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Directly Install a shop copy of Leopard on an iMac 700MHz (or even a stock, unmodified G4 Cube!)

March 21, 2008 4 comments

imacg4-leopard

Yes, despite Leopard being limited to 867MHz G4 processors and faster, you can pretty much install Leopard on any G4 Mac with an AGP graphics card. (OK, so the picture above is a phtoshopped image of a 1GHz model, but you get the idea.)

So, I decided to try it out and reinstall Leopard from scratch on my shiny “new” iMac with its rip-roaring 700MHz processor, 40GB hard disk and 640MB RAM.

To cut a long story short, it can be done and ridiculously easily!

  • Reboot the iMac
  • Hold down the Cmd-Opt-O-F keys. Instead of the usual white screen and grey Apple logo, you’ll get a black screen with a white Open Firmware prompt.
  • This is NOT a regular BASH prompt, so don’t be tempted to try anything!
  • Insert the shop copy of the Leopard DVD. (If it’s already in the drive, that’s fine, too).
  • Type the following lines in exactly as shown below. After pressing Return, you should see “ok” to signify that the command was understood. If at any time you have any doubt, just reset the Mac and start again since these settings are cleared after a reboot.

For your iMac, G4 Cube etc, type this:

dev /cpus/PowerPC,G4@0
d# 867000000 encode-int " clock-frequency" property
boot cd:,\\:tbxi
  • The install will continue.

I haven’t tried this below, but…
If you have a dual CPU computer, use the following:

dev /cpus/PowerPC,G4@0
d# 867000000 encode-int " clock-frequency" property
dev /cpus/PowerPC,G4@1
d# 867000000 encode-int " clock-frequency" property
boot cd:,\\:tbxi
  • The install will continue.

Remember this hint does not confer any magical speed increase, it just lies to the Installer! Also, a reboot clears this tweak, But Leopard will continue to run, once installed.

Obvious point but… If you install a new OS, you’ll in all likelihood LOSE SOME OR ALL OF THE CONTENTS OF THE DRIVE. BACKUP FIRST!

Categories: Mac, Tech Tips, Technology Tags: , , , ,

Upgrading iMac 15″ flat panel (iLamp) Hard Disk, DVD Drive and Memory to the full 1GB

March 20, 2008 1 comment

I was thrilled to see just how well Leopard ran on my new 700MHz iMac 15″ flat panel LCD with the user upgradable RAM increased to 640MB and the stock 40GB hard disk.

So, I am really looking forward to seeing the performance and how the thing performs with a full 1GB of RAM (considered minimum for OS X 10.5 Leopard to run smoothly. I suspect that it will be 100% usable, not a “poor” or “barely ok”, but a full on “nice” or at least, “not too shabby.” 

Firstly, You will need a nice set of tools to get inside the iMac, it’s a bit of a fiend to open, along the lines of the Mac Mini, but with more screws! Not impossible, but not trivial.

First Up, make sure you have all the components you need

  • 3.5″ PATA (Ultra ATA 66) HDD. There is no space for a SATA-PATA converter, so get the real deal.
  • A Mac Compatible DVD Writer (preferably one with iDVD support).

NOTE: The DVD writer should be less than 19.5cm deep since that’s the size of the drive that’s in there. The tray bezel should also be removable.

  • 512MB, PC133 (133MHz) 168 pin DIMM.
  • 512MB, PC133 (133MHz) 144 pin SO-DIMM 

Before you start make sure that everything is ready:

  • YOU WILL NEED SOME HEAT SINK COMPOUND (Thermal paste).
    I’m shouting this because this is easy to overlook and WILL turn your iMac into a paperweight if you forget it.
  • A set of Torx drivers, a number 10 and a number 15 should do the trick, but don’t quote me on that! Better off having a whole set from 6 to 20.
  • A Plus head screwdriver. I have no idea what size, just look at the screws and be the judge 🙂
  • A wide open, well lit space to work, covered in a soft duvet, pillow or stack of towels.
  • Somewhere to earth yourself or better yet, a grounding strap.
Prepare your iMac for surgery:
  • Unplug your iMac completely.
  • Clean your iMac. Stray dust WILL somehow find a way to scratch your screen at the first opportunity.
  • (optional) You might want to wrap the screen in a soft, clean towel and pin it with safety pins.

 Removing the user accessible parts of the iMac.

  • Unscrew the base screws with the plus-head screwdriver.
  • Remove the RAM and Airport card, if present.
 
Removing the base
  • Remove Torx bolts holding base together.
Remove base screws
  • Now remove the base, carefully, prising the bottom off. 

Important: Try not to twist or bend the base in relation to the top. Work your hands around the base, gradually easing the base away from the top. At all times, keep the base parallel to the top until it is clear of the connectors.

Pull the base off the iMac
  • Now the base is off, you may, depending on the way your iMac is being supported, need to detach some or all the cables which hold the base to the top. There are six cables, see the diagram below.

Disconnect iMac base

Make sure you can remember where each cable goes. Also, the green earth cable on the left hand side is secured to the top with a Torx bolt that needs to be removed.

Replacing the internally installed (non-user-serviceable) RAM

The RAM slot is visible at the bottom of the above picture and can now be replaced.

Make sure you replace it with a decent, “full-size” (desktop) 168pin 133MHz SDRAM chip. 100MHz chips tend to cause kernel panics, avoid them!

  • Push the two cream coloured tabs out and down and the DIMM should pop up. Pull it out vertically.

Replacing the internal, full sized DIMM

  • Now might be a good time to use an air blower and clean out the RAM slot.
  • When replacing the DIMM with a new one, make sure you push it in vertically, all the way to the bottom. The two cream coloured tabs should automatically pop into place.
  • I’ll repeat the bit above, make sure you push the RAM in vertically, all the way to the bottom. If you don’t you’ll be reopening your case again sooner than you’d like.

Removing the drive assembly.

Next we are going to remove the drive assembly which holds the hard disk drive and the Combo DVD Drive.

  • Remove the copper tape that holds the electromagnetic shielding from the front of the drive and the two bolts shown below.
  • Gently pull the shielding away from the top and put it aside.

Remove iMac EM shielding

  • Now remove the four bolts that hold the drive assembly in place.
  • Make sure there are no cables tethered to the drive assembly. If there are, you will need to cut the cable-ties and release them.
  • Lift the drive assembly away from the top.

Remove iMac drive assembly

  • Once the drive assembly is out, remove the power connectors from both the HDD and DVD.

The data connector is lodged between the two drives and cannot be removed.

The HDD is covered with a sticky backed film, probably an interference reducing tactic. This film will have to be removed before we can remove the HDD from the assembly.

  • Carefully peel off the paper.

 

Remove sticky paper cover

  •  Remove the eight bolts which hold the hdd

Remove HDD and DVD bolts

 

  • Lift out the HDD
  • Slide out the DVD drive, connector first (i.e. backwards)
  • Make note as you do so where the fronts and backs of of each drive sit!

Disassembly Complete:

Read the remainder of this post for some critical tips and then work back through this post in reverse if you need to look at the photos.

  • Replace the drives in the assembly, making sure the ATA cable is between the HDD and the DVD drive before tightening anything.

Drive assembly checks:

Before reassembling, confirm the following:

  • HDD is set to Master and the DVD is Slave or as Apple recommends, use Cable Select for both drives – If this is not done, you will find one or both of the drives inaccessible.
  • The drives are aligned properly and are the right way around!
  • The DVD drive fits – Some are deeper than others!
  • Before you screw the drive assembly into place, make sure you have reattached the ATA connector and the power connectors to both drives. Trying to reconnect the cables after bolting the drives in place is a futile waste of time. (Talking from experience!!)
  • Make sure the appropriate wires run behind the drive assembly before the drive assembly is replaced, since routing the wires around the side may interfere when closing the case. 
  • The DVD bezel on the tray is small enough to fit though the white drive flap on the front of the iMac.

You may need to remove the new DVD drive’s whole front plastic panel and/or the plastic bezel on the front of the drive tray.

  • You will need to remove the bezel first: use a pin, piece of stiff wire or a paperclip to poke the little hole at the front of the drive and release the tray. Behind the lip of the tray, there should be a couple of clips holding the bezel to the drive tray.
  • Now, the drive front panel can be removed (usually, depending on your drive). There are typically four to six holes in the metal casing of the drive, near to the front panel, form which protrude short plastic posts. Pushing the posts in with a screwdriver one by one should release the front of the drive.

Reconnecting everything:

The CPU heatsink is connected to a heatpipe which runs along the bottom of the case from the CPU to a junction, which transfers the heat from the CPU into the upper-half of the base to be cooled by the top mounted fan.

iMac Heat Pipe Bottom

  • Scrape of the old heatsink compound and thoroughly clean and polish the post without filing or reducing in any way. You may need acetone or metal polish. A plastic scraper may also help remove the old gunk which may have hardened due to heat.

iMac Heat Pipe Top

  • Do the same for the top part of the junction.
  • Apply a thin, neat coating of heatsink compound (thermal paste) to either one -not both- of the posts.
If you do not clean the junction properly or forget to apply the heatsink compound, your iMac will freeze, crash and perhaps suffer irreparable damage due to the CPU overheating.
  • Now connect all the wires back up. 
  • If necessary, restrain the cables against the side of the drive assembly to prevent from getting trapped when resealing the base.
  • Align the two halves of the case.
  • Ease the base on, making sure the rear connector is fitting snugly before tightening any bolts.
Do not attempt to run the iMac until the four base bolts are back in place. One of them is used to squeeze the two halves of the heatpipe together, without which the heat won’t transfer away from the CPU and you computer will malfunction.
Mission accomplished.
Categories: Mac, mods, Technology Tags: , ,

Installing Leopard on iMac 700MHz with Target Disk Mode

February 13, 2008 Leave a comment

I’ve seen a lot of talk about Leopard requiring the latest system just to get it running. So I’m writing to put that myth to sleep.

So, I decided to upgrade the RAM and the OS to either Tiger or Leopard and test the machine with original 40GB hard disk and just an additional 512MB upgrade (for a total of 640MB). If it ran Leopoard tolerably fast and stable enough then I’d make Leopard permanent and upgrade to the the full 1GB RAM, a Bigger Hard disk and a DVD-R, which should provide even better performance. If not then I’d fall back to Tiger rather than Leopard.

Preparing the iMac for the Leopard install.

This was trivial and involved adding a 512MB, 133MHz SODIMM RAM module.

    See the Upgrading the iMac’s RAM to 640 MB post.

  • Next, I rebooted the iMac and tested the memory. All was well.
  • Restart the iMac in Firewire Target Disk mode by holding down T until a few seconds after the chime.
  • I used Firewire target disk mode and CCC to clone the HDD off Tomoko’s 12″ PowerBook Leopard install. This took about an hour for the 10GB or so transfer.

Booted up fine, first time.

Gotchas

After removing various settings for Bluetooth, Airmac and changing the network settings so as not to double up with the PowerBook, I got to work testing.

I was surprised at the performance, expecting it to be slower than it was and the 1024 x 768 screen to be more cramped. But it runs quite well. I tried Safari, Word, Excel and Mail at the same time (a typical day’s work) and found the machine to be pleasant and entirely usable if not amazingly fast. There were none of the annoyances that I have with Tiger on my stock G4 Cube, for example.

I found that the 10.5.2 system install was waiting so I installed that plus graphics update 1.0 and a few other queued updates.

Probably subjective, but I found the whole thing to be even smoother and more responsive. For example, clicking on the finder icon in the dock brings up any open finder windows almost instantaneously over whatever you’re doing at the time.

A lot better than my stock cube with 1.5GB RAM and Tiger.

I’d like to test it out with Tiger for a speed comparison, but quite frankly, besides the lack of awaking from sleep, it’s running so smooth that I don’t see the point.

In conclusion

  • Install from cloned PowerBook HDD using CCC was effortless and took an hour or so for a 10GB install. 
  • Leopard runs trouble free, with so far no crashes or random stuff happening (apart from wake from sleep).
  • 10.5.2 upgrade and Graphics Update 1.0 work wonderfully.
  • 640MB RAM and 40GB HDD gives more than adequate performance for Surfing, iTunes, Office 2004 multitasking.

    Remaining Niggles:

    1. Awakes from sleep with screen artifacts (but at least it can be gracefully reset since the OSX10.5.2 / GU1.0 updates).
    2. Boot up is slow. Haven’t timed it, but it’s slow.
    3. Logging in is slow.

      Of the above complaints, only the first is a real one, since, once logged in, everything is hunky dory.

      I think I’ll keep the machine like this for a week or to so that I can appreciate the upgrade when I perform it.

      I wonder how much faster the Seagate 500GB HDD and extra 386MB of RAM will make it…

      Categories: Mac, Tech Tips, Technology Tags: , , , , ,

      Upgrading iMac G4 to 640 MB.

      February 12, 2008 Leave a comment

      The iMac G4 is unique, as far as I’m aware, in that it has two memory slots which take different types of memory. One slot is easily user accessible with nothing more than a screwdriver and takes a 133MHz laptop SO-DIMM, up to 512MB.

      The other comes factory preinstalled (in this case with a 128 MB, 133MHz DIMM), but is much harder to access, requiring disassembly with a set of Torx (star) drivers.

      Upgrading to 640MB, then, is a simple task requiring about 5 minutes.

      You will need:

      • A large area with soft padding to support the iMac in a lying down position.
      • A small, cross-head (plus) driver.
      • A branded 512 MB, 133 MHz, SO-DIMM for a laptop, preferably with a compatibility replacement guarantee, should things go wrong.
      let’s get started:
      • Turn the iMac on its side. Take special care not to scratch the screen or the computer’s plasic casing.
      • Locate the four screws on the base and unscrew until loose.
      iMac, getting the base off
      • Carefully remove the beautifully crafted aluminium base plate, revealing the RAM slot.
      • Ground yourself on something metal, like a metal door sash, a large metal desk or the kitchen sink.
      • Carefully insert the 512MB RAM stick in the slot at about 30 degrees angle from the base. Push the long edge very firmly, sliding the chip into the slot. 
      With iMac open, insert the RAM.
      • Make sure the gold contacts are well in contact with the slots pins. When you are sure it is seated firmly, press down on the flat side of the chip until it is level with the base of the computer and the little tabs on either side clip into place.
      Inserting the RAM properly
      • Make sure the chip is held firmly and the clips are properly clasping the chip.
      • Replace the lid.
      That’s it. Power on and check the Apple menu, and About This Mac to confirm the memory.
      You should test the system over night with a memory checker. I recommend:
      Rember by Kelly Computing
      You should now have an iMac with 640MB of RAM.
      Categories: Mac, mods, Technology Tags: , , ,

      Bought a second hand iMac 15″ flat panel for ¥18,000

      February 10, 2008 Leave a comment

      Making use of old Macs can be fun. A lot more fun than old PCs. Why? Because they tend to stay useful for much longer than PCs, and even when old, their innate design excellence and quality never fail to impress.

      Take this, for example:

      The 15″ flat panel iMac G4, with it’s distinctive hemispherical base and swivel arm monitor pivot. Love it or hate it, you’ve got to admit that this design classic is an eye-opener.

      Even after six years, it still hasn’t dated (other than in spec, obviously) and looks almost as striking today as it did then.

      iMac G4 15\

      Apple is always being accused of putting form over function, but in this case, the two go hand in hand.

      These are, without a doubt, my favourite, funky computer design, mixing a serious element of fun with minimalist practicality.

      The swing arm on the monitor can be sued to raise, lower and tilt the  monitor to the desired angle and height, making this one of the most ergonomic personal computers ever made.

      The small base, which doubles as the stand for the monitor is unobtrusive and heavily weighted for safety and stability.

      For all intents and purposes, the iMac is as near to perfection as any consumer, home PC has ever got. I just got myself an iMac 15″ 700MHz bottom of the range model. i.e. 128MB, 40GB, CD-R model lampshade in a 100% mint (as in Polo) condition for a crazy bargain 18,000 Yen or about 80 pounds. The mouse was still in its original packaging!

      So I ccouldn’t believe my luck when I saw some on the cheap, second hand. I’ve always found these Macs particularly “boutique” and seeing one in the beautifully named “Hard Off”, part of the “Book Off” chain of discount second-hand shops, I had to buy it. My first impulse purchase for a number of years.

      Being cute and round, I immediately realised that it would be ideal for the front desk of our new school we’re planning to open at the end of the year.

      It came with a fully restored version of OS X 10.2 which seemed to only just ran in the 128MB originally supplied. Actually, to all accounts, OS X 10.2 barely runs, full stop.

      It wasn’t too bad, better than I expected, in fact for browsing the Web.

      I initially thought that I’d find the 15″ 1024 x 768 screen too cramped to do any real work on, but I’ve found it beautifully crisp and bright with pure whites and deep blacks, entirely adequate for Web browsing, Word Processing and day-to-day duty. I’d hazard to say that the colour rendering quality, a bugbear with many earlier LCDs is equal to most current mid-range monitors.

      Still, it was in full working order and looks the puppies privates. I’ll report on the updates as time permits.

      Categories: Mac, Technology Tags: , ,

      My New, Streamlined, Server Setup

      July 17, 2006 Leave a comment

      I’ve finally got my webserver back up and running after nearly three months of being too busy to even think about it. And what can I say? I’m back!

      When I say I’ve got my webserver back up and running, that’s not quite true. My little broken linux laptop that I used for the last three years to host my web site is sitting forlornly on the floor under my desk.

      So, have I sold out? Have I gone professional? Have I finaly shifted my blog to Blogspot and my photos to Flickr? Nope. I’ve moved my server; I’ve shifted it from the Mandrake Linux 128Mb RAM Transmeta Crusoe laptop with the broken screen over to my shiny Mac G4 Cube with 1.5Gb RAM and 300Gb hard disk. Which, up until this time was beloved but under-used.

      And I’m not a fan of underused electronics, so what better use can you think for it than a 24 hour duty cycle as my webserver.

      So, yet another operating system bites the dust! First it was Win2K and this time Linux! I can’t really see a compelling case for moving back to Linux either, now that I can do everything with Mac OS X.

      It was less tricky than I thought moving my site across, and installing PHP5 and MySQL was a breeze with the packages from http://www.entropy.ch. I hardly seemed to be using Unix at all and to be honest, I almost feel like a cheat after the hoops I jumped through to build Apache, MySQL and PHP on my Mandrake box.

      Categories: Mac Tags: , , , , , ,

      Cube is Cool

      January 16, 2006 Leave a comment

      I’ve come to realise just how good my little Mac G4 Cube is! It’s a fantastic bit of kit and I really think I hit gold with this purchase. As I said last year, I installed our OS X 10.4 (Tiger) family pack on it and the thing has been running like a charm ever since. It’s got a G4 processor, running at an anemic 450MHz. It would get laughed at alongside a new 3GHz class Pentium PC!

      But the thing is superb. It plays all my MP3s, DVDs, and tunes downloaded from iTunes. It runs Word, Safari and I can even edit video using Apple’s latest Final Cut Pro 5!

      It’s no speed demon, but it does everything I need a computer to do.

      Last week, I updated Tiger to Apple’s latest 10.4.4 version, which has apparently ironed out several bugs in the operating system. Basically, I can’t believe that such an old computer can run the latest operating system and have a response which is faster than that of the original operating system that came bundled with it in the first place.

      Cube history

      Originally entering the shops at the turn of the century and sold for only about a year, the Cube was iced before Mac OS X was even released.

      Now imagine doing the same with a Windows computer of the same generation and putting Windows XP SP2 on it.

      Oh yes, wait. I did. I have a Sony VAIO 500MHz laptop, circa 2000 which came, ironically with Windows 98 installed.

      It’s RAM is maxed out to 192MB and the hard disk is a 2003, 80GB, 5400RPM unit.

      So, what did I experience with the three upgrades?

      • Win 98 – Reasonably swift with the original 64MB of RAM. Increased the RAM to 192MB and things improved markedly.
      • Win 2K – Same interface but slow. Windows don’t open as quickly as before, graphics speed is poor. Multimedia performance was very stable, however and the machine had enough oomph to import and export digital video (DV) in real time with space to spare.
      • Win XP – Slower still. No longer exported Digital Video in real time, sucked over 90% CPU just to import video, too.
      • Win XP SP2 – Slowest. Can no longer import or export DV in real time, the unit suffers from occasional dropped fames, even after reinstall and defragging the hard disk.

      On this G4 cube however: OS 9.5 – Quite slow, descernable lag in window response and application launching.

      • OS X 10.3 – Faster application launches, graphics speed good. Occasional beach-balling while the computer is working.
      • OS X 10.4 (Tiger) less beachballing
      • OS X 10.4.4 Latest pack fixes lots of little problems that had been annoying me. No perceived performance increase.

      Well, if one makes an analogy between OS 9 / Win 98 and OS X 10.3, 10.4, 10.4.4 and Win 2K, XP, XP SP2 we can safely say that the system requirements for a useable system have skyrocketed for Windows between generations of Windows and have even increased between the basic XP install and the second service pack.

      Thus, the user experience for new Windows OSes on old kit has deteriorated markedly.

      This is not, however, the case for Mac OS. From 10.3 to 10.4.4 there have been numerous tweaks aimed at increasing performance and perceived performance.

      The tuning is apparently more marked for those who used OS X 10.1 and 10.2!

      Windows service packs on the other hand, have had to focus much more on security issues and stability and actually incur performance penalties.

      Categories: Technology Tags: , , ,