Apple releases the Cheese grater MK II!

As someone who’s owned a few G5’s over the years, and 2 intel ‘cheese grater/Mac Pros’ this is like exciting news! Although I don’t see why this machine took YEARS to churn out after the trashcan fire, but here we go!

Mmmm Cheese

Somehow the aesthetic is even more cheese grater than the prior G5/Pro’s. Almost a desperate call back to pros saying you missed the grater, so here it is again! Now with more grating action, and like the iPhone now with rounded corners!

Single Processor!

One thing I’ve heard time and time again is that XNU really struggles with multiprocessor setups. And I guess we’ve hit that peak as that 2013 Mac Pro was single processor, and the new Mac Pro continues in this trend with a single processor, a Xeon from the ‘W’ or workstation lineup. Which I guess isn’t all that surprising.

The real great thing is expandibility is back! SLOTS SLOTS SLOTS! Although there is no front 3.5mm RCA audio (lol remember that?!) there is 2 USB-C on the top of the case for somewhat accessible ports. Still not too bad.

Another quick to open and upgrade machine. Just like the good old days of the cheese grater!

Although many were hoping for an end to the NVIDIA embargo, bringing CUDA to the table, there was no such luck. Instead the whole ‘dual GPU’ thing was doubled down on.

Radeon Pro Vega II Duo

Bundled is the Radeon Pro Vega II Duo card, featuring dual GPU’s on the same card. Although the case is now large enough for two of these cards giving you 4 GPUs in the box.

So far, so good right?!

And then there is the expected MSRP. $5,999 USD. For the cheapest ‘base’ model featuring a bare 8 core, 16 threaded processor clocking in at 3.5Ghz.

However this does mean for people who want to collect old Mac stuff, the trashcans are no doubt going to crash in price. If you enjoy having a stack of external peripherals, and wires and cables everywhere. Kind of like the old Power Mac G4 Cube.

WDF_VIOLATION on Apple Macintosh

So I bit the bullet and updated to Windows 10 build 1903. And then the fun started on my glorious 2006 MacPro. It finished the update, and on reboot I get the login screen, and then almost immediately a blue screen.

Naturally the QR code is useless as it doesn’t specify any stop codes, and the minidump… Well that requires gigabytes and gigabytes of crap to download to get a tool to read it. (I still haven’t finished that rabbit hole, like COME ON! why isn’t it included?!).

However after hitting F8 a million times, I found that safe mode & networking work just great. Searching online was basically useless as there was no specific stop code to go with this WDF_VIOLATION. Further looking around I did notice one thing, and that it was all Macintosh machines that crash out to this WDF_VIOLATION error. It must be something specific to the Apple hardware running Windows 10!?

Armed with this (dis)information, I went ahead and disabled all the Apple specific drivers & startup items.

From msconfig.exe:

From MSCONFIG.EXE I disabled the following services:

  • Apple OS Switch Manager
  • Apple Time Service

And in the task manager, I disabled the following startup items:

  • Realtek HD Audio Manager
  • Boot Camp Manager

I had the other VMWare serial & USB hook previously disabled, as I just don’t want them at all on my setup. The big upshot is that after rebooting out of safe mode, I’m now up and running on Windows build 1903.

Considering the BootCamp stuff was so woefully out of date, don’t expect Apple to fix this anytime soon. And since I’m on a MacPro 2006, I certainly won’t be getting any updates from Apple. But at least I can struggle to keep this thing up to date otherwise.

Now I can enjoy that ‘new command prompt’ everyone keeps telling me about.

***UPDATE***

I went through this on another Bootcamp Mac, and what I had to do was uninstall the “Boot Camp Services”. It’s startup component triggers the bluescreen as it’s doing some nonsensical inventory, banging around on the drivers in a not friendly way. I had version 4.0.4033 of the Boot Camp Services installed.

Uninstall Boot Camp Services version 4.0.4033

Removing this kept all the old drivers, which continue to work just fine.

T’is the season for upgrades!

I’ve had this 2006 MacPro for quite a while. I’ve taken it home as didn’t have a ‘good’ home machine as I have my better stuff in the office. Anyways the machine is far obsolete with 10.7 being the last official release supported, and although you can treat it like a hackintosh and go much further, Apple is making their binaries tuned heavy enough that all the spectre/meltdown patches broke the old Xeons.

So I installed Windows 10, and found I can go all the way to 1809 without any issues. I put in a GT 1030 with DDR5 RAM and it can even game to extent, although the 13 year old 2Ghz processors were certainly holding it down. Upgrade processors have always been available when I had this machine but they were expensive, and I wasn’t sure if they’d work. Well I picked up a pair of Xeon x5365 for $88 RMB each and pulled the plug.

A score of 167!

Supported features of the old Xeon 5130’s:

  • MMX instructions
  • SSE / Streaming SIMD Extensions
  • SSE2 / Streaming SIMD Extensions 2
  • SSE3 / Streaming SIMD Extensions 3
  • SSSE3 / Supplemental Streaming SIMD Extensions 3
  • EM64T / Extended Memory 64 technology / Intel 64  ? 
  • NX / XD / Execute disable bit  ? 
  • VT-x / Virtualization technology  ? 

I thought the thing to do was a quick benchmark of before and after. I was getting a whopping 167! That means if Cinebench scales to 100% efficiency I get a core score of 41. While my ‘newer’ machine’s E5-2620 v2 was scoring 52, and the current E5-2667 v2 is scoring 77.

It took two hours, but I finally got these 2 Xeon x5365’s installed giving me a score of 560, or a score of 70 per core. Nice!

Much progress

And here is the CPU features of the Xeon 5365:

  • MMX instructions
  • SSE / Streaming SIMD Extensions
  • SSE2 / Streaming SIMD Extensions 2
  • SSE3 / Streaming SIMD Extensions 3
  • SSSE3 / Supplemental Streaming SIMD Extensions 3
  • EM64T / Extended Memory 64 technology / Intel 64  ? 
  • NX / XD / Execute disable bit  ? 
  • VT-x / Virtualization technology  ? 

If you are expecting to run new and exciting software that requires SSE4/SSE4.1/SSE4.2 and the infamous POPCNT and LZCNT instructions you will be disappointed. Sorry Apex Legends fans. This also means that VMware Player is capped to version 12.

Also, while there is a POPCNT Emulator, it will trigger anti-cheat software, and you will get perma banned. Pitty.

Another thing worth noting is that it’s worth looking at the TDP of the various sSPEC of Xeons. I was lucky and I was able to source the SLAED variation which has half the idle TDP of the SLAC3 variant.

So yeah, this is basically as far as this thing can go CPU wise. Although I have 16GB of RAM, apparently it can go to 32GB, which means buying all new memory modules. I guess I can do a better video card. I’m hoping that I can run more stuff at once, I was hitting a point with all 4 cores were maxed to 100% way too much.

I was going to show off the new CPU’s but apparently the pictures didn’t come out and I wanted to get this upgrade over with, as I had mentioned it did take 2 hours. The plastic retainer in the memory cage, and that stupid cover for the processors was the hardest PITA to remove. I probably spent at least 30 minutes pulling that damned thing off. I never removed the CPU shield before and 13 years, 3 nations, 2 continents worth of dust was unreal. Maybe it’s just as well the pictures didn’t come out, as it was pretty disgusting in there. It’s also no wonder the old CPU’s were running hot.

I wonder if this machine counts as being vintage now? Apple’s sliding scale of support is a weird thing.

Installing Windows 10 pro onto an older Mac Pro

So I have this 2006 Mac Pro 1,1 that I’ve had laying around and I wanted to put my old Nvidia 1030 into it, along with Windows 10 for a newer (stronger?) home machine.

So I burnt the downloadable ISO from Microsoft onto a DVD, tried to boot it up and got this:

Ignore the microwave…

I got stuck at this “Select CD-ROM Boot Type : ” prompt, which you can’t type anything into. Apparently it’s a common and known issue with 64bit boot code, as the older Intel Apple Mac’s are of course 32bit only. So there is a fix, you have to use something called “oscdimg” to rebuild the ISO with a 32bit friendly loader.

So first I just used 7zip to extract the downloaded ISO, and then create the new 32bit ISO with the following:

oscdimg -n -m -bc:\temp\Windows10\boot\etfsboot.com c:\temp\Windows10 c:\temp\LegacyBootWindows10dvd.iso

And yes, it boots!

Brigadier

Now what about those special ‘bootcamp’ drivers? Obviously under Windows 10 there is no nice way to get the ones you want. And what about which model/download package to get?

Then I found Brigadier!

It’ll probe your hardware type and grab the drivers for you!

https://github.com/timsutton/brigadier/releases

Gopher kills the LC

Macintosh LC

The LC isn’t a strong Macintosh.  It is after all, a low cost model.  And what I’m doing isn’t even slightly fair to it.

Since it has a mere 68020 running at a blazing 16Mhz with no 68881 nor any MMU running something like A/UX is simply out of the question.  However MMU less Mac’s can run MachTen.

Although I did make a backup of the disk to find out that this thing had been in Harvard of all places, apparently once belonging to Mark Saroyan.

Although there was nothing even slightly academic or useful on the disk.  I wonder if the software was even pirated as the last owner sure enjoyed all the various SIM games (city/earth/life/ant) it seems more than anything else.

I formatted the massive 50MB SCSI disk, put on a fresh copy of MacOS 7.0.1 along with the network driver and MachTen 2.2.

System 7.0.1

And as far as LC’s go, this one isn’t too bad, it’s loaded up with the maximum 10MB of RAM, although it seems the VRAM is pretty sparse as it’ll only go to 16 colours.  But since we are playing UNIX here, I didn’t see any need for that, and set it to mono.

I thought it’d be fun to install a gopherd server onto this machine, and that is where the fun started.

Granted it’s been a long time since I used a machine with no real L2 cache, let alone running at a whopping 16Mhz, and using a compiler like GCC is just incredibly slow.

So I thought I could just ‘cheat’ the system by taking the source code to GCC-1.42 and tweaking the SUN3-Mach configuration into a SUN2-Mach configuration but keeping it targeting a BSD like OS, along with setting it to compile to a 68020 without a 68881.  Oddly enough getting a cross compiler wasn’t so difficult, but the assembler on the LC, a modified GAS wouldn’t assembler the files. So I went ahead and built a68 from GAS 1.38 and now I can cross assemble from Windows. However I couldn’t get the linker ld from binutils-1.9 working.  I guess it was an endian issue somewhere, but my attempt at byte swapping files it was reading just led to further confusion.  And I figured linking on the target host wouldn’t be the end of the world, as compiling sure feels like it is.

I can’t see like anyone would care, but here it is: 
MachTen-crossgcc-1.42-nolinker.7z

So fighting the source and in a matter of a 30 minutes of on/off work I had it compiled.  All I needed to do then was FTP the objects to the machine, link and run.   Surprisingly this proved to be pretty simple.

gopherd running!

I managed to get a few pages out of it, and suddenly my telnet sessions dropped.  Looking over at the console and MacOS was busy being MacOS.

error of type 3

And that was that.

I tried another program to cross compile and upload phoon!

phoon cross compiled, natively linked.

It took a while to set the clock to the right year, as my minimal System 7 install doesn’t have the time control panel, and advancing 1 year at a time from 1999 takes time, by advancing the date to New Years Eve every minute 19 times to get us to 2018 with the old date syntax:

date 12312359

Lessons learned?

Obviously if I want to do something like this, I’m going to need a better Macintosh.  Or just not do things like this….

I’m kind of on the fence as to whither 68k Unix is really all that useful in the age of Ghz x86.  

the easy way bundle

The easy way bundle

I came across this hefty box, “the easy way bundle”, as it bills itself, the easy way to save over $1,000 on four popular software packages for your new Macintosh computer.  Clearly the box has seen better days over the last 27 years but amazingly the contents are just fine.

$399.00 USD

It’s amazing how much more cheaper software has gotten over the years.  Software used to be super expensive on the PC level, it really wasn’t until the office bundling with new machines that drove the price down.  Back in the 80’s and early 90’s it wasn’t uncommon to pay upwards of $500 USD for a single application, like a spreadsheet or word processor.

bundle contents

Inside the box is more boxes, and inside those boxes is a rare sight, manuals!  Actual printed manuals!  That is how you know this is something of near museum quality.  I kind of like being able to read a physical book from time to time, and it’s really great.

Oh and incidentally the disks all worked, much to my amazement.  I just needed to get a working Macintosh with a drive that can read 800kb disks and an Ethernet card.

4 great programs!

Although it does list four packages, it really is 3, featuring:

  • WordPerfect 
  • Lotus 1-2-3
  • SoftPC

AccessPC is simply a FAT driver for MacOS to read MS-DOS floppies & removable media.

So let’s take a quick look!

An actual software license

I haven’t seen something like this in a long while, an actual license printed on nice stock certificate stock paper (remember those?!), with a hologram tag.  Does WordPerfect even exist anymore?  Can I mail this in for an upgrade?  Does it even matter?

Install options for WordPerfect

While the install options give the impression that WordPefect is a really full featured word processor once loaded up for some reason it really felt barren.

Although it does have the important proofing tools, don’t expect a dictionary or thesaurus to have anything more than the words, no definitions or anything like a style guide.  It did ship on floppy and I guess I’ve just become so spoiled living in the future with terabytes of storage and an overwhelming supply of deference media.

Going back to 1992 is a real trip to not only how clean some of the UI elements feel, but just how seemingly feature sparse the more advanced applications feel.

Personally I never really liked WordPerfect so I more so installed it as a curiosity, much like when I had WordPerfect for Unix.  I’m the crazy one that likes MS Word.

Lotus 1-2-3 1.00 for the Mac

With that said, I went ahead and installed Lotus 1-2-3, and I was really surprised, that the installer was not only really appallingly bad, requiring you to copy the contents to the HD before installing it (so you need a lot of free space), but there was no copy protection at all either on the disks, or in the form of a certificate/serial code.  In school I did start with 1-2-3, but with the onslaught of Microsoft Office had quickly moved to Excel, and after 30+ years I really don’t remember much of the slash commands, let alone how to use if effectively.  Luckily the menu is okay to walk through, and of course there is Macintosh style menus so you don’t even have to deal with the slash menu if you don’t want to.

SoftPC

SoftPC didn’t come with a box within the box, just the two manual sets & the disks shoved into the manuals.  I doubt it came like that, but this is all I have.

SoftPC licensing stickers

Compared to the WordPerfect certificate, the stickers hidden in the folds of the SoftPC manual just feel cheap.  And the years have not been kind as you can see with the discoloration, and the cheap adhesive on them has completely dried off.  After I had scanned this they have all fallen off the backing paper.  Although I also have version 3.1, I didn’t want to lose this so I’ll just save it for prosperity.

And SoftPC is a great program, although it really is an absolute crutch, allowing you to run PC software on your Mac.  Flash forward 30 years, and the industry continues with VMware & Parallels.  What is more amazing is how so many leaders in PC emulation completely missed the virtualization market.  But most people would think you were a little strange to run a PC on a PC.  Or more than one at the same time.

The SoftPC platform

SoftPC emulates a really barebones PC, it only supports a maximum of 640kb of RAM, and the CGA graphics adapter.  For anything more advanced you really need to get SoftAT, which supports more options.  Or even better, get a copy of SoftPC 3.1, which not only allows more memory but bundles a copy of MS-DOS 5.0 and Windows 3.1

SoftPC 2.52 CGA running Space Quest 1

I found the emulation of the CGA kind of lacking when compared to version 3.1  Although some games like BattleTech render just fine, Space Quest just looks horrible in version 2.52.


SoftPC 3.1 CGA running Space Quest 1

Although to be fair it doesn’t look so much better in version 3.1 either.  However 3.1 emulates both EGA & VGA (along with expanded & extended memory) giving a far more richer 286 based emulation solution


SoftPC 3.1 EGA running Space Quest 1

As you can see there really is no comparison to the EGA version.

Although there are far more better solutions today to do PC emulation, for some reason there is always something cool to have an emulator running an emulator.. Sadly the 80386 based emulation didn’t come to the 68000 based platform, instead the later generation emulation was only available to the PowerPC.

I guess it goes to show, but of all the applications I have for MacOS, I enjoy SoftPC the most.  I suppose I need better softwares.

20 years of iMacs

Wow the time sure flies!

 

(Video in MPEG-1/Audio MPEG-2 care of JSMpeg).

I know it's terrible quality but finding video from these old Apple events seems to have been recorded on VHS, and then re-recorded using the 'best' video capture technology for under $100 of the era leading to some really poor quality.  Such is the internet I guess.

I didn't buy a first generation but I did have a 2nd generation 333Mhz green iMac to run OS X Server 1.0 ... Who wasn't excited for the prospects of the next millenium?

So my old machine’s 16GB memory limit is becoming a problem

MacPro guts

And like a sucker I saw this 2010 MacPro for sale, $300.  It was running OS X 10.13 aka High Sierra, and I though oh cool it’s obviously able to run the latest OS, and even better with 32GB of RAM, and apparently the single processor model can go up to 48 or 64GB of ram giving me that breathing space I need.

So I happily get the machine, put in some new SSDs, and spinning disks, and decide that I’m going to split it up half for OS X, and half for Windows 10.  Sounds easy right?  And for the hell of it, I wanted to install a copy of 10.6.8 (Snow Leopard), since it’s the last version with Rosetta, and I’d love to compare GrandPa’s G5 to this 2010 space Odyssey.  Snow Leopard installs just fine, but the real fun comes from High Sierra and it’s APFS.  I installed & licensed a copy of Windows 10 Pro onto the Mac without issue, installed the bootcamp drivers, and.. well it installs Okay but drivers are a whole different story.

Apparently there is an ongoing war between Apple and ATI regarding bootcamp drivers, so the Apple UEFI cards won’t work with the stock drivers under Windows.  You can go and look for patched ATI drivers over at bootcampdrivers.com, although I had no luck with the Radeon HD 5700 that was in this machine, as it’s GPU never showed up in the Windows 10 device manager.

I still wanted to get accelerated graphics, and I decided to keep the old ATI card in the machine so I wouldn’t’ lose boot graphics from the UEFI ROM, but a card that needs additional drivers is fine, which opens the door to Nvidia.  I wasn’t ready to spend a fortune on a card, and I wanted one that didn’t draw that much power, so the 1030 was a perfect fit being cheap and not requiring additional power hookups.

GeFroce 1030

I just went with the cheapest one I could find retail.

Naturally the NVidia cards work fine in Windows, but of course Apple won’t use any stock plain PC cards.  But thankfully NVidia has ‘internet’ drivers that cover quite a few of their cards, including the 1030-1080’s. I had further issues with the built in audio drivers, which Windows always prefers to load some generic “High Definition Audio Device” driver, but it never makes any noise.  So I bought a cheap external USB Sound Blaster Play! 3 dongal, which works fine.

Old Xeon in MacPro

And then there is the fun with VMWare, I upgraded both VMWare Player to version 14, and Fusion to version 10.  And yeah, the Xeon W3565 is far too old.

No new VMWare for you!

Although my version 10 key of Fusion works on version 8, just as VMWare Player 12 works fine on Windows 10.

And if that wasn’t crazy enough, in the bootcamp boot driver selection, the High Sierra volume cannot be selected.  Even if you install onto a HFS+ volume, upgrade a 10.6.3 volume or whatever you do, High Sierra converts the filesystem into something that bootcamp doesn’t understand, so the only way to boot between the OS’s is to hold down the option key, and select the OS from the ROM, which thankfully after an update understands and boots APFS.

You think it’d be easy to just push an update to the bootcamp boot tool, but apparently it isn’t.

I don’t know why, but for all the money Apple is sitting on, they really don’t feel that together or with it.  I know in the whole ’99-05 time period they were not only fighting for their lives, but the whole OS 9 to OS X transition phase, just felt so much better done.  Ever since 10.4 it feels like things are just subtracted, nothing really useful added.  First Classic support, then PowerPC, then Rosetta.  Going from 10.7 to 10.13 really hasn’t been all that exciting.  Which has been the general state of things, with everyone for the most part just running VMS or Unix.

Booting my PowerMAC G5 from SSD

Grandpa’s G5

In my last trip to the United States, I scored yet another PowerMac G5, a model 7,2 which is one that is capable of running OS X 10.2.7 for the G5.  It was the proverbial dream come true, used by an elderly man to keep track of photos in iPhoto, which he used maybe a handful of times a year.

Needless to say, he wasn’t too pleased that his copy of Snow Leopard didn’t work on the machine, and he dumped the G5 for a much quieter MacBook.

At any rate, it also included an Apple Studio Display.  I found another Cinema Display in the used hardware market for $25, which even though the display works the screen was damaged at some point and shows scratches on the surface when the display is a solid colour.

At any rate, the machine was deadly slow to boot, I upgraded the RAM from 256MB to 1.2GB, and replaced the ancient disk for a SAMSUNG SSD PM830 2.5 256GB flash drive.  Now it’ll boot up in under 30 seconds from the graphics initialization.

That makes this the only machine I have capable of running MacOS 9, although in emulation under OS X 10.2.  I have the Jaguar DVD set, but Classic mode was removed in 10.5.  It was the ending of the PowerPC era, just as 10.6 was the last version to ship with Rosetta.

Its a fun machine from the era of the introduction of personal 64bit RISC computing to the home user, although too bad the full industry didn’t catch up until later, just as 32bit desktop computing had a few stumbles out of the gates.

Darwin 0.3 & 1.0 on Qemu

Darwin 0.3 PowerPC

Interestingly enough a lot of the same weirdness of missing bits I saw on the x86, is also on the PowerPC.

There is no nice installer, the CD image actually boots MacOS 8.6 which currently won’t run on Qemu.  However Darwin 1.0 uses MacOS 9, which will.  There is not install program for Darwin, rather you need a secondary disk, that is partitioned so the volume manager will pick it up, and then you restore a backup onto the target disk.  Naturally the restore program from 0.3 won’t work, but the 1.0 will under the G4 Cube MacOS 9 CD-ROM install.

Also I couldn’t figure out the boot parameters so I used Steve Troughton Smith’s BootX loader https://github.com/steventroughtonsmith/BootX to get the OS booted.

qemu-system-ppc.exe -L pc-bios -drive file=..\darwin03.qcow2,index=0,format=qcow2,media=disk -drive file=BootX_custom.dmg,index=2,format=raw,media=disk -prom-env “boot-device=ide1:2,\BootX” -prom-env “boot-args=-v rd=hd0 debug=0xffe kdp=2” -prom-env “boot-file=ide0:8,\mach_kernel” -M g3beige

It’s a little convoluted but it does work.

I put together a binary package for Qemu on sourceforge here: Darwin03-PowerPC_qemu-2.11_04_22_2018.7z

Currently there is no networking, I’m guessing I need drivers from OS X 1.x but Ive had really bad luck with the mouse to try to open a terminal window to see if the new sungem NIC is functional at all.