Mac Pro 2008: dead ATI 200 XT GPU replaced with not so dead Nvidia 120 GT

The ATI Radeon HD 2600 XT that came standard in the 2008 Mac Pro was a good looking card. I mean, chrome flames?! But unfortunately in this case, mine died:

I primarily used this card only to access the Mac boot screen to switch between MacOS and Windows 10, as my other card, an Nvidia 750ti doesn’t support the boot screen. Once the ATI card died, I was stuck in Windows 10 and couldn’t boot back into MacOS.

Not really needing an upgrade, just a replacement that supports the boot screen, I picked up a cheap Nvidia 120 GT on ebay for $30. Nowhere near as flashy looking as the ATI:

Got the card installed, and it works great:

Turns out the fan on that ATI card was also the noisiest fan in my Mac Pro. Now with the new Nvidia card, my Mac Pro is barely audible. I have 2 SSDs and one 2.5″ HDD, so other than the system fans, I guess with low usage it really shouldn’t be spinning up the fans that loud anyway. Turns out this new card is significantly quieter. Bonus!

Comedy of Errors: Mac gpu dies, no boot screen, Unifi Controller on unselectable MacOS disk

I’m not sure how all these issues occurred at the same time (or at least close enough together to cause issues), but here’s the story:

My Unifi network Controller app is on my 2008 Mac Pro. It has 2 GPUs, the original ATI Radeon HD 2600 XT that supports the Mac boot screen, and a Nvidia 750ti that is a PC card and so doesn’t support the boot screen. The 750ti is my normal gpu, the 2600XT is connected to a smaller monitor that I only use to access the Mac boot screen to switch between Windows 10 and MacOS.

At some point the 2600 XT just stopped working, it doesn’t have any video output from either of the monitor connectors. I’ve pulled it out and reseated it, but it’s just dead. While I was booted in MacOS a couple of days ago I changed the default boot disk to Windows 10 (mistake #1) to access some files from Windows. At that point I started to realize I’d lost a way of getting back into MacOS without a way to get to the boot screen.

Fast forward a few days, I started up my DL380 rack server which I use on a different IP range to the IP range for the rest of the house. I can get to the HP ILO on 10.0.0.2, but I can’t access ESXi which is normally on 10.0.0.3. I can’t get to the Unifi Controller (because it’s on the MacOS disk that I can’t boot) to see what IP that port on the hub has, and running arp -a or using Angry IP scanner is not showing any new IPs getting allocated via DHCP.

My stack of network hubs is under my desk, so getting underneath my desk I realized I’d plugged the DL380 in to the PoE input port and not a network port. While adding another PC to the hub a few weeks back I had moved that port from my 10.x.x.x network back to 192.168.1.x. So now plugging the DL380 network into any other free port on another hub means ESXI still thinks it’s on 10.0.0.3, but I can’t reach it as there’s no route via the port it’s now plugged into.

I need to switch back one of the ports on my Unifi switch back to the 10.x.x.x network, but:

  • I can’t boot my Mac Pro to MacOS because it’s stuck in Windows 10
  • I need to get a replacement Mac GPU that supports the boot screen
  • I can’t switch a port on the Unifi switch back to 10.x.x.x because I can’t access the Unifi controller app
  • I don’t have remote access enabled to my Unifi network
  • I don’t even know what id/pwd I can use to ssh into the Unifi switch

Next steps:

  • Cheap replacement Nvidia GT 120 ordered on ebay for $30.

Bulk converting image file formats with MacOS Preview

The Preview app on MacOS has a ton of useful features, from annotating images to converting file formats. Recently I had a bunch on .png screenshots that I needed to convert to jpegs. While I was aware you can Export an image file in Preview and save it in any other supported format, I was looking for a quicker way to bulk convert a large number of files.

Turns out, as explained in this article, if you select a group of images in Finder and double-click one of them to open them all in one go, you can select all the images from their thumbnails on the left:

… then from File click ‘Export Selected’. From the dialog chosoe where to write the converted files, and press Options button to change the file format. Done!

Converting Mac OS 9 .pict screenshot files to jpegs

The Shift+Cmd+4 key combo is common from all the way back to Mac OS 9 (and maybe earlier?) to all Mac OS X and current MacOS versions and takes a screenshot of a selected area on the screen. On current MacOS versions the file saved to your desktop is in png format (Mac OS X versions around 10.4 saved screenshots in .tiff format), but on OS 9 it’s in a less common .pict format.

By today’s standards the .pict file format is even more unusual as it uses Classic Mac OS file system features called a ‘resource fork‘ and a ‘data fork’. The issue with copying these .pict files from a Classic Mac OS filesystem to a modern file system is described here – when you copy the file you get the ‘resource fork’ but lose the ‘data fork’, in this case losing most of the image file data. When I tried this and viewed or converted the file on MacOS each of the files only has a section of the image, or none at all.

To convert to a jpeg or other more commonly used format today, this post suggests using the Resize! app, which is still downloadable from kstudio.net.

The trouble with this approach is if you’ve already copied the .pict files from OS 9 to a SMB network drive, you’ve already lost part of the file and it won’t convert as expected.

The best option as described in the first post is to convert to a jpeg or gif on OS 9 before moving elsewhere. I’ve seen posts suggesting to use Quicktime Viewer, but the version I have on mg G4 running OS 9.2.2 doesn’t have a Save As or Export feature, not that I could find anyway.

Instead what I found that worked for me was to download GraphicsConverter from Mac Garden here and use Save As changing the file extension to .jpg