It’s been more than a decade since PowerPC Macs roamed the earth—so long as the Intel Macs that replaced them are themselves being replaced by something else. But as of today, there is a small community of people developing software for PowerPC Mac and Mac OS 9.
one of those projects was tenforfox, a fork of the Firefox browser for G3, G4 and G5-based PowerPC Macs running Mac OS X 10.4 or 10.5. Mainly maintained by Cameron Kaiser, the TenFourFox project began in late 2010 when Mozilla pulled PowerPC support from Firefox 4 during its development. And surprisingly, the browser has continued to trounce since then.
But continuing to age Firefox features, stuck PowerPC processors only became more difficult over time. And in March of this year, Casaro Announced that TenFourFox update will end After more than a decade of development. TenFourFox’s last planned release was earlier this month.
Caesar’s full post Long, but it’s worth a read for vintage—computer enthusiasts or anyone who’s worked on the software—Kaiser expresses frustration with the realities of developing and supporting a specific app, but also at TenforFox’s impressive technological achievements. Highlights and considers the nature of modern Internet and open source software development, saying:
[T]That biggest investment is time: trying to stick to a regular schedule when the ground is slipping beneath your feet is a big part of my work hours, and given that my regular profession is highly specialized and computing With very little, you can’ I really don’t pay enough to dedicate my daily existence to TenFourFox or any other open-source project because I just don’t scale. (We never accepted donations, largely to avoid people thinking they were “buying” something.) I know some people build their entire lives from free open source projects. I think those people are exceptional and remarkable because of their rarity. Most open source projects, even those with large user bases, are ultimately black holes and always will be.
Kaiser doesn’t intend to stop work on the browser altogether, but he calls it “hobby mode.” He will continue to backport the security patches from the new ESR releases of Firefox and post them on the TenFourFox Github page, but anyone who wants to use them will need to build the app themselves. Caesars also will not commit to providing support for these additions or to provide them on any schedule. Other developers are also welcome to continue releasing TenFourFox builds on their own.
There are many reasons why you can’t browse the Internet on PowerPC Mac 2021, even with a fully supported browser. G4 and G5 processors are an order of magnitude slower than modern Intel, AMD, or Apple silicon processors, and attempting to load a bloated modern website on a machine with only a gigabyte or two of RAM is an exercise in frustration.
On top of that, it’s been several years since Mac OS X 10.4 or 10.5 received security updates, and most third-party app developers are long gone. Older computers can still run older software, as I learned when I tried to run Mac OS 9 in 2014, but it’s hard to go online or try to interact with other computers. TenFourFox and its development blog are proof of how hard it can be to swim against that tide.