Kinks in Mac G4 systems

The Power Mac G4 has had a short but turbulent life so far, and its path still has a few bumps in it.This week San Jose, Calif.

The Power Mac G4 has had a short but turbulent life so far, and its path still has a few bumps in it.

This week San Jose, Calif.-based Adobe Systems Inc. acknowledged bugs in the Velocity Engine-enabled plug-ins for the company's flagship product, Photoshop 5.5. The plug-ins, which ship with every Power Mac G4 system, tap the Velocity Engine vector-processing unit built into the computer's PowerPC G4 chip. When he unveiled the Power Mac G4 line back at August's Seybold Seminars in San Francisco, Apple iCEO Steve Jobs demonstrated the speed boost achieved by these tuned filters.

Kevin Connor, product manager for Photoshop, said Adobe has identified two issues with the current Velocity Engine plug-ins, calling them "minor." He said Adobe is working on a fix that would be available for a free download "not too far out."

The first glitch affects the Distort plug-in. According to Connor, when this filter is used on RGB or LAB images, a vertical artifact can appear.

In addition, Connor said, Photoshop's Lighting Effects and Median plug-ins "can freeze when applied to selections that are only a single pixel wide or a single pixel tall." He pointed out that "it's pretty rare" to use filters on one-pixel selections.

Connor also said a few users have reported Photoshop file icons "disappearing" from their desktops. This isn't the result of a bug, Connor said, but "an issue with the way the plug-ins were shipped with the G4 systems." This issue will also be addressed by the upcoming fix.

Users who have not encountered the above problems do not need to take any action, Connor said. Those who use the Distort filter or apply the Lighting Effects and Median filters to one-pixel selections, he said, should remove the Velocity Engine-enabled plug-ins from the Photoshop plug-ins folder and use the earlier, unaccelerated versions.

OS X Server barriers
Meanwhile, some Power Mac G4 owners are expressing frustration over their inability to run Mac OS X Server. According to an Apple Tech Info Library article, the current version of the OS, 1.0-2, is not supported on either the Yikes! or Sawtooth configurations of what is currently Apple's only professional desktop computer.

The article points to "new hardware" as the reason. Eric Dahlinger of Wichita, Kansas-based Newer Technology, maker of G4 upgrade cards, said the problem centers on updating the Mac OS X Server to work with the ROM on the new machines' motherboards. He said the Unix-based OS is designed only to recognize the ROM of blue-and-white G3s. "Even G4-upgraded Macs aren't supported," Dahlinger said.

The TIL article states that "An update is being prepared to provide compatibility" and that the article "will be updated when that information is available."

However, the article is dated August 31 -- the date of the Power Mac G4's public rollout -- and it was last modified on Sept. 9.

Apple did not return telephone calls requesting comment on the issue.