Running Panther on a BW G3 350 MHz painful?

in macOS edited January 2014
I tried it out just to see how well it would run, expecting the worse. To my surprise, it runs rather well. Too well, actually. As in, I just cannot reconcile how it is possible for it to run this well. I would have absolutely no issues using this setup. Aside from screensavers and subtly scaled down visual effects, the responsiveness is damn near equivalent to my iBook G4 800 MHz (with maxed out RAM). I would go so far as to say that the BW may actually be a bit snappier, being unburdened from supporting the fancier UI tweaks.

My question is, how can it be that over 100% more MHz, altivec acceleration, almost 100% more RAM, fancy DDR memory (vs. ridiculously ancient PC100), and a videocard that is 3 generations more advanced can't do anything than blow my BW away when it comes to running Panther? I'm not trying to brag at all about my old, old machine. I'm just awestruck at how tiny the performance gulf is. I still get the AA, the fancy window swooshes minimizing to the dock, smooth icon magnifications in the dock- everything is generally still "lickable". The only obvious things missing are the high-quality crossfades between desktop wallpapers (though I think the screensaver image crossfades are still intact), and a particular screensaver module that utilizes bumpmapping with the "searchlights".

I don't know if it is a tribute to good software development that Panther runs this well on ancient hardware, or how can it be that 1996 hardware can seem remotely close to 2003 hardware when running a heavy duty OS? The only thing really in the BW's favor in this setup is a harddrive that manages sub-30 MB/s kinds of data throughput (maybe even more if it weren't for the ATA33 level IDE interface of the computer) vs. the sub-10 MB/s harddrive in the iBook.

I know it isn't exactly realistic, but something makes me wonder if it were possible to "turn-off" Quartz extreme on my iBook, all that hardware resource would be unleashed and OSX would run with all the docility and lag-free-ness of faithful ole OS9... Yeah, I know that is crazy talk, but it just seems like all this resource is being bled away somewhere just to make the UI 5% more fancy. Anybody else notice this or have some input on the matter?

Also, does anybody know why target firewire mode runs like a banshee, but IP over firewire (networked mode) over that same cable is doddling along at maybe 1 MB/s or so? ...or is there some other setting between my 2 networked computers that needs tweaking?


  • Reply 1 of 17
    andersanders Posts: 6,523member
    I can only confirm your observation. I have discovered the same with a used $300 466 mhz G4 powermac vs. a $1200 800 mhz G4 iBook. All the Extreme stuff runs smooth on the powermac while I can´t say about theiBook.
  • Reply 2 of 17
    randycat99randycat99 Posts: 1,919member
    Well, that's the part I find most peculiar (not that I was suggesting that iBook performance was in some way inadequate- w/o having other references, it just gave me the impression that it was working hard to run a very demanding OS). I was to understand that the videocards in these old Yosemite/Yikes/Sawtooth units were pre-Quartz Extreme architectures. So there isn't much they could really accelerate in that regard. So I was under the impression that by running Panther on an old Powermac, this is essentially how Panther runs with most, if not all, Quartz Extreme stuff disabled. What remains is all CPU-supported. That said, Panther seems to do quite well on even old CPU's once the burden of Quartz Extreme is removed (from the host videocard or CPU-assistance, whatever the case may be). All of the video gimmickery is still there in part (say 95%), and only a touch jerky, but by no means laggy or obstrusive to user control. This is completely understandable as this is running on a CPU 1/3 to 1/5 the clockrate of up-to-date CPU's and a GPU with a paltry amount of VRAM (by today's standards), for systems intended to run OSX to its fullest glory.

    So that brings to question, just how much does OSX really lean on those fancy things such as Altivec and special GPU functions? From a layman's point-of-view, it seems very little in actuality, or perhaps to the degree of very subtle visual refinements. In a way, this is good (suggesting very lean and clean programming- not sloppy or bloated), but at the same time, where is all this hubbub coming from about how OSX is optimized to really take advantage of these fancy computing gizmetry (namely Altivec and 3D GPU-assist operations). I guess I am curious to know specifically what sort of fancy things this Quartz Extreme really makes possible? How pervasive is it really? ..or is it really still in a state of implemental infancy in actuality, where the far, far more intensive stuff is planned in the future?
  • Reply 3 of 17
    neutrino23neutrino23 Posts: 1,529member
    Some of this can be explained by the hardware. If you check xbench scores I'll bet that BW tower posts a better score for disk access and memory access than the laptop does.
  • Reply 4 of 17
    randycat99randycat99 Posts: 1,919member
    You could be on to something there, and I would certainly suspect that had it been a laptop and BW Powermac from the same era. However, this is a laptop that is what, like 4 technology generations away from the BW? I would have thought that would be enough to well exceed the BW's capabilities even considering laptop hardware architecture (with the exception of the HD, perhaps). It's a shame if it doesn't, though. \

    I realize marketing tech specs aren't stone cold reliable by any means, but why isn't this "sub-par-ness" even lightly suggested by the numbers? 133 Mhz memory bus, DDR memory goodness, and I would think the disk controller is at least ATA-66 level, no? So where is there room in those specs for "bad" performance? (not calling you out- just addressing anyone, in general, for their thoughts)

    The only thing that sticks out is the slower, laptop style HD (which really isn't all that "slow" by even Yosemite-era standards). As an aside, I should cite that moving files off the HD to an external drive through USB2 is fricken smokin' (far more than I have ever witnessed my BW ever doing), so I am not so convinced it is the HD that is particularly bottlenecking things. ...but all that should matter very little as it is ground into our heads that OSX will use all of your RAM to cache stuff you are working on, right? So if my iBook RAM capacity is max'd out, and OSX is making good use of all of it, then how does it end up with all of these RAM cache misses just running the UI as you work? It just doesn't "add up", imo! (not that I am expecting an answer on this from anybody- this is more of a rant, at this point )
  • Reply 5 of 17
    dobbydobby Posts: 794member
    Don't forget that the B&W 400,450MHz macs out performed the very first 400,450mhz g4's (was this sawtooth?) as well.

  • Reply 6 of 17
    randycat99randycat99 Posts: 1,919member
    I believe those were the short-lived "Yikes" models.
  • Reply 7 of 17
    Is it possible that processor cycling features, typical in laptop designs, exact a significant performance hit in something such as latency?
  • Reply 8 of 17
    kickahakickaha Posts: 8,760member
    Not to mention that MacOS X is very intelligent in scaling back for less capable hardware. If the iBook has hardware that passes a certain threshold for enabling some technology, but just barely, then it's going to be just getting through a higher workload than the B/W will.

    FWIW, I have Panther Server running on a 350MHz B/W and it does just jimdandy.
  • Reply 9 of 17
    That's the thing that boggles me- I don't really see anything missing (wrt actual services), save for very subtle graphics touches. It just seems strange that a "quantum" jump in hardware (Ok, exaggerating a bit) can get loaded up by what seems to be very minor graphics touches. From my layman's standpoint, OSX seems functionally equivalent (which is good, of course).
  • Reply 10 of 17
    ebbyebby Posts: 3,110member
    This was the No 1. reason I kept OS 9 as long as I did. I have a 333Mhz Minitower and a 400Mhz Pismo and JUST-FOR-FUN I installed OSX on it this January and I was blown away at how fast it was on such old hardware. I noticed shadows and transparencies sometimes don't work (things that use Quartz) but I don't mind much. I still have OS 9 on my minitower to run old programs like Pro Tools.
  • Reply 11 of 17
    Here, here! I, too, keep a functional OS9 around just to remember those "low latency" days. Here's to those days when you could load up a wicked Kaleidoscope and sound scheme, and you could still expect menus to pop open at the snap of a finger along with the corresponding sound effect in perfect syncronization. Sometimes in OSX, I'll get the "open new window" sound effect a full second after the window was opened, and I just think to myself, "How tacky." (like why even bother with the sound effect if it is going to come that late, right?)
  • Reply 12 of 17
    xoolxool Posts: 2,460member

    Originally posted by Randycat99

    like why even bother with the sound effect if it is going to come that late, right?

    Do you wonder why a haxie is needed?
  • Reply 13 of 17
    randycat99randycat99 Posts: 1,919member
    Sorry, that flew right over my head. I don't even know what a "haxie" is!
  • Reply 14 of 17
    placeboplacebo Posts: 5,767member
    Well, I ran Jaguar on a beige G3/300, and it worked better than you would think.

    I can only assume that it would be anything but worse with 50 more MHz and a later OS.
  • Reply 15 of 17
    kickahakickaha Posts: 8,760member

    Originally posted by Xool

    Do you wonder why a haxie is needed?

    Right, because adding another layer of code and possible security holes/bugs is going to make it faster and better behaved. :/
  • Reply 16 of 17
    randycat99randycat99 Posts: 1,919member
    I also keep forgetting to voice my kudos to OSX developers for making OSX boot so friggin quickly. Even on my BW, it's just a hop, skip, and a jump before the login screen is waiting for me. I would go so far as to say that OSX beats the daylights out of my copy of OS9 (and it's myraid of extra extensions) when it comes to booting up.

    Anything special of note wrt how OSX does this so well?
  • Reply 17 of 17

    Originally posted by Kickaha


    FWIW, I have Panther Server running on a 350MHz B/W and it does just jimdandy.

    This funky 350MHz B/W is your true madeleine, isn't it?
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