8 Replies Latest reply: Aug 17, 2010 4:08 PM by Grant Bennet-Alder
Daniel Maddern Level 1 (0 points)
Here's whats happening:

My iMac had OS X10.3 installed on it previously, then it corrupted while it was updating, i then downloaded a copy of OS 9.2.1 and copied it to a disk (i don't know if its freeware yet), and it boots fine from the disk. i formatted my hard drive, and attempted to just copy all files from the disk to my hard drive (the OS on the disk is pre-installed). then when i restarted it, an error popped up on the loading screen that read: the system software on the startup disk only functions on the original media, not if copied to another disk. since the disk is the system disk, i cannot eject it and it is beginning to irritate me, and i would be fine with it, its just that its a non re writable disk and that means that i cannot install any applications/games that need space on the system disk to work. any help would be appreciated.

iMac G3 500Mhz, Mac OS 9.2.x
  • Don Archibald Level 10 (101,340 points)
    Hi, Daniel -

    Welcome to Apple's Discussions.

    ...(i don't know if its freeware yet)....

    It's not freeware. The most recent complete (full-install) OS that Apple makes available for free is OS 7.5.3. All other Apple-sanctioned downloads are updates only, each of which requires a specific version pre-existing OS to be present on the drive.

    ...the system software on the startup disk only functions on the original media, not if copied to another disk.

    Correct. The System Folder on OS 9 install CDs (which is what you apparently got) is a specialized form of the OS; it will function (is bootable) only when booting the machine from the original medium. That System Folder can not be copied to a hard drive and remain viable.

    In order to get a usable OS 9 from an OS 9 Install CD onto a hard drive, it is necessary to run the installer (Mac OS Install) on the CD.

    ...i cannot eject it....

    To eject a CD (or Zip disk, for that matter) when it is the boot volume, you can

    • select a viable OS on the hard drive via Starup Disk (Apple menu >> Control Panels >> Startup Disk in OS 9, Apple menu >> System Preferences >> Startup Disk in OSX) and restart.

    • restart the machine, immediately press the mouse button, keep it held down. That's a hardware (pre-boot) instruction to the Mac to eject all removable media.

    Note that if you have no viable OS on the hard drive, ejecting the disk will result in a non-bootable Mac.
  • Daniel Maddern Level 1 (0 points)
    thanks for your advice. the disk that i am booting from is an installed version of OS 9.2.1, put onto a CD-R. i don't currently have the installation, the only installation that i have is the 9.2.1 update and my download limit probably wont be big enough to download it. i don't know if that will make a difference.
  • Don Archibald Level 10 (101,340 points)
    Hi, Daniel -

    The OS 9.2.1 download update is not a full-install OS version. It is an updater only, in spite of its large size. It installs only on top of OS 9.1.

    Your iMac G3 can be one of three models - (Summer 2000), (Early 2001), or (Summer 2001).
    iMac: How To Differentiate Between Models (CRT)

    Only the (Summer 2000) model can use a retail OS 9.1 Install CD. Although the other two models came with OS 9.1, it was a model-specific version; a retail OS 9.1 Install CD is not adequate for them.

    I would suggest you obtain a retail OS 9.2.1 Install CD. All retail OS 9 Install CDs have a white label with a large gold 9 on it.

    You may be able to find one at places like Ebay, or perhaps from a friend or local Apple User Group (most large sities and colleges/universities have one). Otherwise, you can get one from places like Hardcore Mac, though their prices are high -
  • Daniel Maddern Level 1 (0 points)
    i think ill just have to find myself a install disk for OS 9. thanks for your help. i would also like to ask about something thats playing up on my installed boot disk. every time i try to start a setup application, it says that an error type 3 occurred and that i should restart my mac, is this a problem that involves the non protected memory in OS 9?
  • Don Archibald Level 10 (101,340 points)
    Hi, Daniel -

    ...is this a problem that involves the non protected memory in OS 9?

    What do you mean by "non protected memory"?
  • Daniel Maddern Level 1 (0 points)
    Ive had instances in the past with various computers where I've started an application, its crashed and Ive been told to restart my computer (like this instance) and when i have, very few applications them start. if thats not the case please tell me because Ive been using the term for a while.
  • Don Archibald Level 10 (101,340 points)
    Hi, Daniel -

    In general, "memory" refers to RAM and related functions like Virtual Memory. None of that is permanent - whenever the machine is shut down or restarted, everything in RAM is wiped.

    When a program is started up (the OS is a program for this purpose), it is loaded into RAM. In the process of doing that, the program grabs a certain amount of RAM for its exclusive use - some of it to hold the loaded program, some of it to use in doing its calculations, some of it to hold data (like an image). When the program is quit, the RAM it had grabbed is released and made available for something else to use.

    There are some special instances of memory, such as PRAM and NVRAM, which can (most of the time) be ignored.

    PRAM contains things the machine would like to know during startup, before certain preference files can be read - things like what volume to use for booting; what video parameters to use; etc. PRAM is volatile, meaning its info will be lost if the machine is unplugged and the battery removed.

    NVRAM also contains things that the machine needs to know, such as what hardware is available. NVRAM is non-volatile (that's what the NV in its name stands for), meaning that even if you remove power and battery, the settings in NVRAM will remain. In order to return NVRAM to default (original) settings, the user must initiate that action.


    Memory is not the hard drive. Space on the hard drive is generally referred to as, well, hard drive space, or storage, or something similar.

    The hard drive contains all the files on the machine: all the programs, all their supporting files, all the documents you have created and saved - all are data on the hard drive. When new software is installed, it is copied to the hard drive.

    Items on a hard drive are considered non-volatile - that is, removing power and battery from the machine will not cause the loss of any of the items on the hard drive (at least for a reasonably long time - many years, perhaps, but not forever since hardware does degrade over time).


    Everything you see on the screen is in RAM. Changes to a document or file do not become 'permanent' until the document is saved - the act of saving a file transfers the changes to the copy of the file on the hard drive. If you make changes to a document, then lose power or have the program or OS lock up or crash, none of the changes will be saved. If you close a document after making changes to it and decline the offer to save the changes, the changes will be lost.


    When a program crashes, if you're lucky an alert box will appear giving a message of some kind, often citing an error code. Knowing the exact wording of the message and the error code can help a lot in trouble shooting.

    Many programs can crash because insufficient memory (RAM) has been allocated for them to use - once a program uses up all that was set aside for it, it will crash. Restarting the machine should make it possible to use the prgram again, until it runs out of RAM again. If that is the cause of the problem, increasing the RAM allocation for it can help a lot. This Apple KBase article addresses that -
    Article #TA21666 - Assigning More Memory to an Application

    The number to change is the Preferred amount. Note - in order to change a program's memory allocation, it must not be running; enter plain numbers, no commas; the Get Info must be done on the icon of the program itself, not on that of an alias to it or on that of its folder.

    Browsers are particularly susceptible to running out of RAM; doubling or tripling the original Preferred amount is a good starting point.


    When a program crashes, and won't run again after the machine has been restarte, and/or other programs won't run, it indicates something has happened to either the OS or to the hard drive.

    If the OS loads at booting and you are able to use Finder's menus, the OS is probably OK.

    Things that can mung a drive - damaged directories; damaged desktop files; drive is too full (good practice indicates leaving about 15% or more free space on the drive). Determining which might be the cause usually calls for having a bootable OS Install CD of adequate version available.
  • Grant Bennet-Alder Level 9 (56,466 points)
    It sounds to me like the CD-R you have is a copy of a regular OS 9 System/Install CD. These CDs are bootable, but execute a slimmed-down works-with-most-Macs version of the System, and are able to run several useful Applications found in their Utilities folder (such as Drive Setup, which would allow you to re-initialize your Hard drive)..

    Such an OS 9 System/Install CD is capable of running the Installer, which uses the files on the CD to Install (not just copy) a full-fledged OS 9 onto a Hard Drive.

    Unlike when you drag a copy of OS 9, when you Install OS 9, you get a robust, bootable OS 9 for your specific Mac. This installs in a way that cooperates with a concurrent or subsequent install of Mac OS X. Then your Mac can boot either -- you can choose which OS to boot up next.