PowerPC heroes

A few posts back Zen, who always tells it like it is, gave credit where credit was due and nominated some PowePC friends among us. I’d like to go a step further and nominate some PowerPC heroes among us. My definition of a hero is someone who goes above and beyond the call of duty, and these folks have certainly done that for a platform Apple abandoned many years ago now.

Cameron Kaiser

For those who don’t know Dr. Kaiser (yup, he is a bona-fide MD, with degree, and unlike this DVM can also code) is the man, the myth, the legend behind both Classilla and Tenfourfox. During the day he practices the finer medical arts on homo sapiens. At night he is almost single handedly is keeping viable browsers alive on not one, but two PowerPC operating systems. In 2013 this is no mean feat, and has required many selfless hours of coding and pathching in front of a PowerMac G5. Classilla is, for the one person reading this blog not already aware of it, the only browser anyone should be using on Mac OS 9. Now at version 9.3.2, Kaiser is focusing on a series of security rollups that will hopefully bring Classilla on a par with Mozilla 1.6 in the near future. You might not want to do your internet banking with Classilla, but for routine tasks it is surprisingly usable. Even if you don’t use or like Tenfourfox we all owe an enormous debt to Kaiser and the rest development team for keeping a Mozilla browser at source parity with Firefox in 2013. Dr. Kaiser also consistently declines all donations, as he thinks money would cloud things up. He’s probably right, but I wish I could give something other than praise and thanks to this most noble cause.

Tobias Netzel

An important contributor to Tenfourfox, Tobias is also the developer behind Leopard Webkit. Leopard Webkit gives you an up to date webkit-rendering engine in the skin of Safari 5.0.6, turning what was a terrible web browsing experience with Safari on Leopard into something…frankly awesome. The hybrid gold ringed Safari/L-webkit icon is now my go to browser on 10.5, something I would have never thought would happen.

Marc Hoyis

Marc is the guy behind Click to Plugin and I belive also now maintains Click to Flash. These are Safari extensions that give a delightful one-two punch to the most hated software ever made (that would be, I don't like to even say the word, so I'll just sign it out Freddy Mercury style...."Flash-ahh-haaaaa") and replace it with Quicktime on not only Youtube but also a surprising number of other commonly visited web sites. It may seem ridiculous at first to have both extensions installed, but as the very useful macrumors forum poster B-G discovered, Click to Flash not only blocks Flash but also presents itself to the server as Flash 11.5. This fools even the BBC, I had all but given up ever watching clips on the site in Leopard but now most video gets served up to my PowerPC mac with no complaints. The Click to Plugin extension takes over at this point and gives you several file quality playback options in either the native HTML 5 player or Quicktime. On a lower speck G4 ibook Quicktime in 360p works…awesome. You may not think 360p is all that, but Quicktime does it good. Combine that with a Quicktime Pro license and you can also download the file once it fully loads. They are just....awesome extensions.

Jeroen Diederen

Jeroen hails from the low country across the pond and is the lead developer and chief cheerleader of MintPPC. Taking a basic Debian PPC install and slapping the Mint LXDE desktop on top of it in 2009 was a stroke of genius, and has breathed new life into many an old mac. Jeroen has removed most of the major headaches from your typical Debian PPC install, though even a casual browse of the MintPPC forum will show there are still tons of issues. Most of them due to the exotic mobile hardware choices Apple made back in the day. Lets face it, Apple never intended for Linux to run on an ibook G4, and the fact that it does at all, let alone well, is pretty remarkable. Jeoroen is always helpful to those with difficult hardware, always willing to compile the applications people want for MintPPC, and never gets impatient with people less technically savvy than he. Which would be almost everyone. An honorable mention must also be made here to os911, a regular MintPPC contributor who has written some excellent installation manuals, and is also uniquely helpful, especially with old world macs and all the challenges they bring to the table.


Yes. That Microsoft. Microsoft still provides regular security updates for Office 2004 and 2008 for PowerPC. Apple doesn’t do anything similar for its in house apps, and credit is where credit does, the behemoth from Redmond gets some respect from a former hater.

Well, those are my nominations for PowerPC heroes. Please feel free to disagree, or nominate anyone else you think worthy in the comments and thanks again to the above for keeping this architecture “Alive and Kicking…”. Man, I just had a Freddy Mercury and a Jim Kerr moment in one post. Its officical, the Doctor is old. Very old.

Origin of the architecture name and other terms

The main misperception most people have is in thinking the "PC" in the PowerPC name means PC in the way they know.  It does not stand for personal computer.  PowerPC is an acronym for Performance optimization with enhanced risc Performance Computing.  I believe the capital P and C at the end is what leads most to think it means personal computer.

For those that don't know what "RISC" means, I can assure you it doesn't mean it takes any type of risk.  RISC and CISC are the two fundamental computer architecture bases.  RISC means reduced instruction set computer, and CISC means complex instruction set computer.  ARM, Power and PowerPC are examples of RISC.  Intel and AMD are examples of CISC.  Reduced instruction does not mean it skips things but rather that it carries more data per cycle.  CISC pipelines can be over 20 steps long compared to under 10 for most RISC architectures.  PowerPC systems, like the G4 for example, only need 7 steps in the pipeline.

Personal computer is another term that has been horrifically misused over the years.  PC is the acronym that was started for computers that could sit on a desk, in the era which most still took up whole rooms or at least an entire wall of a room.  The PC term has somehow evolved into meaning wintel/x86 hardware specifically when it really means any computer that can fit on a table.  All Mac hardware is as much a PC as any wintel system.  The sad fact is that Apple themselves have helped twist this term.  They are easily the biggest culprit in all this to be honest.  They have used the term themselves since the 80's to separate the Mac from the rest of the industry.  The proper term for a windows PC is "Wintel".  This term started to specifically mean a Windows system powered by Intel but has evolved to mean windows systems in general.  I assume this was due to Intel's dominance especially early on in the game.   

Although I respect the names of anything PowerPC related that uses the "PPC" term this is an incorrect way to refer to it.  When it comes to the technology industry as a whole most people would take PPC to mean pocket PC.  This is the term used in the CorePlayer pocket PC version and the one that fools the unknowing into thinking they have found Mac copies of it online.  For the record the Mac copy has always been named CorePlayer OS X.  To be fair to those that use PPC I cannot blame them because there are actually developers that use it so it's easy to mistake it for a legitimate acronym.  All the BSD versions available on PowerPC for example are all referred to as PPC as are several Linux distros.  Mainstream Mac software sites like MacUpdate always use PPC also. 

It was years of hearing and seeing these terms misused combined with the google search hits I get here that motivated me to write this.  It's shocking how many separate the power and pc when they type it.  It is an acronym and they don't have spaces.  So once again, the "PC" at the end of PowerPC stands for performance computing.

The doctor is in

PowerPC Liberation welcomes a new writer to the fold today.  Dr. Dave is someone you may know from his active participation as a commenter and knowledge spreader from PPC Luddite and on this blog along with several others he frequents.

Since my busy life keeps me from posting as much as I would like it was only natural to go this route.  Two heads are better than one as they say, and in this situation that is certainly an apt description.   The "Dr" in his blogger name is no front either.  He's the real deal. 

When it came time to add another author here, Dave was the first person I thought of.  He is a man of great intelligence and technical comprehension, but is far too modest to even understand that about himself.  He has a real knack for sniffing out the greatest software on earth, and has on several occasions.  It's always very cleanly coded and efficient software also, which shows he not only gets it but has no taste for bloat.  My kind of techie.

So please join me in welcoming the doctor.