When You Need to Memtest Your RAM

My Powerbook recently suffered a mild health crisis. It started when I woke it from sleep one morning and it immediately gave me a kernel panic. I rebooted and got another immediate kernel panic, at which point I sighed and thought, "Here we go..." I actually thought I fixed the problem by reseating the RAM, since the kernel panic plastered a bunch of helpful text across my screen saying something about "illegal memory instruction." But alas it was only a short-lived fix as the kernel panics returned soon after.

It turned out the lower RAM slot was dying, and in fact it finally died permanently later that day and now the Powerbook was only reading 512 MB of memory (the upper slot). Dead lower memory slots were a common problem in aluminum Powerbooks, though Apple's AppleCare extension program for this model is long past. I could either re-solder the slot joints back in place or replace the entire logic board. Since I don't have soldering skills handy, replacing the logic board it was!

Fortunately I have a spare, identical Powerbook for just such an occasion. For awhile, I've wanted to take apart both Powerbooks and combine the best parts from each, so events provided the impetus. After much surgery (basically moving the hard drive, trackpad case, and LCD display to the spare which had a good bottom case and logic board), the patient came out more-or-less intact. I used these iFixIt tutorials, which I can't recommend enough. If any of you want to do something like this, let me offer a tip. When following the tutorials, always refer back to each step one-by-one, even if you've done it a few times before and think you have the hang of it. Because eventually you'll overlook a step and wonder why the trackpad case won't pull off the left side even though you're bending it out of shape and then you realize you forgot to take that side's screws out. Now, I didn't do this myself, of course. That would make me the stupidest person on the planet. I'm merely writing to enlighten you, dear reader.

Unfortunately this wasn't the end of my adventures. I also ordered a pair of one gig RAM DIMMs to max out my memory. I'm starting a family photo scanning project and I'll be working with some very large picture files. So naturally I installed the new RAM and got a kernel panic. Then I rebooted and the System Profiler's diagnostics showed the bottom slot failed and was only reading 512 MB. At this point I'm thinking this isn't my lucky week. After reseating the RAM, everything seemed to work until more kernel panics returned. At this point it was finally time to test the RAM (when Darth Vader targets me in his cross hairs, he says, "The ennui is strong in this one.").

To test, you need a unix program called memtest. An installer is available for download at Command-Tab, which installs the executable into your /usr/local/bin. Version 4.22 supports both PowerPC and Intel. Once you have it, you can reboot into single user mode (command-s at the chime) and run the command "memtest all 2". Over the next couple of hours you'll see either a bunch of "ok"s or a bunch of failures. I saw failures. The good news is the seller agreed to give me a refund almost instantly after I sent a request.

Memtest is also bundled with Applejack, another troubleshooting utility that runs in single user mode. I saw other sites trying to sell memtest for a fee, but it's freeware so I don't know what that's about.

I'll try my luck with new RAM again, but right now I'm glad to have two functioning slots even if they're housing my old 512 MB DIMMs. Finally on the subject of scanning, check out these posts at Quadras, Cubes, and G5s about digital photography and scanning on a 7300. Very interesting.

Aloha from South Dakota

Thanks to everyone for the warm welcome and the kind introduction from Zen! I really do appreciate it. I'll likely keep this post short and sweet.

A little about myself.  My full-time job is as a network administrator, but I also manage the IT infrastructure of another growing company part-time.  My real passion is with programming, but I leave myself too little time to do it unfortunately.  Using PPC hardware has helped keep that passion alive and strong though.  Other than that, I love virtualization technologies and spend a lot of time learning the ins and outs of them.  I still consider myself very new to PowerPC hardware, so if anything is ever out of line or incorrect, don't be afraid to correct me.  I consider it a valuable part of my learning experience.

When writing for my blog, PowerofPowerPC, I try incredibly hard to stick mostly to the facts and I plan on doing the same here. I'll be focused mostly on G5 content as other hardware is already covered by the other writers. This works out well as I have not done anything G5 related on my own blog up to this point. There, I mostly stick with older PPC portables and G4 desktops and that will likely not change anytime soon.

I currently own 3 G5 Power Macs, all of which have been freely donated to me through various means.  If it wasn't so incredibly expensive to ship these heavy beasts, I'd be more than willing to donate the other two to individuals who would put them to every day use.

My daily G5 is a 2.3 GHz dual core running with 16 GB of RAM.  You can read more about this machine's specs on the hardware page. The machine's hostname is appropriately set to (in my opinion) BigMac.

If you have any post ideas, topics, or issues related to the G5 Power Mac we could try to work through together, please let me or one of the other writers know. I'm looking forward to further expanding and sharing my knowledge of both PPC hardware and software.

The Humble Luddite

Dan DeVoto is the greatest thing that ever happened to the post-Apple PowerPC user base, and this post will explain why - both to Dan and the readers who may not understand the full extent of how committed, selfless, inclusive and balanced this guy is.  Because Dan is so humble, I want to apologize to him up front if this causes any embarrassment, but the people need to know the true extent of your greatness.

Firstly, the obvious...  he writes for two PowerPC blogs and is a science fiction author on top of that.  I mean...  come on; it's as if he's the chosen one.  Since PowerPC hardware goes to space in real life it's only fitting.  In my personal opinion, PPC Luddite is the greatest PowerPC resource out there.  Why?  Because he never has an agenda, is inclusive with all users (even the fanboys), and he's just an all-round gentlemanly good guy.  Most importantly though, is that he is beyond competent in experience and foresight.  The thing is, I don't think he has any clue about all this, which makes him even more likable.

I offered to buy him a G5...  he politely declined.  I offered to give him more RAM for his Sawtooth..  he again politely declined.  If that doesn't show commitment to the cause of helping PowerPC users, I don't know what does.  He has no interest in free things or accolades - only helping people and writing about his love of PowerPC.

Many in the remaining PowerPC user base might think of Cameron Kaiser as the greatest thing that ever happened to our old Macs, and while I acknowledge his contribution with respect, he doesn't touch Dan DeVoto's vast, dynamic and all-encompassing arsenal of assistance to users.

Anyway Dan, I've embarrassed you enough, but I have been left with a big void of not being able to give back to you, and this was the only way I could think of.  To tell the entire PowerPC community that you are the the greatest resource we have.

New author arrives, and a shout-out to Michigan

B-rock, the author of Power of PowerPC, has joined the PowerPC Liberation author team, so please help me welcome him.  As a G4 and G5 user, he will be able to provide both a similar and unique perspective compared to the preexisting G3/G4 authors here.

He's a computer science grad and has a big passion for Linux, software development, and PowerPC of course.  I don't mean to sound cocky...  but this is now the most well-armed PowerPC blog out there author-wise.  It will only grow from here.  Remember - PowerPC is only dead at Apple.  We shall live on as long as there are users to write for.

Lastly, I want to give a friendly hello to the people of the US state of Michigan.  Not only are Americans the largest audience here, but the state of Michigan is responsible for at least 20-30% of all hits from the USA.  There are at least 100 there who are regular visitors here, and from every corner of the state.  So to the people of Michigan I say thanks for the loyalty and sheer number of you still interested in PowerPC.  They must put something PowerPC-friendly in the water there.

Are you a driver or a passenger?

There are really only two types of computer users in the world, and some good analogies to explain these two types are drivers and passengers.  Some insist on driving their hardware, while others are content to just be along for the ride.  This post is made with the intent of helping us all understand how and why we individually ended up being one or the other, or maybe you share some traits with both.  Think of this post as a computer culture research venture, but one that will also have a strong intent to inspire others by sharing personal stories.

My definition of the two types:


These are people who aren't content with the Apple and Microsoft abilities/limitations, and desire more control and capability from their hardware.  These are people who don't settle for what the mainstream industry spoon-feeds them, and demand more from themselves and the people they share knowledge and helpfulness with.  People who refuse to stagnate or devolve their computing education and journey as they continue computing throughout their life.


People who are content with pretty much any solution that just works, regardless of limitations.  They will happily sacrifice ability and skill evolution by always choosing the path of least effort.  Many of them also like to encourage others not to bother evolving; without realizing that no one needs help to not learn something.  Basically...  people who don't like to combine computing with too much thinking.  This is not to say they are dumb - certainly not - but rather that they have been conditioned to believe the two (computing and genuine thinking) don't go together.

What I need from you:

I want to know which you consider yourself to be and why, along with a brief history of how you arrived there.  This will also help guide us here to a better understanding of what type of new content to write in the future.  I personally have not made a truly meaty post in a while, and would like to have a better understanding concerning the current state of the audience here.

My (zen's) story:

I consider myself a driver, and I arrived there naturally by UNIX/BSD being the first OS I ever used, and continue using today, both personally and professionally. I started in the mid-80's on UNIX and didn't use another OS (full-time) until the early 90's.  So I started as a driver and stayed that way.

Please share your user type and story in comments.  I look forward to reading them.

viva PowerPC gets a new URL

This is just a brief post to help spread the word of viva PowerPC's new address.  Logout has switched from .tk to .eu, and posted the explanation here.

So if you link to his site, you need to update the URL.

Here is the new link for the clickophiles (I made that word up).

Also, a guy who has commented here a few times (B-rock) has a blog that I recently discovered called Power of PowerPC, which I encourage you to check out.  He has always seemed like a very bright and knowledgeable guy, and I didn't realize his computer science education, along with his interest in Linux and software development.

Mobile version re-enabled

After about a year or so with the mobile version of this blog disabled, I have decided to enable it again.  The reason I disabled it in the first place is that Blogger gives you very little control over it.  After getting requests, from both readers and Google, to make the blog more mobile-friendly, I have decided to do so.

While Blogger has now greatly improved the control the admin can have over the mobile version; it still leaves a lot to be desired.  I simply just don't have the time to write all the HTML myself, but do use some CSS of my own here.  The main issue with the mobile version, for me at least, is that it doesn't show the CC license at the bottom.  Maybe one day I can re-write all the HTML here and overcome that, but for now I am just using as simple a mobile template as I can.  This will hopefully encourage more mobile users to browse the standard version.  It's just short summaries and a link to the standard/web version.

Even though the mobile users here only make up about 2% (all mobile OS combined) of the visitors; I don't want to leave them out.  The main reason mobile users bring up to me is they desire larger text, and you get that with the mobile version.

This place will always be best viewed on a proper computer with at least a 1024x768 display, but now the mobile people who visit here can have it their way also; while still having the option to view the standard version.

I would like the mobile users who visit here to share any thoughts they might have to make their experience better.

Non-mobile users can view that version of the blog here.