Leopard on unsupported PowerMac G4

By SNGX1275 ยท 9 replies
May 27, 2008
  1. I've had a PowerMac G4 450Mhz for a while now, and its purpose initially for me was a torrent box. But due to the lack of torrent softwares and site updates banning Azureus I wasn't able to use it as a torrent box and use the sites I typically do. So.. that left me with a computer that didn't have any purpose...

    I didn't have anything better to do last night, so I decided to put Leopard on this machine. The tricky part is Leopard won't install on anything slower than a G4 867Mhz, this is a 450Mhz. I had read online before that you can modify your install dvd to install on older G4s so I thought it would be fun to try. After some researching and a tiny bit of terminal work I had modified the section of code preventing it from installing on slower machines and was ready to burn my custom install disk.

    That is when i realized that my PowerMac G4 doesn't have a dvd drive in it. I had 2 options, install a dvd drive, or boot up my Powerbook in target disk mode and hope the G4 tower can use the Powerbook's dvd drive. In the end I decided to just install a dvd drive temporarly. Here is a pic of it.


    All in all it turned out well, its pretty slow, but not unusably slow. I don't think I'll actually do much with it, and I may toy with some ppc linux distro in the future. Unfortunately I just can't come up with much to do with this comp that is very useful to me.

    Here are a couple screenshots, curiously it thinks it is a 533Mhz G4 when I'm certain it is a 450Mhz. I wonder if there is just some error in reporting or if somehow its software overclocked to 533..


    Then after updates

  2. ThomasH1

    ThomasH1 TS Rookie

    I bet you had fun.
  3. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Topic Starter Posts: 10,742   +421

    It was an intersting project that wasn't too difficult to pull off, luckily I had my Powerbook to use to make the custom dvd. I imagine you could do it from within Windows but it would probably be a bit more complicated.

    I installed the 10.5.3 update that was released yesterday and it still works fine, aside from the CPU speed which I still don't understand.
  4. ThomasH1

    ThomasH1 TS Rookie

    LOL, is it any faster?
    Overclock without even trying, nice.
  5. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Topic Starter Posts: 10,742   +421

    I don't know. Unfortunately I kind of got this idea on a whim and didn't do any benchmarks in 10.3.9 before installing Leopard. Since Leopard I did run XBench and compared results to others online. I only saw 3 or 4 G4 450Mhz machines on there (no doubt running 10.4 or lower) and I benched higher than all of them, but I also got beat by all of the 500s or 533 machines, although maybe Leopard would bench slower than Tiger or Panther or Jaguar.
  6. vnf4ultra

    vnf4ultra TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,388

    I just wanted to comment that hacking out the installer and burning a new install disc is not necessarily needed to install leopard onto macs that are "unsupported." I used a guide from lowendmac in which you boot into the open firmware and type in a command to manually set the reported processor speed to 867mhz(or higher). I tried it on an old powermac g4 400mhz, and the install worked fine, but leopard ran terribly slow, even with 768mb ram. To run leopard, a G4 cpu is needed, so this won't work on G3 systems. A dvd drive is also needed to read the leopard install disc, that is unless you use an external hard drive to install.

    Also, you could install os x 10.5 to the systems hard disk using another (leopard supported) powerpc based mac, and swap the drive back into the "unsupported" system and it should boot. This could be done through a firewire enclosure for the drive or by actually installing the drive into a supported system for the install.

    A final note, I would not recommend trying to run leopard on systems that vastly miss the "required" spec, like the one I tried (400mhz), unless you just want to do it for informational purposes. I would think most (if not all) of the imac G4 systems could run leopard reasonably, as well as most of the powermac G4 systems, especially the dual processor ones, as long as there is plenty of ram installed (at least 768MB, 1GB+ recommended).
  7. stevebez

    stevebez TS Rookie

    That is a "Digital Audio" G4, which means at a minimum it has a 466mhz processor on a 133 mhz bus. You can tell it is a DA by the placement of the processor, the size of the heatsink, and that it has 4 PCI slots. The earlier G4s had a 100 mhz bus.

    EDIT: Are you SURE its not a 533? that was a standard configuration.
  8. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Topic Starter Posts: 10,742   +421

    No, I'm not 100% sure. But I was pretty sure it was a 450. Maybe I could boot off a linux cd and see what it reports (if anyone makes a live ppc disk), but I'm almost certain it reported 450 in Tiger.. Know of any other way to know for sure?

    Edit: You are right, appears this is a Digital Audio one. It has 4 PCI slots, apparently that is 1 more than the Sawtooth model I thought I had. I didn't know the Sawtooth didn't have 4 PCI until I checked the site I linked. I wonder why I was so sure this was a 450Mhz then...

    Anyway, it appears that 533 probably is correct. Nice catch.
  9. stevebez

    stevebez TS Rookie

    Since you asked...
    Most G3 and G4 era Macs have Thier "as shipped" specs on the serial # sticker. It is printed pretty small, but its there.

    On a seperate note you probably shouldn't run any of the G3 - G4 era machines open. They were designed with a specific airflow pattern that eliminates the need for a heatsink fan when the door is closed. When the door is open the airflow isn't there and you can slowly cook your processor. That isn't an absolute, but it could happen.
  10. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Topic Starter Posts: 10,742   +421

    Right, I don't. In that pic I was just leaving it open so I could temporarly connect a DVD drive to read the custom Leopard DVD I made. I didn't want to physically install the dvd drive just to pull it out again.
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