The ones that do will contain a link to the review in the title. Inside Mac Games is the number one most trusted source for me and many Mac gamers. The site is particularly good for older game info.
Group 1: Any G3 - G4 350-700MHz – Rage 128 or higher
The selection is limited on this low end of the scale, but the titles available are quality games.
Quake III took everything up a few notches. The graphics and game play are stellar compared to the previous two. I started playing this in 1999 when I bought the Stormtrooper new. The stock configuration was a G3 350 MHz with a Rage 128 16 MB, and it played III like a champ. ID software did an amazing job optimizing it for the G3 systems and later the G4. I play the G4 optimized OS X version on my 1.8 GHz with Radeon 9800. I get well over 200 FPS at 1920 and over 300 FPS @ 1280. Needless to say there is never even a hint of lag. It also plays great on the modern revision of my Stormtrooper with a G4 500 and Radeon 7000 PCI.
The truly great thing about all 3 versions of this game is that they are all built for both classic OS and X. III plays even better on X in my experiences.
When you consider that this game was released in 1999, and has such low requirements, the graphics are quite amazing. I play it at 1920 with quality set to highest on my 1.8 GHz G4, and it looks fantastic for its age.
It’s a third person shooter much like Tomb Raider, but is a far better game IMO. The hand-to-hand fighting is so fun in this game that I almost never use the gun. I only shoot when facing one of the enemies which is only shooting, and not approaching to fight. The gun selection leaves a lot to be desired, so that is certainly part of my hand-to-hand preference. To be fair though, the gun selection is the only area the game lacks quality in my opinion.
Like Quake, there are Classic and X options for Oni. The X option is very elegant in that all you have to do is attach the X app to the original Classic game content folder. There is also a great editor available here, which allows you to make yourself invincible, and invisible to the enemies. They can only see you when you punch them. You can also give yourself virtually unlimited ammo. The later levels are so hard to beat that you often do need these cheats; unless you're some superhuman gamer.
As far as I know, there was never an X version made, so this is Classic only. I played it on 8.6 and all the 9 versions without issue. There is a version for PowerPC Linux, which I installed a while ago, and will play more when I have a chance.
Just thinking of this game as I write this makes me want to get it again. From 2003-2004 a few friends and I played this over LAN together at least once a week. It’s a perfect game for LAN and online play, because the more that play on a level the more fun it is.
I have never heard of a OS X version, so if you can find a copy it would be for OS 8.5-9.
If you have an older child or teen, or just really like Spider-Man, then this game is worth looking into.
Other options for this hardware group:
Marathon (all versions)
Sim City (I & II)
Tomb Raider (I, II and III)
Myth (I & II)
Group 2: G4 800MHz-1.0GHz – Dual G4 450-533MHz – Radeon 7500/Geforce 2 or higher
The good news is that all the games from group 1 will play even better on this hardware.
Halo: Combat Evolved (1.5)
If you like first person shooters, and have never played this game, then you’re really missing out. The requirements are a G4 800 MHz and a 32MB vid card. It’s OS X only, and although it will play on Radeon 7500 and lower, I recommend an 8500 or higher.
Quality game and quality graphics, so you really can’t go wrong. The game play can get rather intense at times, and the maps are quite good. I tend to prefer the mostly outdoor maps, as the building based ones are a bit redundant.
Other options for this hardware:
Group 3: G4 1.2GHz+ - Dual G4 800MHz+ - G5 - Radeon 8500/Geforce 5200 or higher
One thing I need to mention about GPU’s is that the numbering systems that ATI and Nvidia used with some cards make no sense. A layperson would assume a Radeon 9000 or 9200 was better than an 8500, but that is not the case at all. Both the 9000 and 9200 are based on an underpowered 8500 chip. The 9000 is also slightly above the 9200 in performance. Also, the original Radeon (no number) is slightly more capable than the Radeon 7000. The rest of the Radeon are numbered in a way that represent the power delivered.
With the Nvidia cards found in Macs, there is some confusion with the Geforce 3 and 4. A Geforce 3 will trump a standard 4 (aka MX), but a 4 Ti will beat a 3. The Geforce 4 MX is only very slightly above the 2 in performance.
You can get by on most of the games below with a Radeon 7500 or 9000/9200, or a Geforce 2 or 4 MX, but would need to turn all the quality down and play at 800x600 if you want any semblance of performance. I have added a real world performance ranked list of both Nvidia and ATI cards to the bottom of this post.
Once you get bored of playing the built in levels, you can enjoy endless possibilities by playing skirmishes. The online play is very good, but it has to be PowerPC vs. PowerPC or Intel vs. Intel. Aspyr and EA wrote a 1.04 patch that added universal architectures, because before that it was PowerPC only. Even with the universal patch you can’t play Intel users with your PowerPC. On Gameranger people generally title the games by architecture for this reason.
The requirements say a G4 1.0 GHz, but it isn’t smooth until you get up to 1.2 GHz in my experience. Even with a Radeon 9800. I have had good results with it on the dual 867 MHz MDD I used to own with a Radeon 9600. It played well enough on the dual 867, that it would also be fine on a dual 800.
I play it these days on the 1.8 GHz with 9800 @ 1024 on medium quality. The reason it’s set a bit low is that it makes the larger maps much smoother and I prefer those. Map speed is crucial on an RTS game.
I should also note that the Radeon 9000 has a known conflict with this games rendering; you can still play it, but everything turns either blue or black in terms of ground and sky. Very hard on the eyes. There has never been a Mac fix for this that I'm aware of, so 9000 owners (if thats all you have GPU-wise), stay away from this one. Some of the MDD towers came with the 9000 stock, but it was never a big GPU on the Mac; more the similar 8500 and 9200.
The requirements are listed as a G4 867 and 32 MB vid card, but this is unrealistic in my experiences. You can get by fine with a Radeon 7500 but for true performance, without everything set the lowest, a 1.2GHz or higher will be better.
I have the Road to Rome expansion, and the Desert Combat mod. It's easy to waste hours in this game driving around the desert in an Abrams tank looking for things to kill. The standard WWII levels are great, but the desert mod gives it much more modern and powerful weapons.
The game has something to suit everyone. You can drive a tank, APC, fly a plane/jet/helicopter, fire a missile truck, steer and shoot a battleship, use anti-aircraft guns, or just run around with a gun shooting people. Whatever you prefer.
I am also an author on Rated Win, and wrote this post there about the Desert Combat mod, and the Spectre gunship specifically.
Let me know and I will list them.
As with everything I write, I tend to only base it on things I have experience with. If you feel other games are worthy of mention then leave a comment and I will add it to the post to help spread the word. Explain what you like about it and what specs/settings it plays well with. My life is so insanley busy that my mind is always jumbling many things, so I am sure I have left out obvious ones like Unreal Tournament. I have no experience with it, or what hardware it plays best on so if someone wants to chime in on that it would be great. I'm looking for games I have not mentioned or added insight to those that I have.
Real world GPU ranking (least to most powerful)
Rage 128 (mobility)
Rage 128 Pro
Radeon (original Radeon with no number)
Radeon 9550 (mobility)
Geforce 4 MX
Geforce 6600 LE
Geforce 4 Ti
Published on Thursday, November 15, 2012
The Linux based traffic here has increased a large amount. It has finally took the place of Windows as the 2nd most used OS by the visitors here, with OS X being 1st of course.
Back in August and September, the Linux traffic here was maybe 15-18% of the total, and it is now 30%+ every single day. I average about 250-300 unique visits per day, with page loads hitting 400-500, so it's good to see that many people are using Linux generally, and interested in reading about PowerPC Linux specifically. This is very encouraging indeed, especially when you consider many are using Macs, and they have decided to take the plunge.
People are obviously realizing that to embrace Linux, you don't have to abandon Mac OS 10.5 or older, but rather give each OS its own role, or at least discover what they could be while they learn. That is how anything moves forward. When people adopt something into their tech life, they often like a comfort level right from the start, which scares most away from Linux, because it lacks familiarity for most.
Another encouraging thing is that about 70% of the google search bot hits here are PowerPC Linux related, by people often using either Mac OS or Windows. This tells me that even those that have not took the plunge yet are interested. Very encouraging.
I will continue to write helpful content to help smooth the transition. As always, I encourage reader ideas for content so that I can share my insight, while also writing some specific content that people request.
Published on Monday, November 12, 2012
***PowerPC Liberation no longer promotes the use of Mac OS PowerPC as a legitimate OS to base internet use on. Even when using the most current FireFox via TenFourFox, you're still on an OS that hasn't had a legitimate security update since at least 2009, or far longer if you use pre-Leopard versions of Mac OS. Old certificates, old plugins, old everything. Other than visiting trusted sites, you simply don't have anywhere near the security as people running modern and secure software at both the OS and app level; rather than just the app. Kind of like using tissue as armour. This was written in November 2012, and may well be deleted one day.***
I meant to write this well over a month ago, but it never happened somehow. Thanks to a regular commenter here named 'dr.dave', I was reminded of this when I asked for OS X content ideas a few days ago. My interest is not only to write what I have to say, but also to write about subjects that the readers are interested in. Browsers are easily the most utilized internet tool in the world, so this is a worthy topic.
Since most browsers are based on core technologies like Mozilla or Webkit and such, it would be best to categorize them like this. My logic behind this is that even a layperson on the internet often has a preference. I myself tend to always gravitate to Mozilla based browsers like Camino and TenFour/Aurora/FireFox.
To truly evaluate a group of anything you need to be objective so my Mozilla preference is out the window for this post. I will look at each in an overall type manner by combining an evaluation of the features and technologies at hand. Although the browser selection on PowerPC is more limited in 2012, there is still a small but loyal developer base working hard. People like Cameron Kaiser, RPMozley and a few others are working hard and have been for a long time. Dr. Kaiser alone is directly responsible for TenFourFox and Classilla.
On to the browsers... If you know of a good one that I don’t mention, or has just started development, please let me know and I will add it. The point is to cover all options whether we consider them all good or not. I would only leave out the ones that have possible security concerns. Other than Safari, I will only be covering browsers that are still developed. Safari is the exception because it's built in. There are a few like Sunrise, Stainless and Shiira that some may feel are worthy of mention, but they are all no longer developed. An undeveloped browser is a security risk, because there is no one battling to keep the code healthy and safe.
This is Cameron Kaiser’s main project and the one everyone knows best usually. It supports both 10.4 and 10.5 which makes it more portable. I would call it the most capable and bug free Mozilla option for OS X PowerPC.
It’s not quite so efficient on 10.5, but AuroraFox addresses most of those issues. The bug free aspect of it is particularly beneficial with extensions. I have yet to find one that doesn’t work perfectly. The same cannot be said for Aurora or SeaMonkey. This is the best modern Mozilla option by far for Tiger users
This is the Aurora based sibling of TenFourFox. It borrows from both the TenFourFox code and the official FireFox’s Leopard optimizations to create a better experience for 10.5 users. As I mention above TFF is a little more compatible with all the add-ons I have used but Aurora performs a good deal better on 10.5.
SM is a decent contender. Other than adblock, none of my extensions from Aurora work.
The thing some may really like is that it’s a very complete internet usage tool with a built in mail client, composer and address book. I have never attempted using the mail client so I cannot speak for how good it is. If you don’t use a lot of extensions anyway, and just want a lightweight but modern Mozilla then this is the perfect browser for you.
I have used Camino as my main browser since about 2001. It has great built in features like adblocking, flash blocking, limiting animated images to only play once (big help with CPU use), and is the all round most efficient browser on the Mac. Period.
The downside to Camino is that it uses older Mozilla tech to keep it’s efficiency. It’s based on FireFox 3.6 and there are some sites it won’t work too well with. Media Fire and Mac Update are the two main ones I can think of that it doesn’t play nice with. Another knock against it is that with the pre 4.0 version it’s based on there is no HTML5 support.
Although Camino’s technology is a bit dated, it’s still a perfect browser for standard sites that are not full of a bunch of fluff code. I use Camino, SeaMonkey and Aurora in combination for all my Mozilla needs. Each has it’s own strengths so they compliment each other well. I highly recommend the CPU optimized versions which include G3, G4, G4+ and G5.
Classilla (8.6/9) (up to 10.4 via Classic):
I have no direct experience with this at all but my faith in Dr. Kaiser is strong enough to still recommend it. I also know a few people who praise it and I trust their opinion.
This project is proof that with the right developer and motivation, anything is possible. Not only does it bring modern secure browsing to the pre-X users but it also helps performance by using mostly mobile versions of sites. This is also great if you like that retro Netscape look from the 90’s.
Safari 4 (10.4) 5 (10.5):
When you consider that Safari 4 supports HTML5 and is 4+ years old it’s quite impressive. Version 5 added extension capability in a somewhat similar fashion to FireFox. In terms of Apple Safari it is stuck at 5.06 forever on PowerPC now since development stopped leading up to 5.1.
This is my personal choice when it comes to Webkit on OS X. It’s built on the open source of slightly more modern Webkit tech but based around Safari 5.06. In my experiences it’s about 20% faster than the Apple version and uses a good deal less CPU during idle moments.
The development team has been experimenting with options like replacing the standard Safari with this with an install option. I have not tried this myself because I prefer to keep both around for comparison testing.
Other than running this once on my Stormtrooper I have no experience with it but have heard good things from people I trust. It's based on Webkit and apparently also includes some TenFourFox code from what I understand. It's creation fills the Safari 5 gap on 10.4.
The real advantage to open source code like Webkit or Mozilla is that anyone with the will and ability can get the code and make their own version to suit whatever computing environment they choose. Webkit has even made it’s way into the Linux and BSD world now.
This is another option I have little experience with but it is very fast and I have heard good things about it. From what I understand it’s geared to using social networking sites but it works fine all round. I am very very impressed with the sheer speed of it and how lightweight it is. I am running it with 5 tabs open as I write this and it’s only using 53 MB RAM.
It's really f@#$ing fast. You have to try it and see for yourself.
Omni is a very unique and customizable browser. The biggest standout feature is page specific preferences. I have been using it on and off for a good 3-4 years and love it. It has OS X optimizations like OpenGL and Quartz built in, along with some of the Safari engine.
If you want to browse the web in a more customized to your every whim type of way, then this is the one for you. Keep in mind that this requires a lot of effort in setup to tune it so that every site performs the way you prefer.
This will be a growing dynamic post, which I will add to as things come up or people point out currently developed projects not covered here. Please feel free to also let me know of important details I may not have mentioned about some of the options covered.
Considering it’s now about 6.5 years since Apple made a PowerPC system the selection is pretty damn good. Variety is the spice of technology. We don’t have a Chrome option but I could care less to be honest. I use Chrome now and then on my girlfriend’s MacBook if she already has it open but I often choose to open FireFox instead. We really are not missing out on much and it’s all thanks to these great developers that still care enough about this amazing architecture.
Published on Wednesday, November 07, 2012
I have been very heavy on the Linux content the last while. For those that prefer OS X related content, I just want to say that I am working on a couple things which will be posted in the next couple days. I still love X very much, and use it about 60-70% of the time I compute these days with the rest divided between OpenBSD and Lubuntu.
My intention is to give equal coverage to both OS, but the last couple weeks I have been concentrating on the Linux to help the early adopters.
If anyone has any ideas about content they would like to see me write about, please leave a comment about what it is and why you feel it's important to cover.
Published on Wednesday, October 31, 2012
I had heard about this for a while, but didn't try it until 3 days ago because I'm not a big Webkit fan, until now. On Mac OS I almost never use Safari or Webkit and it took a Linux adoption of the tech to get my attention.
Over the last 3 days I have run this on Lubuntu 12.04.1 and 12.10 with great results. It launches in less than half the time of Firefox 16, uses about 40% less RAM, and is noticeably snappier at page loading. It doesn't have all the brute capability of Firefox, but for regular browsing it's all you will need. I now keep both browsers installed with Midori set as the default.
One of the real positives about it is that it has a very capable built in collection of extensions, like ad blocking, cookie management etc. So far the built in ad blocking is just as good as ABP/ABE. Very capable bookmark management also.
Those that have installed Linux should give it a try.
Published on Thursday, October 25, 2012
I wanted to share a great Linux documentary from 2001 about the fundamentals of the Linux culture. It also talks about the birth and history of Linux.
After decades of using strictly Mac OS and BSD, I am happy to finally embrace Linux. The last two years I have slowly increased my Linux use, but it's these last 3 months or so that I have really dove into it. As a BSD user since the 80's, I was sort of caught up in that BSD elitism some have. By that I mean that many BSD heads scoff at Linux for not being 'true' Unix. The reality is that it may not be as close to true Unix as BSD, but all the same advantages are there along with a Linux developer and user base that dwarfs BSD.
The greatest thing about Linux in 2012 is that the pre-existing kernel and package collection that makes up the whole is so big that virtually everything is limitless. After two decades of heavy growing development there are solutions to suit literally everyone, from the most green newbie, to a command line wizard. It's because of all these things that I now heavily promote Linux especially for PowerPC Macs now years after being abandoned by their maker. I still use BSD every single day, but Linux is just as much if not more a part of my life now. Linux reaches much further into virtually every computing avenue.
About 10-15% of the video is in the Finnish language without english subs, but most parts are spoken in english. All the core people are interviewed. I first saw this in 2003 right around the time that I was starting to sway from BSD, and it reminded me why I shouldn't. If you have never seen this, or have not in a long time; here it is.
140.9 MB - 58 min 49 sec
320x240 - h.264/AAC - 25 fps
Here is the standard web URL for HTML5. I have a personal policy here to never embed images or video in my posts. The reason for this is that it keeps the load time and CPU use much lower. I also prefer to concentrate on the words and keep a simple elegant look. This is also why I don't use the blogger navbar at the top.
Published on Tuesday, October 23, 2012
I want to comment on my recent aggressions toward LEM. It is not my desire to bring an aggressive mood to my own blog, but as noted many times, I simply have no tolerance for people that openly spread ignorance as truth. This however is not something I like dumping on my readers. My goal was to clearly state that I oppose LEM's stance on Linux which involves actually dissuading people from using it. One persons limited capacity is not another's, and they don't get that.
Although I was just trying to clearly separate myself from LEM, I may have been a little melodramatic in my methods. My stance toward them is still the same, but my mind is much more at peace about it now. They have finally removed all the links to here.
My issue is not those I disagree with, but rather those that actually try to limit the technical journey and experiences of their readers, and do it while mooching off my work. If you cannot look out for the technical well being of your readers, then you have no business being a tech writer. My oath to all my readers is that I will always look out for your overall well being, rather than simply feed you misguided info.
For the time being at least (unless they start using my writing as if it's their own again), I will not be writing negative things about them. This will stay peaceful as long as they continue to respect my wishes of leaving my writing alone.
To those that were bothered by the drama, I apologize. As stated, the point was to leave no doubt as to where I stood. Everyone knows where I stand now, so the issue is at an end for the time being. If LEM continues to respect my wishes, then this issue will stay dead forever.
Published on Sunday, October 21, 2012
I am a big fan of Puppy Linux, and I am really feeling the void of there being no PowerPC port. There was an attempt at a beta back in 2009 with PowerPup, but the developer seems to have abandoned it with no updates for 3+ years.
There are others out there in the PowerPC community that like Puppy Linux, and a proper version for our favourite architecture is exactly what it needs. The greatest thing about Puppy is that it runs entirely in RAM which means it's lightweight and extremely fast.
We need developers and testers to step forward and make this happen. I do OpenBSD development for both PowerPC and x86 myself, so I will bring all I can to the plate, but I can't do it alone.
Who's in? We need some great people with amazing skills to step up and push PowerPC forward by helping port what could possibly be the perfect distro for our hardware; especially G3's and slower G4's.
Official Page - Community Page - Wiki Page
Published on Tuesday, October 16, 2012
The once great Low End Mac has turned into an ignorant fanboy in denial link dump. All they seem to do these days is attach themselves onto other sites content like a parasite. My content here seems to be a regular source of their piggybacking, which in most cases would be fine, but their longtime writer Dan Knight seems to be on a mission to spread his denial and ignorance to their readers.
As if it isn't bad enough that they are incapable of creating enough of their own content with a team of writers, they one up their own ineptness by simply just attaching themselves to content from other sites. This is bad enough, but Dan in particular has taken to adding his own little fanboy in denial blurbs at the end of my writing.
The guy admittedly says he doesn't really have PowerPC Linux experience, yet tries to comment on the state of things. The golden rule for having an opinion is if you don't know what the hell you're saying, then shut the fuck up.
The reality is that Mac OS PowerPC is at a dead end, and has been for a good 2 years now. To actually discourage PowerPC users from trying new secure OS options, which will give them valuable new computing skills, is a sacrilege and you should be ashamed of yourself, Dan Knight. Give your little delusional fanboy brain a shake and realize that tech writing is about helping people and not installing your own devolved delusions into them. You need some capacity to be objective, and if you don't, then get the fuck out of the way of progressive thinking with your stunted deluded logic. Delusion is not reality. Reality is reality.
For anyone bothered by my swearing I do apologize but I needed to get the way I truly feel on the table.
Published on Monday, October 15, 2012
Computing in 2012 is full of more fluff and BS than at any point in the past. It’s all so pathetic that it sometimes makes me physically cringe. Not only is most of it silly, but it’s also very constricting and limiting. Too many technologies today force you to be locked into certain OS or hardware. The only reason the industry gets away with all this is because regardless of people’s displeasure with things, they still continue using them. This is a habit that too many practice, and the only way any of us can change this is to change our habits, and the devices and/or software we grow attached to.
Hardware, Software and other things
The only thing that I have attached myself to is the PowerPC architecture, and this is for no reason other than reliability and longevity. When you have used something for 18 years, and it has never failed you, there is no reason to stop using it as long as it can still achieve all you need it to. In terms of OS X, everything after Snow Leopard is covered in horrible. Since 10.5 is so similar to 10.6, I find it a capable OS option for PowerPC while still not needing Intel hardware. As a Mac tech I have no faith in 95% of the Intel hardware Apple has produced. The early stuff in 2006-07 is still to this day the most reliable. I am seeing a lot of 2009-10 model MacBook and iMac the last few months. I have seen SATA controllers on unibody MBP just up and die about 4 times so far. One failed intermittently and the others worked one moment then died the next. The Mac Pro and Mini are the only current Macs I can recommend to people in good conscience, and those are easily the two least purchased.
Not only is much of the newer Intel hardware lacking in quality, but Apple has turned MacBook screens into glossy overdone iPad look-alikes. It’s as if the cast of Jersey Shore helps design things at Apple now. Everything is covered in a horrible, tacky, dithered mess. Anyone with any computing needs beyond basic consumer stuff should be repelled by a dithered glossy screen. I find them unusable personally, and the style is now well saturated in the desktop LCD market also.
This deals with some of the things I mentioned in my “Why the Sawtooth is the greatest Mac ever” post. I am referring to choosing a device based on its usability rather than its aesthetics. No matter how pretty you find something like a computer or tablet; it needs to be a tool before anything else if you ever hope to get any practical use out of it. If you’re really that obsessed over the look of something, then it would be far more practical to have a high res photo printed for your wall above your computer, and buy a device that will give you all the computing ability you actually need.
People need OS and software selection whether they realize it or not. You never know what needs will come along over the years, so having hardware that lasts and offers software flexibility is ideal looking forward.
All the people still running PowerPC hardware would all be very wise to start adopting Linux into their computing world. This is the best thing for all of us looking forward, because the more of us that use Linux, the more the OS will grow on the platform. Apple dumped the architecture 7 years ago now so it's time for those of us still using it to pave our own computing path, at least in regard to achieving new abilities we don't get from old Mac software. There is no reason to abandon the Mac OS versions our systems can run, but in terms of modern secure software Linux is the most logical choice. BSD is an option also, but it is in no way user friendly, so anyone cutting their teeth on *nix for the first time is better off on Linux.
Clinging onto Mac OS and its associated devices at this point is a bit of a fools game for PowerPC users. You're just inevitably going to sink further into the New World Order Apple trash can. More on this in a moment.
I can understand the need some have for an iPhone, but an iPad is really obnoxiously bad and limited in so many ways. It may be more capable than an iPhone, but as a portable computing option an iPad is one of the most limited and incapable devices that exist in the portable market. Exactly how much capability are people willing to give up to own a certain device? Apparently quite a lot.
A 10 year old PowerBook is actually far more capable than any tablet, other than web or h.264 video. If all someone wants to do on a tablet is video and web then go for it. You will still be limited to what browsers and technology is available to you. For those that want to do more than waste time on YouTube, and actually need some real computing ability, a PowerBook (or any portable that allows multiple computer OS) is a better option. iOS is not a legitimate OS, and I will argue that to the grave. It’s really Apple's attempt at stroking the lowest common denominator that is the general market trend now, and they started it.
Apple has turned people into apes that are so caught up in dragging their fingers around, and using the motion sensor, that they don’t realize how much they're getting screwed. When I say screwed, I mean by the price they pay; combined with the limitations that come with it. Is embracing a gimmick or social status symbol worth all you give up? Is a true computing device like a PowerBook really so much bigger, and is flipping a screen up (that you cannot drag your fingers across) really so bad for all the extra ability it gives you? You could buy 2-3 quality used laptops for the price of an iPad. This allows you to shape what OS and software you want working together, which puts you in the drivers seat of your computing journey; where you belong. Even the best tablet OS cannot touch a full computer OS in any regard, other than touch access. The truth is that the whole touch technology craze is as much a gimmick as anything else. Small things amusing small minds.
I compute so much at home, that when I go out I use that as a break from technology. This is why I don't need portability at all. For those that truly do need portability, you're far better off with a full blown computer like a laptop. A netbook is also far more capable than a tablet.
The problem with some PowerPC resources online
It's obvious that anyone who writes PowerPC related content in 2012 does indeed care about the architecture, but most of them deal with things in a way which is influencing the reader to stick to this dead end Apple path. The MacRumors PowerPC board, Low End Mac, and My Mac Collection are good examples of this. All are done with good intent, but they are really just pushing people further down the dead end one way street. I say that because all they do is point their readers to solutions for making their way in a dwindling market; rather than point them to liberating and forward thinking options such as Linux.
The other aspect of this is that many of these sites and blogs only point people to things, and offer little practical knowledge or thinking outside the box in how to get things done, other than limited on their way out for PowerPC technologies. In 2012 you need to offer people practical know how, and different ways of thinking and using things, because that is what is required these days.
With rapidly dwindling PowerPC support on OS X, people can no longer just get by playing follow the leader any longer, by using whatever the industry spits out for them. If you intend on continuing to use your old Macs, you need to think outside the box, and learn how to adapt without giving up capability. We all need to stop adapting methods to keep being a slave to something no longer supported, and focus that energy on true alternatives which often use different technologies, but produce the same end result.
I have even seen some of them point people to the modified flash pluggin, which made me cringe. This is still the very insecure Flash 10, but with a modification to the version it reports so that sites that need 11 or higher will work. It is still Flash 10 in every way, and to recommend this to people is just ignorant and shameful. The key is to look for flash alternatives, and if some day there are none, then we should all just stop trying to watch flash online on PowerPC.
Apple started leaving us in the dust in 2005, and these days even an iPod shuffle needs an Intel Mac for goodness sake. Apple left us for dead, so I really don't get the PowerPC users who are Apple fanboys to this day. Stop loving your PowerPC because it's made by Apple, and love it instead because it has the best computer architecture ever inside, and Apple had very little to do with its creation compared to the actual hardware manufacturers (Motorola/Freescale and IBM).
All of us in the PowerPC community need to focus on what can move our hardware forward, and Open Source OS is the best way to do that while still keeping Mac OS around for other needs where security isn’t a concern. Linux and BSD are the only OS still developed for our platform, and the more of us that embrace it the more it will grow. Simple cause and effect.
There is a learning curve involved, but once you learn Linux or BSD then you have truly empowering computer skills that will give you a clear road directly around any limitations the industry throws at you. The expression “knowledge is power” is particularly apt for computers. Gain the knowledge, and you have the power to compute the way you want, rather than how the industry tells you.
I’ve got a fever and the only cure is Linux growth on PowerPC. I think Dan at PPC Luddite is going about things perfectly with his Linux content, and we should all look to his amazing example.
The Linux content here will only grow over time, as I am totally dedicated to getting all I can out of it, and helping others do so.
Published on Saturday, September 29, 2012
I recently discovered a great Quicksilver alternative for Linux thanks to this post by Dan at PPC Luddite.
Kupfer is very similar to Quicksilver on Mac OS X, in both look and behaviour. For the readers that have installed Linux, I highly recommend giving it a try. My experience with it so far is limited, as I just started using it, but as a long time Quicksilver user I find it an almost seamless transition.
For me this makes the Openbox window manager so much more usable, because I am not a fan of the menu dominant access. Kupfer allows me to keep my hands on the keyboard, which I prefer in that environment.
Install in Debian or MintPPC as root (root terminal) with:
apt-get install kupfer
Or use Synaptic, or whatever GUI package manager you prefer, and search for 'kupfer'.
Kupfer site: http://engla.github.com/kupfer/
Kupfer manual: http://engla.github.io/kupfer/help/
Published on Sunday, September 23, 2012
If you’re like me, then you have several systems because of how affordable PowerPC Macs are these days. The issue many PowerPC users have in 2012 is not having enough power to do something with heavy CPU use, and still be able to multitask effectively. These CPU hungry tasks could be anything from a script heavy site to playing video, and it's nice to be able to do other things without holding back something that needs to use a good chunk of the resources.
It’s nice to be able to browse the web or do whatever while you wait for some heavy lifting to finish up. Whether you have a G3 or a Quad G5; having spare CPU cycles at your disposal is what will really make any computing experience all it can be. If you have another system you can use it to take excess load and tasks off your main system.
The easiest way to do this is with two screens, but one is enough thanks to VNC/Remote Desktop technology. I use a combination of two screens and the built in “ScreenSharing” app in Leopard, and I do this on a daily basis with my two main Sawtooth systems. This allows me to offload anything I want onto my 1.0 GHz system, which keeps my 1.8 GHz open for business.
In certain ways, the VNC option is actually more efficient because it keeps everything on one screen while still offloading work to other systems. The ScreenSharing window gives you a Mac within a Mac; somewhat similar to virtualization, but better. What makes this method better is the other OS isn’t running on the same computer like it is in a virtual machine, so the two are not slowing each other down besides a tiny bit of resources to keep drawing the remote window.
Rather than tell you how you should do things, I will explain my methods; which can then inspire you to shape these concepts to your own personal needs. The ideology is to spread load over systems that are not clustered, and therefore not limited to cluster software.
An average computing session for me starts with checking my email, which is run on my secondary Sawtooth. I keep it on a desk which is close to my main system. Although it has it’s own LCD, I normally prefer to access it through ScreenSharing. The main thinking behind this is that all the tasks I run on the 1.0 GHz are background 24/7 type things, and none of them need a lot of attention.
The things I run on it are:
- Apple Mail
- Transmission (bit torrent)
- Disk Drill (data recovery and SMART utility)
- MS Word
- Noise (white/pink noise utility)
- iTunes (music server)
- Alarm Clock
- Frogblast (intranet client)
- Media Converter
- Occasional web browsing
When not using the system via the attached 24” LCD (which is most of the time), I keep the second Sawtooth at 1024x768, which doesn’t take up too much room as a remote window. None of the apps listed above really need higher than 1024x768, and that size window fits well into 1920x1200, while not hogging too much space. I use command + tab rather than the dock to get to the app I want. I also run Quicksilver on the remote system.
With all those things running on the 1.0 GHz, it allows my 1.8 GHz to be devoted to whatever I am actively doing. I generally leave it for video playback, and web; along with the daily image editing I do in Pixelmator. If I am watching 1080p in CorePlayer, it will use most of the CPU, so this is an occasion where anything else I want to do is done in the remote window. If I am watching 720p or higher I use the remote window to browse the web, so it doesn’t hold back the 1.8 GHz. If I am watching 600p or lower video, then my main system can play that fine while I browse without dropping frames.
Think of it as balancing load over multiple systems with your tasks and computing habits rather than within the code. The remote window within a preexisting system can give you an immense ability beyond what just one can do. As I mentioned already, the only resources the remote window uses are a very small bit of CPU and GPU to draw the window contents. ScreenSharing never uses more than 3-4% CPU on my 1.8 GHz, and less than 2% most of the time.
Having gigabit ethernet really helps a lot, but I have gotten by fine on 100BT and .11b wifi in the past. The advantage of gigabit is that the flow of the remote window will be much smoother.
Not on Leopard?
If you're running Tiger then you don’t have the built in ScreenSharing app, and will need a third party alternative. When I’m running Tiger I prefer an app called “Chicken” which is a side project from “Chicken of the VNC”. Chicken is better, and was last updated in 2011, but Chicken of the VNC is the only 10.3 Panther option from these developers. It has not been updated since 2006.
I use Chicken myself when I have my Storm Trooper B&W G3 running (10.4.11), and I use it to control the 1.0 GHz Sawtooth running Leopard just as I normally would from my 1.8 GHz.
I have done this on and off for a long time now, but for the last three or more years I do this 100% of the time, and find it very productive. Two single CPU systems working together is the ultimate dual CPU setup; since what you do on one doesn’t hold the other back. No matter how powerful one computer is, you still cannot avoid slowing it down with every task you add to its resources. I normally just do this with two systems, but there is no limit to how many Macs you can use this way. If the other system is in another room, then VNC is the perfect way to utilize it.
Chicken (10.4.11+) – Chicken of the VNC (10.3.9+)
Published on Thursday, September 20, 2012
Having things just the way you want them is a rare thing in life. Video ripping is one of those rare have it just the way you want things. The only limitations are in the software you rip with, and the capability of the hardware the video is intended to be played on. The software you will use for playback should also be taken into consideration so that what you rip will play flawlessly.
In my opinion, there are two PowerPC compatible apps on OS X worthy of keeping in your ripping toolbox; Handbrake and Media Converter. The Handbrake team ceased PowerPC development during the 0.9.4 - 0.9.5 transition, but Media Converter continues to have G4/G5 support. Both are very capable, and allow fine tuning of rips beyond what anyone would ever really need. Many will find Media Converter a little more user friendly, because once you have all the presets fine tuned just the way you want it’s simply a matter of drag and drop. Handbrake is a bit more high maintenance in terms of usability, but it’s more capable in terms of video filters like deblocking and deinterlacing.
In regard to audio, both have different strengths. Media Converter has a wider codec range, while Handbrake is better at properly dealing with audio channels. You obviously need to setup how you deal with audio channels based on the audio setup your playback hardware has. These normally range from 2:1 to 5:1, so be sure you set things according to your needs. Once you find your preferred settings in either app, make a preset so that you only have to do that fine tune once.
Versions to use
With Handbrake you shouldn't go past version 0.9.3 on Leopard, because 0.9.4 and up drop XviD codec and avi wrapper support so they are not nearly as flexible. 0.9.3 was the last build to still offer full FFmpeg and XviD (avi) options alongside h.264. It also is much more MP3 and AC3 friendly. Tiger users cannot go past 0.9.1, which is a very solid build also.
For Media Converter, just use the most recent build or any version you tend to prefer. I use the current 1.2 version, and other than a few small tweaks I needed to make, the built in presets are quite good out of the box. Once it’s all setup the way you want, all you have to do is open it and drag whatever you have to rip onto the window. Easy as pie. Not that I can bake a pie, but that’s beside the point.
A practical approach, and the hardware in question
No matter if you're ripping DVD's or re-ripping compressed video, there is a sweet spot for all G4 and G5 hardware. Anyone on a slower G4, with the will and patience to watch something their hardware can't handle, can down-rip videos to a codec and resolution more fitting their hardware playback capability.
Before doing any large quantity of ripping, it’s best to first figure out the codec/resolution sweet spots for your playback hardware. As noted in the playback articles, you need to work within the capability of your hardware. It would be quite a waste to spend days, or even weeks, ripping stuff that won’t even play well on your Mac.
In terms of what hardware is suitable for ripping, it would be wise to only use G4/G5 on OS X. A G3 could take over a week to rip what a slower G4 could rip in a day or two. Just as with playback, Altivec has a big part in the performance of ripping. It’s just the kind of operation that Altivec excels at, as well as L3 cache. I use my secondary Sawtooth to do all my ripping, and it’s equipped with a G4 1.0 GHz 7455B which has 2 MB DDR L3 and it rips video at least 10-20% faster than the G4 1.25 GHz 7447A in my old PowerPC mini did. There are many tasks a computer does that L3 doesn’t help at all with, but anything that deals with heavy lifting a large file is where it really earns it’s keep on the CPU card.
The G4’s which will struggle most with ripping are actually more in the mid range in regard to clock speed. The early eMacs and iMac G4 are somewhat crippled with a 7450 chip that has only 256 KB L2, and no L3.
A laptop is not the best piece of hardware to use because they are simply not built for running at 100% CPU consumption for the hours, or even days, it takes to rip a big que of video. Towers can do this with ease for months/years if needed. If all you have is a portable, then simply use it in moderation for ripping for it's own sake, but a nice cheap dual 450-500 MHz Gigabit G4 would do an admirable job for well under $100, and could also be used for file serving, torrents or whatever else you think of.
Ripping quality and time
Once you know the codec and resolution sweet spots for your hardware, the thing to consider with each thing you rip is what bitrate is the best all round for the video and audio. Things like animation can get by with a low video bitrate, and video with a large amount of dialogue can get by with lower audio quality.
If your hardware deals with h.264 playback well enough, then you can get by with lower bitrates because it’s inherently less blocky than DivX. It also takes 2-3x longer to rip, and 60%+ more CPU to playback. My fastest hardware is my 1.8 GHz Sawtooth, which can rip DivX (FFmpeg) faster than real time, vs. about 2x real time on h.264.
I have ripped h.264 animation as low as 300kb video and 64kb audio, which actually looked very good considering. The key was keeping a decent resolution such as 480p or higher. This ripped in real time or faster, and the video only used about 150 MB per hour. Keep in mind that this low quality would look horrible with anything but animation, or if I used DivX rather than h.264.
For typical video like films or television shows, h.264 can be kept under 1000kb/sec and look amazing. The 700-1000 kb range is perfect all round for quality and low file sizes.
With DivX/XviD the advantages are many. They rip faster, play back with less CPU and there are a few great tricks to make up for the slight increase in blocks and artifacts. I encode all my DivX/XviD to be at least 400-600p, which when combined with using the deblocking filter and 1000-1500 kb makes for very nice looking video. I use either MP3 or AAC audio at 128 kb minimum which I push to 160-256 kb for video that has a lot of music in it. You can go as low as 64 kb for pure dialogue content, but I only do that with animation.
People with G4’s under 1.0 GHz would be wise to stick with the FFmpeg option in Handbrake. It rips the fastest and looks almost as good as XviD, which takes about 30% longer to rip. FFmpeg in Handbrake is DX50 (DivX 5), and I am a big fan of it. It’s not only the fastest codec in Hanbrake, but it also performs better than Media Converter's DivX preset, even after several attempts to make it faster. Handbrake also allows you to put an iOS compatible mp4/m4v wrapper on FFmpeg, which brings DivX efficiency to iPod/iPad/iPhone.
The moral of the quality story is that it’s a combination of hardware playback capability and personal preference. Find your own niche that makes both you and your hardware happy, and stick to it.
The best setting ranges for different hardware
G4 single 350–933 MHz
DivX: 200–500p (vertical pixels) @ 800-1500 kb/sec with 64 – 256 kb audio
h.264: 180–360p @ 500-1000 kb/sec with 64 – 256 kb audio
G4 single 1.0 GHz+ - Any dual G4 - Single G5
DivX: 400–720p @ 800-1500 kb/sec with 128 – 256 kb audio
h.264: 360–600p @ 800-1200 kb/sec with 128 – 256 kb audio
DivX: 720-1080p @ 1200-2000 kb/sec with 128 – 256 kb audio
h.264: 600–1080p @ 1200-1500 kb/sec with 128 – 256 kb audio
As I already mentioned, you need to find your own niche in the video settings, but the above guidelines reflect good overall results. They are all based on leaving some CPU free for other tasks when playing these rips back. If you want to go a bit higher then feel it out and see how it goes. Trial and error is a great way to learn.
Media Converter 1.2 (10.4.11 or higher)
Published on Monday, September 10, 2012