Help with Powerbook G4

Discussion in 'PowerPC Macs' started by Vilynye, Jan 26, 2013.

  1. macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2013
    #1
    With the in the past year my mother purchased a used Powerbook G4. At first, the computer was exactly what she needed but slowly it started to decline into a nuisance. I am a Windows guy, so I don’t know anything about Macs except for the fact that they are completely different. I guess I’m just seeking help on how to do general maintenance. If I recall correctly, Macs do not require De-fragmentation but would a program like CCleaner be an advantage? Is there such a thing as a registry that needs repaired? The previous owner downloaded Torrents, could that be a danger to the system? How do I clean that up? I do not know the depths of her problems but here are some symptoms: During audio playback, through iTunes, the sound will cut out entirely or sound as if it is a skipping CD. Sometimes things will be randomly selected without interaction with the track pad. Example: If she is on youtube, or iPhoto, it could potentially pull up a different photo or youtube video entirely without even touching the track pad. She has difficulty with video playback through Youtube and even actual video files on her computer. It runs at snail speed; it is so slow it is obvious there is a problem. It has difficulty scrolling down web pages. Loading web pages can be very difficult… As far as I’m aware these are just some of her symptoms. Well, what can I do to diagnose the problem? I feel like it could be hardware related. I do not know where to begin other than to format the drive and then reinstall OSX. Also I have the upmost patience so if you’re willing to hold my hand and walk me through the scary times of working with a Mac, I’m willing to learn. :) Thanks guys for your time.
     
  2. macrumors 6502

    skateny

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2012
    Location:
    New York, NY
    #2
    That track pad thing sounds a bit bizarre. The torrents won't hurt. The web browser you're using may not be optimized for PowerPC. Without knowing much about the hardware/software configuration, I can only guess at what's wrong.

    It would be a good idea to post the hardware specs first, as well as what version of OS X you're using.

    ----------

    Also, YouTube doesn't play well on most PowerPC configurations. Most people here use a PowerPC optimized app called MacTubes. You can download the latest version for PowerPC for free.

    For browsers, many people use either Camino or TenFourFox. VLC and MPlayer for video playback. Need to know the OS to find the latest usable version of iTunes.
     
  3. macrumors G3

    eyoungren

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2011
    Location:
    Phoenix, AZ USA
    #3
    First off, not so scary, so don't worry. You just don't know. I come from a PC background so I get it.

    First off, just a major detail to understand. In 2006, Apple switch to Intel processors. Your mom's PB uses a PowerPC processor. That means that the programs you need to find, you need to find PowerPC versions. Her PowerBook is incapable of running Intel versions of apps and that in all probability means she will be unable to use the latest versions. Most OSX developers dropped PowerPC support long ago.

    You'll also need to know what version of OSX she is using. You can find that out quite easily by going to the Finder (it'll say Finder in the top left corner when you are on her desktop). In the Apple menu (the logo next to the word Finder) click on that and click on "About this Mac." It will tell you the OSX version she is using.

    This is important because you need to know what versions of apps to download.

    Next, some general maintenance. Find a copy of Onyx and download the version appropriate to the version of OSX she is using. Using Onyx, run the Daily, Weekly and Monthly scripts. Clean up caches, in general run most of the maintenance/cleanup items Onyx gives you. You'll have to reboot on some of them.

    When all that is done, boot off the OSX install disk. If you don't have one, you'll need to find one. Depending on the processor speed of the PowerBook the max OS that can be run will be either Tiger (10.4) or Leopard (10.5).

    If you don't have an install disk or can't get one easily, then ignore this part for the moment.

    But if you do, boot off the disk by inserting it in the drive and restarting the Mac. Hold down the C key (for CD/DVD) to boot off the disk. Once you get to the install menu, find the menu in the menubar that says Tools (or Utilities, or something to that effect). You want to open Disk Utility. Click on the hard drive, then click on the button that says "Repair Disk." Let that run. If it says the drive is fine, no problem. Next click on the button that says "Repair Permissions." This is likely to take a while so you may want to go get a cup of coffee (or a seven course meal, depending).

    Reboot. This should resolve general issues. If you do not have an install disk, then go to Macintosh HD>Applications>Utilities and open the Disk Utility tab. Select the drive and click the button that says "Repair Permissions." Wait. When it's done you should be good for general issues.

    Some things to note. Remember I mentioned the Intel/PowerPC thing. Well, this means your mother is limited in her browsing choices. I am assuming she uses the default browser, which is Safari. Safari has not been updated for PowerPC Macs. The PowerPC Mac has a lot of workarounds for unupdated browsers. For Safari, there is Leopard Webkit (requires Leopard) and looks like Safari. There is TenFourFox/Aurorafox to replace Firefox. Firefox 3.6 something is the last version capable of running on PowerPC Mac. Hence, TenFourFox and Aurorafox. There's also a bunch of other browsers out there.

    Your mother should also realize that because Apple has left the PowerPC Mac behind Youtube is going to be increasingly slow and choppy. PowerPC Macs just cannot handle the intensity of Flash. There are apps that work around this (such as MacTubes).

    As to the trackpad issue. That sounds hardware related. But lets see what happens after you get things cleaned up.

    One final note. I would highly recommend DiskWarrior to you. The basics I described above can all be done using freebie tools (Disk Utility is part of the OS though). DW is not free, but it's a powerful disk recovery tool that can save/repair your hard drive. It's heavy duty compared to Disk Utility.

    Hope some of that helps.
     
  4. macrumors 6502

    skateny

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2012
    Location:
    New York, NY
    #4
    What he said. :eek:

    Great summary, EY. Your post should be in the "New To PowerPC Handbook."
     
  5. macrumors G3

    eyoungren

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2011
    Location:
    Phoenix, AZ USA
    #5
    Thanks. It works for me. Most of the jobs I've had have been one person jobs. Normally, IT would take care of all of this and I'd be just someone pushing the mouse around designing stuff. But when you are the only person, you have to take care of the maintenance yourself.

    So, once a week (at work at least) where the Macs are used hard, I follow this procedure. Onyx (or Main Menu) maintenance, boot and repair disk/repair permissions, boot from DW and rebuild directory. I've never had to reinstall the OS due to lack of maintenance this way.
     
  6. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2013
    #6
    She's running OS X 10.5.8, 1GB Ram and the PowerPC G4 1.33 GHz Processor. Do you need more information than that? Everything's sock, as far as I know.

    We don't have a OS X install disk and I'm not sure where to find a Leopard copy seeing as how it's kind of old. This is a shot in the dark, but does Apple (Kind of like Windows) provide ISO files for their operating systems? I would assume not, but I thought I'd ask.

    Edit: You mention getting older versions of software that originally had support for PowerPC Processors. Can this be done through the company's website or am I going to have to dig through Archives to find old installers?
     
  7. tom vilsack, Jan 26, 2013
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2013

    macrumors 68000

    tom vilsack

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2010
    Location:
    ladner cdn
    #7
    -apple no longer sells leopard...best to try and find from ebay or local craigslist
    -what size is her powerbook? 15" 17" can take max 2 gig's ram...12" can take max 1.25gigs (can you also check her memory slots here...apple/about this mac/more info/memory...what does it say)....2 gig's for leopard would really help!
    -no matter if you do clean install and max ram..utube will be slow...either run at 240p or download mactubes
    -if osx and extra ram are $$$,might be best to save that money and also sell powerbook and upgrade her to a older intel macbook (which would run circles around a powerbook...her powerbook gets a geekbench score of about 688...where a intel 2.0GHz dual core 13" macbook gets about 2500 geekbench score.....you should be able to find her a nice macbook for about $300...it could run snow leopard or with 2 gigs ram lion...and run all latest programs,itunes,safari,firefox,flash ect)
     
  8. Vilynye, Jan 26, 2013
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2013

    thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2013
    #8
    I’m removing TenFourFox7450, because I don’t think she uses that application. I’m also removing Yahoo! Messanger and uTorrent. Now, if I’m not mistaken, do I just go into the applications folder and drag the application into the trashcan? Is there a more efficient way to do this or is this how it’s done? These are the programs she has, and runs: Safari as a web browser, Version 5.0.6. Microsoft Office 2008, Version 12.0.0. iPhoto, Version 8.1.2. iTunes 10.6.3. Skype 2.8.0.866.

    There are 3 applications on here I do not know, or recognize. Are they legitimate or 3rd party crap put on by the previous owner? AppDelete 3.2.2, iFreeMem and HandBrake.

    Also Google Earth is on this Machine. Did that come stock, or can I dispose of it?

    One last thing I forgot to mention: The machine apparently has DvD capabilities but refuses to run DvDs

    MacTubes is currently installed on this Machine. What is it, and how do I use it?

    Edite: Also in reply it's the 15" model. An embellishment upon when I say it's running at snail speeds; I will receive the Beach ball during such rudimentary tasks and Ctrl clicking with no other application running, except the 1 window of Finder.
     
  9. macrumors 6502

    skateny

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2012
    Location:
    New York, NY
    #9
    You can usually just drag 'n drop unwanted apps to the trash. Some may have and uninstaller. Camino is a much better browser than Safari. Some people here swear by Safari, but I found it to be a real drag. I'd rather follow the Kardashians on Twitter than wait for a page to load with Safari.

    HandBreak is, I believe, a video converter app. You use MacTubes the same way as YouTube. Just type in what you're looking for in the search box in the upper-right hand corner. You can also download YouTube videos with MacTubes.

    Trash Google Earth, unless your Mom wants to keep it. Never knew it was available for PowerPC. Pretty much dump everything she doesn't need.
     
  10. macrumors 6502

    skateny

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2012
    Location:
    New York, NY
    #10
    You might also benefit from scouring sites that offer free software/updates for PowerPC. Whatever you do, if you or your Mom thinks that it's worthwhile to purchase apps for your PowerBook, check it out here first. A lot of stuff out there is just crap wit a price tag.

    MacKeeper advertises their software aggressively, but it's not at all necessary, despite their over-the-top claims. You're better off taking the steps in Eric Youngren's post to do maintenance on your PowerBook.

    I found that Xslimmer is a great utility for dumping Intel code on PowerPCs, but I believe it's still sold for a nominal fee.

    Here are a few sites to check out for free downloads with a variety of apps:

    http://macintoshgarden.org

    http://macpowerpc.com

    http://mymacintoshcollection.com/powerpc-g4-software-recommendations

    http://www.powerpcsoftware.com

    And here's a link to a thread on these forums that discusses PowerPC software, though I'm sure there are threads that are more recent:

    http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1128295
     
  11. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2010
    #11
    Everything above posters said x 10, plus:

    Omniweb and iCab are very good, still supported webkit based browsers for PPC. Give those a try in addition to Camino. I use and am a big fan of Leopard webkit (which uses a much newer webkit engine in the Safari 5.0.6 skin), but honestly I think that its a little beyond your mom's needs. Office 2008 will be a dog on PowerPC compared to 2004 or Office X, but is obviously more modern and supports xml files natively. Also she can try out Youview, another Mactubes like Youtube browser. In order to make the most of either you need to have Perian installed, it allows Quicktime to play flv and many other codecs natively. Be sure it is the LATEST version of mactubes or youview, youtube updates constantly and breaks the older versions. You must also use Quicktime for playback in Mactubes, or the performance will be terrible, and you will think we are all off our rockers here.

    An intel macbook, with its two processors and greater RAM ceiling, will obviously be much much faster, and more "supported". PowerPC macs are getting harder and harder for average computer users to use. This forum is populated by the hardcore PowerPC believers, and we go to enormous lengths to get the most out of these machines. Its totally not for everyone.
     
  12. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2013
    #12
    I removed all of the programs she is not using and I downloaded Onyx. I ran all of the utilities provided in Onyx. After observing my mother, I discovered the random and unintentional clicking is not due to the computer but due to a movement disorder she has. I disabled tap to click. Problem solved. The computer is running much faster now after Onyx but other’s have suggested another web browser. I am open to the idea but it must be something as simple as Safari with the ability to import from Safari. What web browser should I go for?
     
  13. macrumors 6502a

    blesscheese

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2010
    Location:
    Central CA
    #13
    Can you run Activity Monitor

    Hi,

    A suggestion I haven't seen is to run Activity Monitory. It is like the Task Manager in Windows...with that running, you can see what programs are up, how much memory is being used, how much of the CPU each program is using, etc. That way you can target any out of control processes or programs.

    It should be in the Applications Folder -> Utilities.

    Also, how much free disk space does she have? For best performance, at least 20% of the hard drive should be free, so virtual memory can swap in and out.

    Before rushing to any conclusions, I think you should check out (as best as you can) what is going on in the background while your mom is having these problems. A lot of what you are telling us could be explained by something running in the background and hogging a lot of resources, or a lack of disk space for VM.

    In general, you can just drag apps and stuff to the trash, and there isn't a problem. It will leave behind system preferences and other little junk files. The program you were going to delete, AppDelete will remove the app plus all the associated files, although there are plenty of others out there that do the same thing, including freewares.

    A final note...Apple isn't releasing any more security upgrades to Safari on Leopard anymore, so you probably should look to other browsers. Regarding web browsers, basically the two "flavors" are those that are based on Mozilla, and those based on Webkit. Camino, Firefox, and TenFourFox, etc., are based on Mozilla, and Safari, OmniWeb, and some others are based on Webkit, so there may be a need to have one from each flavor, but not multiple of the same.

    As a PS, it sounds (based on the programs she got pre-loaded) like your Mom got the PowerBook from a teenager who knew what he/she was doing in regards to PPC stuff...you just need to get all the clutter off the computer.
     
  14. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2013
    #14
    While using Activity Monitor during my mother’s use it seems as though Safari is commanding anywhere between 70%-85% of the CPU. You also mention that there might be a need for two web browsers, which is too much for my mother. It would be too confusing for her to switch between web browsers for different uses. By using ‘Get Info’ she has 10.55GB free of 55.77GB. I think she has a lot of music on her computer. It might be an advantage to get an external.
     
  15. macrumors 6502a

    blesscheese

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2010
    Location:
    Central CA
    #15
    Ok, I would quit out of Safari and *not* use that.

    Maybe try Camino instead, and see what the usage is. I'm hoping it will be a lot less. My experience with Safari is that it is a RAM hog and a CPU hog, and normally results in a certain amount of "spinning beachballs."

    Regarding the free space, that is on the borderline of usability. I think your idea of an external drive is a good one.

    Another thing to be aware of...this doesn't explain all the problems, but I just "inherited" my mother-in-law's old iBook G4 (she upgraded to a MacBook Pro). It has the same crappy 4200 rpm internal drive your mom's PowerBook has. Basically, that slow drive cripples the performance of the darn iBook. I normally use my MacBook Air, which has an SSD...even though it is a 2009 model (4 years old!), the MBA flies; when I use an ordinary computer with an ordinary hard drive, it seems slow, and when I use the iBook...I'm almost ready to give it away to somebody...
     
  16. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2006
    #16
    As a Safari user who is too lazy to change, I find that clearing the history at least daily helps avoid the spinning ball. That, and quitting and restarting the app after serious multi window surf sessions.
     
  17. macrumors 6502

    skateny

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2012
    Location:
    New York, NY
    #17
    Switch to Camino. You can easily import Safari bookmarks, and it at least as easy to use.

    You've got plenty of extra space on your hard drive.
     
  18. tywebb13, Jan 27, 2013
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2013

    macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2012
    #18
    The GM for leopard is still on apple's mac dev center. If you use that be sure to also download and install the combo update to bring it back up to 10.5.8.

    Alternatively, you could do a time machine backup, reformat and then restore from backup.

    I recently did this on a powerbook g4 I got on ebay which was sluggish like yours. And it didn't have mac os 9 either, just leopard.

    I first replaced the hard drive with a bigger one, made 2 partitions, restored from backup on one partition and installed mac os 9 on the other one.

    Now I'm dual booting mac os 9 and leopard, and both are snappier!
     
  19. macrumors member

    jpcoelho

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2013
    Location:
    Aveiro, Portugal
    #19
    From your words, I believe Leopard Webkit would be the obvious choice... the skin, function and feel is the same as Safari, only... faster!
     
  20. macrumors member

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2012
    Location:
    A ditch somewhere
    #20
    Exactly what he said. It also gets rid of that Safari problem with animated .GIFs beachballing the system, and the lag between when you click on a page and when it starts loading. Combined with Glimmer Blocker, it's a great browser.
     
  21. macrumors 6502a

    ybz90

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2009
    #21
    I'm going to throw out Aurorafox as a browser option. It's basically TenFourFox but optimized for Leopard and a bazillion times faster. I don't like Camino personally. It's just too ugly.
     
  22. macrumors 6502a

    blesscheese

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2010
    Location:
    Central CA
    #22
    I hadn't heard of Aurorafox, but since I'm using Leopard, I'll give it a whirl.

    Regarding RAM and Virtual Memory Usage, and need for available disk space, I also found this article that explains in-depth how to examine your Virtual Memory usage from the terminal. Their recommendation is that (for several reasons) you maintain an absolute minimum of 10GB free on the hard drive.

    Also, to the OP...does the slowing down happen at specific times? Does it reliably happen after start up and continue for a while, or does performance just start getting worse and worse and worse as you use the computer over time? That could also mean we should be looking at other things, as well.
     

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