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Mac newby q?

I just got given an iMac yesterday running Mac OS9. I
know nothing about Mac's other than they are made by Apple. I'd like to reformat the drive and upgrade to the latest OS version (10?).

Any pointers (URL's) to info on how to do this? Can I just download the OS or do I have to go to a shop and buy it?

Thanks.
Neville Franks Send private email
Thursday, February 16, 2006
 
 
As long it's a G3 or newer processor you can go out and shell out $125 for OS X, and have at it.  It will run really slow, but the best solution to that is to make sure the ram on the thing is maxed out.
Larry Send private email
Thursday, February 16, 2006
 
 
The OS is not legally available for download, so if you want a legit copy you'll need to either buy it in a store or buy online and have it shipped?

What type and speed processor and how much RAM does the iMac have? You can get this information from Apple System Profiler.
clcr
Thursday, February 16, 2006
 
 
As the proud owner of a revC iMac (you know the ones where they went red green and blue) I can tell you that OS X runs adequately on the machine.  Go out and buy a copy of OS X, insert the disc, and let the magic of the Mac installer take care of the rest of the details.

In the installer you'll have an option to Customize the installation, where you can wipe out the old system and even 0 the drive.  I never recall the button's name, but the options are relatively straightforward.
Lou Send private email
Thursday, February 16, 2006
 
 
"The OS is not legally available for download, so if you want a legit copy you'll need to either buy it in a store or buy online and have it shipped?

What type and speed processor and how much RAM does the iMac have? You can get this information from Apple System Profiler."

Thanks everyone. When I try and run the System Profiler from the Help Centre I get "The item cannot be opened. It maybe disabled or not installed". Help!
Neville Franks Send private email
Thursday, February 16, 2006
 
 
Hopefully your iMac isn't so old that it doesn't have a DVD drive.  OS X ships as a DVD, but you can make arrangements with Apple to get CDs (at least you could a couple of years ago, haven't checked in a while).  Booting to an external drive on old macs can be a problem.
woodb2
Thursday, February 16, 2006
 
 
Ok, you should be able to find out the amount of RAM and possibly the CPU type and speed by selecting About This Mac from the Apple menu. RAM is the critical factor. If you have less than 512MB, you should probably either upgrade the RAM or find a copy of OS X 10.3. 10.4 will run in 256 MB, but it's not fun.

What happens when you try running System Profiler from the Apple menu instead of from Help Center?

If System Profiler is unavailable, the easiest way to tell if you have a DVD drive is to insert a readable DVD-ROM or video DVD. If the drive spits it back out, it's not a DVD drive.
clcr
Thursday, February 16, 2006
 
 
It has 128M RAM and a 20G Drive (I think).

>What happens when you try running System Profiler from the Apple menu instead of from Help Center?

I can't see it on the Apple menu!

DVD Movie spits back out.

Doesn't look too good does it.

Another Q. I downloaded a .ZIP file and the iMac didn't want to UnZip it. It then wants to run Stuffit Expander which complains about "Unknown Zip Header". I downloaded the ZIP again and I'm sure its fine. What does one use to zip/unzip files on an iMac?
Neville Franks Send private email
Thursday, February 16, 2006
 
 
Stuffit Expander is the usual choice. I'm not sure why it can't open that particular zip file.

I'd suggest either upgrading the RAM or finding a copy of OS X 10.2, which will run adequately in 128MB. I think 10.3 will run in 128MB, but I don't imagine it would be very good. 10.4  (the current version) requires 256MB minimum.

I *think* 10.4 is available on CD, but you have to first buy it on DVD and then send in a request along with a nominal fee. If you have a local Mac user group, that would be the place to start looking for older releases.
clcr
Thursday, February 16, 2006
 
 
Just watch out for the flash bios issue that has rendered many such machines useless. Search on macintouch.com or macosxhints.com before even thinking about upgrading to OS X.
Daniel Deverell
Thursday, February 16, 2006
 
 
Daniel, could you provide more details? I couldn't find anything on either of those sites. My experience is that Macs don't have a BIOS, and it's necessary to apply a firmware update before installing OS X.
clcr
Thursday, February 16, 2006
 
 
I'm pretty sure my retail OS X 10.3 came on CD's. You should be able to pick up a copy of 10.3 on eBay. There's a fair amount of software out there than can only run on 10.3 up, but not too much yet that needs 10.4 (the most annoying one for me being Google Earth...)

A RAM upgrade is a must - once you've worked out which model you have (http://docs.info.apple.com/article.html?artnum=301724) use the Crucial website to identify what type.

If you can't find Apple System Profiler, press apple-F in the Finder to, er, find it (it's called Apple System Profiler :)

I can recommend the e-book 'Take Control of Upgrading to Panther' (i.e. 10.3) from http://www.takecontrolbooks.com/ and assume the version for Tiger (10.4) is similarly worth having. This should cover anything you need to know about firmware updates etc.
Tom H Send private email
Friday, February 17, 2006
 
 
"It has 128M RAM and a 20G Drive (I think)."

Sorry, but you are going to hate OS X on that machine, if you can get it to work. I currently run Panther (or whichever cat comes before Tiger -- it's hard to remember) on a G4 500 MHz Dual Processor with 1GB RAM and it still feels unacceptably slow, especially manipulating windows in the Finder. Yes, I know this is a 5-year-old machine, but I simply can't justify Apple's price points anymore (kwhich include upgrading all the apps for which I have parallels on Windows, including Flash, etc. I may have to upgrade just for Final Cut Pro and Digital Performer, but so far I've just made do.
Rob Brueckner Send private email
Friday, February 17, 2006
 
 
"Sorry, but you are going to hate OS X on that machine, if you can get it to work."

True.

However much we wish otherwise, technology moves fast. If you're planning on doing email and web surfing, I would just stick with OS9.  The latest Oracle database isn't available of course, but there's still a lot of microISV software that works on OS9, and has not yet been ported to OSX.

(In fact, this is one of the legitimate complaints about the new Intel-Macs. Apple is dropping support for "Classic" which allows you to run OS9 software in OSX, and people are saying they won't be able to upgrade at all until their niche software is ported - and with the exception of Adobe and Quartz products, it's likely that software will never be.)

If you absolutely need an up to date production machine and you can't afford the $600 or so for a Mac Mini, look into installing YellowDog Linux or one of the BSDs (I think NetBSD, FreeBSD and OpenBSD all work on such vintage iMacs).
TheDavid
Friday, February 17, 2006
 
 
It will work just fine but remember two things.

-Your OS X needs to be 10.3 or newer. Older OS X versions are very slow on G3. (Panther runs quite acceptably on my G3 400MHz)

-Update your firmware first! The fw updater only runs on OS9, and if you go ahead and install OS X without it, your videocard will go crazy and you just get a blank screen until you reflash it (or something).

I learned these things firsthand. Other than these, you should be fine.
joe
Friday, February 17, 2006
 
 
"It has 128M RAM and a 20G Drive (I think)."

Oh, and I added 256M to that too.
joe
Friday, February 17, 2006
 
 
Thanks for all your help - appreciated.

All I want to do right now is play with various Mac applications and try and get an understanding of why people love Mac's as much as they do.

I think I'll stick with OS9 as long as the apps I'm interested in run on it.
Neville Franks Send private email
Friday, February 17, 2006
 
 
"I think I'll stick with OS9 as long as the apps I'm interested in run on it"

That may give you a rathered skewed perception. OS X was not just an incremental change to OS9, it was an entirely new OS. Apple preserved much of the GUI, but the underlying software changed completely.
Charles E. Grant Send private email
Saturday, February 18, 2006
 
 
"Apple preserved much of the GUI"

In my view, they hardly preserved any. Their intent was to preserve none, but so many people complained that they put a few things back in. They were originally not going to have a finder at all, for example. Steve Jobs wanted his Mach kernel to run a version of the Next OS, and except for a few cosmetic touches, that's what he got.
Rob Brueckner Send private email
Sunday, February 19, 2006
 
 
Well, people who REALLY love Macs developed that love before OS X came along, so sticking with OS 9 might be the right thing to do. Although in that case we should really be advising you to get a Mac Plus and System 6.0.8 :-)

BTW, I run Panther on a 500 MHz G3 and it's fine - and I have XP on a 2.8MHz P4 at work for comparison.
Tom H Send private email
Monday, February 20, 2006
 
 

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