5 Replies Latest reply: Jan 3, 2010 6:40 PM by Kenichi Watanabe
SPV999 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
I recently was given an iMac G3 (original tray loading CD-ROM drive).
The original owner took the original harddrive out, and didnt have the original restore disks.

While I was cleaning it I loaded a new blank harddrive in. Now when it turns on it I get a grey screen with a folder icon in the center and a blinking question mark, I assume it's looking for the OS files.

Anyway, what are my options here? Is there files I can download or a CD I can order?

Further, how would I load the OS once I get it? Would it load off the disk automatically or is there a series of keys I'd have to press to start it loading?

Sorry, this is the first Mac anything I've owned, little lone tried to restore.

iMac G3, Other OS
  • 1. Re: Mac OS 8.6 or Restore Disks for iMac G3?
    Allan Jones Level 7 Level 7 (30,445 points)
    Welcome!

    The last free Mac OS download was v7.5.3. Any newer OS that's offered as a download is a pirated copy that seldom works to make a boot disk. Could also have "little friends" hitchhiking with it. Avoid at all costs.

    Your best bet is to find an iMac set. This vendor:

    http://store.fastmac.com/productinfo.php?productsid=113

    claims to have it, but I would speak with them to determine its compatibility for your machine model first. They also show some versions of OS9.X that might be compatible. Those would be better as far as software compatibility goes.

    A potentially cheaper path is to contact a Mac Users group in your area. Someone there may have what you need. Another potential gold mine is the IT person at a school. Many of those early iMacs were bought for schools and they may be up to their eyeballs in unused system disks.
  • 2. Re: Mac OS 8.6 or Restore Disks for iMac G3?
    rccharles Level 5 Level 5 (5,370 points)
    SPV999 wrote:
    I recently was given an iMac G3 (original tray loading CD-ROM drive).
    The original owner took the original harddrive out, and didnt have the original restore disks.

    What iMac do you have?

    Query by serial number
    "A serial number is a unique, identifying number or group of numbers and letters assigned to an individual piece of hardware or software. It's used for various things depending on the product / brand but what is your Mac's serial number for and more importantly... what is it hiding and what can it do for you ?"
    http://www.appleserialnumberinfo.com/Desktop/index.php
    or
    http://www.chipmunk.nl/klantenservice/applemodel.html
      ( hint by K Shaffer )


    While I was cleaning it I loaded a new blank harddrive in. Now when it turns on it I get a grey screen with a folder icon in the center and a blinking question mark, I assume it's looking for the OS files.

    Yes.

    Anyway, what are my options here? Is there files I can download or a CD I can order?

    Mac OS 8.x to 10.3. I recommend 10.3. this will give you more of the Mac OS experience. you need 128 meg of memory.

    Make certain you can return the memory

    Mac OS X is a rather finicky when it comes to working with memory. While some memory sticks manufacturers may claim it meets the Mac OS X requirements, the memory may not work. You cannot tell until you try. From what I've have heard the memory fails immediately.

    Open Firmware, boot into Open Firmware.
    Power on your iMac while holding down commandoption+of
    The first output line contains the firmware level. Mine reads:
    Apple PowerMac4,1 4.1.9f1 BootRom built on 09/14/01 at 13.18.04
    Copyright 1994-2001 Apple Computer Inc.

    What firmware do you need?
    http://docs.info.apple.com/article.html?artnum=86117

    I believe with a tray loading iMac G3, you can use any level of the firmware. If you decide to load the firmware you will need a version of 8.x Mac OS.

    Further, how would I load the OS once I get it? Would it load off the disk automatically or is there a series of keys I'd have to press to start it loading?

    Hold down the c key then power on the machine.


    The tray loading iMac requires the boot partition to be within 8gig. Since there are hidden partition before the first visible partition, people recommend that you make the first visible partition 7.5 gig to 7.9gig. The machines support upto a 128gig Parallel ATA drive.


    Did you set the harddrive to master? Master is a must. Cable select doesn't work. You need to set the hard drive to master mode. There is usually a label on the hard drive that tells you what jumpers you need to set. If you are not sure, give us the name and model number of the hard drive and usually someone will be able to tell you how to set that drive.


    Robert
  • 3. Re: Mac OS 8.6 or Restore Disks for iMac G3?
    Kenichi Watanabe Level 7 Level 7 (30,030 points)
    Sorry, this is the first Mac anything I've owned, little lone tried to restore.


    Not a very good "first Mac" at this point.

    The limitations of this original iMac that is now over 10 years old are many.

    It is designed to run Mac OS 9.2.2 or earlier. It can run Mac OS X, but only up to 10.3.9 officially (current version is 10.6.2). And it will feel sluggish running Mac OS X.

    The maximum RAM is only 512mb.

    It has the limitation of the startup volume needing to be less than 8GB. You can partition a larger drive, up to 128GB, and the second partition will be usable once it it completes startup. However, and installation of Mac OS X 10.3.9 will take up about half of the 8GB on that important startup volume, even with a minimized installation.

    They tend to develop a problem with the analog video board. This is the component that provides the high voltage needed to run the CRT, like in an old TV set. Once that happens (and it is fairly common), it is not an economical repair for most people. So it would be quite annoying if it failed in this way, after spending money on parts and software.

    So if your expectation is that you will have a computer that is useful on today's internet and software, you should stop. Even with everything working and maximized, it will not work very well as your everyday computer; don't spend too much money on it. Put that money toward something like a new Mac mini or MacBook (or something used that is an Intel Mac). But if you understand its limitations and just want to get it working for the sake of getting it working, that's totally understandable; I have a lot of fun doing stuff like that myself...
  • 4. Re: Mac OS 8.6 or Restore Disks for iMac G3?
    SPV999 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    I am just doing this for teh lulz, I dont actually plan on using it for anything, that's why I wanted the stock 8.5 or 8.6 OS that would have originally been on it.

    But good lord, are Macs always this hard to fix? I repair/assemble PCs all the time and it's very very simple. This having to know the exact make make/model and OS requirements is a pain.

    I dont even have a PATA drive below 20gb I dont think, and I currently dont have a way to set partitions on PATAs either.

    And the screen does crack and flicker for a couple minutes on startup. I sort of figured it was starting to go bad, but I thought it was just age not an actual issue with the model.

    So basically, to fix this I PATA drive with 8 gigs or less and an OS 8.5-ish disk? That doesnt sound that bad, but I never would have figured it out myself.
  • 5. Re: Mac OS 8.6 or Restore Disks for iMac G3?
    Kenichi Watanabe Level 7 Level 7 (30,030 points)
    You can use a PATA drive over 8GB (up to 128GB will be fully recognized). However, during startup (when the IDE controller is in charge), only the first 8GB of disk space is recognized. That is why you need to partition the drive so that the first partition fits within the first 8GB of disk space, and install the system there. Windows PCs of the same timeframe had the same limitation with the IDE controller. Once the OS takes over control, then the rest of the space is accessible. If you are partitioning the drive, use something like 7.6GB for that first partition.

    The hard drive and optical drive are on separate IDE buses, so the jumpers on the hard drive need to be set to Master (single drive), or just Master if there is only one Master setting.

    But good lord, are Macs always this hard to fix?


    iMacs use custom designed parts (except for RAM and hard drive). So yes, you can't go to Best Buy and buy generic parts. Since they are over 10 years old, you aren't going to find new replacement parts either. And it is an all-in-one computer, so it is obviously more difficult to work on compared to a plastic beige box. However, the tray-loader iMac has the pull-out chassis (which is essential the computer), so as long as you don't try to get into the CRT portion, it's not so bad.

    You should think of it as two parts. That pull-out chassis is like the beige box, and you can take it apart with a screwdriver. The rest of the iMac is like the PC's CRT display; you generally don't want to mess with that portion.

    You should find a retail Mac OS 9 disc. You can update any Mac OS 9 installation to 9.2.2 with free downloadable updaters. It should be a retail disc, not a disc that came with another Mac model. The retail disc is white with a big orange 9, and make sure it a +full installation+ (not update ) disc. With Mac OS 9, it's still old, but you'll find some interesting software, because Mac OS 9 was around for a long time. Also, Mac OS 9 will run fine, even of the iMac only has 64mb of RAM, and it will run in "snappy" fashion.