Furtive Musings of a Programmer
Oct 27, 2012
Apple may have stopped support for PowerPC Macs, but there are still plenty of decent applications out there...

Apple may have stopped support for PowerPC Macs, but there are still plenty of decent applications out there which, while some may not have been updated in a while, function perfectly well. Apple's Universal Binary format was indeed a brilliant idea; it has meant that even though the last PowerPC Mac was released in 2005, it's only in the past couple of years that mainstream developers have dropped support for PowerPC and gone Intel-exclusive in order to take full advantage of Mac OS X's Cocoa Framework.

I have tried to include the latest version for each app, but in some cases it was not possible.

  1. ScreenFlow 2.1.10 ScreenFlow for PowerPC ScreenFlow is a great app for screen capture, and an absolute must for those producing video demonstrations on their Macs for YouTube etc. The app will sit hidden away in the taskbar, only starting a capture when the hotkey combination is pressed. All video capture is stored inside a single project file, where you can then modify your clips to do neat things such zooming in on the mouse pointer to make your clicks and movements clearer. Some extra features are also included to allow the placement of text etc., which might be useful for those who don't want to include extra video processing applications in their workflow. ScreenFlow will export clips to .mov or .m4a and users can select from a variety of encodings including lossless and H.264.

  2. MacTubes 3.1.2 MacTubes for PowerPC While the high end G4s and G5s just about manage to pull through playing content from YouTube in the browser, when it comes to the lower-end of the PowerPC range they just can't cut it. MacTubes is a great little app which pulls in videos from YouTube and plays them through QuickTime. The end result is a much more enjoyable experience thanks to cutting Adobe Flash out of the equation. Speaking of which, don't forget to check out the Flash 11 for PowerPC post which details a workaround for sites requiring Adobe Flash 11.1 be installed to view content.

  3. Q 0.9.0a89 Q Emulator for PowerPC Q is a graphical frontend for the QEMU emulation project. While QEMU on the x86 platform supports virtualization of x86 guests, I'm not altogether sure that QEMU on PowerPC would support the virtualization of a PowerPC guest - a future post perhaps! That aside, QEMU will allow for the emulation of x86, x86-64, PPC PowerPC, PPC PREP, SPARC32, MIPS and ARM guests - quite a collection! QEMU will also allow for plenty of other configuration such as disk image formats, mounting, network and video hardware, CPU cores, RAM, network adapters etc. etc. QEMU is a commandline tool, which is where Q steps in. Q makes things simpler by presenting a nice little GUI which lets you easily modify and control your guest PCs, which is certainly easier than configuring everything by passing arguments to qemu. Don't forget though that QEMU has to emulate the selected architecture - so don't expect to run anything more demanding than Win2K! That said, commandline distros work just fine, so there's definitely the option to 'virtualize' your servers.

  4. Cyberduck 4.2.1 Cyberduck for PowerPC As a code-monkey I work with remote servers a lot, I find Cyberduck to be one of the handiest tools in my coding repertoire. While it's possible to work with remote files using things like rsync and scp, Cyberduck makes life a lot easier! Cyberduck supports all the common transfer protocols such as FTP and SFTP, it also supports a load of web services such as Amazon S3 and Google Docs. Most of the features shouldn't surprise anyone who's used a file transfer program before; but the web service support is is definitely a bonus, as well as the range of actions available in the context menus: archiving, syncing, quicklook etc.

  5. Carbon Copy Cloner 3.4.7 Carbon Copy Clone for PowerPC The Disk Utility program in OSX is very capable, but Carbon Copy Cloner takes things one step further and makes it incredibly easy to work with disks and images. CCC can create images from any disk, restore images to a disk, clone one disk to another and schedule backups. A great utility if you find yourself needing to image multiple computers, or want a replacement backup tool for Time Machine.

  6. Transmission 2.22 Transmission for PowerPC For me, the OSX version of Transmission is easily one of the best torrent clients out there. Apart from the nice interface and handy web interface, Transmission supports all modern the BitTorrent extensions like DHT, PEX and HTTP seeds. Transmission also has many of the standard features you'd expect to find in a torrent client such as watch folders, magnet links and scripts.

  7. TextWrangler 3.5.5 TextWrangler for PowerPC I'm not a big fan of running fully-blown IDEs when I'm coding - probably because most of the stuff I do is simple scripting and thus doesn't require any of the debugging and profiling tools that you'd find in an IDE. TextWrangler is the free, little brother to BBEdit, a great text editor with a huge following. Again, TextWrangler has all the usual features you'd find in a text editor, but also includes plenty of bonuses such as opening remote files, syntax trees, hex dumps, text / encoding manipulation, gadgets and scripting.

  8. Dropbox 1.4.20 Dropbox for PowerPC Surprisingly, Dropbox is still being developed for PowerPC - which is great news for those of us who don't plan on leaving PPC behind any time soon! You must have been living under a rock these last few years to not know what Dropbox is, but just in case you have recently emerged into the light: Dropbox is a cloud storage service which provides an app for syncing files across multiple computers and other devices. The app itself is incredibly simple and integrates straight into the OSX environment - providing a taskbar icon, a shortcut in the Finder sidebar, and some extra context menu entries. All your files are stored on your hard drive and synced across to the rest of your devices when anything changes; the same is true in reverse - if a file is modified on another device, Dropbox will pick up on this and sync it across to your current machine. All your Dropbox files are stored in the cloud too, meaning you can access them from the web interface at any time. Dropbox doesn't allow for much customization other than the obvious (such as where your files are stored, what the name of your device is etc.), but some users may find the network settings useful - especially those stuck behind a proxy.

  9. Camino 2.1.2 Camino for PowerPC Safari is, for the most part, a great browser which is unfortunately no longer support by Apple. Security issues aside, Safari still has plenty of life left due to the support of modern web standards such as HTML5; but, I have found it to be fairly unreliable as of late - crashing at least once a day and completely stalling fair frequently. There are plenty of alternative PowerPC browsers to choose from: TenFourFox, AuroraFox to name a few. But the one that really stands out is Camino. Camino is based on Mozilla's Gecko engine, and so should be compatible with most sites - scoring a respectable 99/100 on the Acid3 test. Camino's greatest downfall is that it doesn't support extensions - which, as it turns out, doesn't seem to be that big of an issue as it has ad-blocking (the only extension I've ever used) built in. Camino also includes the new TraceMonkey JavaScript engine, an update on the SpiderMonkey engine implementing support for JIT and other nifty optimization features. Speed-wise it's not as fast as Google's V8, but for day-to-day activities it's fast enough that you won't notice the difference. Camino is pretty fast to render most websites, but you will notice a slowdown while browsing sites which utilize a lot of CSS3. Camino is very easy-going on the memory as well, using only 42MB of RAM compared to Safari's 76MB.

  10. Spotify Spotify for PowerPC Spotify stays open longer than any app on my PowerBook G4 - yes, even longer than Camino! While I enjoy building up my CD collection, you can't escape the fact that music is way too expensive (at least, it is when released in a physical format) for the average cash-strapped student. Spotify has an immense library; and it was certainly a pleasant surprise to discover that many obscurer artists also have a decent chunk of their back catalogs featured on Spotify. The interface is extremely easy to use: search for an artist, album, track or genre and listen away! It's fairly responsive on my PowerBook, although I'm fairly certain it would lag on some of the older hardware; but let's be honest - most of the time it is left in the background streaming, there is very little reason to interact with it other than to change track occasionally. Adverts occur fairly frequently and are more than a little annoying (an intended effect, obviously!) - but when you have such a comprehensive music library at your disposale, it's a small price to pay. That said, the paid membership is more than reasonable should you choose to upgrade.


That basically concludes the 10 PowerPC apps that I use the most. In all honesty most of those were fairly predictable, so I look forward to doing a second round of slightly more obscure apps which you come across from time to time and can't figure how you lived without them!

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