Jaguar is fast but…

On Friday night while I slept, my PowerBook G3 ran the latest preview release installation of MacOS X 10.2, a.k.a Jaguar.

In at least one respect, I’m not disappointed: As Wes Felter noted, it’s fast — much faster than 10.1.5. Apps load faster, the Finder is faster, software installations are faster, booting up is faster, and overall the OS is much more responsive.

And while here we are less than 5 days before Jaguar is officially released, it looks like I’m not going to “switch” any time soon. Why?…

There are two deal-stoppers for me, both of which are probably easy for someone to fix, but neither of which I have the knowledge or time to fix myself. Both are wireless-related:

First, I use a Logitech wireless USB keyboard about 50% of the time. It’s a back-saver for me. I don’t have to be tethered to a desk, so I can lean back or to the side, position the keyboard on my lap however I want, and if I start to feel tense or uncomfortable, I just move. While the keyboard works fine in Jaguar, there’s a problem: The Command and Option keys are swapped. Neither Logitech’s Control Center, nor a 3rd-party kernel hack, both of which worked in 10.1.5, work in 10.2. So if I were to switch to 10.2 now, I’d have to re-train my fingers to find the keys in their “new” locations. I’ve done it before, but it was a pain in the ass, and I’d rather not have to do it again.

(Logitech, if you’re listening, please make my keyboard work. Anyone else who knows how to re-map the Command and Option keys in Jaguar, please let me know how.)

The more important problem is that I’m on an 802.11b wireless connection 90% of the time, and my PowerBook is an early one which isn’t compatible with the “official” Apple AirPort card. I’ve been using a Lucent WaveLan, which has always been supported in OS 9, but not “officially” in OS X. That in itself isn’t a problem — the WaveLan card works just dandily in 10.1.x using an open-source driver, but the driver doesn’t work in Jaguar.

Rob McKeever, the driver’s lead developer apparently has a fix as of at least two months ago according to this rather coy email to their support list, and while it may seem obvious to him how to get it to work with Jaguar, it’s not obvious to me. Reading between the lines, he may be trying to prevent people with unauthorized Jaguar installations from using his driver, but I don’t really see the point.

(Rob: If you’re reading this, I’d love to get some instructions for making your driver work on my 10.2 installation — build 6C115.)

A last minor gripe (not a deal-stopper): I still can’t play DVDs on my PowerBook. The PowerBooks released only six months later, with the same form-factor and processor speed can play DVDs, but this one can’t. I’ve never seen a definitive statement from Apple or anyone else about why it’s not possible to play DVDs on this machine. As far as I understand it, the video hardware in the PowerBook G3 Bronze (the one I have) and the PowerBook G3 Firewire is identical. The only reason that I can think of that the DVD Player would refuse to function, is that Apple really wants me to buy a TiBook. (I’d love to, but I can’t afford it.)

(Apple, if you’re reading, please make the DVD Player work on my two-year-old PowerBook without having to boot OS9.)

Are the days of painless legacy hardware support in MacOS over? I hope not. One of the biggest reasons I’ve stuch with Apple through thick and thin is that my hardware just keeps on working with new versions of the OS.

In fact, the Jaguar CDs I installed with were buned on a 6-year-old 4x Yamaha SCSI CDR, using Toast 3.5 running on MacOS 9.2 on a PowerTower Pro 225. That machine shipped with MacOS 7, and now (surprisingly) runs MacOS X 10.1.5 most of the time, thanks to this unsupported hack.

At one time, I even had a pair of Mac512’s that were upgraded to have SCSI and 4MB of RAM (i.e. MacPlus), and they ran System 7 just fine, network and all.

Here’s hoping that my reliance on older hardware isn’t about to bite me in the ass.