Installing Leopard on the G4 Cube

CubeLeopardHeader.jpg

The PowerMac G4 Cube, arguably the coolest computer on planet Earth, is not supported by operating systems later than Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger, but there are many reasons you may want to run a later system. For me the main incentive to upgrade was that Apple dropped Tiger support with the release of iTunes 10, which means a Cube on 10.4 can not partake in the wonders of Home Sharing.

The minimum system requirements for installing Leopard on a PowerPC based Mac is an 867 MHz processor and 512 MB of RAM. The memory requirement isn't really a problem since the Cube supports up to 1.5 GB, and you wouldn't want to run Leopard on any less than 512 MB anyway. The processor speed requirement, however, is a problem since the fastest (unmodified) Cube runs at 500 MHz. Luckily there is a way to fool the Leopard installer's system requirements check by temporarily modifying the processor speed reported by the firmware.

Back up your Tiger

First off you'll want to create a bootable backup of your internal disk on a firewire drive. Do this using SuperDuper! or a similar tool, and make sure you can really boot from the backup drive.

No really, do not go on until you have succesfully booted from your backup and made sure it works.

Set the startup disk

CubeStartupDisk.jpg

Put your Leopard installation disk in your DVD slot, or copy it onto a firewire drive if your Cube can't read DVDs. Then set the installation disk as your Startup Disk in the System Preferences so that on next restart your Cube will boot from it and start the installation.

Modify Open Firmware

CubeOpenFirmware.jpg

Restart your Cube, and hold Opt-Cmd-O-F during boot to enter the Open Firmware prompt. You will now temporarily set the reported CPU speed to 867 MHz and then continue booting. To accomplish this you will type some commands on the prompt, Open Firmware will respond with an 'ok' message after each understood command. The reported speed will revert back to the original value after next reboot.

For single CPU systems type the following three commands exactly as shown.

dev /cpus/PowerPC,G4@0

d# 867000000 encode-int " clock-frequency" property

mac-boot

For dual CPU systems use the following five lines.

dev /cpus/PowerPC,G4@0

d# 867000000 encode-int " clock-frequency" property

dev /cpus/PowerPC,G4@1

d# 867000000 encode-int " clock-frequency" property

mac-boot

Continue with the installation normally, and eventually end up with a Leopard Cube.

CubeInstallation.jpg

Thanks to MacRob on CubeOwner.com for turning me onto this solution.

Phil Schiller and the case with the missing menu bar [Updated]

I just watched the video stream of Phil Schiller giving the Macworld keynote presentation.  I am as usual hugely impressed with the software Apple churns out, this time the addition of face detection and recognition to iPhoto was my personal favorite new feature. Look out Phil, $79 is coming your way.

The one thing, though, that stuck in my mind more than anything about the presentation was the mysteriously missing Mac menu bar in the demo of the new iWork.com service.

First Phil prepared a document for sharing using Pages on his computer.

 Phil with the menu bar

Phil with the menu bar

He then switched to the fictional user Tia's computer to show us what she would experience on the receiving end. Tia's computer however didn't have the Mac menu bar at the top of the screen.

 Look, no menu bar

Look, no menu bar

I have had a slight look around to figure out how to hide the menu bar in Leopard, but to no avail. This begs the question, can it be done or was Phil not using Leopard in the demo?

By the way, good news about all iTunes songs being DRM free! Finally I can commence my long planned iTunes shopping spree.

UPDATE: The iWork.com demo starts at 1.01.20 into the video stream.

A few thoughts about the Cocoa Bootcamp

This fall I attended Aaron Hillegass' Cocoa Bootcamp at Big Nerd Ranch. I had planned to write up my thoughts about the experience earlier, but life (and work) interrupted.

After being confirmed for the class I made travel arrangements to arrive in Atlanta one day early to adjust to the time difference, and also to get a chance to see a little of Atlanta itself. I ended up having time to both visit the Apple Store at Lenox Square Mall and visiting the Georgia Dome for a taste of the NFL (the Broncos visiting the Falcons). I'm really happy I made the decision to fly in early, as I had a very good time in town.

 NFL action

NFL action

On Sunday I ventured back to the airport via the subway to be picked up by the Big Nerd Ranch shuttle. While waiting at the baggage claim area I met a few other attendees and then the shuttle came by to pick us all up for transport to The Historic Banning Mills, where dinner was waiting for us. We were provided with a nice room each, overlooking a beautiful valley.

 The Historic Banning Mills

The Historic Banning Mills

 Spectacular views all around

Spectacular views all around

The next morning the Bootcamp got going, and within minutes Aaron had us coding our first app. The class followed Aaron's book Cocoa Programming for Mac OS X, with Aaron explaining some concept from each chapter and then having us using the learned concepts in code. There were also a couple of things covered which aren't in the book, for example an iPhone project. The frequent coding assignments and the opportunity to raise any questions with Aaron or any of the other students was a very efficient way of learning.

The pace in the classroom was intense, but every afternoon also provided the chance for a brief walk around the beautiful scenery, with Aaron himself as guide. This was a good opportunity to catch your breath, think about what you had just learned in a broader perspective, and to take a few photos.

 Aaron goes for a walk

Aaron goes for a walk

Every day we were provided with no less than three huge and delicious meals, I think I ate more good food during the Cocoa Bootcamp than I will during Christmas, which says a lot. There were also snacks and soft drinks provided in the classroom, so no risk of going without energy. A good thing, since it did take quite a bit of energy keeping up with the learning tempo.

I think it would probably have been possible to learn pretty much what the class teaches by yourself by spending a couple of weeks or months with the book. I tried to go down that route this summer, but kept getting side tracked. Nevertheless I must reiterate - the book is a must buy for any newcomer to the platform. 

I'm really glad I took the class since it propelled me right past the first plateau in the learning curve and I now feel comfortable using Xcode and the Interface Builder. The opportunity to ask questions and have Aaron and others help debugging problems encountered during the assignments totally eliminated the frustrations encountered when trying to learn from reading a book on your own. The distraction free surroundings also helped me focus my mind on the task at hand.

I would say the Cocoa Bootcamp is probably the perfect way to get started with Cocoa development for the Mac. I'm happy, though, that I asked my employer to cover the costs when negotiating my contract for employment, as it is not exactly cheap. Nevertheless, if you can afford it I think that the Cocoa Bootcamp provides good value for the money spent.

A further advantage was that I got to meet a great, and diverse, group of people dedicated to software development and the Mac platform. The attendants were from all over the US, even some local to the area, as well as a couple of us Europeans.

If you attend the Cocoa Bootcamp, you'll leave having the confidence and understanding necessary to take on true Cocoa development projects. Let's hope something like that comes my way eventually, even though my day job is currently strictly .NET.

I'll make good use of my newfound knowledge in my spare time either way. Stay tuned...

En route to Atlanta for the Cocoa Bootcamp

I'm just now at the airport, waiting to board the plane which will take me to Atlanta and the Cocoa Bootcamp. This is a trip I've been looking forward to for over a year.

I have prepared for the course by reading most of Aaron Hilegass' book Cocoa Programming for Mac OS X, and of course by meddling with iPhone development. But I have always found it easier to learn by interacting with knowledgeable people, so this will be my big chance to really get to grips with the parts of the Cocoa framework which I haven't been able to grasp. 

The Interface Builder has been my biggest stumbling block so far, leading to me writing all interfaces in my iPhone applications in code. So I hope to come away from this week with new insights into how it's supposed to be used. Interface Builder is a very different beast compared to the .NET Visual Studio experience I'm used to. However, I fully expect it to be superior once I can wrap my mind around it. It is an Apple product after all.

Judging by his book, Aaron has a knack for systematically introducing progressively more complex concepts in a very clear and easy to follow manner. I thoroughly recommend his book to anyone new to Objective-C and Cocoa. I think I may be able to finish it during the flight.

I'll summarize my experience at the Big Nerd Ranch in an upcoming post.

And off we go!

So Amazon shipped Aaron Hillegass's book across the Atlantic in record time and I'm already one chapter in. I took some time yesterday to watch the CocoaHeads Best of Both Worlds video before diving in.

What I take away from the video presentation is to always respect the user's space, to keep it simple and to put an extraordinary amount of thought into getting the GUI just right.

The book (Cocoa Programming for Mac OS X) so far seems to be just what the doctor ordered, but I'll withhold my recommendation until I'm at least half way in.

Summer reading

Scott Stevenson points out that the third edition of Aaron Hillegass' book Cocoa Programming for Mac OS X has been released. Since it appears to be a sort of Cocoa newbie bible I went ahead and ordered it immediately. The affordable price also helps of course.

Let's call this my first major step towards becoming proficient in Cocoa. Now I know what to do with my summer vacation after the Euro 2008 finals have played out.