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Installing Mac OS 9 Volume Number: 16 (2000)
Issue Number: 8
Column Tag: Mac OS X

Installing Mac OS 9, OS X and X Server on a G3 Laptop

By Andrew C. Stone

During these hybrid times, Macintosh developers are concurrently developing software for Mac OS 9, Mac OS X, Mac OS X Server and Darwin. I realized it would be optimal to allow my 1 year old and hopelessly out of date WallStreet G3 laptop to boot off of any of these systems, without dragging around an external hard disk. It's possible to do this, but you have to be careful about the order of installation and the order and size of partitions. With some tips from Joe Keenan from Apple, I was able to accomplish the install without too much trouble. This article will go over the process step by step, with tips and tricks along the way.

Step 1. Make a partitioning plan for your internal hard disk.

The most important step is for you to determine how you want to carve up your disk. If you consider the fact that new versions of OS X are coming out fairly regularly, then the partition devoted to OS X should not contain any vital source or "permanent" files. Since Mac OS 9 is stable, you might consider that partition as the place to keep important files and data. You'll want at least 3 HFS extended partitions.

If your disk is larger than 8 gigabytes and your laptop has the "Old world ROM" (WallStreet and earlier models), you'll need to squeeze the operating systems onto the first 8 gigs. Old World machines did not implement the necessary standard for doing ATA block reads past 8GB, so all boot partitions must begin before 8GB. You might consider making a large forth or fifth partition of the remaining disk space if you have a large capacity hard drive.

Because the newer boot loader that comes with X can boot either OS X or OS X Server, while the Server boot loader cannot load X, you have to install X on a partition before Server. Since you need a Mac OS 9 partition to run various USB devices at the time of this writing and the boot chooser "System Disk" runs as a Mac OS 9 System Extension, 9 needs to be installed on the first partition. This will allow you to boot with the option key down and select one of the various operating systems from which to boot.

So, on an 8 gig drive, you might divide it up into 3 equal partitions of about 2.6 gigs each, and install Mac OS 9 on the first partition, Mac OS X on the second, and Mac OS X Server 1.2 on the third. Because Darwin 1.0 is based on the exact same code as OS X, you'll be able to build and tinker with Darwin on the OS X partition beginning with Developer Preview 4.

NOTE - if you have trouble with any of these steps, you might try hooking a SCSI disk to your laptop. I noticed that booting off of the CDs sometimes hung, but when the external SCSI disk was connected, it had no trouble booting.

Be sure you have the following Apple CDs, or later versions where applicable:

  • Mac OS 9
  • Mac OS X Install CD
  • Mac OS X Server 1.2
  • DeveloperCD

Step 2. Partition the hard disk and Install Mac OS 9

Warning! Following these instructions will completely wipe clean your PowerBook! Be sure to back up everything to an external disk or network.

A. Insert the Mac OS 9 CD. Premium and Select Developers received OS 9 in October 1999's monthly mailing.

B. Boot off the CD by holding down the C key while booting. If that doesn't work, try holding down the option key! If that fails, reset the Parameter Ram by holding down Option-Command-P-R while rebooting. You'll hear a second start up bong which indicates that the old settings have been reset to defaults.

If you plan to install Linux as a fourth operating system, you'll need to learn the command line tool "pdisk", which lets you partition the disk and assign non-Apple types to each partition. Moreover, you can erase certain partitions without destroying the data on the others. Otherwise, you can get by using the GUI application "Drive Setup" provided by Apple in Utilities/Drive Setup ü on Mac OS 9.

C. Partition your hard disk

a. Start the Drive Setup application to partition your disk according to your plan.

b. Select the Internal Drive (ATA 0 0 0)

c. Click "Initialize"

d. Click "Customize"

e. Choose the number of partitions you desire, such as "3 Partitions" from the pop up button

f. Click in the area which represents the 3 partitions and resize each to your desired plan

g. Choose HFS Extended (HFS+) as the file system type for each of these partitions

h. Click "Initialize" and "OK"

D. Double-click "Mac OS Install" and click away until you can select the partition to install Mac OS 9 on - choose the first partition and click install.

E. Reboot and remove Mac OS 9 CD.

Step 3. Install Mac OS X onto the second partition

A. Insert Mac OS X Install CD

B. In order to switch between operating system, you'll need to install the System Disk Utilities.

Copy the application System Disk in Mac OS X Install CD/Utilities/System Disk Utilities/ to the recently installed Mac OS 9 disk.

C. Double-click Install Mac OS X application

a. This will put up a panel that explains the reboot into OS X - click "Continue"

b. After rebooting, the installer gets loaded, click Continue, Agree, OK...

c. Choose the second partition and click all the OK's

d. OS X will get installed, and then will auto reboot

D. The Assistant's Set Up module automatically appears so you can configure your computer

Just like in OS X Server, you can configure the following:

  • keyboard, root password, Web, Quicktime Streaming and Apple File servers
  • ethernet ports, hostname, router, inet mask, IP address,use NetInfo
  • remote login, time zone, time, server configurations, accounts, auto login

You can always come back to these via /System/Administration/ -> Set Up Assistant

Click restart to test your network connectivity and have these changes take effect.

E. Install user applications. Check,, etc. for the latest!

G. Remove Mac OS X Install CD

Step 4. Install Mac OS X Server 1.2 onto the third partition

A. Insert Mac OS X Server 1.2 CD

B. Boot off of the CD or Mac OS 9 partition

C. Double-click the Install Mac OS X Server application

a. Choose your installation language: English, French, German, Japanese.

b. You'll get a panel - "Mac OS X Server cannot be installed on this computer"

c. Choose Special->Configurations

d. Click the check box "Allow installation on unsupported configurations" and "OK".

e. Click a bunch of Ok's and "I Agree".

f. Select the third partition, and OK, OK.

g. The install continues and then auto reboots

D. The Assistant's Set Up module automatically appears so you can configure your computer

Just like in OS X Server, you can configure the following:

  • keyboard, root password, Web, Quicktime Streaming and Apple File servers
  • ethernet ports, hostname, router, inet mask, IP address,use NetInfo
  • remote login, time zone, time, server configurations, accounts, auto login

You can always come back to these via /System/Administration/ -> Set Up Assistant

Click restart to test your network connectivity and have these changes take effect.

E. Remove the Mac OS X Server 1.2 CD as the computer reboots.

F. Install the Developer software

a. login as 'root'

b. Insert the DeveloperCD

c. Install WebObjects and Development Tools: launch by double-clicking WebObjectsDeveloper.mpkg

d. Remove the DeveloperCD

e. Insert the Mac OS X Server 1.2 CD

f. This is important - WebObjects 4.0 "writes over" some upgraded files in Server 1.2, therefore, you'll need to install this on top of the Developer install. Double-click the 'UpdateWO4.0_Developer.mpkg' in /Mac_OS_X_Server_1.2/System/Installation/Packages/

g. Click Install

h. Remove the Mac OS X Server 1.2 CD

G. Install user applications. Check,,, etc. for the latest! A suite of web design tools is available at:


Being a freewheeling and footloose cross-platform developer is a tricky but obtainable goal. Turning your G3 laptop into a multi-OS boot machine is a worthwhile endeavor for mobile development and remote demos, and it really impresses the Windoze users in the airplane seats next to you!

Andrew Stone <> is the chief executive haquer at Stone Design Corp <> and divides his time between raising children, llamas & cane and writing applications for Mac OS X and playing with Darwin.


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