Blog Post

Mozilla to Drop OS 10.4 Tiger Support? Say It Isn’t So

Another nail in OS X 10.4 Tiger’s coffin was recently hammered in a post by Mozilla Foundation’s Josh Aas.

Support for Tiger Already Terminated

Aas reveals that development support for OS X 10.4 Tiger was terminated as of September 2009, but much of the code required to support 10.4 was left in the tree in case the developers wanted to reverse that decision. The point has arrived that a final decision to either restore 10.4 support or remove the (large) amount of 10.4-specific code from the next iteration of Mozilla’s Gecko browser engine must be made.

He presents the not unreasonable case that the developers want to take advantage of advanced technologies in later OS X versions and retaining OS 10.4 support has been a hindrance, as workarounds consume valuable time and effort.

25% of Mac OS X Firefox Users Still Running OS 10.4

Aas concedes that approximately 25 percent of Firefox’s Mac OS X users (roughly 1.5 million) are still running OS 10.4, but would continue to be supported by Firefox 3.6 until it reaches end of service several months after the next major Firefox version release (built on Gecko 1.9.3) later this year. Cold comfort and a mighty short time window for those of us still running Tiger, the last OS X version that supports G3 Macs and G4s slower than 867 MHz. I’m hoping to get at least two or three more years of production service out of my two old Pismo PowerBooks running OS 10.4.

Aas counters that in the past Mozilla hasn’t lost appreciable market share after dropping support for a Mac (s aapl) OS X version, making the fair observation that they’re typically one of the last vendors supporting older Mac OS X releases. However I wonder if any of those previous abandonments represented a quarter of their user base.

OS 10.4 a Special Case?

I submit that Tiger represents a special case because of its straddling of the PPC/Intel (s intc) transition, and that there are more PPC diehards likely holding on to older Macs that only support up to Tiger for longer this time than would customarily have been.

Some of us Tiger holdouts either don’t want to give up on computers performing superbly and reliably for us, as my Pismos are for me, or simply can’t afford to upgrade our systems during this economic period.

I accede to the eventual inevitability of Tiger’s demise farewell, and Apple itself could terminate security update support for Tiger any day now. I just don’t welcome it and hoped it wouldn’t arrive quite this soon.

How about you? If you’re still using Tiger, how big of a deal will Firefox support termination be for you?

23 Responses to “Mozilla to Drop OS 10.4 Tiger Support? Say It Isn’t So”

  1. Snowy

    It is hardly a great advertisement for Apple that when you buy a Macintosh it costs almost twice as much as a comparable PC and will be obsolete in half the time!


    Snow Leopard is slow as crap. I am having to seriously think about rolling it back to tiger. SL is the Vista of OS X. Apple better watch it.

  3. You guys are forgetting that Firefox is open source — what you need is someone with a reasonable grasp on the code to fork off a “TigerFox” variant, where they can manually roll the security updates in themselves, or recompile new versions of FF to run on Tiger. Similar to the IceWeasel variant on Debian (although that is only a difference in logos really, not code).

    I personally hate to see old but still very usable hardware go to waste over something as simple as this.

    Oh, and for those that are planning on upgrading to new hardware, don’t waste the old — install a PPC version of Linux and re-use the machines for other purposes (kids computers, home servers, etc), or consider loading Linux and then donating them, lots of charities could use serviceable word processing/internet machines.

  4. There’s one other feature of 10.4 that 10.5 lacks; Classic Compatibility.

    Believe you me, if I could go back in time and assassinate the makers of 4d before they could release their unholy spawn on an unsuspecting world I’d do it, but in lieu of a handy time machine, ninja suit and icepick I’m stuck with 80 10.4 machines until the dev team can move the database over to something usable by a modern machine. It’s only been 5 years since they started that project… should be any day now.

  5. Mac OS X 10.4.11 is just over two years old, and already companies are dumping support for it. That’s just pitiful, and poor planning – from both Apple and 3rd party developers.

    Mozilla: don’t let the door hit you in the a** on the way out. Safari 4 runs just fine on Tiger and it’s FASTER and MORE STABLE than Firefox 3.6. Gimme a call when you get your act in gear. ya right.

  6. Charles, those of us who still use older PPC Macs that don’t run well (or at all) with Mac OS X Leopard will eventually have 3 choices: continue to use their outdated software (it won’t stop working just because it’s unsupported), buy a new machine, or switch to Linux. PPC Linux will have an up-to-date version of Firefox (Iceweasel on Debian) well into the future.

  7. Charles W. Moore

    Just to clarify; I do have a 10 month old Core 2 Duo MacBook, on which Chrome is becoming my favorite browser.

    I don’t use the old Pismos because I have to, but because I’ve never found a laptop I like as well all-round.


  8. Remember, it’s 25% of the Mac OS X market, which is pretty tiny compared to Firefox’s entire marketshare.

    One of the great things about the Apple ecosystem is how quickly they drop support for older hardware and devices. Unlike Microsoft, whose products have to be backwards compatible with all kinds of old junk (software and hardware), adding complexity, bugs, etc that stifle their ability to innovate, Apple has started mostly fresh on numerous occasions in order to deliver exceptional products. Why shouldn’t Mozilla be able to do the same?

    Besides, an end of support does not mean that Mozilla will come and delete Firefox from your hard drive. And running an out-of-date browser won’t suddenly cause the internet to stop working. Look at IE6, it’s almost 10 years old. Sure it sucks and everyone should have abandoned it years ago, but it still accounts for what, 20% browser marketshare?

    If you really have to have the latest and greatest software, you’re going to need some new hardware. To paraphrase Steve Jobs: “Just buy a new Mac. Not that big a deal.”

  9. Losing 25% of your market is bad. But losing 25% TEMPORARILY (until they upgrade, and they WILL upgrade eventually), isn’t such a horrible thing.

    Firefox is now competing with three big browsers, rather than two. Google’s Chrome is gaining marketshare quickly. At my site, – the percentage of Chrome users has gone from less than 1% six months ago, to over 25% now. And that’s on a Mac-based site.

    The point being, Firefox has to continue to progress with the technology when it’s available – rather than trying to keep users who aren’t upgrading happy. That’s not necessarily a great thing, but if they don’t, it leaves the door open for more browsers to enter the market and for existing users to consider switching.

  10. Unfortunately, Safari just doesn’t get me access to several sites that I routinely access for work. Granted, I jumped on the ol’ G4 iBook for work only out of convenience when I just need to checkout what’s what for work. I just so prefer FireFox over Safari, that I am sad to see it go… it’s a shame when great hardware is made obsolete by software upgrades and decisions to drop support.

  11. bob kinders

    I’m betting that a significant part of the Tiger user base is in the same boat I’m in, which is that the current generation of Macs at $2500 a pop, so that you can have peripherals expansion capability, is just too pricey. So as a group we’ll be running the G3 and G4s for quite a while to come. I will just switch back to Safari and dump Firefox when website compatibility starts to be a problem.

  12. @Adam: “Plus Tiger isn’t getting security updates from Apple any more…”

    So, the Security Update from 5 months ago means Apple isn’t providing security updates anymore? Or the fact that new releases of Safari, and other application updates with security implications aren’t addressing security issues, either?

    Obvioiusly, you have no idea what you’re talking about.

  13. You’re still running a Pismo? ROFL.

    But, seriously, what’s wrong with just saying with Firefox 3.6? You’re not upgrading the OS; you can just “not upgrade” the browser as well.

    There are drastic changes between 10.4 and 10.5 from a development perspective. At some point you want to prune the cruft. Given Tiger is now almost 6 years old, it’s likely time.

  14. Cold Water

    By the time Firefox 4.0 drops at “year end,” it will be well over four years since Apple sold a PPC Mac, and closer to five as a matter of practice for any savvy buyer. Even still, it’s not like you’re left out in the cold without a browser or upgrade path to carry on.

  15. iphonerulez

    I have a G4 MacMini 1.42 GHz still running Tiger as a media server for my HDTV. I guess I’ll have to move up to Leopard. I thought that Tiger might be easier on the puny G4 processor and it takes up much less space on the hard drive than Leopard. All my Intel machines are running Snow Leopard which is great.

    I don’t have a beef with Apple since the G4 was getting old anyway. I guess it’s high time for a new MacMini.