Fixing bad colors on 2011 iMac + MacOS Mojave (Updated)

So, it was the end of the line for my 27″ 2011 iMac.  After 7 years of service, the new OS (MacOS 10.14 “Mojave”) wasn’t going to be able to be installed on the old faithful.  There’s some tech reasons for that – Apple moved to minimum standard for graphics cards for their system (they have to support Metal).  While there’s external GPU’s for my iMac, I haven’t seen one that supports Mojave.  And, even if it did, I probably can’t afford it.

And I certainly can’t afford a new Mac at the moment.

The is a bit of an issue, since I’ve got to be able to compile a project for release very soon.  Well… shit.

Fortunately, there’s always someone somewhere that wants to get just a little more life out of their machine – in this case, the Mojave Patcher will do some trickery to load MacOS on a machine that’s not supposed to have it.  Nice.  Though, reading the notes, it mentions machines with a Radeon 5xxx or 6xxx series GPU had weird colors.  Well, how bad could it be.

The answer is very.  But, there’s a simple fix (for me, at least).  Typically, I run dual screen.  When starting the process, I turned off the second screen and went about installing, getting everything working, and back to developing software.  It would be unusable with the “weird colors” if I wanted to do any graphics work.

I turned the second screen back on, which is attached via Thunderbolt to HDMI.  Boom – suddenly all of my colors were correct again!

That didn’t solve the other problems, though – hardware acceleration is disabled, which means my fairly snappy iMac runs like a dog.  For doing something like writing this blog, it’s fine (I’m using Chrome, though results appear the same in Safari.)  I would have said YouTube would be worthless, but actually it seems to run YouTube videos just fine.  Same goes for NetFlix, though there’s some issues with the animations for launching a show.

I’m dreading seeing what performance is like running the Android or iOS emulators (if they launch at all.) . I’ll find out what the damage is there tomorrow.

So is Mojave usable on my old machine?  Yes.  Is the machine still usable?  Yeeeaaahhhh… for the most part.  I think it’s gonna take me a bit to get used to the laggy interface.  Since I have to compile stuff and sign it for the App Stores, I HAVE to run Mojave, otherwise I wouldn’t have bothered with the upgrade.  Should you bother with it?  Up to you if you’re on an old, unsupported Mac. (Obviously if you’re on a supported Mac, by all means upgrade)

Run into the color issue?  Try plugging in a second monitor and see if that does the trick.  Honestly, I have no idea why it worked, but it does. 🙂

Two updates to this (and probably some more to come later):

First, scrolling in Safari was laggy and choppy.  Dragging windows around was choppy.  Quick fix – lower the resolution from the maximum (2560 x 1440) to one step top (1920 x 1080) pretty much eliminated it.  Not butter smooth, but a huge improvement on all of them.  It’s much more usable.

Now for the “wow, that gets weird” part:  the “weird colors” issue reappeared on my main monitor, but the secondary display has the right colors.  Reverting back to the previous resolution doesn’t fix it.  Definitely a WTF item. 🙂

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