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Use PowerPC for a week?

johnklos

Well-known member
It's interesting to think that in some ways the picture of security is clearer because of the greater number of security issues. It seems, then, that each major component in an OS can be said to be insecure in either (1) a way that affects normal operation, or (2) a way that does not.
 
For instance, shellshock was pretty much irrelevant to Leopard because the default shell then was tcsh. So, people who prefer bash enough to change their default shell heard about shellshock and could do something about it. Didn't know or didn't care? Then it didn't affect your Leopard system.
 
Likewise, all the reflection issues with NTP are irrelevant unless you're allowing queries to your machine. Are you running your own NTP server? Yes? Then you know and have handled it yourself. No? Then it doesn't affect you. The same applies to DNS, Apache, and so on.
 
The reason I still support some Leopard systems boils down to things they do well. File services in later versions of OS X are more idiosyncratic and Apple's Server tools these days suck horribly. They make me feel bad for Windows admins because the mystery surrounding their behavior makes me imagine that I'm experiencing what Windows admins go through regularly.
 
With AFP, people can select "Connect To Server..." from their Go menu in the Finder, and they're sharing files. AFP is encrypted, and there still aren't any CVEs for AFP servers in Leopard (or CVEs for AFP clients which haven't been fixed). But I'm probably the odd one out who still has a legitimate desire to keep something like a Leopard Server not only in use, but actively connected directly to the Internet. Of course I monitor it and would get notified the moment any account gets used for anything outside of the context of AFP, but that makes sense for all servers. In my opinion, it's much better to have a system that's old that one knows and has configured very carefully than to have a fully up-to-date default whatever GNU/Linux distro of the day where security is just taken for granted.
 
But really, the value I see in PowerPC systems is that they can do things that other systems can't quite do, or can do but not quite as well. Take Final Cut - there's no Final Cut equivalent on Windows. There just isn't. Media Composer is a completely different workflow, and Premiere can't be used for anything of any complexity. If you just want to transcode tons of footage to ProRes on a modest RAID, then cut like crazy, there's no equal. Sure, Final Cut X is fancy, but people who cut features are still more inclined to prefer older Final Cut Studio.
 
Final Cut on a Power Mac G5 is STILL a viable option these days and can even handle ProRes 4444. The best part is that someone on a budget can have one indefinitely for far cheaper than a modern system, and with lots of good software for a fraction of what that software would cost for modern versions. The same goes for Adobe software - older Photoshop and Illustrator work quite well, so instead of dealing with the security and billing nightmares of Adobe, one can have all that software for next to nothing, for ever, on an older system.
 
 
The hypervisor thing and how it relates to Intel's Management Engine, though, is another matter and one I think I've misexplained. I'm not saying that there's this "feature" of either current hypervisors or Intel's CPUs that does this - I'm suggesting that the various government agencies which have shown no regard whatsoever for the Constitution, the Bill of Rights or the letter of law are already making use of compromised hypervisors in "clouds" all over the planet to collect data surreptitiously. Heck, I'd even say it's not crazy to imagine they had a hand in the marketing push for the "cloud". Imagine if you were them and you wanted access to more businesses' data, but all of those larger businesses were still running their own servers on-site. What would you do? Of course, you'd encourage them to move that data to places which were much easier to get to.
 
The Intel Management Engine, FYI, is tiny controller in every Intel CPU which has unfettered access to everything - ring 0, memory, DMA, caches, microcode, you name it. But guess who knows exactly what it does, how it's programmed, what its safeguards are? You probably guessed correctly - none of us! It's partly why China has been moving to a natively built CPU. Literally every Intel system made these days has one. The capabilities Intel admits are scary enough - imagine if a rootkit could be made which allowed modification of the ME's code? Game over, literally every Intel system everywhere!
http://www.slideshare.net/codeblue_jp/igor-skochinsky-enpub
http://hackaday.com/2016/01/22/the-trouble-with-intels-management-engine/
http://hackaday.com/2015/12/28/32c3-towards-trustworthy-x86-laptops/
 
Now imagine - just suspend your disbelief for two minutes - that the Intel ME has been in the pocket of those we-don't-care-what's-legal TLAs for years. Go ahead. Let that sink in.
 
Support for alternate platforms, both for the sake of code robustness and for the sake of system resiliency, is never a bad idea. 
 

Cory5412

Daring Pioneer of the Future
Staff member
I'm pretty sure that the default shell switched to bash in 10.3. It was still tcsh in 10.2, but it had switched to bash by 10.4 at the very latest. Though, if you migrated an old account forward, it respected your individual choice (or apathy) and kept tcsh as your default shell.

I'll have to go read the links you provided about the ME. I don't think it's a bad idea to have 1) x86 competition (AMD or Via could build chipsets and CPUs without this management instrumentation, for example) 2) platform/architecture competition and variety (Itanium might not have this instrumentation, POWER8 and SPARC can be built by different vendors, ARM doesn't come with anything like this in its default state, and so on.

Fortunately, you can still buy SPARC servers from Solaris, POWER8 isn't exactly new (you can buy it from both Tyan and IBM), and with Talos, there's movement toward being able to do some of this stuff on the desktop. There are of course also Amiga-focused PowerPC computers.

The Management Engine, as far as I can tell, isn't actually in every Intel CPU. It's part of the vPro stack, which really only shows up in "business" focused CPUs. An easy way to find one without it is to look for "Gamer" CPUs such as the i7-5820K. Even if the physical bits are in there, it's not activated, both on the X99 chipset platform and on that particular CPU.

Whether or not "the bits can't be activated by the customer but could be activated by a TLA" is a matter of a number of factors. I have thoughts on that, but most of my thoughts on that matter are political rather than technical and as such, I'm not going to discuss them here.

Thinking about Final Cut:

It's actually specifically because of my boxed copy of Final Cut Studio 2 that I've been considering picking up some form of G5, very good G4, or perhaps building up a "Legacy Hackintosh." Basically, I need/want something running 10.5 or 10.6, as that application is said to work poorly with OS X 10.11, and because my editing knowledge is in this particular version.

Interestingly, the current version of iMovie appears to rely very heavily on real-time processing in a way that final cut didn't, making simple cuts and title preparation an exercise in patience. I'm sure Premiere Elements would do what I need, and honestly at this point I can get Premiere Elements for less than the cost of a G5, let alone the cost of running one (compared to my Intel-based Mac mini, or one of my PC laptops), but there you have it.

The nice thing about old Final Cut is that you can do a lot of stuff in non-real-time, and you can, should it be necessary, make proxies of your proRes 422 files.

If I had to make a guess slash if you believe anything people who go on YouTube and talk about video editing say: "pros" are moving toward Premiere Pro, I wouldn't be surprised if they're moving toward Windows as well. That probably has to do with people who make money doing the task or who prioritize compute speed above all else, and the impression I've gotten is that premiere pro should be easy to learn if you know classic Final Cut. I haven't used Premiere Pro in a few years though.

So, "viability" really depends on what your priorities are. The G5s were capable of the task when they were new, and if you maintain the hardware (fresh disks, cooling system cleanups, etc) then they should remain viable for the task. They won't ever get faster at it though, and as people start editing 4k, the viability might change -- either you'll be editing proxies mandatory (even if your proxies are 720p) or you'll just suffer from never being able to see anything in real-time, or you really will need to move on to hardware that's better equipped.

 

johnklos

Well-known member
Those articles talk about the large, powerful, contemporary Management Engine. There's actually similar hardware in older models, as well as in all modern Intel systems (not just vPro). It'll be interesting to see how people feel when we all learn more about how the hardware we already have and use can be used against us.

Two things about Premiere - Adobe is good at selling bullshit, and they're half good at making a decent program when they want. It's their ecosystem that makes people feel like they've made a Faustian deal when they buy Adobe. Does every system with even a single Adobe product need multiple "Cloud" and "update" daemons running 24/7, popping up notices like a Windows machine used for porn, creating tons of unnecessary Internet traffic and doing who-the-hell-knows-what? Hell, no. But if you need the software, you end up with the crack-addled Adobe "cheerleader" software, the ten-thousand-DNS-queries-a-second-because-we-already-got-your-money-so-why-should-we-fix-that junk that essentially is Adobe marking their territory all over your machine.

I've heard how Premiere is now "in" with "professionals", just as I've heard people fresh out of film school insist that their film teachers told them it was OK to cut a feature on Premiere. Yes, I'm sure Premiere has been used to cut a feature or two. But would you WANT to? Heck, no.

Even though I'm no Premiere expert, I've had countless projects come to me started on Premiere because of some kid out of film school decided to use it or because someone was too smart to fall for the trappings of Apple and decided to save money with Windows. Each and every time they cut for a while (enough to make it worthwhile to want to continue rather than start over) until Premiere started giving them problems. First, the program tries too hard - sure, it's nice to SAY you don't want or prefer a native codec, but cutting ANY camera originals in any sequence of any complexity starts to get slower and slower over time. Then, Premiere gets to the point where it starts crashing - just once in a while at start, then a few times a day, then whenever you scroll too quickly, then whenever you try to do ANYTHING.

If I hadn't personally rescued at least a dozen Premiere projects over the years, I'd keep an open mind about trying Premiere for larger projects, but over time I haven't seen the falling off a cliff as complexity grows problem get addressed by Adobe. Perhaps they'll actually try one day. Until then, I'll be serving nice, cold glasses of I Told You So to people who haven't figured out that film school teachers teaching post production often have not had extensive technical experience in the real world.

For many years we (meaning the industry) used ABVBs for HD. We treated the HD footage as film. We did this because the problems and costs associated with cutting in HD were too high, plus the ABVB had precisely known bugs and limitations. Likewise, many large productions CHOSE to use Meridiens for many, many years after Adrenalines were supposed to have replaced them. I went to AVID to talk with them about how they could improve things - the people who work on the AVID products had NO CLUE that so many people were still using Meridiens. These were people with plenty of money, too! The AVID salespeople had no interest in honesty, so the AVID product people didn't know that many huge productions were adamantly avoiding their new products because of all the bugs and perceived lack of concern for the actual editors' issues.

It's something worth remembering whenever anyone talks about new products. Have those products been tested extensively? Are they useful for any case, or just certain cases? Is most of the information about some particular new product from salespeople, or from real users?

 

johnklos

Well-known member
BTW - any creative project or business which dictates platform choice to their artists get what they deserve - less productivity, more strife. Nobody "saves time" because Windows computers are faster. Any perceived time savings which result from buying super high-end Windows computer instead of a $4000 trashcan Mac Pro is lost while an artist is working on an inferior platform.

(and of course that's a generalization - not every artist prefers Macs, of course)

 

TheWhiteFalcon

Well-known member
My dislike for Adobe is only surpassed by my hate for Pearson.

And there are many reasons I keep my private thoughts on offline OS9 Macs.

 

SE30_Neal

Well-known member
Surely the real challenge would be to use a 68k mac for a week, with word, excel, email and photoshop it could be done although i doubt youtube is possible :)

 

Elfen

Well-known member
Maybe with a 040 you can play some flash animation but I doubt you can do youtube videos. Other things are doable.

MS Office 4.0 was around for System 7 and MS Works for System 6.

Basic Web access, Email and FTP you can also do on a '030/'040 Mac.

And of course with a 24Bit video card Photoshop 2.5 to 9 would be great though some filters might be slow. I'm still using FreeHand 5 and Photoshop 4.5 on OS9 through OSX on my G4 Powerbook. This allows me to draw neatly and do vector graphics with ease!

 

Cory5412

Daring Pioneer of the Future
Staff member
Depending on how complicated your spreadsheet and other specialized needs are, core "productivity" work on a 68k Mac is essentially trivial.

The hard part is that most work environments expect you to put your work up online as docx/xlsx/pptx files on sharepoint or modern smb/cifs servers.

It's, unfortunately, only a viable workflow if you do not ever need to collaborate or share with anyone, and if you're willing to jump through hoops in order to do things like get your work online.

That and you'd have a hard time with e-mail directly on a 68k Mac. You may be able to get OWA Lite running in IE4 on an old Mac, and of course you can SSH from an '030 or '040 with enough RAM for MacSSH, so you could use pine/alpine/mutt whatever on your remote linux/bsd/osx host, but at that point you're really just using something that's using all its horsepower to keep up as an SSH terminal. It would be a nice SSH terminal, but that's all it'll be nevertheless.

At the end of the day though, using a 68k Mac is a lot more in the spirit of the RetroChallenge because of all of those challenges, and the decisions you have to make about what you do, or how you do things. Back in the day, rather than just doing literally everything at once on one laptop or even a low end device like the Surface 3, I had several old midrange machines running at once, each doing a different thing. This would have been amplified even further if I'd had fast and always-on Internet at home, and a network of some sort. 

 

SE30_Neal

Well-known member
The internet of things has moved on alot since 1991 i think you're right its the Internet that would make it hard to use a 68k machine day in day out as you rely so much on it these days.

 

zerobotman

Active member
I'm pretty sure there's a ubuntu flavor for ppc that's at least been updated later then any apple os released for the platform.

 

hellslinger

Active member
The folks here are opposed to using Linux on PPC macs to modernize them, as they feel it is not in the spirit of the challenge (PPC for a week on Mac OS).

IMO, If you're going to use OS X, you're already failing the challenge -- the real challenge is OS 9. I mean, why use a bad version of UNIX that is severely out of date and performs poorly on PPC hardware. At least Ubuntu is modern -and- performs well.

Debian 7 on my G3 Wallstreet using midori actually supports my wifi card and runs a hell of a lot better than Mac OS 10.3 ( the latest supported on that model ). Ubuntu also performs better than Mac OS 10.4 on my G4s.

 

Cory5412

Daring Pioneer of the Future
Staff member
It's hard because while Linux and BSD are absolutely better uses of the hardware...

1) They're un-mac-like.

2) There's better hardware to run that software on. (Even if you still want to, say, avoid a new OEM computer or Intel x86/x64 CPUs.)

For "daily driving," the way most people appear to want to use OS X on MacPPC, Linux would be better for so many reasons. I think the real question is what what point are you using your Mac in lieu of a Chromebook, and that's probably the point at which you should switch to Linux.

The hard part is that today, using a ten year old computer for normal work isn't exactly a very big challenge. In fact. It's downright boring. I've got PC laptops from the late MacPPC era that run Windows 7, Office 2010, and current web browsers perfectly well. They might be even better with a lightweight Linux/BSD configuration.

Ten years ago, it was a much larger challenge, and 13-15 years ago when the original RetroChallenge started, it was a bit more difficult than that.

For reasons like this, I think that endurance challenges have really (correctly) fallen out of favor of the past few years. Everybody who does them just uses their cell phone to connect to Google Docs and e-mail and listen to their music anyway, essentially justifying that it's the same as using a Walkman for your music and connecting to a shell server for your e-mail.

The most interesting RetroChallenges are situations where people are using the accountability and the community aspect of it to complete other projects. Perhaps it's a programming task you've been putting off, getting started with programming, a hardware restoration, or something of that nature.

 

zerobotman

Active member
It's hard because while Linux and BSD are absolutely better uses of the hardware...

1) They're un-mac-like.

2) There's better hardware to run that software on. (Even if you still want to, say, avoid a new OEM computer or Intel x86/x64 CPUs.)

For "daily driving," the way most people appear to want to use OS X on MacPPC, Linux would be better for so many reasons. I think the real question is what what point are you using your Mac in lieu of a Chromebook, and that's probably the point at which you should switch to Linux.

The hard part is that today, using a ten year old computer for normal work isn't exactly a very big challenge. In fact. It's downright boring. I've got PC laptops from the late MacPPC era that run Windows 7, Office 2010, and current web browsers perfectly well. They might be even better with a lightweight Linux/BSD configuration.

Ten years ago, it was a much larger challenge, and 13-15 years ago when the original RetroChallenge started, it was a bit more difficult than that.

For reasons like this, I think that endurance challenges have really (correctly) fallen out of favor of the past few years. Everybody who does them just uses their cell phone to connect to Google Docs and e-mail and listen to their music anyway, essentially justifying that it's the same as using a Walkman for your music and connecting to a shell server for your e-mail.

The most interesting RetroChallenges are situations where people are using the accountability and the community aspect of it to complete other projects. Perhaps it's a programming task you've been putting off, getting started with programming, a hardware restoration, or something of that nature.
You could install KDE and make it look very mac like. Depending on how gnome has depreciated their ppc support, they too could be used to make it "mac like"

 

commodorejohn

Well-known member
Even if we take that at face value (yes, there are window-manager themes that replicate the OS9 look very nicely, but good luck getting anything else to look all that Mac-like,) the key point is that it's not how classic Mac OS looks, it's how it feels. It's a pleasant user experience not just because it looks nice (which it does,) but because it behaves in an intuitive and, most importantly, consistent way. The same cannot be said of Linux (where each of the three or four standard UI toolkits has its own standard for user interaction, each application using them has its own set of deviances, and there's no way you can avoid having to mix and match several of each category if you want to get a reasonably complete desktop OS,) and there's no theme/skin in the universe that will change that.

 
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Cory5412

Daring Pioneer of the Future
Staff member
I would take it for the reverse -- by and large, KDE was trying to clone CDE and to a lesser extent Windows, and GNOME was trying to clone Mac OS 9 (GNOME 2 and now MATE are configurable enough that you could easily emulate Mac OS 9 or Windows with it)..

However, as commodorejohn writes, if you configured GNOME 2 on a system to be a totally dead ringer for Mac OS 9 (which ultimately isn't super hard to do) and then put a Classic Mac OS user in front of it, they'd probably get really frustrated.

To a certain extent, some of those problems or changes are still in Mac OS X, many of which I heard were fixed by about the time OS X 10.5 came out, but the Mac was specific and in some ways unique enough in its behavior that, like, even the Apple IIgs didn't replicate it perfectly. (One of the features added to 6.0.3, published last year, for example, was a keyboard command that allows you to navigate up through your folder structure -- so the IIgs was close but not all the way there.)

The other thing is that perhaps even more than being "mac-like" -- Mac users want Mac software. In the '90s, that was Aldus, Adobe, Macromedia, Microsoft, and Claris and shareware vendors. Today, it's Apple/Microsoft/Adobe and the Indie vendors.

 

hellslinger

Active member
You could install KDE and make it look very mac like. Depending on how gnome has depreciated their ppc support, they too could be used to make it "mac like"
Usually things that are close (but not the same) are actually far worse than far off because the expectation of it being the same will drive the user mad. DEs like Gnome 3 and Unity, I believe, are a good way to break users away because they will expect to learn something new. GNU/Linux just can't be used like Windows or Mac, and thank goodness for that.

The first time I used OS 9 on a G3 I thought I was in heaven, and I've always aimed for having that kind of responsiveness and overhead. To me, GNU/Linux gives me the same kind of experience I had pre OS X.  It's fast if I want it to be, and the computer feels like mine because I can change anything. And it isn't sitting there constantly doing stuff I don't want it to. 

I used an intel mac running El Crapitan for the first time since using 10.6.8 on a Macbook 5 or 6 years ago. It took 4 minutes to boot on a 1st gen i7 with 16GB of RAM, and it was sloooowww because the hard drive was at 100% usage the whole time. I downgraded to 10.8 and it was fast again. The funny thing is, 10.8 is no longer supported, so you can't get the latest Chrome or security updates, meaning this 3 year old OS is now unsupported. Apparently, a minimum requirement for acceptable performance on a modern mac is a PCI-E SSD, so the OS can burn up 1GB/s IO bandwidth... doing what exactly?

This PPC retro challenge is seeming like less of a novelty and more of a real solution. 

 
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Cory5412

Daring Pioneer of the Future
Staff member
For me, long boot times aren't very common with 10.11. Probably my only Mac that takes more than two minutes to boot 10.11 is my Late 2007 MacBook Pro. However, if boot times are too long the solution for that is to get a more modern storage device.

Computers have become massively faster over the past few years, and spinning hard disks simply haven't caught up. PCIe NVMe storage with throughput of about a gigabyte per second is probably where all mainstream storage should be right now, if storage had been following the same performance curve everything else has over the past few years. It's not like anybody really looks at PC17000 RAM (2133MHz!) and goes "wow, this RAM is just too fast."

The only good reasons to avoid fast storage are if you want your computer to cost $300 or less, or if your computer is a Chromebook and you literally never use local storage for anything, ever. Given that the stated solution to the problem of modern Mac OS X is to use Mac OS X 10.6.8 or older, I can't possibly imagine that anything like that is remotely close to the truth. And so: you'd benefit from faster storage, even if you only put your OS and applications on it. (Splitting things out into different physical disks can also be helpful and one of the things that used to be recommended for UNIX systems is that swap space be spread out across all physical disks, because hitting swap is a massive slowdown.)

That said: I've got 10.11 on a "Late 2007" MacBook Pro and to be honest, accounting for the fact that the whole system is old and tired at this point and the GPU is likely about to die and I must run it without the battery installed, and it has probably never received meaningful physical maintenance in its nine years... 10.11 runs as fast on it as 10.6 ever did.

Same deal with my 2011 MacBook Pro at work (same deal as yours, quad i7, beefy GPU, 8 gigs of RAM, 500 gig hard disk) except on hardware that good, 10.11 is just a pleasure to use.

And, on my Mac mini, 10.11 is the first version of Mac OS X that reverses the now-long trend where every successive version of Mac OS X is worse than the last.

At the end of the day, a PowerPC endurance challenge isn't really the solution to anything. For whatever reason, inexplicably, Mac OS X used to get better every single release, then it stopped around 10.5/10.6 and it started getting worse every release (worse as in, system became literally unusable if you didnt' reboot frequently, required frequent full reinstallations because things just got randomly messed up, and so on.)

When I switched to Windows in 2009, I was pleasantly surprised that the massively hated Windows Vista didn't have any of the problems I was starting to see in 10.4/10.5. If you were running a weird workload or accidentally left a heavy compute workload on in the background while you were photoshopping, the system was slow, but everything stayed running and the UI was more responsive. Photoshop didn't randomly crash, and so on.

Starting with 10.7 or so, perhaps earlier, there were massive problems in OS X with the memory handling, and that has been completely fixed in 10.11, and the addion of memory compression also makes things better.

Throwing hardware at it helps, but it's not strictly necessary at this point, because the problems that "just use an SSD" was actually hiding some legitimate problems in Mac OS X -- namely that RAM would never be released by applications that were quit.

I do generally agree that perhaps Apple has been shielded from necessary criticism over the past few years, which is probably part of what led this to be. Hopefully, with the meaningful improvements we've seen in 10.11, Apple is set back on a path of actual improvements, or at least not regressions in the OS.

We'll find out later this year when they start to show off 10.12, I suppose.

 

hellslinger

Active member
Ok, so storage hasn't kept pace with Moore's law, but that doesn't explain why OS I/O requirements have exploded. I can easily explain why the number of transistors in CPUs and GPUs doubles every 2 years, but no one can reaally explain all the reasons why commercial OSes always immediately use that new silicon to make heat instead of do work. 

What new workload does 10.11 do that your 10.8 didn't do? My googling reveals such improves as Mail.app has tabs now and you can do Windows 7 window tiling...

 
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