(GUIDE) Leopard Speed Improvements

Altemose

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I just wanted to share a tip with you PowerPC enthusiasts. Apple and other OS manufacturers use a technology called V-Sync which essentially vertically refreshes the screen. It is mainly designed for CRT displays rather than LCDs, so we can safely disable it.

Anyone who has used Tiger knows how smooth the dock can be on opening applications, minimizing windows, and magnification. Unfortunately, many late PowerPC Macs like my PowerMac G5 and early Intel Macs are slowed by BeamSync (Apple's term for V-Sync). I am not sure of the root cause of the slowness, but it is rather disappointing to see choppy opening animations.

To try this out, you are going to want either TextWrangler or Property List Editor which is included in the Xcode tools, a free download. Please note that I do not know if this will work on Tiger or earlier versions.

Begin by navigating to /Macintosh HD/Library/Preferences and open the file "com.apple.windowserver.plist". If using Property List Editor, go to the Compositor section and set "Deferred Updates" to 0. You may need to change the file to read and write under "Get Info" before saving. Once complete save the file and reboot.

If using TextWrangler, simply set the "Deferred Updates" to zero as well. It is normally located at the top of the file. Save and reboot and give it a shot!

I tried this strictly on 10.5.8 and it worked well. I am not sure if it is going to work even on earlier versions of Leopard.

Note that opening QuartzDebug does reset the file and you will need to repeat my steps. Try to avoid opening QuartzDebug. Do not do this with a CRT or you will experience mouse tearing and other UI lag.

My specs for reference are:

PowerMac G5
Dual 1.8 GHz PowerPC G5
2 GB RAM
ATI Radeon 9600 XT (128 MB) with HP S2031 and Apple Studio Display (17")
2 TB Hard Drive
Leopard 10.5.8

----------

You maybe able to boost your graphics performance a little bit more by enabling OpenGL. In my tests, graphical applications performed smoother and faster. To do this simply open a new Terminal session and enter this command.


Code:
sudo defaults write /Library/Preferences/com.apple.windowserver \QuartzGLEnabled -boolean YES
A way to speed up the Finder is to speed up the Finder's UI performance is to use OnyX to speed up the display of sheets. To do so, simply download and install the last version of OnyX for Leopard (2.0.6).

Open OnyX and go to the "Parameters" section and set the "Speed of Display of Sheets" to "Very Fast".

NOTE: THIS TIP'S CREDIT GOES TO eyoungren FOR TELLING ME ABOUT THIS IN ANOTHER THREAD...

Continue replying with any tweaks you do to speed up graphics performance on Leopard.
 
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iamMacPerson

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To try this out, you are going to want either TextWrangler or Property List Editor which is included in the Xcode tools, a free download. Please note that I do not know if this will work on Tiger or earlier versions.

Begin by navigating to /Macintosh HD/Library/Preferences and open the file "com.apple.windowserver.plist". If using Property List Editor, go to the Compositor section and set "Deferred Updates" to 0. You may need to change the file to read and write under "Get Info" before saving. Once complete save the file and reboot.
For those who don't want to play around with all those apps, the Secrets Pref Pane will allow you to enable and disable V-Sync.

Thanks for sharing though! I know a lot of people probably won't know about this.
 
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Altemose

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It does on my PowerBook G4.
It may have to do with the Mac I was using. Thank you for posting this. That is the one thing that bothered me about Leopard was the slower graphics compared to Tiger. I am sure some people will argue it is since I have dual monitors.
 

iamMacPerson

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It may have to do with the Mac I was using. Thank you for posting this. That is the one thing that bothered me about Leopard was the slower graphics compared to Tiger. I am sure some people will argue it is since I have dual monitors.
No problem! :) Glad I could help.
 

harrymatic

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Just tried this - it definitely made a difference, the dock animations are much smoother now, especially magnification. :D

I did have to open the Quartz Debug program and play around with the Beam Sync settings before they would show up in the com.apple.windowserver parameter list though.

Many thanks for sharing!
 

Altemose

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Just tried this - it definitely made a difference, the dock animations are much smoother now, especially magnification. :D



I did have to open the Quartz Debug program and play around with the Beam Sync settings before they would show up in the com.apple.windowserver parameter list though.



Many thanks for sharing!

Just remember they will default if you open QuartzDebug again.
 

Intell

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Just note that QuartzGL/Quartz 2D Extreme requires a CoreImage card. The GeForce 5200 is not able to properly run it as it is missing one of OpenGL/Quartz 2D Extreme's critical instruction sets.
 
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Altemose

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Just note that OpenGL/Quartz 2D Extreme requires a CoreImage card. The GeForce 5200 is not able to properly run it as it is missing one of OpenGL/Quartz 2D Extreme's critical instruction sets.
Are there any other cards which are not supported under QuartzGL? I know that disabling BeamSync works on all cards.
 

Intell

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Are there any other cards which are not supported under QuartzGL? I know that disabling BeamSync works on all cards.
I recall reading a neat article about it and how it was dependent on two different sets of GPU instructions. I know that the GeForce 5200 and Intell GMA950 do not support one of those required instruction sets. I believe all other CoreImage cards do have the required instructions.
 

Altemose

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I recall reading a neat article about it and how it was dependent on two different sets of GPU instructions. I know that the GeForce 5200 and Intell GMA950 do not support one of those required instruction sets. I believe all other CoreImage cards do have the required instructions.
The big clincher is that QuartzGL only boosts pure graphics performance but not really UI enhancements like Dock magnification, Dock animations, etc.

Fortunately, all cards can disable BeamSync. This is perfectly fine except for any CRT based Mac or Macs connected to a CRT.
 

Intell

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I do know that turning on QuartzGL/Quartz 2D on a card that doesn't have the right support for it causes screen artifacts, graphical corruption, and in some cases kernel panics. So if you have any of those, turn it off. Also, it shouldn't be used in Tiger as it is very unstable in that version of Mac OS X.
 
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Altemose

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I do know that turning on OpenGL/Quartz 2D on a card that doesn't have the right support for it causes screen artifacts, graphical corruption, and in some cases kernel panics. So if you have any of those, turn it off. Also, it shouldn't be used in Tiger as it is very unstable in that version of Mac OS X.
Like I said, I never tested it under anything but 10.5.8. Thank you for confirming my suspicions.

Do you have any tips you want to add to the guide besides QuartzGL on supported cards, disabling V-Sync, and the rollout of sheets?
 

Altemose

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Nothing that I can think of right now.
Whatever anyone wants to post to this guide they are more than welcome.

If you want a more 2D and lighter weight Dock in Leopard, simply fire up a Terminal session and enter this command:

Code:
defaults write com.apple.dock no-glass -boolean YES; killall Dock
 

RedCroissant

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I love the guide, man. But is this primarily for the dock and associated animations, or does this have a beneficial impact on other aspects of graphics performance as well?
 

eyoungren

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I love the guide, man. But is this primarily for the dock and associated animations, or does this have a beneficial impact on other aspects of graphics performance as well?
Sheet speed impacts all applications. It's basically how fast the system will display a dialogue box to you when you click something that prompts a dialogue box.

That part is not necessarily restricted to the dock.

Alternose is trying to make this thread more of a general thread for suggestions on speeding up Leopard. As someone has already mentioned the Secrets prefpane, that's a great start. A lot of things can be done with that pane that would take two or three apps alone to do.
 

eyoungren

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OK, here are two tips. I will link to my sources. Note that these tips are not necessarily Leopard specific and not specifically related to Graphics performance. However, they can speed Leopard up signifigantly on systems that do not meet minspec.

BE CAREFUL, USE WITH CAUTION, DOING THIS CAN MAKE YOUR SYSTEM UNSTABLE. I AM NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR ANYTHING THAT MAY HAPPEN!

The first tip is disabling Spotlight. Completely! This has the benefit of increasing system performance because the mdworker process is no longer able to run. That process can signifigantly slow you down because it hogs the CPU when it runs.
Quick way

Disable:

Code:
sudo launchctl unload -w /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/com.apple.metadata.mds.plist sudo launchctl unload -w /System/Library/LaunchAgents/com.apple.Spotlight.plist

re-enable:

Code:
sudo launchctl load -w /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/com.apple.metadata.mds.plist sudo launchctl load -w /System/Library/LaunchAgents/com.apple.Spotlight.plist

Explanation

Stop and disable the background server:

Kill the Daemon:
Code:
[/SIZE][/B]

[SIZE=3] [/SIZE][SIZE=3]sudo launchctl unload -w /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/com.apple.metadata.mds.plist


Re-enable the Daemon:

Code:
sudo launchctl load -w /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/com.apple.metadata.mds.plist

Stop and disable the spotlight application itself:

Kill the Agent:

Code:
sudo launchctl unload -w /System/Library/LaunchAgents/com.apple.Spotlight.plist

Re-enable the Agent:

Code:
sudo launchctl load -w /System/Library/LaunchAgents/com.apple.Spotlight.plist

You may get an error on the last command; just ignore it.
What it does

We stop the process from running and tell the system to fully disable it.
Code:
sudo launchctl unload -w /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/com.apple.metadata.mds.plist

Now we need to stop the agent for the user and everyone else.
Code:
sudo launchctl unload -w /System/Library/LaunchAgents/com.apple.Spotlight.plist

The re-enable Spotlight back again:

If you need to re-enable the process, you can run the following line.
Code:
sudo launchctl load -w /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/com.apple.metadata.mds.plist

The following line re-enable the Spotlight agent.
Code:
sudo launchctl load -w /System/Library/LaunchAgents/com.apple.Spotlight.plist

The reason you get the error is that you are effectively executing the command as root, but the root user hasnt any running instance of Spotlight. On the other hand, only the root user is able to disable the automatic start of Spotlight. Thus the need for the sudo command.


Done!


Theres no need to reboot your computer after following these steps.


The next tip is disabling Virtual Memory
. There's lots of reasons NOT to do this, but there is one good reason to do so and that's if you have a really slow system or a system that does not meet the minspec to run Leopard. Disabling VM has the affect of forcing everything you are doing to actually exist in RAM. With VM disabled there is no writing out to disk. It's that writing out and reading back in from disk that can slow things. When you have everything resident in RAM, the functions you request can be acted on immediately.

WARNING! You have to be VERY MINDFUL of your ram use if you disable VM! You can run out of memory and the ultimate result of that is that your Mac WILL FREEZE! This is especially problematic if you are writing to disk when your Mac freezes or if you have unsaved information. USE AT YOUR OWN RISK!

To disable OS X swap files, all you need to do is stop the com.apple.dynamic_pager daemon and restart. Use launchctl to stop:
Code:
sudo launchctl unload -wF /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/com.apple.dynamic_pager.plist
Once restarted, you may need to remove the files in /var/vm as that is where the swap files are stored. To do so, rm the contents of /var/vm:
rm /var/vm/swapfile*
You should also be able to get rid of the sleepimage file in that directory if needed. Since this is supposed to be a temporary or troubleshooting measure, to turn swapping back on:
Code:
sudo launchctl load -wF /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/com.apple.dynamic_pager.plist
Last, but not least! You can also disable safe sleep if you like. I know I mentioned two tips, but I remembered this one. Disabling safe sleep is a way to avoid a laptop Mac freezing when it's woken up. When you put your laptop to sleep it writes the content in memory to a sleep file. When you wake the Mac, it reads the content of the sleep file back into memory so you pick up where you left off. Some Macs (my old TiBook at a certain point) had problems reading the contents back in and would freeze when you opened the lid. NOTE THAT IF YOU DO THIS YOU DO NOT WANT TO LEAVE UNSAVED FILES OPEN WHEN YOU CLOSE THE LID! YOU WILL LOSE ANY CHANGES YOU MADE!

Note that the link and instructions here refer to MBPs, but it's the same for PowerBooks and iBooks.
First find your current sleep setting by opening Terminal in OS X and entering this at the prompt:
Code:
pmset -g | grep hibernatemode
That should return you something like hibernatemode 3″. Remember this number, send an email to yourself, write it down on a scratch pad, whatever it takes to remember your default mode. Mode 3 keeps your RAM powered during sleep to allow super fast wake-up, but also writes an image file of all memory onto disk in case power is lost.

To change the hibernate safe sleep setting to not create an image file on the disk, i.e. mode 0 (mode zero, not the letter o), enter the following in a Terminal window:
Code:
sudo pmset -a hibernatemode 0
Enter your password when asked to do so. This prevents Safe Sleep from saving your memory contents to disk, in large part the cause of not being able to wake MacBooks from sleep.


If youd like to get back about a gigabyte or more of disk space, delete the memory image file with the following Terminal command:
Code:
sudo rm /var/vm/sleepimage
That's it for these tips. Hope it helps you out there!
 
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Intell

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Safe sleep is only enabled by default for 2005 Powerbooks, expect the 12" model. While most other aluminum Powerbooks can use it, Titanium Powerbooks cannot because of their drive controller. iBooks that came out after the 17" Powerbook G4 can use it as well. Also, virtual memory or swap, should not be disabled on any Leopard or Tiger machine with less than 2GB of real memory.
 

Altemose

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Mar 26, 2013
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I love the guide, man. But is this primarily for the dock and associated animations, or does this have a beneficial impact on other aspects of graphics performance as well?
QuartzGL benefits system wide provided you have a compatible graphics card. Perhaps Intell could post a list of unsupported graphics cards. The sheets rollout is system wide as well.

Sheet speed impacts all applications. It's basically how fast the system will display a dialogue box to you when you click something that prompts a dialogue box.

That part is not necessarily restricted to the dock.

Alternose is trying to make this thread more of a general thread for suggestions on speeding up Leopard. As someone has already mentioned the Secrets prefpane, that's a great start. A lot of things can be done with that pane that would take two or three apps alone to do.
You just love calling me Alternose, Erik :D On the plus side, this guide is becoming a great source for speeding up Leopard. I am going to change the thread title.
 

Intell

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A slight correction on one of my previous statements. I incorrectly stated that the Intell GMA950 does not fully support Quartz GL. It does fully support it.

Minimum requirements for it are an ATI 9600 or Nvidia 6200 or newer card. The two instructions it needs are GL_ARB_fragment_program and GL_ARB_texture_non_power_of_two. The GeForce 5200 does not have GL_ARB_texture_non_power_of_two, but does have GL_ARB_fragment_program.

Sources: https://developer.apple.com/library/mac/qa/qa1536/_index.html
https://web.archive.org/web/2009092...simaging/opengl/capabilities/GLInfo_1058.html
 

Altemose

macrumors G3
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Mar 26, 2013
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Elkton, Maryland
A slight correction on one of my previous statements. I incorrectly stated that the Intell GMA950 does not fully support Quartz GL. It does fully support it.

Minimum requirements for it are an ATI 9600 or Nvidia 6200 or newer card. The two instructions it needs are GL_ARB_fragment_program and GL_ARB_texture_non_power_of_two. The GeForce 5200 does not have GL_ARB_texture_non_power_of_two, but does have GL_ARB_fragment_program.

Sources: https://developer.apple.com/library/mac/qa/qa1536/_index.html
https://web.archive.org/web/2009092...simaging/opengl/capabilities/GLInfo_1058.html
So are there any other standard cards that don't support it aside from the 5200? Perhaps G4 era cards?
 
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