Degunking a PowerPC Mac

Old Hardware… or Slow Hardware?

My wife’s Mac Mini (1.4 Ghz PPC, 10.4.11, 1GB RAM) is showing its age. We’re not ready to spring for a new Mac because we have plenty of more pressing financial demands. But moreover, as a software engineer, I am annoyed and dismayed by the state of software. Bad software is bad software; continually throwing more hardware at the problem does not fix it. Therefore I’m curious to find out why this Mac is getting so painfully slow over time, and hopefully fix it.

2014 update: My wife did upgrade her Mac, so now I have a few more degrees of freedom to beat this machine back into shape.


The first step is to extra daemons aren’t running. Open System Preferences > Sharing. For my purposes, only TODO is desired. Disable everything else.


About This Mac / More Info… / System Profiler

Applications / Utilities / Activity Monitor

Sort by highest memory usage:

top -o size

Sort by most CPU time consumed (this is most meaningful if you boot your Mac and use it normally for a while first):

top -o time

Sort by the highest number of threads:

top -o th


This Mac has no wireless card installed. So why is it running an AirPort app?

marble:Library laura$ ps auxw | grep -i air
laura      412   0.0  0.3   143492   2876   ??  S     8:05PM   0:00.12 /System/Library/CoreServices/AirPort Base Station Base Station Agent -launchd -allowquit

This agent apparently sits in the background and checks for Airport updates on a weekly basis. Useless! Here is how to disable AirPort Base Station Agent.

Disable Spotlight

killall mds rm -rf /Library/Spotlight

/System/Library/LaunchAgents/ /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/

Canon Scanner

I generally like the Cannon LIDE series of scanners. They’re compact, USB powered, and work well. But the software is horrible. The

mv /Library/CFMSupport/ ~/

After I moved this and restarted, it still was running, and was the top CPU user!

marble:~ laura$ top -o time
marble:~ laura$ ps auxw | grep CNQ
laura      137   0.3  0.0    66152    192 s000  R+    8:10PM   0:00.00 grep CNQ
laura      106   0.2  0.2   110740   2336   ??  S     8:09PM   0:03.87
/Users/laura/ -psn_0_53261
marble:~ laura$ jobs
marble:~ laura$ rm -rf ~/
marble:~ laura$ 

Leapfrog Connect Monitor


fseventsd monitors filesystem events, and serves them up to interested applications. I believe that Spotlight was the original reason this was created.


Started the latest available Safari, Camino, and TenFourFox. Browsed each to,, and Safari was clearly the slowest, by far. Camino would occasionally beach-ball. TenFourFox was refreshingly quick.

246 Safari       0.0%  1:18.90  12   223+  1391   38M+   41M+   66M+  234M+
241 firefox      0.0%  0:36.18  24   174+  1535   97M+   67M+  133M+ 1307M+
242 Camino       0.0%  0:30.09  12   143+   541   31M+   44M+   70M+  199M+


kextstat kextunload rm /System/Library/Extentions/xxx

September 7, 2013
472 words


mac retrocomputing



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