PowerBook G4 to the rescue!

Discussion in 'PowerPC Macs' started by Raging Dufus, Oct 19, 2018.

  1. Raging Dufus macrumors regular

    Raging Dufus

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2018
    Location:
    Kansas USA
    #1
    Last week I took my first law school exam, an eventuality I'd prepared for - or so I thought - some months ago, by shelving my perfectly good daily driver PowerBook G4 1.67 GHz HR/DLSD in favor of a 2007 A1226 2.4 GHz C2D MacBook Pro. This was necessary in order to run my law school's choice for exam security software, which required El Capitan as a minimum on a Mac. Unfortunately, my MBP choked on the software; which I've since learned is not unusual. I had to do a hard reset 3 times within the space of an hour. The exam was stressful enough without having to put up with that nonsense, but I made it through and submitted my answers. However, that wasn't the end of my problems.

    I contacted the software publisher afterward and described my problem, and got some boilerplate explanation directing me to their support pages, which I'd already looked at. I gathered what knowledge I could from there, and tried some of the suggested solutions. One of these involved an uninstall/reinstall of the exam software, after which I ran it again and - poof! Down went my Mac. It had had enough of trying to run this abominable crapplication.

    The MBP wouldn't complete a boot after that. It would hang about three-quarters of the way through and simply refuse to go on. I tried everything in my bag of tricks, but couldn't get any satisfaction. Couldn't get the drive to mount via TDM on another Mac; Recovery Mode was no help, as El Cap's version of Disk Utility is all but useless. RM also wouldn't let me reinstall OS X. And then after a few attempts it wouldn't even boot into RM anymore. Neither could I get it to boot from any external source, or even from a Snow Leopard DVD.
    I didn't have time to keep messing with this thing, I had work to do. So I did the only thing I could: I pressed my old PowerBook back into service.

    What a joy it was to be back in Leopard. I was pleasantly surprised that the G4 was able to handle the research I needed to do, which is all web-based. TenFourFox got me everywhere I needed to go, albeit slowly. It was nice knowing that I was using a dependable machine that I'd refurbished myself, that if it developed problems, I had the know-how and spare parts to be able to fix quickly if I had to. I got my work done and felt good about it.

    Unfortunately, it can't last. The PowerBook simply will not run the exam software - and there will be lots more exams. I did manage to get the MBP up again (a series of PRAM/NVRAM resets did the trick, for reasons I don't understand - just tried on a whim) but I don't trust it now. Of the handful of people using Macs on the exam that I queried afterward, several were using El Cap; only one of those had to reboot during the exam, and that one only once. So it likely comes down to my hardware. My best bet going forward may be to pick up some cheap Windows laptop; I hate that, but it's the situation I'm in. I don't know anyone with a Windows machine that had a problem on this exam, and the exams are just too important to risk failing because of my disdain for Microsoft.

    But man, it sure has been good being back in the saddle with my old PowerBook. When I needed a solid machine to step up and get things done, it had my back. I think I'll keep it around :)
     
  2. Dharumanyo macrumors newbie

    Dharumanyo

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2018
    Location:
    Tasmania
    #2
    What versions of Windows does the software support? If it supports XP you could run a virtual machine on your PowerBook and use the software there. It will be very slow, but it will allow you to use your PowerBook. If you get your MBP to run again you could do the same thing with it for better performance, or install a Windows partition on the hard drive.
     
  3. Traace macrumors regular

    Traace

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2018
    Location:
    Germany
    #3
    Please try give us a verbose log if this error happens again on el cap. MBP :) (Boot with [command+v] )

    Installing windows on a second partiton together with bootloader rEFInd for easy multi-booting sounds like a good & fast "workaround" for me.
     
  4. HeadphoneAddict macrumors 6502a

    HeadphoneAddict

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2007
    #4
    There are some good deals on used Macs out there, that can run the current software you need to run.

    I picked up a 2012 13.3" MacBook Air 4GB/128GB for $299 used a couple of years ago, and it still runs High Sierra just fine as my spare/travel computer. That same year I got my daughter a used but newer 13.3" Air with 8GB/512GB and USB 3.0, for only $399.

    With mine syncing to my iCloud account, and iCloud drive and Dropbox SmartSync storing most of my docs, and iCloud photo library and iMessage in the cloud storing a lot of pics and messages online, I had enough room to install a ton of apps including MS Office and iWork apps, and 8GB of music, and still set up a spare admin account for my son, with 30GB free space. But I'm only downloading my iCloud email and going to the web to read my hotmail and gmail.

    This summer I just got a 2014 retina MacBook Pro 13" 8GB/256GB for $550 used that my son is using at college. I was able to clone my Air onto it for my account, and set up his user account with everything that he needed, and there is still 120GB of free space on the SSD drive. It's powerful enough to have FileVault2 enabled in High Sierra, without any slowdowns.

    His is a bit more powerful than my Lenovo Yoga 720 4/128 tablet that cost the same amount of money new (and of course I recently saw a Yoga 720 with 8/256 for only $35 more than what I paid for half the ram and storage earlier in the year, although mine was the deal deal out there by a mine when I got it)..

    So, don't give up on Mac yet.
     
  5. AphoticD macrumors 68000

    AphoticD

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2017
    Location:
    Australia
    #5
    I don't understand why an exam software would need to run hooks into the system that could cause it to lock up and corrupt the boot drive, NVRAM, PRAM, etc.. what kind of monkeys are writing this stuff?
     
  6. amagichnich macrumors 6502

    amagichnich

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    Location:
    Stuttgart, Germany
    #6
    Maybe these?
     
  7. AL1630 macrumors 6502

    AL1630

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2016
    Location:
    Idaho, USA
    #7
    It might be an attempt at "Anti-Cheating" that happens to a little overzealous. You can't cheat if you don't have a computer!

    Seriously, though, software like this has no place being able to completely disable an entire system.
     
  8. philgxxd macrumors regular

    philgxxd

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2017
    Location:
    Malaga, Spain
    #8
    Isn't it more probable you are victim of the infamous graphics chip underfillgate of that line of MBP.
    What are console logs saying. Kernel panics because of the nvida driver?
     
  9. Raging Dufus thread starter macrumors regular

    Raging Dufus

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2018
    Location:
    Kansas USA
    #9
    I had considered those options prior to even purchasing my MBP, but the software's support material specifically state that it will not run under virtualization. Even if it were possible, on the PowerBook the slowness would have killed me. The exams are timed, so anything that slows you down is a non-starter.
     
  10. philgxxd macrumors regular

    philgxxd

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2017
    Location:
    Malaga, Spain
    #10
    Windows 10 under Parallels on my 4,1 MBP is really snappy. I use it for running windows only remote controll apps. I even got an 4Gb ram stick to have the maximum the laptop supports so maybe that and having an ssd is helping to make it feel like that.
     
  11. Raging Dufus thread starter macrumors regular

    Raging Dufus

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2018
    Location:
    Kansas USA
    #11
    You know, I did a verbose boot to see if I could find anything actionable, but my experience there is limited and nothing really popped out at me. I'm sorry, I didn't preserve the log. My post here was less of a "help me with my MBP" than a "hey look how great my old PowerBook is!" That being said, I should have realized people want to help here, so my apologies (and thanks!) to all who've tried.

    The MBP's back up and running, as I said in my original post, and it seems none the worse for wear. I wish I knew what the problem actually was. The only clue I can give is that, on the couple of occasions when I was able to reach Recovery Mode, attempting to reinstall El Cap resulted in the following error: "The bless tool was unable to set the current boot disk." I used similar search terms to try and find a solution, and attempted some of the solutions found, but none of them got me anywhere. I can only assume that whatever was causing that error was also preventing the MBP from being able to be mounted as a target disk on other Macs, as well as preventing it booting from external media or even a known-good Snow Leopard disk in the MBP's own optical drive. My best guess is that it had something to do with El Cap's system integrity protection.

    Now that it's running again, I have considered throwing Windows on it, but I just don't like that solution. I have a perfectly good machine here for running Snow Leopard, and my SSD is too small (100 GB) for me to consider partitioning it. So I'll probably go with a dedicated Windows exam machine on PC hardware. That seems the wise choice since I can't really pinpoint - and therefore can't address with any confidence - whatever problems my particular MBP's hardware had with the exam software. For all I know, they could manifest in Windows too, on this machine. Online searches showed that a lot of Windows users also have had issues with this software, although I wasn't aware of anyone in my class that did.
    --- Post Merged, Oct 20, 2018 ---
    Oh, I'm not giving up on Mac, not by any means. I'm just giving up on getting an older Mac to handle poorly written crapware. And there's the money, too: I'm a full-time student now. I've already had people offer me 5-year old Windows laptops for free, that they say have "crashed" and they don't know what to do with them. Well, I know what to do with them. I've got hard drives and memory just laying around waiting for a purpose, so it's time to put some of them to work.

    Skills and spare parts are beautiful things :D
    --- Post Merged, Oct 20, 2018 ---
    The point of the software is precisely to prevent cheating. It does lock up the entire system, by design, preventing access to any networking capabilities, or any files on the machine. It's an understandable function, though yes it is quite overzealous.

    The hooks are so deep that a hard reset fails to shake the program's hold on the system. Upon reboot, you are returned straight into the exam software, at precisely the point from which you left. What's more, the first time it froze up on me I rebooted it myself, by holding down the power button and pressing it again; but on the two subsequent reboots, the exam software rebooted the machine by itself. It shut it down and turned it back on without any input from me!

    After the third time, I said screw this, turned it off and unplugged the damn thing. I didn't remove the battery, so it could have maybe restarted itself, but it didn't. I left it off while I went to get a paper booklet to write my answers (an option available in case anyone has computer problems, or doesn't want to use a computer at all). About 10-15 minutes later, I turned the MBP back on, it went right into the exam software, and I was able to then type what I had written into the software and upload my answers without further issues.

    At least, until it later jacked up my whole Mac, but hey I'm over that now.
    --- Post Merged, Oct 20, 2018 ---
    I thought of that, but none of my problems seemed specifically graphics-related. More of a freezing-up-the-whole-damn-system-and-refusing-to-reboot kinda thing. My machine is one of those susceptible to GPU failure, but as I understand it those problems will begin to manifest by losing PCIe lanes, and my MBP is still sitting at x16.

    Mine is a 3,1 with 6 GB RAM and SSD. It would handle Windows 10 just fine, although I couldn't run the exam software under Parallels or any other kind of virtualization.
    --- Post Merged, Oct 20, 2018 ---
    I hate that MacRumors merges posts.

    I. Just. Hate. That!!! :mad::mad::mad:
     
  12. AphoticD, Oct 20, 2018
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2018

    AphoticD macrumors 68000

    AphoticD

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2017
    Location:
    Australia
    #12
    It seems the software designers are not honoring the sworn programmer’s oath and age old wisdom (of Uncle Ben);

    “With great power comes great responsibility.”

    I’d think a limited “Live” boot CD or USB would have been the better design choice instead of crippling the user’s existing system.
     
  13. pl1984 macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2017
    #13
    This has nothing to do with MBP versus PM. The reality of the situation is you have a faulty MBP or some other issue with its configuration. While I like the PPC machines let's not pretend they're something magical compared to their Intel successors.
     
  14. AphoticD macrumors 68000

    AphoticD

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2017
    Location:
    Australia
    #14
    I think it’s more of an “Ol’ Faithful” scenario than a comparative. It’s like a beat up old 4x4 pulling a luxury 4WD SUV out of the mud.

    At least with the PowerPCs we can be fairly confident that no new software is going to brick them. Because there isn’t any! (Beyond Macports - but that’s safely sandboxed on most systems)
     
  15. Raging Dufus thread starter macrumors regular

    Raging Dufus

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2018
    Location:
    Kansas USA
    #15
    Sure, that's a possibility. But my MBP has given me zero problems in the 4 months I've owned it, apart from issues related to this exam software; and the link in my original post about problems people have with the software was just one of many, many more that I found. It's not a certainty, but it is simple logic that the software is a/the problem here.
     
  16. pl1984 macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2017
    #16
    Then it really wasn't a situation where the PowerBook rescued you but rather a computer which did not have this problematic software installed rescued you. It could have been another MBP that rescued you.
     
  17. Raging Dufus thread starter macrumors regular

    Raging Dufus

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2018
    Location:
    Kansas USA
    #17
    Well congratulations, Capt. Obvious.

    The PowerBook was what I had, and it filled the need when I needed it to. Which is kinda the point of posting something praising a great old PowerPC Mac, on a forum devoted to PowerPC Macs. You're making a habit of trying to "correct" me (this isn't the first time) by making some point of logic, while missing the point yourself.

    Either enjoy, or ignore, my posts for what they are. I don't come here to argue, I get quite enough of that in my everyday life.
     
  18. pl1984 macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2017
    #18
    I'm not really sure what the point of creating a post to the effect of my backup computer saved the day when my primary computer failed. The fact it happens to be a PPC posted in a PPC forum doesn't change that.

    The more interesting part of your post is that an application manage to completely mess up the MBP. I'd be more interested to know the details of that rather than you took out a backup computer and used it to continue doing stuff.
     
  19. Raging Dufus thread starter macrumors regular

    Raging Dufus

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2018
    Location:
    Kansas USA
    #19
    @pl1984, you missed a spot. There's the point, right up there.

    Then you're not really sure why you're here, apparently, unless it's just to criticize what others post. I don't worry about what you might think before hitting the post button, and I'm not going to.

    I've posted everything I know about the problem, including how I solved it. Though I agree that it's interesting, that particular content would be better suited to the El Cap forum; where I would promptly have been told to "get a new Mac." Which in my case might be true, but isn't helpful because I'm not going to do that. So, the story got told here...in a PowerPC forum because part of it was at least tangentially PowerPC-related. Some, apparently, enjoyed - or at least, accepted - that. If you didn't/don't, that's your problem. Please stop trying to make it mine.
     
  20. pl1984 macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2017
    #20
    Uh no, no I did not. I find it not to have any relevance.

    I'm here to read and discuss things related to the PPC platform. When I read the subject of your post I expected to see where the PPC did something of interest. After reading six paragraphs of what did I find? You used the PowerBook to do some web browsing. You built it up as if the PowerBook did some herculean thing.

    When I commented about the MBP being the problem you copped attitude with how it was the software, not the MBP, which was the problem. So I offer some advice and you took issue with it.
     
  21. Raging Dufus thread starter macrumors regular

    Raging Dufus

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2018
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    Kansas USA
    #21
    A convenient, though willfully blind, finding. The very title of this forum makes it relevant.

    It did do something of interest. To me.

    Other people liked it too, in fact one could say it received worldwide acclaim. A guy from Germany, a guy from the U.K., and a guy from Australia. So there.

    I built nothing up. The PowerBook did come to my rescue, and it did do a Herculean thing - for me. As I said, I had to do some web-based legal research. This wasn't Google, it had to be done inside dedicated academic and legal research databases which are not available to the public and are modern, vast, and complex. That's a bit more than "some web browsing" and it was by no means certain that a G4 could handle it. But it did. Because it's just so sweet and awesome. Awesome. AWESOME!!!

    I answered you, even acknowledging up front you might have a point. Go back and read it again. That's not copping an attitude. And the software was the problem. Now this - this right here is copping an attitude:

    Dude. Really? If I thought it was "magical" I'd still be using it. I never said anything of the sort.

    What I said was, it's just so sweet and awesome. Awesome. AWESOME!!! :eek::apple::confused:

    You haven't offered anything like advice, you've just been a pain in the ass. Over trivial little BS that seems to matter to nobody but you. But go ahead, keep gnawing at that bone.
     
  22. AphoticD macrumors 68000

    AphoticD

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2017
    Location:
    Australia
    #22
    Nose dive!! :eek:

    The thread title says it all - without promising anything other than a little appreciation. Take it or leave it.

    There’s enough arguing over nothing elsewhere. Stay classy people! :apple:
     

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21 October 19, 2018