OS X Lion Kills Rosetta PowerPC Support, Here’s What To Do About It

Cult of Mac
by David W. Martin

It isn’t a secret that Apple is killing support for Rosetta in OS X Lion 10.7 the first version of OS X that won’t support the PowerPC platform and apps designed to run on it. All applications requiring Rosetta support turn into “tombstones” that can no longer be executed after upgrading to OS X Lion. Here’s what they look like and information on what to do about it.

One of the first things you might see after upgrading to OS X Lion are white circles with a slash across them superimposed over some of your application icons. I call those “tombstones” because those applications are the ones that require Rosetta in order to run. Therefore since OS X Lion doesn’t support Rosetta you can no longer use these applications on your Mac. OS X Lion has effectively killed them, but a “tombstone” icon remains to point them out.

The icon image for the Rosetta version of Geekbench above is one example, but we found a few others as you can see below — Epson Scan, a Traceroute application, and a GPS utility no longer work. So the question is what can you do about it?

Arrows point to app icons for apps that require Rosetta and no longer run in OS X Lion.

What Kind Of Application Is It?

The most important thing to check first about an application is ask yourself, “What kind of application is it? ” These are the three types to be concerned about: PowerPC, Universal, and Intel.

The first one PowerPC requires Rosetta and will not run on OS X Lion. The other two Universal and Intel are okay since these are compatible with OS X Lion. If you are using an Intel based Mac then Intel is the best option. The Universal type includes Intel and PowerPC support, but the latter can make the application bloated and the redundant PowerPC version of the application on your Mac is just wasting disk space.

You can manually check each of your applications by clicking on its icon once to select it and pressing CMD+I. You’ll see a window open in Finder like this one below. Expand the General section if needed and look for “Kind.”

The gpsWrite applications is PowerPC only and therefore it will not work on OS X Lion. Once OS X Lion was installed the icon for gpsWrite was turned into a “tombstone” as you can see in the Finder window above.

So What Do You Do Next?

The only solution for people with the desire to upgrade to OS X Lion and retain their Rosetta applications is to contact the vendor and see if there is an upgrade to a version that is either Intel or Universal. In this case the vendor appears to have gone out of business so I’m out of luck. I’ll lose this application when I upgrade to OS X Lion.

If the vendor has a Universal or Intel version of their application then you will need to upgrade to it before upgrading to OS X Lion. So check your applications and then check with your vendors about OS X Lion compatibility before upgrading your OS.

You can also check out this website for information about application compatibility with OS X Lion: RoaringApps Crowd Sourced App Compatibility Database For OS X Lion. Join the site and add your own knowledge and experience to help out other Mac users.

If you are an advanced user and familiar with the Unix shell on your Mac open Terminal and enter the following command:

system_profiler SPApplicationsDataType >~/Desktop/MyFileTypes.txt

it will create a text file on your Desktop that will contain information about all the applications installed on your Mac. Open the document called MyFileTypes.txt in your favorite text editor and search for the word “PowerPC” each one of these will require Rosetta support in order to execute. Here’s the sample output for my gpsWrite application:

 gpsWrite 2.0: Version: 2.0.2 Last Modified: 6/11/11 5:20 AM Kind: PowerPC 64-Bit (Intel): No Get Info String: Location: /Applications/gpsWrite 2.0.2.app

Other Alternatives

Apple has allegedly loosened the rules regarding virtualization of OS X to include the client version of OS X Lion. The server version of Mac OS X Snow Leopard has had the ability to be virtualized under Fusion or Parallels for some time. It isn’t clear if this ability to virtualize OS X will cover the client version of Mac OS X Snow Leopard or not. If it does then you would be able to use virtualization on OS X Lion to run Snow Leopard in order to get some more mileage out of your apps that require Rosetta.

Don’t upgrade. If you really need that PowerPC application don’t upgrade to OS X Lion keep Snow Leopard around until you can find an alternative application to use.

Rosetta Time To Let Go

Apple has offered Rosetta and PowerPC support on Intel architecture machines for over five years (PowerPC to Intel architecture changes were announced in 2005 at WWDC) allowing users to keep running PowerPC applications from roughly 2005 to present. It’s definitely time to let that go as far as Apple is concerned and OS X Lion hammers that point home. Now it might be your turn to do the same. Personally I’ll lose a handful of applications on my Mac, but fortunately none of these are overly critical to me. I plan on upgrading all my Macs to OS X Lion and I’m not planning on looking back.

Do you have any PowerPC applications that you cannot live without? Tell us about them by leaving a comment.

__________________

Advertisements

9 thoughts on “OS X Lion Kills Rosetta PowerPC Support, Here’s What To Do About It

  1. Hi guys, I got rct3, I know its just a game, but I’ve decided to make a 100 GB partition (500 GB HD) that will have snow leopard installed on it, but mostly, the reason I’m doing this is, is because I don’t know why Lion, does not let me open Win 7 in Parallels Desktop, hope this works (I’m a developer so I’m already using Lion, it’s awesome, except 4 that simple fact (No Rosetta).

  2. Graphpad Prism 4.0…… Insdispensable in research for stats….. One of the most used software on my mac!!! Arggghhhhhh!!!

  3. Too bad to know that but try to contact to developer.
    Maybe he’s planning a new version or check in the App Store for a new app

  4. Note to editor: “If you are using an Intel based Mac than Intel is the best option.” “than” should be changed to “then”

    I would want to see MOTU’s Unisyn as a supported app. I need it!

  5. Quicken2007 won’t work on my MBPro with Lion. The “new” Quicken seems like a lite version. I looked at a handful of other home finance software and haven’t found one that has the features of Quicken2007. Besides that, my computer boots nearly twice as fast.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s