Mixed results from Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger on older G4s

I’ve been plugging away on a Power Macintosh G4 dual 1.25 GHz MDD with 2 GB RAM for the past few years now. Overall she’s been a more than adequate workhorse running all previous versions of Mac OS X with no issues whatsoever. When Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger was released I was enamored by Spotlight as I’d been waiting for that specific feature for almost two years now. As I’m an Apple Developer Connection member I immediately upgraded both my desktop G4 and my Powerbook G4 with my free copy of Tiger.

Now I’m not saying the upgrade was a mistake but it wasn’t without its idiosyncrasies. It fixed a lot. It introduced a lot of new features. But Tiger has been responsible for making both of my systems feel sluggish for the first time since I purchased them. Not quite molasses in January sluggish but dirty air intake sluggish. And I’m pretty sure it all boils down to Spotlight dutifully chugging away in the background.

Spotlight has been a lifesaver albeit a mixed blessing; the G4 doesn’t have enough horsepower to take full advantage of realtime search and indexing. Importing a few thousand images from my camera results in a twenty minute CPU spike and a basically unusable system. Same goes for Photo Mechanic and any other files that create cache files on the fly. Spotlight sees the new file, starts processing, and slows the machine down to a crawl.

My only true regret about upgrading to Tiger is X11. It’s broken. Completely busted. Borked. Kafuckled. I rely on X11 for all Pepper Pad development and Tiger has made X11 completely unreliable with broken cut and paste, focus issues, windowing issues, authentication issues, randomly crashing shells, bad window geometry, and the occasional disappearing window. Nothing serious—it’s just made UNIX completely unusable.

Hopefully everything will fix itself sometime in the next month or so as Apple starts releasing more updates.

2 thoughts on “Mixed results from Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger on older G4s”

  1. Hmm, I’m having problems with X11 in Tiger too. Are we expecting a fix soon? I rely on X11 not as a developer but because I use Gimp regularly on Mac OS X.

  2. Ack, and here we are in December, 10.4.3, and still broken..? I upgraded a user’s machine to Tiger so she could have a working LaTeX setup, and one of the GUI ones required it — only to have her come back and complain about exmh not working any longer.

    For the curious, the error she gets when trying to launch it is,

    X Error of failed request: BadAtom (invalid Atom parameter)
    Major opcode of failed request: 18 (X-ChangeProperty)
    Atom id in failed request: 0xb6
    Serial number of failed request: 13
    Current serial number in output stream: 16

    Sigh.

    Thom Brooks
    Adler Planetarium and Astronomy Museum
    Chicago, IL

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