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There are lots of reasons to upgrade to Firefox 4, but it’s not supported for PPC Macs. TenFourFox, a brand new Firefox port made specifically for Power PC users, can breath new life into your beloved old Mac by giving you access to a modern browser.
In 2006, Apple switched to Intel processors. For a while Apple supported both PPC and Intel chips for operating system updates and software, but as time drags on that support is in decline. Mac computers last longer than almost any other make, so it’s understandable if you’ve still got a PPC Mac kicking around. Increasingly however, software for these new platforms aren’t supported.
Chrome‘s never been released for PPC Mac owners, but Firefox always has. Or did, at least, until Firefox 4. The latest, much-improved version of Firefox is the first to drop support for non-Intel.
Feel left behind by Mozilla? Try downloading TenFourFox. This unofficial port brings all the advantages of Firefox 4 to the PowerPC platform. It comes in versions specifically compiled for G3, G4 and G5 processors, and blew Safari out of the water in terms of performance on my PowerMac G5.
You’ll need to be using Mac OS X 10.4 or 10.5 to use this application; owners of older Macs should keep reading for another alternative.
The first thing you’re going to want to do is select the proper version of TenFourFox. Head over to TenFourFox’s website to find your downloads. You’ll notice there are different versions for G3, G4 and G5 Macs.
If you’re not sure which kind you have, click the Apple logo on your top panel, then click “About This Mac“. You’ll find the number you need, as highlighted below:
Once you download the proper version of TenFourFox you can install it as you would any OS X application; drag the icon to your Applications folder and to your dock from there.
How Does It Work?
In brief: it works just like Firefox 4. In fact, if you’ve got Firefox 3 installed, it will detect your current bookmarks, plugins and history and leave them intact. Unless, of course, your current plugins aren’t compatible with Firefox; in that case TenFourFox will offer to automatically update them. It did for me, and now everything is exactly as I had it in Firefox. Greasemonkey, XMarks, and iReader, to name a few.
If you’ve been using Firefox 3, or even Safari, you should notice a pretty great speed boost. This is particularly true while running Gmail, or at least it was for me. As always, your mileage may vary.
There are certain bugs, apparently, but to me everything is working really well. If you run into problems check out the TenFourFox FAQ
Replacing The TenFourFox Icon
I do not like the icon TenFourFox uses. Happily it’s easy to replace it with the default, particularly if you still have Firefox installed.
The reason it’s not using the Firefox logo has to do with branding; Mozilla does not allow unofficial ports to use the Firefox name or logo. Still, if you prefer it, it is possible to switch back.
Apple provides nice instructions for changing an application’s logo. Assuming you’ve still got your old version of Firefox kicking around, this is really easy to do. Soon you won’t even know you’re not running Firefox 4, and that’s how it should be in my opinion.
Have a Mac that isn’t running 10.4? You might want to consider upgrading, but if that’s not possible you can always check out Classilla, a browser for really old Macs. This puppy runs on Macs that predate OS X, so odds are it will work on any Mac that’s still running.
The Power of Open Source
One of my favorite things about open source projects, such as Firefox, is the community’s ability to solve problems. TenFourFox is a classic example of this. Mozilla, for a variety of reasons, left PPC users behind. This wasn’t acceptable to parts of the community, so they got to work and created TenFourFox. That’s fantastic, and is only possible because of the openness of Mozilla’s code base.
How’s TenFourFox working for you? Fill us in below, as always. Also feel free to let me know of any other great browsers that work on PPC Macs, because I love to learn.