Decisions, Decisions, Upgrades for a G4 Digital Audio

Discussion in 'PowerPC Macs' started by 840quadra, Oct 2, 2015.

  1. 840quadra Moderator

    840quadra

    Staff Member

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    #1
    10 Years ago when I was new to the forums here on MacRumors, I built a G4 tower using spare parts from various sources on the internet in order to further transition my way away from windows PCs being used at home. Essentially it is a Dual 533 Digital Audio, housed in a quicksilver case. Somehow I ended up shopping for the parts when they were being liquidated by Apple Spare parts vendors, and scored a brand new case, logic board, and power supply for

    Recently I had started to heavily use this machine again, putting it to work transcoding video files down to smaller versions to be used on my various iOS and iPod devices in my little collection. After unplugging this computer to move it to a new location, I am now faced with a G4 that will not power up.

    I am aware of the button on the logic board to reset the power management, as well as other tricks to get it to boot (I had to do this when I built the system), however, I believe my issue is actually the power supply, due to some other issues I have been having recently, so I will need to source out a replacement.

    So Finally the question! :)

    I am curious what others on here are doing with machines of this era to keep them kicking, and I am curious what the best upgrades are with regards to upgrading the internals?

    I have considered upgrading the processor to one from a Quicksilver G4 (yes I know I need to bring it power), but have also considered used processors from OWC and the likes to get it over 1 Ghz.

    I love having dual processors, and want to take advantage of the OEM dual processors if possible, however options for dual processors faster than 533, and compatible with a DA or QS are more rare. I remember reading that the Dual Processor G4 systems are essentially 1.5x faster than their single processor clock speed would indicate. Meaning I would need to have a single core with speed of 800Mhz + to gain meaningful speed improvement over my current setup.

    Is this even close to being accurate logic?

    I would hate to buy a used single processor, to find myself with a system no faster, or quite possibly slower than my current Dual 533.

    Thanks for any feedback on other's working setups!
     
  2. MysticCow macrumors 6502a

    MysticCow

    Joined:
    May 27, 2013
    #2
    From what I've experienced, and I'm sure someone will chime in to say I'm wrong, dual processors do give a 1.5 speed boost over a single of the same clock speed. So the processor speed is close to an 800 MHz single processor (799.5) of the exact same type and cache.

    So if you're going to upgrade the processor, anything over 1 GHz will be faster than the dual 533. Plus, it will have L3 cache and the dual proc did not if it's a stock taken from a DA G4 (aka, the reason why I love my 733 MHz DA).

    I'm also assuming that you've maxed out the RAM on there. OS X runs infinitely better with more RAM.
     
  3. bunnspecial macrumors 603

    bunnspecial

    Joined:
    May 3, 2014
    Location:
    Kentucky
    #3
    One of the best factory upgrades you can do would be to put in a dual 1ghz from a Quicksilver. This is a superb processor, although I'm not sure if the L3 will work work(I need to experiment in a DA, although it did not work in a low-end QS that I had one installed in).

    Alternatively, you can watch Ebay and try to pick up an aftermarket CPU. If you can, look for a Sonnet, although Newertech and Powerlogix are also good. Gigadesigns can be good, but require a lot more "fiddling" to get to work reliably.

    Many of these super-speed CPU upgrades are based on 7447A processors. These lack L3 cache, and tend to be somewhat slower clock-for-clock than a comparable 7450-series processor with L3. All 7447A processors will also require a ROM flash to work. I have a Gigadesigns that was advertised as a dual 1.8, although I've only been successful getting it to run stably at 1.6ghz(this processor has been tossed around somewhat like a hot potato between members here). Mine benches about the same as a dual 1.42 MDD.

    Arguably, the "king" of these aftermarket upgrades is the dual 1.8ghz Sonnet. I have one in a Digital Audio. It's superb, and as a Sonnet it's more or less plug and play(save for the ROM flash required to get it working). The Sonnet variant will boot in OS 9, although not all of these processors will. The nice thing about the Sonnet is that-unlike the DA-you don't have to mess with jumpers and DIP switches to set the voltage and clock speed-just flash the ROM, drop it in, and it works.

    I also have a "hotrod" DA that I bought from another member here that has the Newertech 2.0ghz Single processor. Working from memory, I think this is actually a 7448 and not a 7447A. It's incredibly fast. To my knowledge, it's the fastest G4 upgrade available(short of crazy overclocking experiments some do-most upgrades are overclocked at least to some extent).

    One other thing to look at is upgrading is your current video card. If OS 9 performance is not important to you, a card that supports Core Image will boost OS X performance considerably(especially in 10.4 and 10.5). Most Core Image cards will require taping pin 3 and 11, and some of these can be iffy in a DA or QS. My main Quicksilver has a Radeon 9600XT from a G5 with the pins taped and some other modification to supply ADC power(basically I cut some "fingers" off an old ISA card and soldered them via a couple of short jumpers to the ADC power tab on the 9600). I have another QS that's running the 9600 Pro PC&Mac, although this card can be iffy in QS and DAs.

    My "Hotrod" DA has a flashed ATI FireGL X3, which is a really popular card around here and flashes well into an X800XT(one of the fastest Mac AGP cards). This card is 100% reliable with the pins taped in an MDD, but very iffy in a DA or QS. I have one I flashed myself that I can't get to work in a DA or QS. Other members here have been through two or three of these cards with the same result. The one in my DA was-I think-bought from an Ebay seller who sells them pre-flashed and works perfectly, but others on here have bought from that same seller and can't get them to work in their computers.

    There are a lot of other GPU options, but these are just two that I have experience with.
     
  4. ziggy29 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2014
    Location:
    Texas
    #4
    I don't really want to spend the money to test the dual CPU thing unless I could experiment with it on the cheap, but I have a G4DA (originally 667MHz) with a 1.467 GHz single CPU card, a 120 GB SSD and a number of different video cards (using it right now). Works great, especially for the first few minutes.... but in this setup my biggest enemy is heat that sometimes slowed it down, and eventually either froze or caused a panic (more or less the PPC Mac equivalent of the Windows BSOD). I pretty much know it's heat because when I run it with the case open, it pretty much never slows down, freezes or gives me the Mac version of BSOD.

    I've put a PCI fan card in there and it seems to help. Between the faster CPU and the video card, there's a LOT of heat (especially when I run with the X800). But it seems pretty stable now and this thing is actually pretty peppy doing routine stuff and running TFF, even with it closed up. At least with a GeForce4 MX, it does. The X800 still produces a lot of heat and occasionally freezes with the case closed, but I don't usually need the extra video performance; all I needed above the stock GeForce2 MX that shipped with this Mac is DVI output.
     
  5. eyoungren macrumors P6

    eyoungren

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    Location:
    Phoenix • 85037
    #5
    Well, since CPU and GPU is basically covered, I'll just cover some additional points you asked.

    I use my system for graphic design and layout, web browsing, word processing and email. The Adobe Creative Suite CS4, QuarkXPress 8.5.1, Acrobat 9 Pro and Suitcase Fusion 3 work just fine as well as Office 2008.

    My system is far and beyond the standard though. I have a single CPU Sonnet 1.2 upgrade, three video cards to drive six displays, a Firewire 400/USB 2.0 card and two 1TB SATA hard drives (SATA PCI card).

    I'm also using a Magic Mouse via Bluetooth because I have a Belkin USB Bluetooth device.

    I'd love to find the 'King' of Sonnet upgrades as bunnspecial mentions, but these are rare and bunnspecial already has most of them. ;)

    But I'm happy with it. My QS has been my test pancake and it's worked out pretty well.
     
  6. 840quadra thread starter Moderator

    840quadra

    Staff Member

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    Location:
    Twin Cities Minnesota
    #6
    Thanks for the quick responses

    For video, the system currently has a Geforce 6200 DDR2 with 256mb of memory. It works great with core image and quartz Extreme. Additionally it has a PCI SATA card, USB 2.0 card, as well as a spare ATI Rage 128 video card to drive a 3rd monitor (when I had it for primary photo editing).

    Overall the system is great and has decent performance for applications if it's era, however I would love to get more speed on websites, and possibly go back to using it for primary photo editing, despite having the newest Core i7 MBP with Discrete graphics at my disposal. For whatever reason, I enjoy running older hardware, which may be evident by my nickname here on MacRumors.

    I am most interested in a stock processor, and will look closer for a quicksilver dual 1.0Ghz both locally, and via other online sources. I have considered upgrading to an aftermarket option if one doesn't come up in the next 6 months or so. Thanks for the tips on the L3 cache, and for the refresher on the different generations of G4 processors. FWIW I am amazed how well the Dual 533 still does today. It is capable of playing some of the older encoded iTMS HD videos, and is still my goto system to watch old Apple keynotes, iTunes SD content, and other older videos I ripped from DVD long ago using PPC applications that only live on that system, or my B&W G3 (Upgraded to a G4 naturally).

    Thanks again, and I will be sure to update on the progress. Getting into fall I have a few tech time projects, which also include moving my PC hardware into a gutted (not by me) G5 Tower case. Even linux systems work better in Apple hardware ;) .
     
  7. eyoungren macrumors P6

    eyoungren

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    Phoenix • 85037
    #7
    Speaking just to the "speed on websites" part. A lot of us are using TenFourFox, which if you do not know, is the Firefox equivalent for PowerPC. Right now it's version 38 (equivalent to Firefox 38).

    There is a link at the bottom of my signature to tweaks and options that will speed T4Fx up. Depending on your comfort level you have several paths you can take. It's all in the thread.
     
  8. bunnspecial macrumors 603

    bunnspecial

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    May 3, 2014
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    Kentucky
    #8
    Well, if you ever get tired of your namesake, I know a collector who frequents here who has really been salivating for the best 68K Mac made :) . This same collector has a Radius Precision Pro 24XP that needs a good system to go in and has been hesitant to put it in his IIci or second Q700 :)
     
  9. flyrod macrumors 6502

    flyrod

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2015
    #9
    Installing a SSD is the only thing I didn't see already covered. SSDs seem to really perk up these old machines.

    Good luck with the repairs and let us know how you do!
     
  10. 840quadra thread starter Moderator

    840quadra

    Staff Member

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    Twin Cities Minnesota
    #10
    Oh the Quadra 840v is so much more than the best 68k mac, it is one of the most capable Macintosh computers to this day :). The clear quality of the DSP within the system is why this system has a special shelf it sits on, whenever it is not in use. I purchased it in 1998 (when it was "obsolete" ) for $100, and have used it to digitize LPs and Cassette tapes ever since. As the Article here says, it has an amazing ability to record audio with zero artifacts.

    While my new MBP does great, as does my Mac Mini, I still swear the blank portions of audio still sound better from the Quadra, as compared to newer systems.

    Remember how dragging a window while video was playing, and having video show (and continue playing) while clicking on menus was new early in OS X? Well this computer did that back in 1993, and without dropping any frames, or choking the operating system's performance. Fun fact, when the computer freezes (hey it is an old 68K mac still), it will sometimes still play video that is being processed through the DSP (with audio).

    In some ways, I credit this computer with giving apple the idea of making quartz extreme, and later technologies offload processing to the GPU. The Quadra's DSP took care of many Audio and Video processing tasks (with the proper extension) back in 1993, over a 2 decades before OS X started to heavily rely on GPU processor acceleration.

    Makes me wonder, how advanced would our systems be now, if Apple continued to use a separate DSP (and later GPU) in the early PPC macs.

    I love this system, and still find it to be quite capable over 3 decades after it was built (/ OT Rant ;) )
     
  11. bunnspecial macrumors 603

    bunnspecial

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    Kentucky
    #11
    Not only do they seem to be a great computer, but they are also quite difficult to find. I've had "feelers" out on here and the LEM swap for a while, and have yet to get a single bite.

    I have a favorite professor at school whose husband was also a Mac nut(he was also a professor in the department before retiring a few years ago due to alzheimers). She has given me a LOT of Mac stuff, including his old 8500, and HD20, and an unbelievable number of peripherals. She has also promised me all the "old Mac" stuff she has at home, including what I suspect is either a 128K or 512K(based on the Picasso boxes I have) as well as a Plus still in her lab.

    Unfortunately, I think some of the other great stuff I have accessory boxes for is gone-among those was a Macintosh II and a Quadra 840AV.
     
  12. flyrod macrumors 6502

    flyrod

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2015
    #12
    If you're comfortable with a soldering iron, you could try overclocking the 533 cpus. They'll usually do 600 easily, and sometimes more. Also, they don't have to match. One can run at 600 and the other at 533 for example.

    Just a thought if you want to tinker.
     
  13. gavinstubbs09, Oct 4, 2015
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2015

    gavinstubbs09 macrumors 65816

    gavinstubbs09

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    NorCal boonies ~~~by Reno sorta
    #13
    I have a crappy 64GB Kingston SSD in my 2.3 G5 (this SSD has lived in MANY computers, MacBooks, iMacs, Mac Pro, you name it lol) bute the G5 does have some nice speed increases!

    In other news I don't know if the DA/QS have a jumper on the back of the board like an MDD so you can use the full bus speed like I did when I converted my single 1GHz FW800 to duals.
     
  14. 1970mgbgt macrumors member

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2015
    #14
    My trusty G4 AGP Dual 500 Mhz is in a similar state, following a move. It's turned into a brick for seemingly no reason.

    You mention the "other tricks" to possibly jump start one of these machines. I know nothing of these tricks. Could you please elaborate on them and the button on the logic board?

    Also, is there a "standard" GPU upgrade for this machine - one that doesn't require surgery?

    I too have been looking at power supplies.

    Many thanks,

    MG
     
  15. 840quadra, Oct 5, 2015
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2015

    840quadra thread starter Moderator

    840quadra

    Staff Member

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    #15
    @1970mgbgt

    I used a fluke volt meter to test the output of my power supply. The method was similar to the following link.

    http://www.ehow.com/how_7254045_test-supply-power-mac-g4.html

    You may also have a failed PMU battery, however I haven't seen a case where a dead battery will prevent the system from booting (Personally). But, it is mentioned that it can affect older systems. While you are in there with a volt meter, just check to see if this little battery is producing any power. This should only be done with power disconnected. it should read 3.3 - 3.7 volts

    If the PSU check out, as well as the battery, there is also a small button that should be someplace near the battery on your Mother board. This is the PMU button, This is the Power Management Unit, and is a system on a chip, that literally helps manage power on your G4 system. This system can also be reset, and is done so by pushing a small button that is located near the battery (I press and hold for about 5 seconds). This should only be done with the system unplugged from your wall. Some say to follow this by pressing and holding the button on the front of your system (Power button), however I have never needed to do that. After you reset the PMU, wait about a minute, then plug the system back in, and try to start it back up.

    In my case, my system has zero voltage from the power supply, so I am sure it needs to be replaced. I am actually just going to replace mine with a spare ATX power supply I have sitting around. Though, I doubt I will ever use it's full 500 watt capacity! o_O

    As far as your GPU, you could replace the current card with one of the models listed in the guide below that support both Quartz Extreme, and Core Image. Those are technologies within OS X that utilize the GPU for graphics, and other functions. Side note, Once you do this, find your system disks, and install Core Image Fun House within X-Code Tools, it is a neat utility that can be used to manipulate photos and videos. With regards to photos, you can layer on effects (similar to Photoshop) and save the files!

    http://guides.macrumors.com/Core_Image

    Many are on Ebay for a relatively low cost, and will definitely speed your system up in Tiger or Leopard simply because many of the stock Apple applications will take advantage of the GPU, while also reducing the load on your CPU. The speed bump on my Digital Audio was quite noticeable, plus, I got to see some of the eye candy put into Tiger, that was missing from my previous card ( I only had a rage pro 128 PCI before).

    If you are more of a tinkerer, you can also get one of many PC video cards, and flash / modify it to work with a Mac. That said, for many of those, you will also need a working PC, in order to flash the card for your Mac.

    For my B&W tower, I am currently working on getting a PCI GeForce 5200 flashed so that system will support / run Core Image in Tiger.
     
  16. bunnspecial macrumors 603

    bunnspecial

    Joined:
    May 3, 2014
    Location:
    Kentucky
    #16
    You've gotten some good advice on "jump starting" as well as the PMU reset.

    As to your GPU question-I do have a GEForce 4Ti in my dual 500(GigE) which is the best you can do for OS 9 in this computer. You are somewhat limited by the 2x AGP slot in that system. If you get one, it's plug and play. Offhand, for CI support, your options are the GEForce 6200(which needs to be flashed and taped) and the Radeon 9800(taped).

    BTW, I'm getting ready to buy a 1970 MGB-albeit a roadster and not a GT.
     
  17. 1970mgbgt macrumors member

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2015
    #17
    Thanks for all the advice.

    1970 was the best year in terms of the body. You'll love and hate the MG. I've owned several, and though they are a joy to drive (nothing like that exhaust note), they are a PITA as far as keeping them running. I have given them up for a while, in favor of an older model Audi TT. More reliable and WAY more power. Unless you are into stock-only running, you should switch to Weber carbs and electronic ignition. Removes about 50% of the problems right there.

    They are going to shut this down in a minute.

    Is it possible to run System 8.x on A G4? There's one program I really need (Poser 1.0). The newer version has dropped several characteristics that were endearing. (I wish software companies (and Apple!) took more heed of backward compatibility. And why does Apple make it so hard to find their old system software?)

    I'm in the middle of upgrading everything in a Mac Pro 2010, to the max, but I'd still like to be able to run Snow Leopard, which can't be done with the Radeon 7970 card I'm installing. Any ideas about that? The G4 won't do that, will it?

    Thanks,

    MG
     
  18. bunnspecial macrumors 603

    bunnspecial

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    Location:
    Kentucky
    #18
    As per Wikipedia, the Yikes! and Sawtooth can run OS 8.6, but need a system-specific install(i.e. the original restore disk). These can sometimes be difficult to track down. You might get away with the B&W G3 restore disk(OS 8.5.5) on the Yikes! but haven't tested it(I'll add that to my list of things to try when I have time).

    Will the software you need only run on OS 8.x? Most things that will run on 8.x will also run on OS 9, which, IMO, is overall a better OS on G4 systems.

    And, no, unfortunately you can't run Snow Leopard on your G4. You can run Leopard. With that said, the reason many folks want to run Snow Leopard on Intel Macs is for Rosetta-the PowerPC emulator. You don't need this on a PPC system as PPC software will run natively.
     
  19. 1970mgbgt macrumors member

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2015
    #19
    I have the original Sys 8 disks from a PPC 8500 (which still works, though the Apple monitor is hard to look at). Don't know if Poser 1.0 will work on Classic or not. Will have to examine that.

    Reason I asked about Snow Leopard is that there is another program I need that will run on Tiger (10.4) up thru Snow Leopard, but not beyond, called Bryce 7 Pro, which is a fractal landscape generator. The Mac Pro I'm gutting will be a Yosemite machine, though it runs Snow Leopard right now, pre-upgrade. The various new parts (CPUs, GPU, SSDs, etc) all require at least Mavericks, so once I upgrade, I can't go back. I don't want to orphan these fine programs.

    So, I guess if I can get the G4 going again, I can run Bryce 7, though it would run A LOT faster on the Mac Pro 2010. I've been playing around with VirtualBox, trying to find a way to run a Snow Leopard client on the Yosemite host. Being just a dumb artist, it's way too complex for me, and I wonder if I will spend more time futzing with VB than doing any actual art. It would be nice to do the Bryce renders taking advantage of the new Radeon card on the Mac Pro, but I wonder if I can get it to work smoothly in virtualization. From what I've read so far, that may be an oxymoron (or just moron).

    Get steel wheels, if you can. Rally wheels are nice. Wires look beautiful, but it's hard to keep them round.

    MG
     
  20. bunnspecial macrumors 603

    bunnspecial

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    Location:
    Kentucky
    #20
    The one I'm buying has steel...although I'm really, really tempted to put wires on it. Unfortunately, the wire conversion is difficult and-from what I've read-if you want to run 185 width tires(which are about all you can find now) you really need a wire wheel rear axle and not a conversion kit.

    IMG_1917.jpg
     
  21. 1970mgbgt macrumors member

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2015
    #21
    Sweet. They look so much better without the bumper overriders. Looks restored, or well looked after. Do the curtains match the drapes? Is the British Racing Green inside the engine bay and trunk?

    If you wanted to do the rear axle conversion, it wouldn't be that hard, given a decent lift and a friend. I'd drive it for a while, first, enjoy it, and after a time you might not want to mess with it. A lowering kit would be a better investment, in terms of handling, if you ask me, that and a coil-over conversion. The stock dampers are really stone age. You can even get disc brake kits. Then again, the stock car has a certain primitive charm I always liked.

    Stainless steel exhaust!
     
  22. bunnspecial macrumors 603

    bunnspecial

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Kentucky
    #22
    Yes, that one of the things I checked. The engine bay and trunk are all BRG, although the paint is almost too nice to be original and isn't a perfect match for the color in the engine bay. BRG was a mandatory color for me when shopping :)

    IMG_1932.jpg

    It has a decent number of miles on it, and I really think that it's a car that has been driven/maintained over the years with things done on an "as needed" basis rather than a full all-out restoration. The guy who is selling it redid the seats a few years ago in black with red piping, and they look really nice. It needs a new soft top.

    As for lowering-I thought 1970s were already stock "low height cars" aren't they? The car is already pretty darn low-I'm not sure I could drop it any lower without the tires scraping the wheel wells.

    IMG_1945.jpg

    BTW, I may change my mind, but I'm pretty set on keeping the SUs for the time being. I know they can be cantankerous, but they are part of the charm for me.
     
  23. 1970mgbgt macrumors member

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2015
    #23
    As long as the throttle shafts are solid, then keeping the tune should be a labor of love. You'll need to get a Gunson ColorTune to do it right and in a lesser amount of time (as well as a couple of specialized carb tools mentioned in the official manual). It takes the guesswork out of it.

    http://www.autoexpertproducts.com/colortune.html

    Official factory manual:

    http://www.bentleypublishers.com/mg/repair-information/complete-official-mgb-1962-74.html

    You are probably right about it being low enough. It's been a while since I looked. The wheels look great, and the if the car has been maintained, so what if the unseen BRG is slightly off from the body. It looks great as is.

    I think you've got one sweet LBC (Little British Car).
     
  24. 840quadra thread starter Moderator

    840quadra

    Staff Member

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    Location:
    Twin Cities Minnesota
    #24
    I didn't see that the Classic environment was mentioned, so good call on the advice @bunnspecial . In my case, I have a Rage 128 in my PCI slot for those instances, as my Nvidia card doesn't really work, or, I just don't have the right extensions. But, it has been years since I booted into classic on those machines. For Classic, I am either on my 840av, 8500, LC525, LC II, or my B&W G3 (now a G4).

    I guess I have made the QuickAudio (what I call my G4) an OS X only machine.

    Since we are going OT, I will leave this here too ;)

    IMG_3512.jpg

    It may be German, but the cylinder head came from England, form a little firm called Cosworth :) . But, enjoy the MG cars. I love riding in / and seeing them at our local events :) .
     
  25. 1970mgbgt macrumors member

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2015
    #25
    Oh Man! A Cosworth Merc! Is it as fast as they say?

    Sorry we fetishized your thread with MGs. I just love em.

    Any experience with running Snow Leopard on a VM in Yosemite?
     

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