Itching to upgrade to Apple’s latest OS: OS X Lion (10.7)? You may want to do a bit of investigation first. Some older applications that require Rosetta, will not work after your upgrade. Rosetta is a piece of software developed and provided by Apple that allows applications developed for PowerPC hardware to successfully run on Intel-based systems. Essentially, older applications are running on Intel Macs under emulation. Emulation is a fancy way of saying that your Intel Mac pretends that it is a PowerPC while running the application.
The icons for applications which are no longer supported will have a white circle with a line through it, like this one:
When you attempt to launch a PowerPC application under Lion, you will receive a message like this one I see when I launch Disk Inventory X:
There are three kinds of applications you are likely to have on your reasonably modern Mac system. They are:
PowerPC -PowerPC applications are generally older applications built specifically for the RISC architecture. They were the standard for about a decade (1994-2006).
Intel – Intel applications are the current standard. They are designed to be run on the Intel architecture.
Universal – For a number of years, OS X supported the concept of Universal binaries. These were applications that could be run on PowerPC AND Intel hardware. This was done by including executables for BOTH architectures together in one package. Although convenient, the executables are very large since they contain everything need to run in either environment.
While putting together this post, I also noticed that the applications which are no longer supported do not appear in Launchpad. Launchpad is Apple’s new interface for selecting applications to execute. It is clearly derived from the interface of the iPhone and iPad and it allows you to swipe through pages of applications using gestures.
Some applications which I have loaded which are no longer supported are FreeMind, Disk Inventory X, some Open XML Microsoft Office tools (from Office 2008) and a Wacom tablet tutorial.
So, now that we suspect that there might be some applications which won’t run any longer, how do we find out which ones? The easiest method is to use the System Profiler. Although you can run a graphical version of the system profiler which can be found in the Applications/Utilities folder (called System Information.app), I chose to use the command line version. Bring up a terminal window and execute the following:
system_profiler SPApplicationsDataType > List.txt
On my system, this ran in about a minute. The file List.txt, found in your current directory, contains information about all of your installed applications. You may look at the List.txt file with any text editor. For applications which aren’t supported, the “Kind” will be listed as PowerPC, like this:
For supported applications, the type will either be “Intel” or “Universal”.