Will the upcoming ‘modular’ Mac Pro be easily expandable?

It’s been rumored for a while now that a new upcoming Mac Pro, likely to be announced at WWDC 2019, will be ‘modular’. The last generation Mac Pro, usually referred to as the ‘trashcan’ because it looks just like a trash can, is anything but modular compared to previous generations.

This is what my 2008 Mac Pro looks like in the inside:

I have a mix of SSDs and HDDs in there, and I boot MacOS, Windows 10, Linux and run Proxmox to virtualize the hardware. I have 2 GPUs, one Mac native AMD and one generic nvidia .

I don’t think ‘modular’ means the same as expandable. My 2008 Mac Pro does everything I need as a daily driver desktop, and if I need it to do something different I can easily pull parts out and put new parts in.

I want the new Mac Pro to be as expandable as this, but I think ‘modular’ more likely refers to an ability to link multiple units together to add capacity and features, but that sounds like an expensive approach, and nowhere near as flexible as the expandability of prior generation Mac Pros. Fingers crossed, I’m looking forward to see what will be announced, but I don’t think the new Mac Pro will be as expandable as the previous generations.

MacOS Mojave spaces gestures stopped working after taking screenshot with Grab

I just took a screenshot with the updated Grab app in MacOS Mojave and my 4-finger swipe to switch Spaces desktops stopped working. I found this post which talks about something similar with multitouch gestures which sounds like it’s a randomly occurring issue with multitouch gestures. A reboot fixed it for me, but it was surprising how much I rely on gestures to switch desktops/apps, and when it’s not working how to you switch?! (Ctrl-Left/Right is also works as a keyboard shortcut).

Adding a cheap SSD to my 2008 Mac Pro

Windows 10 on my 2008 Mac Pro maxes out the disk i/o while booting, checking for updates and doing whatever it does after startup, plus add Steam and Origin to launch at boot and disk i/o sits at 100% for several minutes after boot. My Windows 10 disk up until now has been a cheap Hitachi/HGST 7200rpm 500GB HDD.

I boot Windows 10 on my Mac Pro only for occasional gaming, so I haven’t been overly eager to install an SSD. It wasn’t until these recent SSD deals with 480GB for as low as $65 that I decided to pick one up.

I’m aware that the 2008 Mac Pro only has a SATA2 disk controller by default so won’t be able to take advantage of the maximum SATA3 SSD speeds (max 600MB/s), but even at SATA2 bandwidth (max 300MB/s) the i/o will still be multiple times faster than what’s capable by a 7200rpm magnetic disk.

For the last couple of magnetic 2.5″ disks I added, I used a cheap $5 2.5 to 3.5″ 3d printed bracket from Amazon. While it works and holds the disks in place, it’s not sturdy enough to get the drives inserted into the SATA slots when you push the drive sled into the machine. You need to reach under to find the back of the drive and give it a push, then it seats into the slot. I decided to try a Sabrent metal bracket for the SSD. When it arrived I realized I had already used one of these in the past when installing an SSD into a 2012 MacBook Pro. These are pretty sturdy and work well:

$5 3d printed adapter on left, Sabrent adapter on right

A few notes as reminders to myself on the install:

  • Windows 10 will not install from the ISO burnt to a USB flash drive, no matter whether you set it up from Windows 10, MacOS, or Linux. I tried multiple times, and it will not boot. Strangely, MacOS will boot and install from a USB flash drive just fine.
  • Windows 10 will not install to a fresh, blank HD or SSD if there are other disks already in the Mac Pro. Remove all the other disks, leaving just the target disk for Windows 10. Boot from DVD, complete the install, then insert all the other disks back after completing the install

Burning ISOs to disk on MacOS El Cap and later

Prior to El Cap, the Disk Utility on MacOS had an icon to burn an ISO to disk when you mounted the iso. For whatever reason this was removed in El Cap and after, but the ability to burn isos has always bee provided from the Finder.

Right-click an iso file in the Finder and you’ll see a burn option. More info in this article here.