Help with classic Apple powerbook/OS

Tom Uban uban at
Sun Jan 28 10:14:48 CST 2007

Cameron Kaiser wrote:
>> I bought a Powerbook 150 years ago and my brother has been using
>> it for years in the studio to run the MIDI sequencer FreeStyle.
>> The PB 150 recently died and I bought a couple of Powerbook 540c
>> on eBay to replace it.
>> My current problem list:
>> 1. My AppleCD 600e (which works fine on the PB 150) does
>>    not show up on either of the PB 540c, so I have no way
>>    to read CDs on the 540c machines.
> This sounds like an Extension problem. Do you have all the CD extensions
> installed on the 540c? I don't remember them off the top of my head, but
> they're things like Apple CD, Hi-Sierra, etc.

I don't recall there being any extensions that were CD related. Would
they have come with the default OS install?

And how does an extension affect the ability to boot from the CD? I
would have thought that the boot ROM code would have to know about
the CD without the aid of an extension...

> I assume you are using the same cable (HDI-30 to "Centronics" SCSI).

Yes, I'm using the funny Apple SCSI cable. It is the same cable/setup
that works fine with the PB 150. Perhaps the 600e is just too new for
the 540c, but the PB 150 came out in 1994 and the PB 540c was certainly
in about that same time frame. The AppleCD 600e came out in 1995, so
maybe that is the problem. I guess I should pick up an AppleCD 300
to see if that works better.

>> 2. FreeStyle uses FreeMidi to talk to a MIDI interface over
>>    the modem/printer port. This was a complete pain to setup
>>    on the PB 150 as there were bugs (possibly MacOS 7 related)
>>    which made the natural automated MIDI configuration fail
>>    to work and hang the computer.
>>    Setting up FreeMidi on the 540c running MacOS 7.5 has
>>    similar problems. Setting up FreeMidi on the 540c running
>>    MacOS 8 does not have these problems (which is why I
>>    think it is probably MacOS7 related). I am unable to make
>>    either 540c talk properly to the MIDI interface such that
>>    it sees the various MIDI keyboards, etc.
> I haven't had much experience with FreeMIDI; I've always used Open Music
> System. The current version is 2.3.8 but I don't remember if OMS is PPC only.
> It is freely downloadable -- at worst it just won't install. I looked at my
> backup installer in HexEdit and didn't see anything that implied it was PPC
> only, but I really don't know for sure.
> How did you get Mac OS 8 installed on the 540c without a CD??

One 540c came with 7.5 installed and the other with 8.0. I have not
upgraded either OS, primarily because of the lack of 600e support.

>> 3. I thought that updating the version of FreeMidi from 1.3
>>    to the latest 1.48 would be a good idea. The image size
>>    is 4Mb, which does not fit onto a floppy.
> I suspect this problem will be solved when you get the CD working :)

How does the working CD solve my problem? I realize that I will be
able to write a large file on my PCs CD-RW, but will the MacOS be
able to read the file structure? And if it does, will it handle
the file type problem correctly? The new FreeMidi version is a .hqx
file. Will the OS know what to do with that or will I have to get
some Stuffit type thing to take it apart?

This is exceedingly frustrating, especially as Macs are touted as
being straight forward. I have to admit that in my experience over
the years, they have never lived up to that name, but then I guess
I try to do things which are less than mainstream.

Thanks for your help!


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