G4 Running Slow

Discussion in 'PowerPC Macs' started by Javelin Dan, Feb 22, 2012.

  1. Javelin Dan macrumors newbie

    Javelin Dan

    Feb 22, 2012
    Akron, OH. USA
    Hello everyone –

    Raw newbie here with very few skills. I have an old G4 Quicksilver or Graphite model (bought it used – no book) which is nothing more than a test mule for my continuing education. It has a 20.5 Gig hard drive and a 40 gig “Maxtor slave drive” (whatever that is), 506Mb of RAM and I don’t know what the speed of the processor is off-hand but can get that if anyone needs it. This computer came to me with the original OS -9 which ran slow as hell. I’ve since been on a mission to see if I can get it to run faster and yes, I do know more RAM will make it faster but it seems to me 506 Mb should at least allow it to run decently (agree, disagree?). This old Mac is very cantankerous about what it will or won’t boot so I’ll tell you what has worked, or almost worked. I started out installing Ubuntu 10.10 because I had it and it booted. It really didn’t run too badly, just a little on the slow side but faster than OS 9. Trying for more speed, I’ve lately been trying to boot various versions of the Lubuntu 12.04 daily builds. I finally got one that didn’t have a mirror issue that would boot the other day. It was buggy and not ready for prime time, but I was able to take it for a spin. A little faster, but surprisingly, nothing to write home about. I then tried doing a generic Ubuntu 10.10 mini install and applied the Xubuntu desktop. This ran way slower than Ubuntu 10.10. Next, I tried to install Linux Mint 11 via their directions to piggy-back on a Debian mini install and couldn’t get past a bug-a-boo I had on most of my attempts with Lubuntu – the install goes OK till the end when I get a black screen with a cursor I can move with the mouse, but no desktop comes up (the live CD's would boot properly on my wife's G4 eMac however). I next re-installed Ubuntu 10.10 and installed the LXDE desktop looking for more speed, but found none. I also thought about stripping out a bunch of software I’ll never use, but am now wondering if that would be a painstaking waste of time. I’m just about out of bullets and could sure use some advice. Feel free to address any of the issues I’ve raised. Just be gentle with me, I’m no code writer. Thanks!
  2. tom vilsack macrumors 68000

    tom vilsack

    Nov 20, 2010
    ladner cdn
    if your powermac G4 only has 20 gig hd im guessing it's a graphics model and not quicksilver (qs came with 40 gig hd as min)

    you found ubuntu faster then os 9? my old qs ran ubuntu way slower then os 9.2.2

    why don't you try running tiger? that way you could also run tenfourfox browser...and in mac os 9.2.2 you could run classilla browser
  3. ThunderSnake macrumors 6502

    Jul 23, 2010
    It's unfortunate terminology, but "master" and "slave" simply refers to the way that the controller identifies each drive when two IDE drives are attached to the same cable.

    Yes, agree. That should be plenty enough RAM for OS9 for most things.

    Weird. There is no reason that I can think of for Lynx to run faster than OS9. Nor is there any reason that I can think of for Xumbutu to run slower than Gnome. OS9, though limited in terms of modern software support, should feel lightning fast on any G4.

    Do you have any MacOS install disks?

    I suppose I should actually ask this: What exactly do you want? Is this about experimenting with Linux or with Macs? It's not that they're mutually exclusive, but I think that Macs are best with Mac OS. I like messing around with various Linux distros too, but I think you'd get more out of a PC if this is more about Linux. A $40 Pentium 4 from Craig's List would be plenty for most things in Lucid Lynx. You'd get a lot more out of it than running the community supported PowerPC version on a G4.

    If not, tell us more about your Mac. Run System Profiler in OS9 and tell us your CPU speed and number of CPUs.
  4. Javelin Dan thread starter macrumors newbie

    Javelin Dan

    Feb 22, 2012
    Akron, OH. USA
    First of all, let me apologize as I only realized after my first post that this is primarily a Mac OS-on Mac-hardware site. I very much appreciate the fact that you didn’t run me off with torches and pitch forks. It’s a credit to your manners and decorum on this forum.

    ThunderSnake asked me several questions, and I guess the best way to answer them is to tell you where my head’s at. Sorry if it looks like a rant…

    We bought our first computer back when a 386 was the hot ticket and Windoze only worked out of DOS. I wouldn’t touch it, so my wife struggled trying to learn and had two of them die on her within about 3 years. We were so disgusted with the Windoze crap, I started checking around and stumbled on a guy who used to set up in an indoor flea market near my house who sold used, reconditioned Mac stuff he bought from school systems. He sold me on how bullet proof it was, so we bought our first Mac from him. I couldn’t tell you the model, but it was “Old World” to be sure – the old beige CPU sat flat on the desk with the 9” color monitor sitting on top. He sold us a matching keyboard, mouse, and even an old HP Deskwriter printer – I think the whole shebang cost $150 (US). It used some old version of OS (I don’t even remember the number), and we only used it for word processing and web surfing with an AOL dial-up. It was only now that I would sit down and begin to teach myself the rudimentary beginnings of using a computer. Everything came as advertised and that system worked flawlessly for as long as we kept it. After a few years, we realized that technology was screaming forward and we were standing still. So one day in 2003, we jumped in the car and drove about 50 miles to a brand new shopping center that had a new Disney-like attraction, an Apple store! We came home with a brand new eMac G4! It was the coolest thing ever! Imagine having absolutely everything in one box – except the keyboard, mouse, printer…well it seemed much more impressive at the time. That eMac still sits proudly on the desk in our home office and is primarily my wife’s computer. First it was new and different, then it was a little dated but different, and now it’s just downright iconic! It still works as well as the day we brought it home, and it will stay where it is till it goes out the door on a gurney.

    In the mean time as my knowledge grew modestly, I got involved with Linux, accidentally really. I bought a Compaq Pressario laptop a few years ago with Windoze 7 “Starter Edition”. I didn’t realize that this meant that all the good stuff was booby-trapped with a time bomb and shortly, the entire Office suite and other essentials would just stop working and that to get them back, I would have to pay significant $ for what I felt I had already paid for. So my experimentation with Linux began and still continues. I was never really unhappy with the OS 10.3 Panther that came with the eMac, it’s just that when official support stopped and I couldn’t update the browser, our web surfing began to slow down and we spent more and more time watching the beach ball spin. I always knew I could upgrade to Tiger, but just had a lump in my throat over the price. Yes, I’m a tight _$$.
    When web surfing became next to impossible for the Mrs. (if Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!), I dumped Panther and installed Ubuntu 10.10 on the eMac. This has worked out extremely well. Ubuntu runs at least as well if not better as Panther on this machine while giving her a very “Mac-like experience” There was almost no learning curve for her to switch. Happy, happy!

    I then stumbled on this old (Graphics, Graphite?) or Quicksilver model in a garage sale for $20. I guess it would make sense if it’s the former as my research has revealed that they had the slower processors. I don’t have a dedicated use for it other than to learn on and maybe give it to my brother if I can get it to perform well. Ergo, my quest for more speed. I like to use car analogies as I relate well to them. I love old cars. I personally own and prefer hot rods. I like taking old cars and hanging new parts on them to increase speed and performance. You folks are more like purists who prefer to restore old iron to better than showroom condition using factory parts. Nothing wrong with that, there’s certainly room for both, and I can appreciate both disciplines. I love my Macs and will hang on to them as long as possible, but will probably continue to experiment with Linux.

    So, getting back to the matter at hand…I looked in the system info in Ubuntu 10.10 (only thing installed on the G4 right now) and it reveals two hard drives; one 21 Gib, and one 41 Gib. It shows an ext. 4 partition at /dev/hdb3 and a total of 36.4 Gib, with 2.9 Gib (8%) used and 31.4 Gib available. It shows an installed memory of 498.3 Mib, and the only reference to the processor says 7400 altivec supported. I hope that all means something to someone. Whew!..I feel better now…
  5. 666sheep macrumors 68040


    Dec 7, 2009
    Tell us some more about your machine, it will be much easier to advice something to you.

    CPU info in Linux: http://linuxgazette.net/117/pramode.html

    Here you can identify visually what specific G4 model you have:

    How locate serial number (and stock specs of your machine): http://www.everymac.com/mac-identif...-apple-serial-numbers-for-identification.html

    You can type serial number here: http://www.chipmunk.nl/klantenservice/applemodel.html - site will decode it and will tell you stock specs.
  6. Javelin Dan thread starter macrumors newbie

    Javelin Dan

    Feb 22, 2012
    Akron, OH. USA
  7. skinniezinho macrumors 65816

    Jan 1, 2009
    Grab a read on the first section of the FAQ on my Sig, maybe it will help you
  8. tom vilsack macrumors 68000

    tom vilsack

    Nov 20, 2010
    ladner cdn
    please stop with the whole windoze thing...it's windows and win7 is a very good os...

    to check your cpu info in linux run this command

    $ less /proc/cpuinfo
  9. Javelin Dan thread starter macrumors newbie

    Javelin Dan

    Feb 22, 2012
    Akron, OH. USA
    tom vilsack – I apologize for causing you offense where none was intended. Your suggested command of “less /proc/cpuinfo” yielded nothing but “no command found”.

    I did however follow 666sheep's advice and had better luck. I retrieved the following info from the data tag on the back of my machine:

    Serial # XA00701SHSF, 450MZ / 1M cache, 128MB, SDRAM 20GB, HD/DVD ROM, zip / 56K, modem / KB.

    Then, logging onto EveryMac.com, I (think!) I followed their instructions and identified this as a “450” model and extracted the following:

    Intro. Date: August 31, 1999* Disc. Date: July 19, 2000* Order No: M7232LL/A* Model No: M5183 (EMC 1843) Subfamily: Power Mac G4 - AGP Model ID: PowerMac3,1 Std. RAM: 128 MB, 256 MB* Std. VRAM: 16 MB Std. HD: 20, 27 GB (7200 RPM) Std. Optical: 5X DVD-ROM, RAM Complete Power Macintosh G4 450 (AGP) Specs

    I also installed the Linux software “sysinfo” and extracted the following data:

    Hardware Info

    Host bridge – Apple Computer Inc. Uninorth International PCI

    PCI bridge – Digital Equipment Corp. DECchip 21154 (Rev 05) (prog-if 00 {Normal decode})

    USB Controller(s) – Apple Computer Inc. KeyLargo USB (prog-if 10 {OHCI})
    Apple Computer Inc. KeyLargo USB (prog-if 10 {OHCI})


    Primary Master /dev/hda disk
    Model IBM-DPTA-372050
    Capacity 20 GB
    Cache 1.961 MB

    Primary Slave /dev/hdb disk
    Model Maxtor 54089U8
    Capacity 40 GB
    Cache 2.048 MB

    Secondary Master /dev/hdc cdrom
    Capacity No Media
    Secondary Slave /dev/hdd Floppy
    Model 10 MEGA Zip 100 ATAPI

    I hope this is all correct and is enough info – if not you'll have to tell me where to find more. Thanks!
  10. adddictedtomac macrumors regular

    Mar 8, 2012
    Thank you for the above info, it certainly clarifies the situation.

    I also want to thank you for your well mannered, elegant, and perfectly written messages. We rarely get anything like it on these forums.
    Honestly, I am happy when people just reply to me without insulting me...

    Anyway, I am no expert but for what its worth I will express my thoughts on your problem.

    I suspect that your OS 9 is probably installed on the oldest HD, which might be either worn out (due to age) or poorly installed. It should not run slower that Ubuntu. If you can, try to erase the HD and re-install to see if there is any improvement.

    On the other hand, unless you want to use 'Classic Mac' software, forget about this OS as it tends to crash a lot.

    Tiger is the best operating system for your machine. If you can get a copy and install it you will see how well your computer will run, even with 500MB of Ram.

    I am not familiar with Ubuntu, so I cannot give you any advise there.
    According to the info above, your machine is not a Quicksilver it must be Graphite and should be this system:


    I think playing around with this machine you will learn a lot and might even get addicted to Macs and other Apple products!

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