Charles Moore's Mailbag

Classic Install with Tiger, OS 9 Browsers or Plugins?, Other 'Fastest' Macs, and More

Charles Moore - 2007.01.03 - Tip Jar

Problem Installing Classic Mac OS with OS X 10.4.6

D. William Denish writes:

re: Heads-up regarding problems installing Classic OS 9.2 on a hard drive with Tiger OS X 10.4.6

Hi Charles,

You may already be aware of the situation, but I've encountered an annoying OS X 10.4.6 installation problem (actually blind-sided by Apple) that I think you (and others) should be aware of and might consider addressing online and elsewhere. The problem involves installing Classic OS 9.2 on a drive with Tiger already installed. Apple Tech knows about the problem, but it is throwing Apple users to the "wolves" with its kludged go-around.

I have a G4 dual 867 MHz Mirrored Drive Door machine (dual-boot system) with four internal hard drives, 2 GB memory, SuperDrive, Combo drive, ATI Radeon 9800 AGP card, and all four PCI slots filled (FireWire 800, USB 2.0, SATA, SCSI). Originally, I had two internal ATA hard drives (one 60 GB Seagate and one 80 GB Maxtor), with both OS X 10.2.1 and Classic 9.2 installed.

Two weeks ago, I installed a SATA PCI card along with two fast SATA 250 GB Seagate hard drives. The intent was to eventually duplicate the OSs and data from the slow 60 GB and 80 GB drives to the fast new 250 GB SATA drives and then disconnect or remove the two old smaller drives.

Here's the problem: I used Disk Utility to initialize both new 250 GB Seagate drives and then installed Tiger OS X 10.4.6 on them. Then I took the four OS 9.2 Restore CDs that came with the G4 when I bought it almost four years ago and tried to install Classic. It can't be done, because Tiger does not recognize the OS 9.2 Restore discs. The optical drives get confused and do not mount the discs or keep asking me to place a disc in the optical drive when there already is a disk loaded.

After talking to Apple Support, they admitted there is a problem (actually "technical issue") and emailed me a few links with information about the problem. One of the links mentions the "optical confusion" problem. Of course, Apple Support was careful never to use the word "problem," instead using terms like "situation" and "issue." I've included the links below. For your convenience, I've also included Apple's complete email response to me.


As Apple mentioned, I downloaded Apple's special Restore program, in dmg format, and tried using it; but to no avail, it also did not recognize the Restore disks.

This leaves only one option for installing Classic OS 9.2 under Tiger: I must reinitialize the two new 250 GB drives, then install OS X 10.2, then install OS 9.2 Classic from the original Restore disks, and finally, install Tiger 10.4.6 over the top of all of that. That results in an enormous loss of my time and a big inconvenience, since I lose everything already loaded on the two new hard drives. And nowhere in the documentation that is included with Tiger is this regression (a.k.a. problem) mentioned.

I'm sure that Apple could have eliminated the kludged installation procedures during development of Tiger, but it chose not to do so to send a subliminal message to Classic users that Apple wants to end support of Classic.

As such, you might consider alerting Mac users of the potential problem and the poor options.

Here's another serious problem I encountered while installing Tiger: The file directory format has fundamentally changed with Tiger, so don't ever run an old copy of Norton Utilities Disk Doctor - or similar utility - because it will clobber a drive's directories and B-file strings to the point that the drive will not be recognized or mount on the desktop. [Editor's note: See Norton Utilities Warning from 2002 for problems caused by Norton under the Classic Mac OS.] I know, it happened to me. I had to buy and download DiskWarrior v4.0 to bail me out to fix the problems with my original 60 GB hard drive, which I use as my "master" boot drive. In fact, I lost two days of work because of it.

Let me say that the gang at DiskWarrior were kind enough to accommodate me, and the DiskWarrior program is a godsend and should be in every Mac users utility library.

If you need additional information, just email me and I will help as best I can.

Kind regards,
D. William Denish

Mac OS X 10.4: Restoring applications from a Mac OS X 10.2 Software Restore disc

Hello from Apple!

Gahena at Apple Service & Support thought that you might find this article useful. We hope that it helps resolve your technical issue.


Mac OS X 10.4: Restoring applications from a Mac OS X 10.2 Software Restore disc

If you installed Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger on your computer, Software Restore cannot restore applications such as iMovie, iPhoto, or Classic Support from a Mac OS X 10.2 Restore disc. This document applies to Mac OS X 10.4 or later and Restore discs for Mac OS X versions 10.2 through 10.2.7 (the Restore disc that may have come with your computer).

Instead, Software Restore prompts you to insert the Restore disc, even though that's what is already in there. So how can you reinstall the software? Here are some ways. Restore iLife applications from an iLife disc

You might consider purchasing iLife '05, which comes with a CD and DVD disc in its retail package, to reinstall iLife applications (iMovie HD, iPhoto, iTunes, GarageBand, and iDVD - for computers that can burn DVDs). Tip: You can also download iTunes from here. I don't have iLife, or I want to reinstall Classic Support or other applications

This workaround allows you to reinstall applications from the Mac OS X 10.2 Restore disc, but involves first erasing your Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger volume and then reinstalling Tiger later. Follow these steps carefully:

  1. 1. Back up important documents and files, including things on your desktop. For instructions, see this document and this one too. If you have other user accounts on your computer, don't forget to back up important documents from those Home folders too.
  2. Start up your computer from your Mac OS X 10.2 Install (not Restore) disc.
  3. Perform an erase and install on the Mac OS X 10.4 volume. This erases Mac OS X 10.4 and reinstalls Mac OS X 10.2. See the "How to Perform an Erase and Restore" section of this document.
  4. After it's finished, use the Mac OS X 10.2 Restore disc to reinstall any applications you wish, or Mac OS 9 Classic Support, if you want it.
  5. After you're sure that you've installed everything that you need, start up your computer from your Mac OS X 10.4 Install disc.
  6. Install Mac OS X 10.4 to upgrade the Mac OS X 10.2 volume. Important: Do not perform an erase install or Archive and Install installation.
  7. After Tiger is installed, use Software Update to install any updates. Applications that you installed from your Mac OS X 10.2 Restore disc will most likely need to be updated.
  8. Restore any important files you backed up in step 1.

Download a later version of Software Restore for Tiger

If you have Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger already installed and you want to restore your Mac OS X 10.2.x computer-specific software, you can use the version of Software Restore available below.

Hi William,

I agree that Apple is anxious to kill of Classic Mode support, which they have done by default for newer machines with the Intel transition.

At least there is still the kludgy workaround prescribed by Apple, but Classic is less and less viable on newer machines, especially when post-Classic era hardware like SATA drives enter the picture.

DiskWarrior is definitely the way to go for disk maintenance and repair. Norton Utilities is better consigned to the dumpster for system versions released since Symantec terminated support for the software, and I've never used it for OS X.


Failed Tiger Upgrade via FireWire

From Nathaniel Zilske

Hi there,

I tried your OS upgrade, and when I tried to start my iBook, I got the blinking question mark/folder. I haven't upgraded the memory to 256 MB yet; is this the reason? '

Or can I not use this method for my old iBook(2 USB, 10g hard drive running 9.1)? If you have any suggestions, please let me know. Thank you already.

Nathaniel Zilske

Hi Nathaniel,

Even 256 MB is not enough RAM for decent performance with OS X. You have less than that installed? RAM may or may not be the issue.

Your iBook will support Tiger if it has FireWire support built in, but IMHO you need at least 384 MB of RAM for halfway satisfactory performance running OS X.

The procedure of using Target Disk Mode to install Tiger is not supported by Apple, but it worked for me, and I have had no problems.

Which machine are you attempting to boot the installer disk from? When I did it with my Pismo PowerBook and G3 iBook, I booted from the Pismo, and it worked, but it has subsequently come to my attention that the better method is to boot from the machine you want to install Tiger on and mount the DVD drive on the other Mac via Target Disk Mode. Worth a shot if you haven't tried it that way unless....

You didn't say what you were using for an installer disk. If it's a software restore disk that came with another Mac, then that is likely your problem. Apple puts software blocks in system install disks that ship with new Macs so that they can (usually) only be used with the model they were purchased with.

You need a generic OS X 10.4 install DVD (or a set of 10.4 install CDs ) in order to install Tiger on your iBook (but get some RAM first).


OS 9 - Is It the Browsers or the Plugins?

From Ruffin Bailey in response to The Web Is Leaving OS 9 Behind.

"These days I find Netscape 7 or Mozilla 1.3 the most capable OS 9 browsers, but there is really no truly satisfactory solution, and the lack of compatibility will only get worse and browser technology marches on, leaving OS 9 behind."

Is it really the browser, or is it becoming increasingly the plugins? The Mozilla, iCab, IE chimera seems to do fairly well for me, but when the site's heavy on newly crafted Flash, as an example, well, there's not much you can do.

If it is truly the browser, using Yellow Dog Linux plus Mac On Linux might be a creative option, depending very heavily on each individual's hardware. If you've got the juice to run a relatively recent Linux distro, you could grab updated versions of Firefox and/or Konqueror, Safari's father, and use those within Linux to supplement your Classic Mac bias.

Ruffin Bailey

Hi Ruffin,

For me at least it's not plugins. I don't use any that don't install with the browser by default.

Linux could be an option for someone so inclined, but I've installed a couple of Linux distros on Macs (some time ago) and never could really see the point, at least for my purposes. The main reason I use a Mac is for the Mac OS.

OS X is the ideal solution for me, as there is a wonderful selection of browsers. However, we are still running OS 9 on the old WallStreet PowerBook, using Netscape 7 mostly as a browser.


Mac IIfx Is World's Fastest Mac

From Otto Schlosser

Hi, Charles.

I read the article on the world's fastest Mac a few days ago. It was enjoyable, but my reaction is, "If you think that 8600's fast, try a Mac IIfx with a fast hard disk and 64 MB of RAM running System 6.0." Boot time is around seven seconds from cold and the response is amazing.

Thanks as always,

Hi Otto,

Ah yes, the "wicked fast" Mac IIfx. A Mac I wish I had owned back in the day. I love System 6. It's lively even on my old 8 MHz 68000 Mac Plus with 2.5 MB of RAM. I (seriously) wish there was and optional System 6 type minimalist UI "skin" for OS X.


Re: World's Fastest Mac

From Otto Schlosser

When I arrived at Apple in 1996, one of the most amazing things I stumbled across was a IIfx that someone had simply abandoned. I eventually resurrected it and gave it to my dad, who used it in his office until it was replaced by a Rev 2 iMac.

I resisted the transition to System 7 for years, because System 6 was so lean and solid. I finally had the choice made for me when I bought a Performa 6400 that would not boot 6.

"I (seriously) wish there was and optional System 6 type minimalist UI 'skin' for OS X"

Great idea. I know support for themes is still deeply rooted in Mac OS and that You Know Who abominates the very notion, so we are unlikely to see it unless someone like Arlo Rose delivers.


Mac IIci with RAM Disk Is Fastest Mac

From Anonymous

Dear Mr. Moore,

I saw the Low End Mac article, and I thought you'd like to hear my fastest Mac experience ever. One day someone brought into our user group computer clinic a Mac IIci with a 20 MB hard drive and 32 MB of RAM.

That's right, it had more physical chip memory than hard disk space.

The result was a machine that booted in one second flat!

Everything flew because it was running in RAM, not on the hard disk. When flash memory gets cheaper than hard disks, we'll see that everywhere!


Hi Anonymous,


I used to run my PowerBook 5300 off a RAM disk most of the time before we got the Internet here, so I have an inkling of what you're talking about. My old PowerBook WallStreet would also boot from a RAM disk.

Intel's forthcoming "Robson" CPU promises to give us some flash RAM performance in a future generation of MacBook Pros. See:


Simulating a Flash Drive on a PowerBook 5300

From David Lye

Hello Charles,

I tried to read your recent comments on this subject, but was unable to - many of the Low End Mac web pages seemingly fail to scroll down fully when I view them on a PC.

I sometimes use a Mac at work for a code called PIANO (by Lissys) and still have an old 5300ce that still works, I can connect it to other old Macs with AppleTalk. I don't use the 5300 much anymore, I have slightly newer Macs now (with USB)

USB is reported to be completely impossible on a 5300, but what about this concept ?

  1. Use a 16-bit PCMCIA card that accepts a Compact Flash card in the 5300.
  2. In any other machine, Mac or Windows or Unix, use a USB card reader that can read a Compact Flash card.
  3. To move files to/from the 5300, simply move the Compact Flash card around like a USB memory stick.

Is this feasible do you think ?

This would (if it works) achieve the functionality of a USB memory stick, to move files to & from the 5300 in a way that should be convenient in many circumstances (without any network hassle). I realise that it would not provide 'true' USB functionality for any other USB devices, it would just be a 'pseudo' USB flash memory stick

If you think it should be feasible, I guess the next problem is to find some appropriate 16-bit PCMCIA card that would do the job, I guess they are not made anymore? If you have any specific suggestions I would be interested, it might be worth a small investment on my part, just for the heck of it. Compact Flash is no problem to find, and the same goes for a USB card reader

David Lye

Hi David,

I can't say for certain, but I can't think of any reason why your idea wouldn't work. As you suggest, the sticking point would likely be finding The 16-bit PCA card adapter.

I don't know if any of the cards on these pages would be helpful or not:

The USB card reader seems to need 32 bit CardBus support.


Word 5.1 Docs in the Modern World

From Eric Hilgart

Hey there!

I know you said you are loathe to open your Word 5.1 documents in MS Word for OS X - I am assuming you just don't want to use the Microsoft product. Have you tried checking the formatting in, or better yet: Pages? I know that I have had some really good luck opening MS Word documents in Pages.

Just a thought so that maybe your "All OS X Migration" can finally become complete!


Hi Eric,

I haven't tried OpenOffice, although I'm doubtful that it would support Word 5.1 document formatting.

Happily, Tex-Edit Plus can easily access the text in Word 5.1 docs, although without the formatting or any graphics, so I won't be completely locked out of my Word 5.1 files when I finally move to a Macintel.

For now, Word 5.1 still works great in Classic Mode, starts up almost instantly - a lot faster than it did when I first purchased it back in 1993 for my Mac Plus!


Mix-and-Match PowerBook Power Supplies

From Andrew Nagy regrding Yo-yo Power Supply Advice:

Some guy wrote: "If you can find a power-brick from the PowerBook 1400, this can be used as an alternate or backup power supply for all of the black PowerBooks." Did he mean to say that it worked for clamshell iBooks also?

This guy seems to think so at least, claiming that adapters are interchangeable between 3400s, 1400s, clamshell iBooks, and all G3 PowerBooks.

Also, before replacing my bad adapter I'd like to hear your opinion on whether it's possible to repair it or to replace just the tip that plugs into the computer. The problem seems to be around there, and not in the yo-yo.

Hi Andrew,

Yes, a PowerBook 1400 power adapter should work just fine with a clamshell iBook. In fact, even a PowerBook 5300 adapter will work if you take the trouble to splice one of the coaxial connector plugs from a later type adapter on. I have done this with complete success.

The claim of interchangability among the various adapters that shipped with 'Books from the 3400c to the Pismo is accurate. You can mix and match.

And yes, if the only problem with your yoyo adapter is the connector plug, it is certainly possible to splice a replacement on if you can find one. Coax splicing is a bit tricky, but definitely doable. Make sure the inner wire is well insulated from the outer braid.


Xubuntu Great on Older Macs

From Britt Dodd

Hello, my name is Britton. I am a very involved Macintosh user and own several (ten on last count) computers, most of them being Macs. I needed some PCs for high-end video editing, but use Macs most of the time.

Anyway, I was reading your article on Ubuntu, and while I completly agree that Ubuntu is out of the question, I have had very good success using Kubuntu as an alternative to OS X. I own and use an iBook clamshell, running at the maxed out 384 MB RAM level, and have tried both Ubuntu and Xubuntu, which is based upon the lightweight and "lean" XFCE window manager, instead of the GNOME and KDE managers found in Ubuntu and Kubuntu respectively. In fact, at least in my personal experince on my iBook, Xubuntu required less configuration upon the install.

I love the Mac OS and use 8.6 and 7.6.1 daily, but sometimes tasks require the OS to be up to date, such as the constantly changing world of the Unix/Linux community.

Also I would like to inquire about possibly getting together with somebody on converting some browser to work with System 7 or any other Mac OS version. I would be extremely intrested in helping to develop some good browser for use with the Classic MacOS.

Thank you,
Britton Dodd

Hi Britton,

Thanks for the report, and there is a serious need for an up-to-date Mac OS Classic browser, among folks who still use the old OS. Whether there are enough to justify the effort is the question. Perhaps you could contact the iCab folks, who have the closest thing to a contemporary Classic browser.


Kudos on Handling of 'Other Red'

From Bert Altenburg on the "Other Red" controversy:

Dear Mr. Moore,

I think you handled the issue (if any) regarding Mr. Campbell in the way it should have been.

I also think that it is the only way to keep at least some of the former fellons, who will undoubtedly meet lots of prejudice if they're trying to pick up a regular life, from turning back into the wrong direction.


Yours sincerely,
Bert Altenburg
(from the Netherlands)

Hi Mr. Altenburg,

Thanks for the vote of confidence.


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Charles Moore has been a freelance journalist since 1987 and began writing for Mac websites in May 1998. His The Road Warrior column was a regular feature on MacOpinion, he is news editor at and a columnist at If you find his articles helpful, please consider making a donation to his tip jar.

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