Server in a can: Unbridled rage

Back nearly a decade ago, Apple was going to release a new Mac Pro. And it was goi to be unlike all the other computers, it was going to be compact, and stylish, a jet engine for the mind.

However instead, we got what everyone would know as the trash can.

big brain idea

So at the time i had this idea that I wanted a Xeon workstation in a nice portable form factor. And this little cylinder seemed to fir the bill. But things changed in my life, i was okay being tied down, and a regular Xeon desktop became my goto machine, a desktop would do just fine.

Then years later, an artist id commish to do some stuff was selling their Mac Pro, as they’d gone all in on Hackintosh, and this was my chance to get one on the cheap. As I’m on a business trip at the moment, I thought this would be a good time to test out what I had envisioned as the future of a personal server in a can.

A long while ago, I’d bought a newer/faster/larger flash for the Mac Pro, and it was a simple matter of hitting the Windows key + R and the machine boots up into an internet recovery mode, and will install OS X Mavericks over the wire. Which sounds great, but this is where the fun begins. Since I ordered. a NVMe M.2 module, it of course is too new for the 2013 machine, so I had to use a shim bridging the Mac’s NVMe SSD port to M.2 for my modern flash. And it never fit exactly right, and I kind of screwed it in incorrectly, but it held in place. Obviously flying bumped things around, as I had kind of figured, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

I didn’t take any big peripherals with me, as I figured I’d just get some new stuff, and didn’t worry about it at all. I picked up a View Sonic VX2770 for £45, I got this RED5 Gaming keyboard for £13, and I already had this Mad Catz 43714 mouse NIB with me. I think I paid $200 HKD or so a year ago, but I like the feel of this style of mouse, and was happy to bring it with me. Little did I know…

So after setting up a desk, and the system, it performed like crap. Worse it was locking up again at random times. I already was using Macs Fan Control to set the fan to 100%, and still it was locking up. I had guessed it’d taken a jostle too many, and I reseated the storage. And then on booting it back up I only got the blinking folder. Great, either it was dying, or I’d just killed it.

A quick jump on Amazon, and I found the “Timetec 512GB MAC SSD NVMe PCIe Gen3x4 3D NAND TLC”, which at a whopping £68 seemed like a good idea. And since it was SSD NVMe, it’d just slot into the Mac Pro, and life would be good. Or so I thought.

The first problem I ran into is that I couldn’t boot the mac into either diagnostics, or recovery mode. There is something really weird with a UK keyboard on a non UK machine. I think the 2013 (and probably many more) power up as American, and this is some kind of common issue with non American keyboards. Seriously why is the pipe,backslash on the lower row? Quotes is over 2? It’s a mess. And since I got my Mac Pro in Asia, maybe it defaults to Chinese? Japanese? Who knows?!

Crappy keyboard controller

Lucky for me, I had this ugly little thing with me for another project. And yeah holding down the ‘Win’+R button got me to recovery mode, with zero issues.

Loading Recovery

I still have to say, this is pretty cool. However what wasn’t cool, is loading the disk util, and yeah, NO FLASH detected. I have VMWare ESX 7.0 on USB, so booting that up, and yeah it totally sees the drive:

TIMTEC drive is spotted!

And of course, like an idiot, I installed VMware to at least make sure it’s working.

ESX on Mac

Yeah it’s booting fine.

By default the Mac Pro seems to be picking up bootable USB devices, so I pop in a Windows 10 MBR USB, and instead I get this:

Bad memory on the GPU? Bad cable? Bad monitor? I have no idea. At this point I’m thinking I’ve totally killed the machine, but a power cycle, and I’m back in ESX in no time. Something is up.

I pull the flash, and I can boot Windows 10 to the installer, but obviously there is no storage to install to. I try adding in a 16GB USB thumb drive, and … It won’t let you install to it. It appears that there is a way to prepare a USB drive for Windows 10 to install, but it’s not exactly something that is easy to do. However Mac OS X, doesn’t suffer this limitation and will let you install to whatever you want, so I install Mavericks to the 16GB drive, and yeah it’s booting. And SUPER slow. The flash still doesn’t show up, so I read the amazon page some more and find this tidbit:

My Macbook came with Mac OS Capitan as the operating system for recovery, and therefore did not detect the SSD. I had to create a High Sierra installer on a USB using another Mac and an app (DiskMaker) in order to reinstall the operating system from High Sierra. Once this was done, the SSD appeared available and I was able to install the operating system and upgrade without problem.” –Gilberto R. Rojina

Oh, now isnt’ that interesting? So of course I got to update my thumb drive, and of course 16GB isn’t enough space. Great. So I order a Elecife M.2 NVME Enclosure for £23, thinking I should be able to figure out once and for all if I can see the old drive, or maybe boot from it. I get the drive, plug in the storage, and Disk Util sees a drive, but will not mount it, nor is it selectable too boot from. The issue of course is that it’s APFS, which I guess cannot boot from external media? I have no idea, but I don’t have anything that critical on there, as I keep my stuff backed up on some cloud thing. So I do have a 128GB thumb drive on me, so I format the 1TB as HFS+, backup the drive, and and once more again reboot to the recovery mode, using the crap keyboard, to install Mavericks onto the 128GB flash. Thinking everything is going to be fine, I find this apple support page, with the needed links to get ‘old’ versions of MacOS.

These versions can be directly downloaded and installed without the store.

Another weird thing is that Mavericks won’t let me login to the Apple store. It notifies me on my phone, I approve it, but it never prompts for the verification. Maybe it’s too old? Anyways I install macOS Sierra, and do the upgrade.

Now running Sierra, I can use the store, and try to take the leap on my USB to Mojave. And of course disappointment strikes again:

You may not install to this volume because the computer is missing a firmware partition.

What the hell?! So now I’m trying to find out how to create a bootable USB installer from the download. That leads me to this fun page at apple. Apparently an ‘install installer to USB drive’ would be too complicated for Apple, so its hidden in a terminal command. Fantastic. Since I’m using that 128GB as my system, I grab that 16GB flash drive, and install the installer to that.

sudo /Applications/Install\ macOS\ Mojave.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia --volume /Volumes/SanDisk\ Fit

What an insane path to get this far. The tool will partition and format the drive, and now I can shut down, pop out the 128GB Sierra drive, and boot into the Mojave installer.

I didn’t take pictures, but by default the Mojave installer & DiskTool only show existing partitions. You have to right click on the drive, to expose the entire drive. This was an issue as I’d installed ESX onto the new storage. I clear the drive, and now I can finally install Mojave.

Home run?

Thinking it’s all over, I reboot into the Mac Pro, thinking everything should be fine, I have a properly fitting drive that is super fast, and It’s already 10.14.6 the latest and last version that lets me run 32bit stuff. Except that It’s slow. And unstable. No progress was seemingly made.

Trying to search ‘why is my Macintosh slow’ is, well a total waste of time. And it periodically locks hard making it extremely annoying.

Somehow I found this thread over on Apple support:

I have a quad-core CPU Mac Pro late 2013 (Model Identifier: MacPro6,1).  MacOS X 10.9.5. 
I have had all sorts of USB devices hooked up to it.  At any one time, I usually have all 4 ports filled.  I have a 3TB USB 3.0 disk that stores my large files, a USB mouse and keyboard (logitech with a usb mini dongle), a cable to charge my logitech USB cordless mouse, Lightning cable to my iPhone 5, and other things that I rotate in and out, like CF card reader, Audio Box USB audio interface from PreSonus, Sony Webcam, etc. 
About 3 months into having the Mac Pro, I noticed that my keyboard went dead in the middle of using it.  The mouse was dead too.  I blamed the RF dongle that they both share, because the Apple Magic Trackpad (bluetooth) I have still functioned.  Try as I might, I couldn't get the keyboard or mouse to work again, so I used the Magic Trackpad to restart the machine, and then my keyboard and mouse worked again. 
It wasn't until later that I realized that all the USB busses on the machine had frozen or "died" temporarily.  I realized it later because my USB hard drive complained about being "ejected improperly." 
Now I have had the USB die on the Mac Pro at least 15 times over the last month and a half.  Usually once every two days or so. 
I have tried (almost one by one) using some of the USB devices on the mac, and removing others to ascertain if it's a certain USB device that is causing this.  But the odd thing is that I never get a message from the OS like "xxx USB device is drawing too much power." 
I'm going a little nuts here because I cannot see any rhyme or reason to the USB interface lock ups.  And each time it happens, all the USB devices go dead until I restart.  Sometimes, I'm able to SSH into the machine from my iPhone and issue a "shutdown -h now" and even though I see the Mac OS X UI shutdown, it never fully halts.  I often have to hold the power button to get the machine to turn off. 
I really can't say if it's software related, hardware related or what.  I've tried to watch my workflow carefully to see if anything seems to make a pattern, but nothing yet. 
Any suggestions? Is anyone else seeing behavior like this?  Do we think it's a USB device... or is my Mac Pro flakey? -- Cheule

Wait the USB?

And to follow up, this thread over on Apple, that mentions:

"When I plugged in the same config on my new machine USB 3.0 directly it was very weird, devices would not remount and only show up if they were then when present at startup, and thruput was sluggish.  So I stopped using the in built USB 3.0 and grabbe the old belkin thunderbolt USB hub, and BAM it all works perfectly.  Better than that after testing the throuput , the belkin gave me 30-50% better performance that the inbuilt USB, that is without any hubs just direct." -- symonty Gresham

And sure enough another search about the USB setup seems to confirm it from Anandtech

Here we really get to see how much of a mess Intel’s workstation chipset lineup is: the C600/X79 PCH doesn’t natively support USB 3.0. That’s right, it’s nearly 2014 and Intel is shipping a flagship platform without USB 3.0 support. The 8th PCIe lane off of the PCH is used by a Fresco Logic USB 3.0 controller. I believe it’s the FL1100, which is a PCIe 2.0 to 4-port USB 3.0 controller. 

Unreal. I notice as I try to use the machine more occasionally the mouse turns itself off. Replugging the mouse shows it powering up and immediately powering off. I turn on the annoying backlight of the keyboard, and yeah it powers down too, however reinserting it brings it back to life. Luckily I still have this A1296 Apple Wireless Magic Mouse with me, so I pair that and unplug the mouse, and everything else USB.

Mad Catz, the Mac KILLER
This mouse killed my Mac Pro

It was the mouse. I can’t believe it either. I am simply blown away how this could possibly be a thing. I haven’t ordered the thunderbolt to USB dock yet, as I really didn’t want to spend any money on this thing, it was a grab and go solution, that has proven itself not so much grab and go.

Finally getting somewhere

After 6 hours of working yesterday, I shut it down to give it a break for a few hours, and it’s been up some 12 hours so far, pain free. In 2022, the Xeon E5v2 processor just really isn’t worth lugging around, but I already had it, so when it comes to transport, it actually works out pretty well. I wonder if this would have been a good traveling solution 2013 onward, but the fact a mouse could basically bring the machine down makes me think I’d have gone totally insane trying this on the road. Just as the USB Win/Alt/Alt GR/FN keys not being able to trigger the recovery mode was also crazy.

I don’t know why Apple insists on such fragile machines, but maybe the new Arm stuff is better? I can’t justify one at the moment.

Updates in the field

I’m working on getting some local retro kit, and I’ll have more fun coming up. But this fun experience ate 4 days of my life, and the least I could do is document it. I don’t know if it’ll help anyone in the future, maybe once these become iconic collectable, like the Mac Cube. Although as a former cube owner, those at least didn’t freak out when you used a 3rd party mouse.

YouTube Monday video Extravaganza!

First up, a friend of the blog, NCommander has his 8.5 hour marathon ‘Porting 16-bit Windows 1.0 Applications to 64-Bit Windows 11

I was so tired I ended up sleeping through the whole thing. Sometimes it’s hard being on the other side of the planet. But for anyone interested in Windows programming it’ll be super interesting in how much has changed, and yet how much things haven’t changed.


Damn!

As an added bonus, 65scribe has also blessed us with not only another great retrospective on iMacs, but also our favorite museum in Ontario, but left us with a cliff hanger (minor spoiler!).

Blue and Ice

I never knew about the artic blue ice thing before. Maybe it’s a coincidence, but who knows?!

Re-visiting Gopher on A/UX

Rather unintentionally some 7 years ago (to the day!) I was playing with an early gopher server on Linux, musing that one day it’d be cool to run it fully on A/UX (what is it anyways?!). And thanks to Qemu’s 68040 support the time is at hand.

First off I need to run this on Linux so I’ll need to build the appropriate branch myself. Thankfully Cat_7 has boiled it down to a really simple formula:

git clone -b q800.upstream https://www.gitlab.com/mcayland/qemu q800-upstream
cd q800-upstream
./configure --target-list=m68k-softmmu --enable-gtk --enable-sdl
make

In my case I remove the gtk and sdl as I’m running this headless.

Now onto the OS itself. While I had numerous images built over the years for Shoebill there was one major issue when compared to Qemu, and that is Shoebill loads the kernel directly while Qemu emulates the hardware so it will boot MacOS 7 directly. While on the surface this is mundane that does mean however that none of my images will actually work on Qemu as they don’t include a blessed copy of System 7. Not that I care that much I could always do a simple dump/restore [ dump.bsd 0f – /dev/rdsk/c0d0s0 | (cd /mnt; restore xf -) ] of my A/UX stuff that I care about anyways. Luckily since I had added that SCSI file support to Cockatrice I could still partition out some disks and install from there.

Now for the further bit of bad news for me is that I found that the 68020 based Shoebill ran 3.0.0 far more stable than 3.0.1 or 3.1. So I’d built everything around 3.0.0. And of course trying to boot 3.0.0 on a Quadra 800 just gives you a hard lock up. I don’t have the setup disk for 3.0.0 but mounting the CD-ROM gives you access to the disk tool (the 3.0.0 version doesn’t check for the Apple string on SCSI ROMS so you can partition with that as well). Anyways too much time thinking I’d done something wrong until this had to be pointed out to me:

Compatibility matrix from penelope

That’s right, 3.0.0 doesn’t run on the Quadra 800. Much longer ago I had a Quadra 950, fantastic beast of a machine, and yes it ran 3.0.0 just great. So shockingly running the right versions got me up to a working system just fine.

Now of course back in the Shoebill days I got ‘3.0.1’ kind of working by cheating. The /mac programs didn’t work on Shoebill however I could copy them over from 3.0.0 to get a working system. Could I substitute a 3.0.1 kernel & /mac directory onto a 3.0.0 system?

So first up the System 7 install from A/UX 3.0.0 is too old for a Quadra 800. Obviously just use the one from 3.0.1. Great.

This lead to a problem where the root filesystem always needs to be checked in single user mode. Something that is shockingly hard to do when your Quadra runs so fast as you have less than a second to hit the ‘top’ button to halt the autoload.

Naturally the standalone runs fine, with no errors.

Thinking that it’s the start-up scripts I remove all the fsck’s and then get this message:

Great a kernel panic. ialloc: dup alloc. Thinking that maybe it’s confusing the UFS, I go ahead and format the disk in SYSV and restore the image onto that.

This gets me another kernel panic, this time no root filesystem. Surprise the SYSV filesystem was made optional in a default install. I run ‘newconfig sysv’ from 3.0.1 and copy that kernel back, and for good measure the shared libraries from 3.0.1. Now I get a different error:

Interesting, I try to hit restart, and instead I get dumped into text mode!

Victory!

So here we are a 3.0.1 kernel with a 3.0.0 userland! I’m going to use this as a server anyways so I don’t really care about the Mac UI. Naturally so many twists and turns I’ll just skip to the end. Networking didn’t work correctly. Maybe I should have copied all the network stuff from 3.0.1 over but at this point it’s basically a 3.0.1 system so why even bother?

So the next thing of course is just to setup Qemu to listen on a loopback and add some disks. A lot of disks.

./qemu-system-m68k \
-L pc-bios \
-m 256 \
-M q800 \
-vnc 10.11.0.1:35 \
-serial stdio \
-bios Quadra800.rom \
-net nic,model=dp83932,netdev=ne -netdev user,id=ne,hostfwd=tcp:10.11.0.1:42323-:23,hostfwd=tcp:10.11.0.1:40070-:70,hostfwd=tcp:10.11.0.1:40080-:80 \
-drive file=pram-aux.img,format=raw,if=mtd \
-device scsi-hd,scsi-id=0,drive=hd0,vendor="SEAGATE",product="ST225N",ver="1.0" \
-drive file=scsi0.vmdk,media=disk,format=vmdk,if=none,id=hd0 \
-device scsi-hd,scsi-id=1,drive=hd1,vendor="SEAGATE",product="ST225N",ver="1.1" \
-drive file=scsi1.vmdk,media=disk,format=vmdk,if=none,id=hd1 \
-device scsi-hd,scsi-id=2,drive=hd2,vendor="SEAGATE",product="ST225N",ver="1.2" \
-drive file=scsi2.vmdk,media=disk,format=vmdk,if=none,id=hd2 \
-device scsi-hd,scsi-id=3,drive=hd3,vendor="SEAGATE",product="ST225N",ver="1.3" \
-drive file=scsi3.vmdk,media=disk,format=vmdk,if=none,id=hd3 \
-device scsi-hd,scsi-id=4,drive=hd4,vendor="SEAGATE",product="ST225N",ver="1.4" \
-drive file=scsi4.vmdk,media=disk,format=vmdk,if=none,id=hd4 \
-device scsi-hd,scsi-id=5,drive=hd5,vendor="SEAGATE",product="ST225N",ver="1.5" \
-drive file=scsi5.vmdk,media=disk,format=vmdk,if=none,id=hd5 \
-device scsi-hd,scsi-id=6,drive=hd6,vendor="SEAGATE",product="ST225N",ver="1.6" \
-drive file=scsi6.vmdk,media=disk,format=vmdk,if=none,id=hd6
Yeah well… great!?

One nice thing is that since we are on Qemu I don’t have to use raw disk images, I can zero stuff out and use VMDK’s. Nice. I guess I could bridge the VM later, but for now NAT is fine enough as all I need is telnet & gopher. So I grab gopher2_3.1.tar.gz, rebuild and move over my gopher site from Linux into A/UX and I’m up and running in no time. It was shockingly easy. I update a few things to reflect it running on A/UX now.

Currently 2 days of uptime!

And just like that I took my semi popular gopher site, and moved it to A/UX seven years after thinking that this would be a ‘good idea(tm)’. I’m sure it won’t backfire spectacularly.

I don’t know if any of this is useful or interesting but it was to me. It’s been nice that Qemu has been able to keep uptime in several days, I had 3 days of uptime before I took it down to max out the storage so I could possibly do more with it.

Naturally it’s still available as gopher://gopher.superglobalmegacorp.com

Qemu’s Macintosh Quadra in alpha usability! (runs A/UX!)

I’m being a bit unfair as far as Alpha’s go it’s rough to get going but wow it’s GREAT! For starters it’s a Quadra 800 so System 7.1 through 8.1 will work. Also this has full 68040 capabilities so yes that means MMU and YES A/UX (and NetBSD!) will run

As always you can find more on emaculation, the best source for news and info on emulating the Mac.

Additionally you can find the setup guide here.

Many of my Shoebill/Cockatrice III images didn’t work at all. Some at least were picked up as blank disks. I had less luck with freshly created raw/vmdk or qcow2 disks. Not sure at all. My minimal 7 2gb disk worked fine as a donor, and even converting to a vmdk was fine. Sooo YMMV. But hey it’s an Alpha and YES IT CAN WORK.

Another plus is that the idle loop works fine so it won’t burn 100% of your CPU. This could possibly be a great gopher server!? Time will tell.

Presenting MacFlim

This is beyond super cool! Video has always been something of the realm of ‘high end’ machines, back when QuickTime became a thing it was lauded at running in a postage stamp sized window with absolutely incredible artifacting. And that was running with a Quadra (68040) back in the day, the transition from 68000 to PowerPC really helped with video on the desktop with much faster clocks and better caching.

The idea of video on any of the compact black & white Macs, even the ultra high end SE/30 68030 based Mac seemed something out of fantasy. But thanks to modern processors, massive storage and the ability to front process the video, it is now possible to do playback on a B&W mac!

Enter MacFilm 1.0 by Fred!

This is some super cool ‘impossible’ tech for the low end macs!

This is nothing short of incredible!

Of course the ‘downside’ is there is no audio.. And it’s directly blitting to the 512×342 B&W display so if you are not running on a 1 bit original display it’s not going to work or just blast seemingly junk to the screen.

Maybe if big 80’s media wasn’t so slow, or massive SCSI disks didn’t cost as much as a car we could have been enjoying an almost Brazilian future of black and white movies on tiny CRT’s.

HFS Utillities

I got a question the other day about how to easily move files in and out of Cockatrice III, especially since as part of my ‘try to make it stable by cutting features out’ approach I removed the ability to mount foreign directories under Basilisk II.

For my personal use, I have an AppleTalk LAN, and I just use a Windows NT 4.0 server with AppleTalk, as a file server/proxy and that works pretty good for me, so much so that I didn’t even think of any other way of doing this.

HFV Explorer 1.3.1

One of the quickest and easiest is HFV Explorer, however the ‘catch’ being it doesn’t read SCSI disk images (aka things with partition maps). But for the ‘massive floppy’ images it’s more than fine.

HFSUtils is another approach, it’s like the old ‘MS-DOS utils’ of ancient Unix days, allowing you to ‘mount’ a disk image, and copy files in and out. I thought I’d give this a spin to copy Marathon into my virtual OS 8.1 image. It’s pretty straight forward first ‘mount’ the disk image:

C:\Cockatrice>hmount.exe scsi0.dsk
C:\Cockatrice/scsi0.dsk: contains 1 HFS partition
Volume name is "SCSI0"
Volume was created on Sat May 19 14:04:04 2018
Volume was last modified on Mon Nov 16 14:59:02 2020
Volume has 1056545280 bytes free

Now make a directory:

C:\Cockatrice>hmkdir scsi0:xfer:

And then copy in the file:

C:\Cockatrice>hcopy marathon.sit scsi0:xfer:

C:\Cockatrice>hdir scsi0:xfer:
f  ????/UNIX         0   5627676 Nov 16 15:34 scsi0:xfer:

C:\Cockatrice>

And just like that it’s there!

And yes it unstuffs!

And just like that we have downloaded a game from the garden, copied it into a virtual SCSI disk, and gotten it to run, from the painful CLI.

Wasn’t that great!?

Cockatrice III 0.5a update

Here’s to US!

Well this is a ‘small’ update, but with a big change, the audio is for the most part working great now thanks to this fix from rakslice. Namely changing SDL to MSB:

desired.format = AUDIO_S16MSB;

And another MinGW tweak, and yeah it’s GREAT!

Even stuff like RealAudio work now! I’ll add some self hosted video later as it’d just get struck from anything public.

Also since the RealAudio player is timebombed for installing, I added some lazy offset to remove however many billions of ticks from the clock letting you jump in some random point in the past when it won’t care.

I guess the final if any justification for a bump would be rebuilding with GCC 8.1.0 on MinGW. I somehow butchered the slirp.h to make it too MinGW’ish so it won’t clean build on Linux or OS X, but I have re-butchered a private branch and it works.. I just need to merge and clean but I’m not in the mood at the moment.

I could be crazy but it “feels” faster.

At any rate, I found that System 7 is more agreeable to running Return to Zork, just use some toast image mounter from within MacOS, and it’ll run!

Also there is some ULONGLONG weirdness going on, so I had to backout Peter’s changes for larger disks. No doubt some standard type thing change in GCC 8.

You can download binaries/source from Sourceforge.

Download Cockatrice III
Download Cockatrice III

So I was offered a MacPro 6.1 aka the trashcan.

And well it’s a Mac. I did the Windows Key + R to boot into recovery mode and install some old version of OS X over the internet. Nice.

I updated to Catalina and kind of forgot about the break with the ‘awesome world of home 32bit computing’ as it’s all 64bit now.

Needless to say none of my favourite stuff runs.

I’ve been maintaining a subscription to Crossover for a while, as I really like to support the future of Wine. I know a while back they too had the 64bit freakout, but they apparently found some shim to keep on running Win32 apps. And sure enough I loaded up my old Fortran Power Station bottle and it actually run!

Fortran on OS X!

Sadly SQL Server 4.21 seems to lock up, but it has been doing that under Wine when I last gave up on OS X a few years back. I tried some Win16 games (SimCity) and it bombed out. Looks like there is no support for Win16 apps. Pitty.

Steam is 64bit now, however none of Valve’s hits that have 64bit versions for Windows have made the 64bit leap for OS X. I have a feeling it’ll never happen as OS X users are so few and far between they are literally outnumbered by Linux users.

I did fire-up Subnautica, and of course the PC with the RTX 2070 blows this thing away. Although it’s hardly a fare competition. But who wants to play fare?

It’s far too early to really tell, and who knows I might just wipe this thing and install Windows. In my opinion OS X 10.6 was the greatest release ever bridging the divide from PowerPC to x86, just as 10.2.7 on the G5 was the greatest PowerPC version to bridge that 68000 divide. I still have that G5, but now my 2006 machine is dead. I’ve seen them in the used stores for around $100 USD. Although I don’t know if I can be bothered as they are incredibly heavy. And I’m pretty sure 10.6 will run on VMWare thanks to hackintosh efforts.

Also I should add as a personal note, my 2006 MacPro 1,1 died. I let someone else use it, and she broke it in one day. I’ve had it for years, several moves in the USA, then to Canada, then to Hong Kong. It died with only one day on the job. Sad.

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.