Leopard on G4 Blows

Seduced by the promises of considerably better features and performance, I bought the Leopard upgrade along with iWork 08 for my MacBook G4 running at 1 GHz with 1GB of RAM. Big mistake on my part. ** Update – it’s a PowerBook and iLife, not iWork – need more coffee before typing too many details.

The MacBook still crashes at random times, a real problem when recording live music. It runs slower than with Tiger, although not as much slower as going from Windows XP to Vista.

Worst of all, iMovie 08 works ONLY on Intel chips. This could be my mistake, thinking Apple wouldn’t obsolete a hardware line only two generations old, but they did for some programs. I hoped the listing for Intel Macs was the recommended platform, not that mandatory platform.. But now I have iWork 08 running with iMovie 06 on Leopard.

Some reviews of the iMovie upgrade from 06 to 08 make it sound like I’m lucky, but I can’t judge for myself since I can’t install iMovie 08.

My MacBook is now slower after the upgrade, I see no appreciable advantage after the upgrade, and I spent money out of pocket for nothing. I expected this kind of upgrade experience form Microsoft, not from Apple.

50 Responses to Leopard on G4 Blows

  1. Tommer says:

    Leopard is running fine and well on my ancient iMac 700! I have 768 MB RAM. I shut off Dashboard, and Time Machine. Installed via FW from an iBook. No problems at all.

    Leopard on G4 Rules!

  2. Tenacious MC says:

    I think you’re confusing MacBooks with iBooks of which you actually have. MacBooks are only available as Intel Macs. iBooks and 12-inch PowerBook G4s are going to be crippled the most from Leopard b/c of the lack of hardware features supported by it. Leopard seems to work better on my 15-inch PowerBook G4 but I’m seriously considering a new MacBook Pro which I’m sure runs much faster on 10.5.

  3. marcusgee says:

    I have exactly the same setup–PowerBook G4 with 1GB of RAM and a 60GB hard drive. I did a wipe of Tiger and a clean install of Leopard the first weekend it was available, and aside from a few scattered Safari crashes (which have subsequently been fixed with 3.1), I’ve actually had pretty good luck with the OS. I haven’t really noticed an appreciable difference in performance–it lags a bit when I’m running processor intensive stuff like Popcorn 2, but that’s to be expected with only 1GHz at my disposal.

    If you’re interested, there is a hack you can use to run iMovie 08 on a G4, but I can’t vouche for how well it works. Besides, from what I’ve seen, I much prefer the iMovie ’06 interface anyway. But if you want to give it a shot, here’s the link to the instructions:


    Hope that helps!

  4. Chris Rhea says:

    I think you mean Powerbook G4, or possibly iBook G4. If you look along the bottom edge of the screen it will say Powerbook or iBook. If for some reason you can’t read you can tell what it is by touch. If the case is made of plastic it is an iBook. If it is made of Aluminum or Titanium then it is a Powerbook.

  5. Diego Lopez says:

    You mean PowerBook G4. The term MacBook was introduced with the Intel notebooks.

  6. palosny says:

    I just installed Leopard on my Mac mini G4 .. haven’t had a chance to try it out yet.. but similarly seduced into upgrading with an existing PowerPC box.

    BTW, don’t think you can have a MacBook that’s a G4.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but MacBooks only use Intel chips.

    You must have either a Powerbook or an iBook, no?

  7. Jim Everson says:

    Just how careful were you in your research before doing this kind of upgrade? I would guess you may not have been very thorough, or didn’t you even notice that your laptop is an iBook, not a MacBook. Also, I find it hard to believe that you were even getting much use out of iMovie 06 on your iBook, since, with only 1 G of Ram, iMovie would barely function on that laptop.

    Look, the change in architecture from PPC to Intel was a once in a lifetime switch, not a typical upgrade cycle. Consequently, Apple can’t be blamed for your situation. The fact is that iBook owners who made their purchase just before the MacBook came out got gipped. The improvement in speed and features on the new MacBook just can’t be refused for the price it costs. Your best option now is to sell your iBook on eBay. I don’t know why but they still fetch about $500. You can then purchase a refurbished MacBook from Apple for about $850. The $350 out of pocket gives you….
    An Intel Chip, the opportunity to use iMovie 08, a built in video camera, a brighter screen, a wider screen, a larger hard drive, the option to upgrade to 2 Gigs RAM, a new 1 year warranty. Not too shabby. Now quit complaining and sell sell sell! There are still people on ebay who haven’t wised up yet.

  8. Fred Merlz says:

    iMovie 08 is not only for Intel chips. It runs fine on my G5 tower. It’s possible that it runs only on G5s or Intels, but hat’s not what you have indicated here.

  9. iMovie’s requirements took a big jump with the number of realtime features that were added.


    iMovie requires a Mac with an Intel processor, a Power Mac G5 (dual 2.0GHz or faster), or an iMac G5 (1.9GHz or faster).

    I have an older Powerbook Ti G4 800Mhz which while unsupported has Leopard installed. The main problem with these G4 machines really is RAM. Every person I’ve spoken to that runs Leopard has found 1Gig of RAM to be too small. Depending on which model you have you may have a max from 2 to 3 Gig. As to IMovie 8 not installing, for your machine you’re better served by iM 6.

  10. Hawk says:

    You know, at least get your facts straight.

    The Macbook is Intel.

    If you have a 1gzh G4, it’s a Powerbook or an iBook.

    There is a lot of stuff on the net about iMovie 08 being Intel only.

    Your 1Ghz mac is only slightly above the minimum 877mhz installable.

    You don’t mention (other than music recording) what you are doing that crashes your system, but if it’s not fixed by an OS upgrade, then it’s probably the other software you are using.

    Do some research before spending your money. you will be a lot happier.

  11. John Walter says:

    Apple does not make a “MacBook G4 running at 1 GHz .” iWork 08 does not include iMovie. How can any reader trust your judgment?

    Your writing is misinformed. Your fact checking and error checking for your own writing is poor. Here are two links that might help you.

  12. BK says:

    I love when technology writers think they know what their talking about and don’t.

    First, Apple made it clear before Leopard was even released that it would not run on G4 processors. The minimum is a G5.

    Second, there’s no such thing as a MacBook G4. The MacBook moniker was given to the first Apple notebooks with Intel processors.

  13. ryan says:

    The original MacBook was released on May 16, 2006 and utilised the Intel Core Duo processor and 945GM chipset, with Intel’s GMA950 integrated graphics on a 667 MHz front-side bus. Later revisions of the MacBook moved to the Core 2 Duo processor.

    there is no macbook G4

  14. Jim Schimpf says:

    Same machine but I put in more RAM, 1.25 G and I use it extensively for software development (XCode, scripting….). It is slightly slower on some things but others unchanged or faster. I went to Leopard for TimeMachine and improved Spotlight. The former saves me doing backups that I did weekly and the latter makes finding that elusive subroutine much easier. Also I wanted XCode 3.X.

    So overall I am glad I made the move but unlike 10.2->10.3->10.4 I didn’t gain anything in performance. They are still supporting the PowerPC but not with the enthusiasm of previous years..

  15. Bluejade says:

    you have my sympathy, it is a pity your Leopard experience was spoiled by inadequate or faulty hardware. Considering the specs of your iBook ( if you have G4 then it can’t be a MacBook, can it?), may be you should have thought more before jumping into Leopard. Also the random crashes suggest some HW problems (RAM memory perhaps?) Unless you get new MacBook the only thing to make it run better would be adding an extra 1GB of RAM memory.

    I tried to install Leopard on my ancient G4 Cube 450 MHz, 896 MB RAM and 16MB ATI Rage. While Tiger runs just fine, Leopard needs much better video card than Tiger. Give yourself a nice gift – get a new MacBook, you won’t regret it : )

  16. David says:

    Why didn’t you wait?


  17. Richard Hallmark says:

    Please get your facts straight.

    You do not have a MacBook G4, there is no such thing as all MacBooks are Intel. You have either an iBook or Powerbook G4.

    Based on the processor speed you cited, 1 GHz, the machine is at least 3.5 years old and if it is a Powerbook 4 years old.

    iMovie 08 does not require an Intel processor, it will work on some G5 machines, anything manufactured after 2005.

    The specifications for ILife 08 are clearly specified. To argue that Apple has done you a disservice because they have released software that requires more processing power than your machine provides, is silly. Essentially you want Apple to limit its software to the capabilities they had four years ago. Apple actually did you a service by telling you, before you bought iLife 08 that it would not run on your machine. While it might have been possible to have iMovie 08 run on your hardware, the performance would have been far to slow.

  18. Tim says:

    Writing from a G4 1.25 GHz eMac with Leopard. Have had complete opposite experiences from you. Leopard is much faster, have had just about the same amount of crashes as I did under Tiger, no panics yet.

    I waited a long time to upgrade because I heard so many horror stories, and particularly worried about my Adobe CS2 apps not working anymore. But, for me, all worked out great.

    If you have an Apple store anywhere near, try out the new iMovie. I’ve used it and don’t hate it as some do, but whenever I use it I want as much control as possible, so as such, I don’t mind that my Mac won’t run the new version.

  19. Matt says:

    Macbook? You mean iBook maybe?

    And if you mean iBook G4 1ghz that means you have a machine that was ‘new’ in either October of 2003, or at best April of 2004.

    So, we’re talking at best a 4 year old machine here, or at worst an almost 5 year old machine.

    Your point of your laptop being 2 generations old is a bit off as well. Your laptop is -7- revisions old. 7. There were 2 processor bumps when it was still called an iBook, then a complete architecture change to intel, and then another 5 processor bumps after that.

    Just run Xbench or some similar benchmarking app, and in 10.4 if you really want to- just to see how anemic that iBook is.

    I don’t know how seduced you with the promise of better performance…the of any software will always be relative to the hardware.

    Your expectations are way off in my opinion. You’re surprised that a new OS with more glitz and glamour is slow- well, that glitz and glamour don’t come free! You didn’t spend the money to get a faster OS. You spent money to get a more secure OS, with integrated backup, with updated versions of many core features– that runs slow on an old consumer level laptop.

    I’ve been running Leopard on a Powerbook 12″ of that generation with 768 megs of ram- and yes, it’s not the fastest machine around. But it’s usable.

    Laptops age quicker than desktops, and low end laptops doubly so.

    In short, it’s the hardware not the OS that’s got you feeling the blues. Could Apple optimize a bit more for the G4? Sure. Hell, they could optimize more for the G3, I suppose.

    But why would they? Especially if the net gain of their effort would be hindered by the hardware speed to the point of simply not being worthwhile.

    Just my 2 cents…

  20. Tim says:

    I forgot to ask in my previous post… when you installed Leopard did you upgrade or did you archive and install?

    I’ve heard a lot of people who chose upgrade were not happy with the results.

  21. Larry says:

    I have a G4 iBook, 967Mhz, 1G ram that I installed Leopard on about a month ago. I had been running Panther prior to that, having skipped Tiger. Other than being unable to have my windows machines be able to mount a shared disk on the mac (no problems the other way), I have had no other issues. Speed is comparable to before and I have not experienced any crashes at any higher rates than before. I’m satisified with the upgrade.

    I’m not running iLife nor iWork at all so I can’t comment on them.

  22. Brett says:

    Obsolescence is the hard reality of owning a computer.

    Time marches on. The G4 is a less efficient chip than a Core Duo. Your computer has a significantly slower clock rate and slower memory bus. What do you expect? Miracles? Or that Apple should throttle and limit it’s OS and apps on the newer, faster Intel CPUs so that you won’t feel left out?

    Perhaps Apple shouldn’t have even allowed Leopard to install on such an old computer, but there may be people willing to take a speed hit to gain some of Leopard’s features such as spaces and Time Machine.

    One suggestion: If you have not already done so, max out your RAM, and install a 7200RPM hard drive. OS X of any vintage benefits from these upgrades.

  23. Borja Marcos says:

    Leopard is simply awesome in my 12 inch 867 MHz Powerbook G4.

    Some graphical operations have got much faster than in Tiger, giving the feeling of a new, faster machine.

    Check your preference files, and avoid doing an upgrade in place. Either erase and install a new system, or do an Archive&Install.

  24. dggraphics says:

    I have a PowerBook G4 1GHz ,1GB RAM w/ Leopard installed and it runs perfectly.

    If you did an upgrade over Tiger, that is where your problems are coming from, aside from the fact that you don’t know what computer you have.

  25. Kennedy says:

    This article is simply an embarrassment to whoever wrote it, whether he/she realizes it or not. If it were mine and I ever wrote anything this confused, I would quietly delete the page and hope no one brought it up again. Seriously.

  26. jsk says:


    Practice what you preach.

    From Apple’s own web site for Leopard at http://www.apple.com/macosx/techspecs/

    “Mac computer with an Intel, PowerPC G5, or PowerPC G4 (867MHz or faster) processor.”

  27. Don says:

    The requirements for Leopard are:
    “Intel, G5, or 867MHz+ G4 processor”

    The Apple PoweBook running at 1GHz was released more than five years ago. The average life of computer hardware is 3 years. The fact that yours has lasted so long has saved you money and you’ve already received more than what should be the expected value.

    Because your computer is barely over the minimum requirements, you would need to make up the lack somewhere else. Specifically, I would suggest more RAM. Even then, you may have trouble depending upon the quality of your video processor and its RAM.

    I have a G4 PowerBook that’s faster than yours: 1.67 GHz and 1 gig of RAM. I have found Leopard to speed up virtually everything.

    I have run my ‘book since the day Leopard came out, doing heavy graphics and video work. I have not had ONE crash. I’ve only restarted when adding software and upgrades have required it, as well as after running Onyx to take care of the chron tasks. If you haven’t performed the chron tasks in some tiime you should get something such as the free Onyx to do this housekeeping.

    If you have a Mac and are crashing, something is wrong. There is NO reason the Mac should crash unless something is wrong. Programs may quit or hang, but that is usually the fault of the the application not being updated. Are all of your applications, especially the music ones, the latest versions (or at least updated)? Have you added system modifications or use anti-virus software?

    As people have pointed out, your post has too many errors of fact to be taken seriously. I find it hard to believe you are a tech writer.

  28. Steve says:

    One of my older machines is a PowerMac G4 dual 1GHz machines. It only has 1 GB of memory but handles Leopard perfectly well. In fact, the overall systems certainly “feels” faster than Tiger. Spotlight search is much faster, etc.

    I don’t think there is anything inherently wrong with Leopard on a G4. You might want to consider doing a clean install. Beyond that, Apple provides basic tools in the form of the Activity Monitor to help you determine what’s going on. My suggestion would be to run that first blogging about it. That is, after reading your blog posts, I have questions as to how legitimate your claim is. That is, you’ve provided no verifiable or reproducible evidence. The crashing you mention is not common for either Leopard or the iBook hardware. To that end, the “MacBook G4” hardware you mention doesn’t even exist.

    If your claim is true, respond again with the real hardware you are using, the version of Leopard you are on, the specific software you are running that seems slow. Describe more about what “slow” means to you and provide some statistics from the Activity Monitor while all this is happening. Then, people will likely offer helping advice. As it stands now, you’ve given people nothing to work with except for doubt.

  29. Mark Block says:

    I have an old Ti Powerbook with the same specs. You don’t say how long ago you did the upgrade or what method you used. Also, the hard drive — how fast and how full — will affect performance. I’ve upgraded the internal hard drive three times; lot’s of free space definitely speeds things up.

    After a Leopard install, the Spotlight indexing will, as you know, slow the computer down for a couple of days. A clean install or an “archive & install” will have great benefits in terms of stability. I first did a simple upgrade and encountered a few issues; a subsequent archive and install cleared things up. Nothing ever crashes.

    However, things do slow down more than with Tiger. 1 GB RAM is very marginal, given all the crap I have running. Daily restarts are a must, and a monthly Leopard Cache Cleaner maintenance routine helps also. Avoid third-party apps that run in the background — like Google Desktop — like the plague.

  30. KenC says:

    Well, I guess everyone here cleared up that you don’t even know what kind of laptop you have. Second, two generations old, is more like 4 years old. I have both a TiPB 1Ghz, which might be the model you have and a AluPB 867Mhz. Both are ancient, and both run Leopard. I do believe 10.5.0 and 10.5.1 were a little slower than Tiger. Not quite 10% slower, but definitely a little slower. However, I think 10.5.2 brought back that snappiness that I saw in Tiger.

    Really, the problem with Leopard feeling slow is not the CPU, it’s the GPU. I can tell the biggest difference between my AluPB and TiPB which have CPUs only a fraction apart, is due to the video card, aka GPU.

    If you are recording audio and working with iMovie, do yourself a favor. Sell your Powerbook and get a new Macbook, refurbed at the Apple Store. They are as little as $750, and will function at least 4x faster than your 1Ghz PB.

  31. victoria says:

    Damn this poor guy doesn’t even know what he owns, doesn’t appear to be capable of reading the requirements for Ilife and Leopard and then blames someone else for his own studpity..

    Makes one wonder whether this person should even be allowed to own a computer let alone write about computers.

  32. froggie901 says:

    Are you sure that you don’t mean a powerbookG4? Also, I agree I have a powerbook g4 w. 1.67 GHz and it still runs and sounds like my hard is going to crash!

  33. Lantz says:

    I bought the Leopard family pack and loaded 10.5.2 onto my MacBook and G4 Powermac. Both run 10.5 just fine. I made sure to do a clean Archive and Install and NOT load it on top of 10.4. I will be testing and posting both Xbench and Geekbench results online when I get home to see how they compare to previous installs. Both these programs are great for comparing before and after results like OS and hardware changes.

    Benchmark programs;

    Here’s a good example of what happened when I dropped an OWC processor upgrade into my G4 Powermac (400MHz to 1.0GHz)

    The Archive and Install is quick and easy, leaving all your stuff and settings in place. You could do a benchmark post of 10.5, go back to 10.4 and submit it again to compare the results.

  34. James Gaskin says:

    I’ve gotten some great information from many of these public and private responses. Like a couple of comments here mentioned, there was no “bump” of extra performance moving to Leopard. I expected performance, especially over the network, to be at least the same if not better. No joy there.

    I did wipe Tiger and everything on the PowerBook away and made a clean Leopard install. Since I save my files to the network for backup from there, I will try turning off Time Machine and see if that improves performance.


  35. Melangell says:

    First off, the author of the article seems to not known of what (if anything) he speaks. He is an embarrassment and should sell whatever the hell Mac he has and buy a Dell…

    BK says: “First, Apple made it clear before Leopard was even released that it would not run on G4 processors. The minimum is a G5.”

    Oddly enough, Apple never said such a thing and Leopard is performing perfectly on the 1.5 GhZ G4 12″ Powerbook that I am typing on.

    C’mon people, get it together!


  36. PBG4 says:

    I, too, have a PBG4 (60GB HD). I bought the Leopard family pack as an upgrade over Tiger. It was a problem, but a fresh install was fine.

    Also, our iWork Retail CD is universal, just like the Leopard Family Pack was.

    Leopard on my G5 tower (upgrade over Tiger) was easy and painless. It’s my main work machine and is great.

  37. Wilson says:

    iMovie 08 runs in G5 but it will not import AVHCD movies directly using internal decoder, you will be able to import HD movies directly if you have an Intel Mac. Also i believe that the G4 limitation is not entirely CPU related but GPU related. Looks that you are a bit confused? I really sugest researching more before buying any hardware these days…you know Apple changing CPUs, video becaming High-Definition and DVD coming to an end…Blu-Ray stomping HD-DVD….

  38. blogitforu says:

    This must be the most prostating news for all mac user today.

  39. o4jm says:

    Random crashes usually portend faulty RAM or other hardware deficiencies. Please run the hardware test CD to make sure everything is okay, then you can blame the operating system.

  40. dilmah says:

    I agree: Leopard is crap on the G4, even with 1.5GB RAM. Those people above who deride the original writer for his experience either don’t know what they are taking about or are just plain lying to defend Apple as they often do because they think anything weak on the Mac platform somehow reflects back on them — tossers.

    In fact, in my experience — 800MHz Power Mac and 1.33GHz Powerbook here, along with Core 2 Duo iMac — the best OS for the G4 is actually… Panther.

    I still run Panther on my G4 machines, Tiger on my iMac, and I’m not getting Leopard anytime soon cos it doesn’t do anything new for me that Panther didn’t. (Time Machine? No thanks: got Silverkeeper to do just the exact same thing. Stacks? Stupidest thing I’ve ever used so far, excepting Microsoft Bob. More useless video conferencing stuff? Come on, Apple, go back to making useful work computers, will ya.)

  41. Mr. Reeee says:

    One question;

    Did you wipe your hard drive before installing Leopard?

    If not, you were ASKING for trouble.
    Yes, it can be done.
    NO, it’s a bad idea.
    When installing ANY major OS upgrade, you should ALWAYS do a clean system install.
    Yes, it takes a bit more time, but stability is a good thing, yes?

    1.) Clone your Mac to an EXTERNAL FireWire drive.
    2.) Install using the Erase & Install method.
    3.) Use Migration Assistant to transfer info from the cloned drive to your fresh install.

    Also, when installing system updates like 10.5.2, ALWAYS download the larger, Combo updater. You’ll have a much more stable system if you do.

  42. Bobzhuman says:

    Leopard cuts out “classic” connections, so, if you are mired in the past then you are now doing it through emulation. If you are totally into OSX then your system should have sped up….we use a 1.6 ghz G4 as our backup/server to two fast G5 towers and Macbook pros and the G4 runs well….of course, we’re not running any 8-10 year old software.

  43. blogitforu says:

    G4 loving the show man………I learned alot fron it daily

  44. […] 2, 2008 Recent stories make my recent complaints about disappointment in my Leopard upgrade look downright cheerful. Aren’t apples picked in […]

  45. Nadav Ben-Ami says:

    Got finally Leopard on my G4 Dual 1.25 power mac. Got also a brand new video card, geforce 7800 GS with 1300mhz clock and 256MB video memory + quartz extreme and core image. Leopard flies on this thing!!!

    seems that the power macs have more muscle than the powerbooks do for some reason.

    Leopard works great on the MDD dual systems, just got to get a better video card, thats all!

  46. Bob says:

    You’re an idiot. There is no such thing as a MacBook with a G4 processor. Try educating yourself before writing some half-baked review.

  47. you people are f*cking retarded. one can assume he is speaking about a POWERBOOK yes bc they dont make “mac books” that fit’s this discription. That is obvious!.
    quit talking sh*t.

  48. Vince Stanford says:

    I am running Leopard on a 1.33 GHz G4 14″ iBook with 1.25 GB of RAM, and a 32 MB ATI graphics card. I have absolutely not stability problems, and get quick response at the desktop. Safari 5, and Firefox 4 are both much faster than their predecessors so they are very responsive. I run many MacPorts including Octave, WXMacima, gimp, photoshop elemements, Open office (loads slow but runs fine once loaded), MS Office 2008 works very well too. Web video is good at 360p but a choppy at 480p and up. I also run net beans and Eclipse, as well as dong C++ development under Emacs. It all runs good.

    I also have a 1.5 GHz 12″ iBook for travel with 1.5 GB of RAM and a bit better 32 MB ATI card. Everything runs well on that as you might expect since it has a bit more RAM, processor, and graphics.

    These are lower end machines but they make great netbooks and numerical workpads. They seem better to me than the Intel Atom netbooks running XP I looked at. Bigger screens, more free software including the GCC/Xcode tool chain, newer OS.

  49. Majkel says:

    Besides what some people here have written I run Leopard even on 550Mhz Powerbook G4’s with only 1 GB of RAM and Leopard is definitely not slower than Tiger was. This includes Logic 7 and demanding Developer Software like Netbeans. Granted it’s not very fast but absolutely usable until better hardware can be bought.

    I think that as Leopard makes it possible to run later versions of different apps some people run versions not suited for their hardware. That is the smoking gun in most cases.

  50. Hugh says:

    My installation of Tiger on eMac 1,42 with 1GB RAM is much faster than Leopard on PB HRES 1,67 with 2GB *with all bells and whistles turned off … Tiger takes less resources and is pleasure to work on … i am thinking about downgrading PB to Tiger … As of 2012 .. do not install iTunes 10.6.3 it will take all your resources while playing SD movie … 9.2.1 is the one to go unless you need new iOs 5,6 devices support

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