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By Tom Lundvall and Jamie Dresser, Other World Computing

UPDATE - This issue has been resolved with the release of Mac OS X 10.3.2 - use the Software Update preference pane to bring your system fully up to date and enable Quartz Extreme & DVD playback with your GeForce4MX card!

Since Mac OS X 10.3 was released on Friday, October 24, 2003, there have been many reports of the NVIDIA GeForce4MX cards (and other cards from different manufacturers) not working under this new operating system. It seems that Apple pruned out any extraneous code it could from different .kext files (drivers). What is strange is that customers with Power Macintosh G4 "Sawtooth" and a few(not all) "Gigabit Ethernet" logic boards seem to be affected by this loss of video - Digital Audio, and Quicksilver machines are fine. It seems that the lack of the 28v ADC power connector on the logic board causes the card to not be recognized. After all, Apple did not ever ship these cards as a part for older systems, and NVIDIA has never retailed cards for the Mac platform for end users to buy. The only way to get the card was to receive the card bundled with your system or to purchase one from a 3rd party company such as OWC, and it's up to Apple to write the drivers for the card as the OEM vendor of the product.

As we have been selling these surplus cards for many months with no problems until now, we have been actively pursuing any leads on restoring functionality to these cards. After all, they are still working in most systems including ones they originally shipped from the factory installed in.

There are a number of existing forum threads on Apple's own discussion boards about this, as well as reader reports at XLR8YourMac, MacFixit and MacInTouch. You may find them interesting - I know we have been reading them actively.

This fix does have some limitations: Quartz Extreme is NOT activated, DVD player may not work, and OpenGL may not function fully, but the card is at least usable while we continue our efforts to restore full functionality. We want the cards to work 100% as much as everyone else does :>) With any luck there will be a follow up article to this one in the near future with Quartz Extreme support, or Apple will fix what has been broken with a 10.3.x update.

Here are the step by step instructions for making this card work under Mac OS X 10.3.

  1. Download the Mac OS X 10.2 "geforce.kext" file from our website. If you already have a Mac OS X 10.2 installation on your machine or another one, you can locate the file on it and use that one as well.
  2. Make sure you are logged into your computer with administrator privileges. To do this you would need to launch NetInfo Manager, located in your Utilities folder. (Hard Drive -->Applications-->Utilities-->NetInfo Manager). Under the Security Menu, you can authenticate and Enable Root User.
  3. Open the Extensions folder at this location (Hard Drive-->System-->Library-->Extensions)
  4. Find the file named Geforce.kext in the folder you just opened.
  5. Drag this file to the trash, it will state you need to enter your password to permit this, enter your Administrator password and click OK. The file should now be missing from the Extensions folder.
  6. Click on the new file you downloaded and drag it into the Extensions folder, it will pop up a window that says you do not have permission to do this Click the button that says Authenticate, and you should now have the new file in the Extensions folder.
  7. Launch Disk Utility. (Hard Drive -->Applications-->Utilities-->Disk Utility)
  8. Repair Permissions using Disk Utility on the volume you just changed the Geforce.kext file on.
  9. Restart your computer with the card installed, you should be back in business.