11 Replies Latest reply: Aug 20, 2008 1:50 PM by Grey Podder
Grey Podder Level 1 Level 1 (40 points)
I have an original iMac G4 Flat-Panel running Mac OS X v.10.4.11. I bought this computer used and do not have any restore discs for Tiger. I have a retail version of Mac OS 9.0 that I would like to install in order to run some older programs that would otherwise require Windows to run. The serial number on the iMac is xx212xxxxxx, so I know that it is able to boot Mac OS 9 successfully (Knowledge Base article HT2321). Here's my question:

Is it possible to install Mac OS 9 on the same startup hard drive (not a separate partition) as Tiger without erasing Tiger or damaging it in any way? Understand that I have no way to reinstall Tiger if the Mac OS 9 installation overwrites anything important.

If I haven't given enough information, let me know. Thanks in advance.

MacBook Pro 2.2 GHz C2D, iMac G4 800 MHz, Mac OS X (10.5.4), 16GB iPod touch, 30GB iPod 5G, 4GB iPod mini 2G
  • Texas Mac Man Level 8 Level 8 (46,550 points)
    Grey, welcome to Apple Discussions.

    Installing OS 9 will not erase OS X. OS X is located in a folder titled "System". When you install OS 9, it will be located in a folder titled "System Folder".

    After you install OS 9 basic, you should update to at least OS 9.2.1 to enable "classic" operation.

     Cheers, Tom

  • Texas Mac Man Level 8 Level 8 (46,550 points)
    More info.

    One thing that may preclude the install of OS 9. In your System Profiler info, look at your hard drive info. Check to see that the OS 9 drivers are installed. If the drivers are not installed, you can't install OS 9, unless you erase the drive and reformat.

    Here's the updates you need. *Mac OS 9: Available Updates*

    Look at the links on this page. *Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger Classic Environment*

     Cheers, Tom

  • Grey Podder Level 1 Level 1 (40 points)
    Thanks for a very speedy response and for the welcome. I have actually been using these boards for years; this is simply the first time a search did not answer my question. I was planning to update OS 9 to 9.2.2.

    I forgot to mention: I already have the Classic environment (9.2.2) installed from another disc. Am I correct in thinking that I can install OS 9 from the full retail copy, update it to 9.2.2, and then have the option to choose between booting in OS 9 and just using Classic? Currently Classic works for some of my applications, but I thought booting into OS 9 would allow them to function at their fullest.
  • Texas Mac Man Level 8 Level 8 (46,550 points)
    You can install using the retail disc.

    On my G4, I have OS 9.2.2 and OS X on separate partitions. So I can use the Startup Manager (depress Opttion key at startup) to select OS 9 or OS X. On my G3 Pismo laptop I have OS 9.2.2 & OS X on the same partition. OS 9 does not show up as an option when I use the Startup Manager, however, I can use the Startup Disk control panel (OS 9) or Startup Disk preference (OS X) to select OS 9 to startup from.

     Cheers, Tom
  • eww Level 9 Level 9 (52,975 points)
    Hi, Grey. You won't be able to install OS 9.0 at all on your iMac G4. That model was shipped with OS 9.2.2 preinstalled, and can't start up in any earlier version. There is no retail OS 9.2.2 installer disc, so no retail OS 9 disc can start your iMac. The only source for a bootable OS 9 on that machine is the original installer disc set that came with it.

    Is the OS 9.2.2 you already have on it not bootable?
  • Grey Podder Level 1 Level 1 (40 points)
    I did just try to boot OS 9 from the 9.2.2 install. I get to a grey screen with a floppy that has a blinking question mark on it. I have tried restarting while holding X, Option, and even T, but now it seems I can't even boot back into OS X. Any suggestions?
  • eww Level 9 Level 9 (52,975 points)
    Hi again, Grey. Because your originally stated goal was to be able to start your machine up in OS 9, it was a surprise to me to hear, in your second post above, that you already had OS 9.2.2 installed, and yet you were trying to install it again. Thus my question about whether the installed OS 9.2.2 was bootable. I assumed you would already have tried to do that. When you did try most recently, I take it you were able to designate OS 9 as the startup OS in the Startup Disk pane of System Preferences — is that correct? If not, how did you attempt to start up in OS 9?

    I'm also unclear on where the already-installed OS 9.2.2 came from. Did you install it, or was it already in place when you got the iMac, so that you don't know its origin?

    It is possible to install Classic support, but not OS 9 bootability, on a Mac that runs OS X merely by copying the OS 9.1 or higher System Folder from another Mac onto its hard drive. It's entirely possible that that's how the previous owner obtained the present OS 9.2.2. Such a System Folder is not bootable, and I'm surprised if you were able to select it as a Startup Disk.

    It's also possible, if Classic support was installed in that manner, that OS 9 drivers are not present on the iMac's hard drive. Classic operation, unlike booting into OS 9, does not require the drivers. But if the drivers aren't present, again, it's surprising that you were able to select OS 9.2.2 in Startup Disk (if in fact you were). Installing the drivers, if they aren't present, will require reformatting and erasing the drive, and that in turn would require you to buy a suitable OS X installer disc set — both to perform the reformat and to get back up and running.

    As for your immediate problem: to get back into Tiger, try this, and let us know whether it works for you: Start up in Safe Mode as described in this article. If that is successful, open System Preferences/Startup Disk and set Tiger as the startup OS. Restart the computer normally. Does it now boot into Tiger?

    If the computer doesn't start up in Safe Mode, or if it doesn't start up in Tiger after you complete the above procedure, start it up in Single User Mode and run fsck to repair your hard drive directory, as described in this article. Then do the Safe Mode startup and set the startup disk as described in the preceding paragraph.

    None of the above will help you install a bootable OS 9 on your iMac, of course. For that, you'll need duplicates of the discs that were shipped with the iMac when it was new. You may be able to obtain those directly from Apple, if Apple still has any after all these years. If Apple can't supply them, you are unlikely to find them offered for sale by anyone knowledgeable enough to be certain they are really the right ones for your iMac. Trying to buy a particular set of model-specific installer discs on the used market is nearly always an exercise in frustration, and very often a costly one.

    Message was edited by: eww
  • Grey Podder Level 1 Level 1 (40 points)
    The 9.2.2 installation was in place for Classic support when I bought the machine. You are correct, I did designate OS 9 as the startup disk through System Preferences. I tried both your suggestions, and neither safe mode nor single-user mode worked. I still reboot only to get the floppy icon with the blinking question mark. At this point, I'm not concerned with getting OS 9 to boot. I just want to get Tiger working again. I'm starting to think that the 9.2.2 copy from the previous owner of the machine might not be legitimate, which is why I'm having so many problems. Please let me know if there's any other method to force a reboot into OS X, short of buying a Tiger DVD. Thanks.

    I just remembered. I don't know if this would be of any use, but I have a .sparseimage of the iMac's hard drive stored on an external USB drive. Is there any way to force the computer to boot Tiger from it?
  • eww Level 9 Level 9 (52,975 points)
    No, you can't boot from a sparseimage, and you can't boot a PowerPC Mac into any version of OS X from a USB drive.

    At this point I suspect your internal hard drive has failed. It would be an odd coincidence for that to happen right in the middle of your efforts to install and/or boot into OS 9 (which couldn't have caused the failure), but it's not impossible. Unfortunately there's no way you can test the drive without a bootable CD or DVD, so you'll need to buy one before you can make any further progress on your own. I believe you can still buy the retail Tiger installer DVD directly from Apple, by telephone only, at 1-800-692-7753.
  • a brody Level 9 Level 9 (64,880 points)
    iMac G4s can't boot nor can they install the "Retail" Mac OS 9 release.
    The prebundled Mac OS 9 disk that came with the first iMac G4s can install 9.2.2 on iMac G4s. Later iMac G4s could only install Mac OS 9 from their restore discs using these instructions:


    That generally began August 2002.
  • Grey Podder Level 1 Level 1 (40 points)
    Thanks for all the help. It looks like I'll be searching for a Tiger disc, then.