An SSD for Every PowerBook

Riccardo Mori shows us how to add an SSD to almost any PowerBook

So I inserted the Compact Flash card with Mac OS 7.6.1 in the PowerBook 5300 and performed the same test as quoted above. First I booted the PowerBook 5300 from its internal hard drive, then I selected the CF card in the Startup Disk control panel, turned off the machine, and booted it from the CF card, again measuring boot times with a stopwatch. The results:

  • Internal hard drive (Mac OS 8.1): 2 minutes, 30 seconds.
  • Compact Flash card (Mac OS 7.6.1): 1 minute, 5 seconds.

Less than half the time when booting from the CF card! True, those are two different versions of Mac OS, but the amount of extensions loaded during start-up is more or less the same.

After starting the PowerBook 5300 from the CF card, I opened control panels, applications, files, and the PowerBook 5300 felt way more responsive than when operating from the internal hard drive. And considering how noisy the 1.1 GB IBM hard drive is, one really appreciates the quiet when working from the Compact Flash card.

Not a great test, considering Riccardo is using two different versions of the Mac OS. But it is easy to see where booting from a Compact Flash card has its advantages; speed, durability, and battery life.

In fact as I remember, the chief reason for booting from a Compact Flash card back in the day was longer battery life, not speed. Every minute you can keep your PowerBook from spinning up its internal hard drive adds minutes to its battery life. Given the state of PowerBook batteries these days, a Compact Flash boot drive may be just the thing for any PowerBook user looking to do actual work on a vintage Macintosh.


ImageOptim is a free app that makes images take up less disk space and load faster, without sacrificing quality. It optimizes compression parameters, removes junk metadata and unnecessary color profiles.


Backblaze on SMART Stats:

To determine if a drive is going to fail soon we use SMART statistics as evidence to remove a drive before it fails catastrophically or impedes the operation of the Storage Pod volume.

From experience, we have found the following 5 SMART metrics indicate impending disk drive failure:

  • SMART 5 – Reallocated_Sector_Count.
  • SMART 187 – Reported_Uncorrectable_Errors.
  • SMART 188 – Command_Timeout.
  • SMART 197 – Current_Pending_Sector_Count.
  • SMART 198 – Offline_Uncorrectable.

We chose these 5 stats based on our experience and input from others in the industry because they are consistent across manufacturers and they are good predictors of failure.

It is interesting to see the correlation between SMART Stats and hard drive failures in a sample size as big as Backblaze.


Before Spotlight there was Sherlock. And before Sherlock there was the Find command in the Finder. We have come a long way since the search in System 7. Content awareness, deep indexes, and live results have made modern search powerful. But sometimes I wish I could return to a simpler find, where the indexing every file isn't required, and I can see the results from every folder on my hard drive. EasyFind is powerful search made easy.


I have been using VIM as my text editor of choice for a couple of years now. Editing in VIM requires switching between the text-entry, and command mode by way of the Escape key. Normally I don't find stretching my left pinky up to reach the Escape key too difficult a task. But on my new 11-inch MacBook Air the Escape key is less than half the height of a normal key, and harder to hit. If only there was a large useless key on the left-hand side of my keyboard I could replace with Escape.

Seil is a utility for remapping the Caps Lock key in Mac OS X.