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How do I install the Classic environment to existing OS 10.3.9

5114 Views 23 Replies Latest reply: Dec 26, 2012 9:53 PM by Kenneth Nielsen RSS
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Kenneth Nielsen Level 2 Level 2 (205 points)
Currently Being Moderated
Dec 5, 2012 7:41 PM

I bought a used 12" G4 Powerbook online which has system 10.3.9 installed, and does not have the classic environment folder installed. This computer came without system disks or the original install disks.


The reason I bought this computer is to run an old OS 9 application that will 'unlock' images that are on 'Konica' image disks.


What is the right way to have the Classic OS 9 installed? Also, if I need to reinstall the system, would it be better to upgrade to Tiger? as I understand that Tigeris the latest system that will run on the G4 Powerbook that will also run the Classic environment.








  • dalstott Level 4 Level 4 (2,445 points)

    It is correct that Tiger 10.4.11 is the last Mac OS X to allow Classic Environment. Some of the earlier G4 Powerbooks made in 2003 and before can have OS 9.1 or 9.2 installed on a separate bootable partition which is independant of the Mac OS X system version on the OS X partition. I had two Macs (G3 Pismo and G4 iMac flatpanel) set up this way. The downside is that you must reboot to change from OS X to OS 9.

    Screen Shot 2012-12-07 at 12.58.37 PM.jpg

  • dalstott Level 4 Level 4 (2,445 points)

    The good thing about this setup is that OS 9 is quite small compared to OSX. The Pismo had a 13Gb hard drive and I believe I allowed 3-4 Gb for the 9.2 partition. The applications also are small by modern standards so this should be adequate for most tasks.


    A beneficial side effect is that if using  OSX 10.4.11  the MacOS 9 partition can be selected from the System Preferences pane to be the OS 9 for classic mode if applicable to the computer. So if in this case Classic mode is adequate in speed for the chosen application then re-booting would not be necessary.


    I am not sure if pressing the option/alt key on startup to select the operating system works on the older Macs OSs but there is always the System Preferences Startup Disk pane to enable selection.

  • dalstott Level 4 Level 4 (2,445 points)



    I don't want to rain on your parade but I have done some more investigating on the G4 12' PB.  


    I found this statement at (  ) and presume it applies to all the 12' PB G4s.


    Like other Power Macintoshes released in 2003, the PowerBook G4 12-inch does not have the ability to boot into Mac OS 9.x. However, support exists for running Mac OS 9.x-based ("Classic") applications from within Mac OS X. Support providers should be aware of this limitation if they have any Mac OS 9.x-based applications that must run natively.



    The list shown below are the G4s that will boot from OS 9 but are all  Titanium Models  that were made before the 12' was introduced.

    Screen Shot 2012-12-08 at 12.23.13 PM.jpg


    Another similar report.

  • dalstott Level 4 Level 4 (2,445 points)

    I recall reading about a program called SheepShaver which could let one run Classic Mac OS on just about any platform. if you are not familiar with it I have copied some links below. For more info just google sheepshaver Mac OS.





  • dalstott Level 4 Level 4 (2,445 points)

    The 1.5GHz G4 PB was one of those that could not boot from OS9 but could use classic environment if operating with 10.4.11.


    The two Macs that I had dual boot with OS X and OS 9 were made in 2000 and 2002. In 2003 Apple decided to abandon booting via  OS 9 on any Mac they made. They enabled Classic Mode up to OS X 10.5.8 and after that it was abandoned. With OS X10.6 they still had Rosetta which allowed PPC applications to run on the Intel Macs. When 10.7 was introduced Rosetta was abandoned and everything had to be pure Intel compatible from that point. A great number of Mac users refuse to upgrade to 10.7 or 10.8 because they still need to use the PPC software.


    The G4 12" you are looking at appears to be in good condition and can be a valuable addition. I have one of these 12" G4 powerbooks with 1.5GHZ, 1.25GB RAM, 80GB HDD. I use it almost daily and can highly recommend getting one at todays prices. I paid almost $600 4 years ago. You can use a firewire connection to an external HDD  which can be cloned to and will boot the Mac.


    Unfortunately you can't boot this G4 from OS9 and would need to go back to 10.4.11 in order to install classic

    environment. According to the SheepShaver info you could run 10.5 with classic support.

  • dalstott Level 4 Level 4 (2,445 points)

    I looked it up and the USB on the earlier machines was 1.1.


    To run 9.2 natively on a PowerBook you need one of the 15" titanium models made between Jan 2001 and Nov 2002. See the listing in a couple of my previous posts above.


    Also if you need a handy reference to detailed Mac specifications MacTracker is free and of great value.



    I found several links that you may want to check out.


    This is a good chart of Macs that will run on Mac OS 9.x.x






    These are forum posts that have some of the same questions you have with other posters opinions.





  • dalstott Level 4 Level 4 (2,445 points)

    Yes it does start automatically when you double click on an OS 9 application. It then goes through a startup mode which takes a brief time. As for speed you won't know till you try it. I have used it for old MacWrite, MacDraw, and Claris Works documents and it worked very well. With graphics the simpler the program, the better it should perform.  For 3D type games it will be slow just as it would be with any system emulator.

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