Mac Musings

10 6 Things I Hate About OS 9

Daniel Knight - 1999.10.14 -

Apple makes insanely great computers running insanely great operating systems. However, sometimes stepping forward also involves a few steps back.

Such is the case with Mac OS 9, which sounds like the most stable version of the Mac OS yet. There are a lot of things to like about OS 9. I definitely want to get a copy and work with it, but I've already found several issues which concern me.

10 6 Things I Hate About OS 9

  1. It doesn't (yet) work with ATM (Adobe Type Manager). If you only print to Postscript printers, maybe you can live with this, but if you're using a StyleWriter, Epson Stylus, or any other non-Postscript printer, your Type 1 Postscript fonts will be a mess. Solutions:
    • Buy a Postscript printer
    • Buy a Postscript RIP such as StyleScript
    • Convert fonts to TrueType
    • Wait for Adobe to update ATM to work with OS 9
  2. LaserWriter 8 Version 8.7 doesn't support the fax card in the LaserWriter 16/600. This has been the case for years; LaserWriter 8f Version 8.2.3 (a.k.a. 8.2.3.f) was the last to support sending faxes from certain LaserWriter printers with fax cards. All earlier versions allowed selecting the 8.2.3f driver; Mac OS 9 is incompatible and removes the 8f driver.
  3. The StyleWriter 4000 series, including my 4100, is not supported. Mac OS 9 will remove all 4000 series drivers. I believe this was the only series of StyleWriter printers to support network printing via LocalTalk. Granted, I have not been impressed with the StyleWriter 4100 (it failed within a year and has not worked properly since, despite being serviced three times), but I am disappointed that Apple is abandoning OS support less than two years after the printer was discontinued.
  4. The new Mouse control panel icon shows the round iMac mouse. Sorry, but I find that mouse an insult - and the icon simply compounds it.
  5. Mac OS 9 requires 32 MB of physical RAM and 40 MB of logical RAM. Apple has been selling iMacs with only 32 MB since August 15, 1998 until the new model was announced on October 5. They are still selling iBooks with 32 MB of RAM. If this is anything like the System 7 release (System 7 will run on a 2 MB system, but if you want to do anything, you really need at least 4 MB), buying OS 9 will mean memory upgrades for a lot of users - at a time when RAM prices are at an extremely high point.
  6. I finally broke down and bought a copy of Mac OS 8.5.1 in late August. I may or may not be eligible for a $20 rebate. I am not eligible to upgrade to OS 9 at a discounted price. (I'll buy it for $89 from, not $99 from Apple.)

Not bad - I couldn't come up with ten things to hate about OS 9.

Features to love include multiple users, the keychain (I can never remember all my IDs and passwords), USB drivers that survive sleep mode, improved multitasking, File Sharing via TCP/IP, and the ability to set dates past the year 2020.

Worth the upgrade? Probably, but look into the few issues above before committing yourself to OS 9.

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Dan Knight has been using Macs since 1986, sold Macs for several years, supported them for many more years, and has been publishing Low End Mac since April 1997. If you find Dan's articles helpful, please consider making a donation to his tip jar.

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