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Jatoba's picture
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Importing Leopard Drivers to Tiger?

So, thanks to a discussion over at MacRumors, I was wondering where, and how, drivers are stored in a Tiger or Leopard installation, and if there's any way of "bringing over" drivers from one operating system to another. With all due procedures of repairing permissions and/or whatever is applicable or actually required.

In short, I have zero understanding about drivers in OS X, and would like to learn/understand them a bit better, as well as how we can import drivers from one OS X installation to another, even if it may not be compatible. Just copy files over? Edit .plists around? Execute a bunch of command-line commands on the Terminal app?

More specifically, my desire is to bring over ATI GPU drivers from Leopard to Tiger. I don't know if this can actually work or not, for a series of reasons, but I have to try it, and see for myself the results. This is all for the sake of getting a flashed ATI X1950 XT 256Mb GPU to be recognized and work properly in Tiger, which already does in Leopard.

Any help or support is appreciated! Smile

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24bit's picture
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The "drivers" in OSX are usually referred to as kernel extensions or kext(s) in short.
You may try to move the ATI related kexts for your X1900 from your Tiger installation to Panther.
After moving things by hand, kernel caches and permissions have to be cleared/updated.
Should work like this (not sure about the paths for mkext and kextcache though):

chown -R root:wheel /System/Library/Extensions
chmod -R 755 /System/Library/Extensions
rm /System/Library/Extensions.mkext
rm /System/Library/Extensions.kextcache

At the next OSX boot, mkext and kextcache will be created again by the system.

Under the hood, many changes took place from 10.3 to 10.4, so I doubt that a Tiger kext will work with Panther just by dropping it in. Dependecies may have changed, stacks were written new from scratch, paths have changed - you get the idea. Sad

Jatoba's picture
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Thank you! This is exactly the kind of advice I was seeking. Smile It gives me a good direction.

Incidentally, I plan to import drivers from Leopard (10.5) to Tiger (10.4), rather than from Tiger (10.4) to Panther (10.3). But your warnings still hold completely true.

24bit's picture
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Sure, I somehow did misread your posting.
Good luck anyway!

How did you set up the card in 10.5 Leopard?
10.4 (Intel) has a ATIRadeon1000.kext, is such a thing there with the PPC version?
If so, it looks more promising to me patching the 10.4 kext for use with the ATI 1900.
The original Mac Radeon 1900 was supposed to run with 10.4.7.
Some hacks have been done, but I never tried myself.
https://www.insanelymac.com/forum/topic/46002-problems-with-sapphire-x19...

AMD/ATI had drivers for Tiger and earlier, maybe the Internet Archive captured them?

SkyCapt's picture
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Nearly every Leotard 10.5 OS component can't run in El Tigre 10.4 Apple made everything incompatible and were jerks about it. I have gotten the same one printer driver running in 10.3 / 10.4 / 10.5 not sure if it's a kext tho (not sure if I tried it with 10.2 ...)

Abouts every application for Tiger works also in Leo but Tiger's OS components, naw, especially kexts. I would be putting Tiger's "Classic mode" into Leotard in a heartbeat if I could. Some screensavers can be moved crosscat, not much else. "Paper Shadow" runs in Jaguar/Smeagol.

If you do succeed moving "driver kexts" from 10.5 to 10.4 then do USB because 10.5 is twice faster, and do SATA because less than 10.5.8 is limited to 2.2Terabytes per drive/partition, 10.5.8 has unlimited size SATA.

24bit's picture
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There was something available on the AMD servers, but its gone meanwhile.
Maybe someone has a copy stored locally?

Bildschirmfoto-2019-08-09-um-11-31-01

Jatoba's picture
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There's a working download button still there, a bit more to the right. Yesterday I downloaded from it.

Here's the direct download link, for anyone interested: https://www2.ati.com/drivers/MacX1900G5.dmg

I'll be testing that .dmg and other things shortly, but considering the release date, I figure whatever this has to offer was probably there with the 10.4.11 Combo Update, but it's still worth checking it out to be sure. Let's see how this and other attempts go...

Jatoba's picture
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Holy moly, it works. Or sort of works.

Before:

After:

Notice how Core Image and Quartz Extreme went from "Not Supported" to "Supported", and how Rotation, which was missing altogether, is now listed as "Supported".

But the issue? System Profiler still reports 128 MB of VRAM. But the ATI program correctly reports it as 256 MB. Is there any way I can find out which one is correct? Say I run enough games simultaneously on Tiger to fill up the VRAM: where can I check or monitor the VRAM?

Still, this is awesome. I can tell the driver actually works, because without it, the GPU fan is "ignored" (it forever spins super fast or, if you were on Leopard then rebooted straight to driverless Tiger, it's weak), but with the driver installed, it behaves exactly as it does under Leopard.

For completion, here's what Leopard shows:

I'm assuming "Hardware Accelerated", instead of "Supported", is simply how Leopard reports that a GPU supports Core Image. Its system profiler does list things a bit differently compared to Tiger regardless of what GPU is supported or not in both, so my guess is that that's one such instance.
EDIT: And my guess was right on that one: that difference in nomenclature also occurs for the stock NVIDIA GeForce 6600 that comes with the Quad: Core Image is listed as "Hardware Accelerated" on Leopard and "Supported" on Tiger.

24bit's picture
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Good you got your (flashed?) X1900 working with Tiger!
On my side a DL from AMD always fails with an error.
Maybe worth a thought to upload the installer package to the internal server. Wink

Jatoba's picture
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I will, this weekend. Smile

Yes, my card is flashed, but it's an X1950XT (256 Mb version. The 512 Mb version is called X1950 XTX) instead of a X1900. But since the flashed ROM/BIOS was a modification based upon the X1900, which is similar, the X1900 drivers were able to help out.

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Driver uploaded! http://macintoshgarden.org/apps/ati-x1900-driver-powermac-g5-late-2005-pcie

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Alright, great news! I confirmed the card works PERFECTLY under Tiger, VRAM included. This means although system profiler reports 128MB of VRAM and ATI's program reports 256MB, the latter is not only correct, but also is what is actually used by Tiger. Here is one piece of evidence, via tools that come with XCode (look at the "Current Free Video Memory" line):

Tiger:

Leopard:

GPU benchmarking from XBench also gave it the exact same score under both systems, if that's worth anything.

I installed the driver on 10.4.11 Tiger, Server Tiger PowerPC and Server Tiger Universal. It works flawlessly in all 3 PowerPC-compatible versions.

But there was an unexpected catch: with specifically Server Tiger Universal, the system gets a kernel panic late during boot. Which means I couldn't get to a point I could install the driver. So for that end, I had to unplug the X1950XT, turn the G5 on, and only then could I install the driver. (I used the stock GeForce 6600.)

With the driver installed, I put the X1950XT back in, and boom! It works!

But then I noticed something VERY interesting. Have a look:

The system is reported to have 256MB VRAM even in the system profiler! What the?! And what's more, looks how it says "Hardware Accelerated" for Core Image! In other words, this version of the system profiler is behaving just like Leopard's! Although it's just a visual difference in nomenclature, it's as if the Server Universal version of Tiger is slightly closer to Leopard than Server PowerPC and "Client" PowerPC are!

I didn't expect that at all. Kinda really cool.

For completion, here's the PCI Cards page:

And the system version code/number:

Now, what's left? I "happen" to also have the 512MB version of this card, called X1950XTX, which also has a slightly higher clock and also slightly faster VRAM. And it is rumored the ROM used for the 256MB version would also work with the 512MB version, although stuck with the 256MB of VRAM.

And that card is looking at me with fear right now. Smile

SkyCapt's picture
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"Ruby" likes your post.

Jatoba's picture
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Well, I successfully flashed the X1950XT ROM into a X1950XTX. The result?

See that smaller glitch box? That's the mouse icon, which I can move.

Needless to say, turns out using that ROM on the 512MB version of the card doesn't work, and the myth of claims of it working is false. (With that ROM, anyway.)
Before flashing, I backed up the original XTX ROM, and turns out it's 128k big. The Mac one we use on the XT is 64k only, though. (Not sure how big the original XT ROM is for PC. Gotta check.) So it fits, but I'm not sure if we are supposed to write another 64k of 0s to avoid leftover garbage and prevent it from interfering (if it does).

With a second GPU on SLOT-3, I could boot normally and see the XTX (as X1900) and all, so I know the flashing itself worked. 256MB and all.

But this ROM has to be modified beforehand. At first, we knew that was a requirement for the VRAM to be fully used. But now, we see it's also a requirement for the card itself to work properly at all.

Always good to learn something everyday!

I fixed the X1950XT Mac ROM page here with this information accordingly.